“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 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 to adjust to home games in Citizens Bank Park, an unkind place for pitchers. For his career, Blanton had a 3.79 ERA in 24 starts at McAfee Coliseum, with its expansive foul territory, and a 4.78 ERA in 23 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 your 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.” (H/T Phillies.com)
I am so happy right now that I’m not going to have any sleep less nights over his present win-lost record or his ERA. If he pitches as well against the rest of the NL as he did against our boys back on June 24 in Oakland, I’ll be satisfied. And it would seem that it won’t hurt us down on the farm with the trio that we’d gave up for him, and it’ll get Eaton out of the starting rotation. Hey, what’s not to like about this overall? YAAAAHHHHHOOOOO!!!! The mystery idiots seems to have finally done something right for a change. Hey, while we’ll doing the right thing, guys, how about a new reliever to help set up things in the bullpen and signing Pat Burrell to a brand spanking new contract? PLEASE!!!!!
Too bad this comes in the wake of the Mets tying the Phillies for first place in the East after defeating the Reds in the bottom of the ninth. Gee, way to go, Cincy!!!!