According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos attended the Phillies-Orioles yesterday afternoon and left after Phillies starter Joe Blanton was finished pitching. It has been no secret that the Blue Jays are in need of another starting pitcher and Blanton is certainly available, but he battled elbow problems for almost the whole season in 2011 and is due to make $8.5-million this year. Obviously any deal involving Blanton would likely see Philadelphia eating some of that salary, especially if any kind of real asset were to head the other way.

But should the Jays want Blanton?

Obviously, we don’t know for sure what Anthopoulos was doing in Clearwater yesterday; yes, it could have been to scout Blanton first hand, but perhaps he was there for some other reason and his timely exit could have been entirely coincidental. But let’s, just for a moment, pretend that he was there to see the 31-year-old righthander and is interested in acquiring him.

At first glance, Blanton seems like an entirely average pitcher. In fact, since his arrival in Philadelphia part way through the 2008 season, he has been as close to average as you can get. He hasn’t been what you would call an “innings-eater,” but he also averaged 189.2 innings pitched from 2008 to 2010 and never had any particularly serious injury problems before last year.

In 2011, albeit in a very small sample size (just 41.1 innings), Blanton had a very good 3.89 K/BB ratio which would have been a career-high had he been able to keep it up. The introduction of a sinker allowed him to increase his groundball rate to 55% despite a career mark of just 44% and as a result pitched to a 3.15 xFIP and a 3.21 SIERA. Now, obviously, this is a very small sample size, but the results are encouraging.

Yes Blanton has seen a marked decline in his overall value since leaving the friendly confines of the Coliseum in Oakland, but he’s still not worse than average provided he’s healthy. Is there anything wrong with having a fairly reliable average pitcher in your rotation? Given the question marks that exist outside of Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, I’d take Joe Blanton. Hell, I’d even consider taking the entirety of his $8.5-million salary if it meant not giving up anything terribly useful in return.

If we use FanGraphs’ $/WAR analysis, Blanton would only have to be worth 1.7 fWAR in 2012 to justify his salary. I’m willing to bet he ends up better than that provided he pitches in 180 innings or more and if he can continue to find success with his new sinker, maybe he becomes a bargain.

And the rest:

Jose Bautista (aka Tater Jesus) homered twice in yesterday’s Grapefruit League game against the Houston Astros [Gregor Chisolm, MLB.com].

Yoenis Cespedes went 2-2 with a walk against the Reds in his first Spring Training game with the Oakland A’s. The second of his two hits was a line drive over the leftfield wall off of Jeff Francis [Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com]. I’m officially a Cespedesphile.

Angels slugger Mark Trumbo finally got a chance to play third base in a live game yesterday[Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register]. I’ve previously been critical of such a move, he did make a very nice diving catch off the bat of Joaquin Arias [MLB.com].

Picking up right where Tony LaRussa left off, Mike Matheny is angry with the Marlins and the MLBPA for how they handled yesterday’s rain delay and players’ meeting in Jupiter [Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com].

Although it was feared Chris Carpenter’s neck problem was related to a potentially career-threatening nerve issue, it is apparently just the result of a bulging cervical disc [Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch]. It’s unknown whether or not the soon-to-be 37-year-old will be ready for Opening Day, but this is encouraging news for the Cardinals regardless.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty will talk to Brandon Phillips’ agents once they get into town this week regarding an extension for the second baseman [Mark Sheldon, MLB.com]. Phillips is scheduled to become a free agent at season’s end and will make $12-million this year after the team picked up his option.

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Comments (10)

  1. bring back jo-jo reyes!

    • they should go look at jake peavy, imo. potential #1 and the chisox will likely eat some of that salary. it’s a 21 million dollar risk, but is worth considering if they’re looking at 4/5th starters elsewhere @ close to 9million PLUS whatever they will ask for in a trade. the reward on someone like peavy is much greater, he looks healthy, and he’s been great when he can stay on the mound.

  2. Ugh. We’ve already got one crappy backup pitcher in case two of our 6 MLB ready SP fail Laffey). Why would we need ANOTHER Laffey?

    I wouldn’t take Blanton for free. Wouldn’t want him taking any innings away from any of our six. If there are innings to give away, I want them going to either Drabek, Cecil or Alvarez (whoever doesn’t make the rotation). Not freaking Blanton.

    The guy threw 41 IP last year. Has a career 5.9 K/9. A career 4.32 ERA (and that’s pitching in the NL for half his career, and a notorious pitchers park the other half). And his last two years have been horrible.

    If at least two of our six SP’s fail. And Laffey. And Hutch isn’t ready yet, then MAYBE we consider Blanton. Maybe.

    • his k/9 and bb/9 have been increasing the last 3 eyars, albeit in the nleast (which wasn’t exactly the 2012 nleast until now).

      the questions for me are: are the elbow issues from last year resolved, are the peripheral stats from last year ‘for real’ or an outcome of the small sample size (and that teams probably spend more time preparing for the rest of their rotation)…?

      who knows? hard to get excited about a guy like blanton, but hard to condemn AA doing his “due diligence” when we don’t know what all the pieces of the puzzle might be.

  3. AA doing his due dliligence is what it is.

    But seriously Travis, you would take on Blanton with his full-salary? Why not hang onto the powder keg until we get into the season? I doubt good ole boy Oswalt will ever come to Toronto. But AA has the pulse of other GM’s in and around baseball.

    If Cecil fails to live up to the weight loss hype and is destined for AAA or the bullpen, then our ninja GM will find someone to make a deal with. There should be better options than Joe Blanton.

    • To be honest, I should’ve mentioned and didn’t that there’s some speculation that Cecil could be hurt. Something about Farrell watching a bullpen session or some such thing. But honestly, I just feel that Blanton is a decent back-end pitcher who’s probably worth the money allocated to a guy who could be worth between 1.5-2.0 WAR.

  4. Not directly at you, but why are people okay with spending medium amounts of money on guys like this, but completely against dropping big money on someone who is actually really good?

    Blanton at best is a “meh” kind of guy, 1.5-2.0 WAR which you acknowledge. So too are some of the Jays pick ups this winter (Cordero, Oliver, Frasor, Mathis, Francisoco, Encarnacion). None of those players makes the Jays great, but together they make $19 million next season.

    If you want to be great, why not take that money and give it to someone who can be a difference maker. Fielder/Pujols/Darvish (maybe), these are players who can change a franchise. Spend your money on them and for the rest just hope that guys like Carreno, Jeroloman, Snider, and Thames can fill the gaps.

    • Because the elite players take lengthy commitments, whereas the “meh” ones improve your team to a similar extent without locking the team into paying guys in their late 30s 20+ million dollars.

    • see, you don’t get it man. It’s not about winning. It’s about cost control. The fact that championship teams all have superstars on them is just coincidence. You are stoopid, have some kool-aid and just agree with those that know better.

  5. I see absolutely no reason to think the 2011 small sample size Blanton is more accurate than the Blanton of 2008-10. He may well be worth the dollars if you use the WAR/$5 million. But he isn’t worth a major league roster spot on the Jays.

    He’s obviously better than Jo Jo Reyes, but like Reyes, he would just take up a roster spot of a young arm. I was under the impression that the whole point of this year was to get a sense of where our team was at with respect to young pitching. We weren’t ready to spend on free agents, because we didn’t know where we stood just yet. Picking up Blanton would just get in the way of that.

    Also, Blanton sucks.

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