The Phillies acquired 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton from the A’s for Josh Outman, Matthew Spencer and Adrian Cardenas. This article suggests that Blanton could take Eaton’s spot in the rotation with Eaton going to the pen.
Blanton has had a weak season pitching in a great pitcher’s park so far in 2008. He’s thrown to a 4.96 ERA with a 1.47 ratio. Righties are pounding him this year, on-basing .382 against him with a .496 slugging percentage. He has curiously shut down lefties, they’re on-basing .285 with a .384 slugging percentage.
Blanton has pitched for Oakland his entire career and has a 4.78 ERA with 1.43 ratio in the 60 games he has appeared in away from home.
On the plus side, Blanton is a highly-touted former first round pick that the A’s took with the 26th pick of the 2002 draft. He won’t turn 28 until December and has already put up two outstanding seasons, one in 2005 and one in 2007, in which he threw to an ERA under four with a 1.22 ratio. In 2005, at age 24, he threw 201 1/3 innings and was arguably the best starter in an Oakland rotation that saw Rich Harden, Barry Zito (the old Barry Zito) and Dan Haren all get at least 19 starts. Harden was better than him, but Blanton made 14 more starts and threw 73 more innings.
Back on the stuff to worry about front, here’s what right-handed batters have done against him over the past four seasons, remembering that 2005 and 2007 were the seasons he was really good:
I don’t understand why those numbers would fluctuate so badly. Where they are right now is just bad, and moving to Citizens Bank Park doesn’t seem likely to be the cure. Blanton has been solid against lefties for a while now — they hit 291/328/386 against him in ’07 and 247/285/384 against him so far this season.
Overall, if forced to vote thumbs up or thumbs down on the deal for the Phils I would go thumbs up, simply because of the outstanding seasons from Blanton in the past, the Phillies’ current needs and the chance to keep him through 2010. I’m all for the Phillies trying to win right now and this is a right now move. I don’t have a problem with the Phillies trading Outman and Cardenas for the best pitcher they can get, but I’m a little surprised that the best pitcher they could get was a guy with a five ERA in Oakland. I think Oakland more clearly made a good deal than the Phillies did — I see it as riskier for the Phils but a risk worth taking if you are trying to win right now.
It does ensure that there is more Brett Myers to the pen talk coming. Hopefully the Phillies squash it quickly.
Finally, it’s hard not to consider this deal in the context of Kyle Lohse. If the Phillies had an opportunity to sign Lohse at $4.25 million this season and did not do it and instead had to trade away Outman and Cardenas to get Blanton they made a mistake. I don’t think there’s any argument that right now you’d rather have Lohse, Cardenas, Outman and Spencer instead of Blanton for the next two and a half seasons even given that you would have to pay Lohse more than you’ll have to pay Blanton in 2008.
The Phils are back in action tonight, tied with the Mets for first place in the NL East. Jamie Moyer (8-6, 3.95) faces righty Ricky Nolasco (10-4, 3.70) in Florida. Nolasco has allowed two or fewer runs in four consecutive starts, throwing to a 1.86 ERA his last four times out. The Marlins have won seven straight games that he has started. Over his last seven starts he hasn’t walked more than one hitter in any appearance. Right-handed batters have hit two home runs against him this season. Moyer hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last seven starts, but the Phils are just 1-4 in his last five times out. Righties are hitting .308 against him for the year compared to just .208 for lefties. In his nine starts away from Citizens Bank Park he has thrown to a 3.13 ERA.