The Phillies send left-hander Josh Outman, second baseman Adrian Cardenas and outfielder Matt Spencer to Oakland in exchange for the 27-year-old pitcher.
From Beerleaguer news sources: Blanton, 27, is 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA at 77 ERA+ in 20 starts for the A's this season. He has a 3.87 ERA in 17 of his 20 starts and is tied for sixth in the American League in innings pitched (127.0), having gone at least 6.0 innings in 16 starts. Blanton has the seventh-lowest run support average in the AL.
Over the past four seasons (2005-08), Blanton, a first-round pick in the 2002 draft, is tied for third among American League pitchers with 752 2-3 innings pitched. Only Mark Buehrle (766 1-3) and Jon Garland (760 2/3) have pitched more in that span. Last season, Blanton went 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 34 starts with 230.0 innings pitched. He pitched two scoreless innings for Oakland in the 2006 American League Championship Series. Blanton is 47-46 in his career with a 4.25 ERA in 122 games (118 starts).
Outman, 23, was 5-4 with one save and a 3.20 ERA in 33 games (five starts) for Double-A Reading. Cardenas, 20, was hitting .309 in 67 games for Class A Clearwater. Spencer, 22, was hitting .249 with six home runs and 41 RBIs in 84 games for Clearwater. All three players were originally drafted by the Phillies.
Beerleaguer: The Phillies trade their top position prospect for the privilege of going season-to-season with a decent starting pitcher, one that would’ve required an expensive, long-term deal out on the open market. Following a couple misfires, the Phils are gun shy about playing that game again. Instead, they maintain flexibility and make a deal for a mid-season non-rental. The Phils pick up about $1.5M on his contract this season and he's arbitration eligible through 2010.
Cardenas goes from being the best, pure hitting prospect in our system to being the best for Oakland, where they’ll need to decide whether his future is in the infield or outfield. The redundancy at second base, with Chase Utley ahead of him, is only partially correct. Cardenas' future position is still undecided. Left-hander Josh Outman, who was converted from a starter to reliever in May, will pitch in the majors some day, but is in the midst of a lost season spent adjusting to the bullpen. He’s deceptive and he can miss bats. Spencer is a throw-in.
The Phillies get Blanton, and Blanton, to be frank, has been rather bad this season. There are a lot of miles on that 27-year-old arm of his. He tallied 230 innings last season and he’s at 127 here in ’08. The A’s have a history of using and abusing their pitchers, and why not? They’re too expensive to keep. Some, like Tim Hudson, ended up OK. Others have not.
Statistically, Blanton's K rate is down (4.6/G) and his control hasn’t materialized like it did in 2007, when he was walking 1.6/G. As mentioned earlier, Blanton’s home/away splits are severe (4.63/5.73), and obviously, Oakland's McAfee Coliseum is gigantic. His splits were even worse last season (2.69/5.11). The A’s had begun shielding him from as many road games as possible.
When a pitcher falls into that kind of pattern, you wonder if a change of scenery isn’t the best course of action. In Philadelphia, he gets a fresh start and better run support. It also doesn’t hurt that he’ll compete against inferior competition, which is exactly what the National League will offer.
Positives: The Phillies will make the playoffs if he can become the Kentucky Joe of old. I like the timing of the deal. Wait until the deadline – an injury here, a winning streak there -- and the market could have shifted. I definitely respect how the Phils are no longer interested in screwing around with underachieving pitchers like Adam Eaton, and I like the message it sends to a scuffling club. They can afford to be patient with J.A. Happ; Blanton is a safer option than Happ during the stretch run. And depending on where they need him, Brett Myers can pitch in the rotation or 'pen now that they’ve added some depth. Or, they’re clear to trade Myers, save the money and test Happ. They could go a couple directions. I think anytime a team can trade with another contender for a capable, cost-efficient Major League non-rental, it’s to be commended, in principle. After CC Sabathia and Rich Harden, Blanton was in that next tier of marginal difference makers.
Negatives: He's a marginal difference maker. Blanton’s decline from '07 cannot be ignored, and his workload raises a red flag. His average season is an average season (100 career ERA+). He's been bombed a couple times lately (1-2, 7.41 in last 17 IP), and is now being thrust into a new, high-pressure environment. He’s been a much, much better pitcher in low-profile, large McAfee Stadium. Readers of A’s blogs are bothered by his weight. Goodbye Adrian Cardenas, who could have been used in a sexier deal, or become a starting player for the Phillies some day.
Scouting: Fastball sits about 90-91. Very good 12-6 curveball, secondary slider and change-up. Pitches deep into games.