Despite Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves all making their case to make the starting rotation in a relatively strong fashion thus far in March, the Red Sox brass appear to be willing to at least examine other alternatives when it comes to starting pitching. The latest is Joe Blanton of the Philadelphia Phillies and according to Jim Sallisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the Red Sox have joined the crowd to watch Blanton during his spring training starts.
We heard earlier this week that the Blue Jays were on hand to watch Blanton and Jays GM Alex Anthopolous left as soon as Blanton was pulled from the game. The Orioles have also sent scouts to join Boston scouts in the stands to evaluate Blanton, as both clubs could look to add some veteran experience into their respective rotations.
It’s being reported that the Phillies are willing to eat as much as $2M of Blanton’s $8M dollar salary that he’s owed this year. He is set to be a free-agent at the end of the season so the urge to move him may pick up for Philly, rather than risk losing his for nothing.
Sallisbury reports that team officials with the Phillies believe Kyle Kendrick is ready to step into the rotation and contribute on a consistent basis. Hence Blanton becoming expendable.
The Phillies have become one of the top five payrolls in baseball and this year will be no different as they approach the $178M tax threshold. Trading Blanton would provide some relief and enable to them to make a deal to upgrade another position. Lately we’ve heard that the Phils are looking to add some infield depth, but may be willing to wait until the July trade deadline.
It’s hard to imagine the Red Sox not pulling the trigger on this deal because of the potential $6M that would be owed to Blanton. Marco Scutaro was traded to shed his $6M so that other deals could be worked out. Cody Ross signed for $3M and management has said they will go over the threshold this year if need be. Owner Larry Luchhino stated that he could see the Red Sox payroll push the $190M mark by season’s end, so taking on another $6M for Blanton shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
Considering that the Phillies may develop an itchy trigger finger on this deal, the timing could be right for the Red Sox. Michael Bowden or Andrew Miller may be more than enough to pry the 8-year veteran away from the city of Brotherly Love. Of course the Blue Jays are loaded with talented young arms, but they may not be too eager to acquire a starting pitcher who is owed substantial money. At least according to Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail.
Does this potential trade make sense for the Red Sox? Let’s take a look at Blanton’s numbers.
His career record is 73-62 with a 4.32 ERA, 1.348 WHIP and a 5.7K/9. His best year was in 2007 when he was a member of the Oakland A’s, going 14-10 while posting a 3.95 ERA, 1.217 WHIP in 34 starts, amounting to 230 innings.
The innings worked is worth noting. He has consistently worked in 190+ innings each season from 2005-2009. In 2010 he threw in 175.2 innings and then last year he was limited to just 41.1 and 11 starts. Here is where the concern comes in.
Blanton is recovering from an elbow injury that forced him to miss most of last season. He is considered risky and his latest start of the spring didn’t go without a blemish or two. He allowed three runs on four hits over five innings against the Atlanta Braves, while fanning four and walking only one.
Overall this spring he’s worked in 10.0 innings, surrendered 10 hits, struck out 8 and gave up the three runs previously mentioned. He will have to prove he’s worthy of acquiring before any team takes a chance on him. If he can stay healthy and regain his workhorse like career then his stock with the Red Sox will sky rocket.