Phillies land workhorse Blanton
Trade sends three prospects to A's for durable righty
PHILADELPHIA -- In Big Joe's Bluegrass Blog entry last month, Joe Blanton said this regarding what he called 'Year Three of "Joe's Gonna Get Traded"' rumors:"I don't know what the percentage is of trade rumors that actually happen, but I do know the percentage when it comes to me is zero up to now," he wrote. "I'm not saying I don't acknowledge it's possible I'll get traded, but I just kind of ignore it."
That percentage went up exponentially on Thursday evening, as the right-hander found a new home in Philadelphia, and the Phillies landed a starter after missing out on CC Sabathia and Rich Harden. The Phils sent prospects Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman and Matthew Spencer to Oakland for the workhorse.Blanton, 27, who had been spending his All-Star break in Nashville, Tenn., expects to fly to Florida on Friday. Scheduled to pitch on Friday for the A's, he could start on on Wednesday, with right-hander Adam Eaton expected to move to the bullpen. The Phillies could get creative and start Blanton on Saturday, keeping him in line to start the week after against the Mets. He hasn't allowed a run against the Mets in 15 innings. The important thing is that Philadelphia added what it hopes is an important piece to a division championship.
The teams announced the deal on Thursday, ending nearly 16 months of speculation regarding Blanton, who is 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA in 20 starts for Oakland. He joins fellow pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin in an exodus from the A's. They were dealt to the Cubs."That's the thing about being with the Oakland A's, you tend to be in rumors a lot," Blanton said. "I just took the approach that I didn't pay a lot of attention. I was with the team until told otherwise. Now, I've been told otherwise. I'm really excited about the situation I'm coming into. They have a great team." Blanton is no stranger to the Phillies, besting them on June 24. He limited Philadelphia to one run on four hits in seven innings.
The victim of the seventh-lowest run support average in the AL, Oakland's Opening Day starter enters a situation in which the team hopes he can continue to pitch deep in games.Blanton will have adjust to home games in Citizens Bank Park, an unkind place for pitchers. For his career, Blanton had a 3.79 ERA in 61 starts at McAfee Stadium, with its expansive foul territory, and a 4.78 ERA in 57 road starts.
"I feel as a pitcher that sometimes the park doesn't make a huge difference," Blanton said. "Obviously, when you get into a pitcher's park, there's certain things, foul territory, the ball not traveling, that can work to your advantage, but if you do your job, keep hitters off balance, and keep the ball on the ground, it shouldn't make any difference.""He's a guy who we had an interest in over time," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "One of the things that jump out with our scouts is what a competitor he is. He wants to stay out there, and give you innings, let you bullpen bounce back. We're obviously stated for a while that we looked to improve our starting rotation. He was attractive for a few reasons." His status is one of those reasons. Blanton can't become a free agent until after the 2010 season, making the Phillies more comfortable losing a top prospect like Cardenas, and a left-handed pitcher in Outman. Cardenas, a supplemental first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, was one of the organization's top prospects, and was hitting .309 with four homers and 23 RBIs for Class A Clearwater. He was trade bait almost from the day he was drafted, as his prime position is second base, currently occupied by Chase Utley. Outman was selected as a 10th-round pick in 2005 and had been pitching in relief at Double-A Reading, going 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 28 relief outings. Spencer, an outfielder and a third-round pick in 2007, was batting .249 with six homers and 41 RBIs at Clearwater. Blanton is the third second-half starting pitching acquisition in as many seasons, joining Kyle Lohse (2007) and Jamie Moyer (2006). Talks for him heated up in the past week, after the Phillies had been unable to land Sabathia. Coming on the eve of the start of the second half might be a good omen for Philadelphia. Blanton has a career ERA of 4.05 in the second-half, compared to 4.37 in the first half. "I feel that's one of my bigger strengths," Blanton said. "I'm a guy who wants to stay out there as long as they'll let me go. When I get halfway, I don't like to fall down the mountain, I like to keep climbing it." Added Arbuckle: "We feel his makeup is going to fit in well in a pennant race."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.