Joe Blanton Is Sticking Around

The Phillies agreed to terms on a three-year deal with Joe Blanton today. The salary breakdown is reportedly $7 million this season and $8.5 million in each of 2011 and ’12 for a total of $24 million.

There are obviously going to be some people talking about the Phillies’ trade of Cliff Lee, primary for financial reasons, and then subsequent retention of Joe Blanton. Cliff Lee makes $9 million this year, just $2 million more than Joe Blanton will be paid. Obviously Blanton now comes with a three year commitment while Lee is on just a single year and is destined for a big payday next winter. I still think I would have held onto Lee and gone with a Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee front of the rotation.

Focusing on Blanton, though, he has consistently been a slightly above-average pitcher, aside from his very good 2007 campaign in which he really limited the walks. CHONE projects some improvement in Blanton’s home run rate, driving his FIP to the low 4s, but given the ballpark that he calls home, I am not so sure that regression is going to come. Blanton is still young, having just turned 29, so his contract only covers the age 29-31 seasons.

The first year of the contract was to be an arbitration season, so from Philadelphia’s perspective they are paying for about 2.8 market seasons of Joe Blanton. Given roughly a 2.5-win projection, I would have called a three-year deal fair at around the $26 to $28 million mark. Coming in at $24 million strikes me as a win for the Phillies, though not by so much as to make Joe Blanton and his agent the butt of any jokes.

In fact, given the short term of the deal and Blanton’s youth, he gets to re-hit the market at age 31, still enough time to land another big money contract. All in all, and from a strict vacuum, I like this deal for both sides. I just still don’t get why it seems like the Phillies chose Blanton over Cliff Lee.

We hoped you liked reading Joe Blanton Is Sticking Around by Matthew Carruth!

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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92-93
Guest
92-93

“I just still don’t get why it seems like the Phillies chose Blanton over Cliff Lee.”

They didn’t choose Blanton over Lee. They wanted Roy Halladay because they could extend him long-term on a reasonable deal (as opposed to Lee), but they didn’t want to decimate their farm system to get him. They figured the only way to do this was to trade Lee for a package of prospects that would help offset the ones going to Toronto for Halladay. This obviously couldn’t have been accomplished by moving Blanton. In reality the Phillies chose Halladay over Lee.

DKulich44
Guest
DKulich44

Draft pick compensation… even if they held on to Lee, the Phillies would get 2 draft picks for letting him go. Two first round draft picks could possibly be equal to the value they got in Aumont, Ramirez, and Gillies. Unless each of those ends up hitting their absolute ceilings. The Phillies could have realistically had their cake and ate it, instead of flipping Lee to the first team they could.

bflaff
Guest
bflaff

The timeline for the 3 picks the Phils got for Lee is far more accelerated than 2 compensation picks they’d get if Lee walked after 2010. (And by the way, there’s no guarantee at all that these two picks will be any better, as players, than what Philly got from Seattle. Keep in mind that Aumont was a #1.)

So… 3 picks who start this year in AA, setting themselves to be potentially available to the big league side as minimum wage replacements next year, versus two complete unknowns who won’t even be drafted until 2011, and who realistically won’t be ready to contribute until 2013. (And that’s a pretty optimistic assumption, considering that the Phillies, picking at the bottom of the round, probably aren’t getting Matt Wieters, ready now types with those picks.)

The fact that Philly’s payroll situation is already a problem, and one that’s only going to get worse as the rest of their core gets past their arb years, means that cheap players who can step in soon is much better for the Phils than two guys who won’t be ready until long after they’re needed. The scenario with Seattle and Lee gives the Phils a much more reliable plan for the future than dice rolling on doing nothing to help the milb system, hoping you can muddle through with the thin talent pool that’s still there.

JayCee
Guest
JayCee

Unless my memory has failed me, it was not a 3-team-trade but, instead, two 2-team trades. The Phillies chose to trade Lee for prospects. Again, unless my memory is bad here, epic fail for your post.

Brad Johnson
Member

It’s clear that the Phillies intention was not to cut cost but to retain talent. They did a very poor job accomplishing this. On the face of their initial 1 year deals, Lee and Halladay had identical value. The reason they were forced to trade down was because Halladay was willing to accept such an incredibly reduced cost contract. I would have been happier if the Phillies could have managed to get Triunfel in that deal instead of one of the other pieces.

Steve
Guest
Steve

But they weren’t “forced” to trade down. That’s the point. They could have simply NOT traded Lee and still added Halladay.

Then you just trade Blanton and look for a Blanton-replacement next winter.

JayCee
Guest
JayCee

Steve is correct, of course.

Joe Blanton for one year for $7 million from arbitration is worth more than, say, Vicente Padilla for one year for $5. Blanton with his arbitration award could have been unloaded for something more than a bag of balls. I understand there are Phillies fans who want to jock the Phillies, but the false claim the Lee trade was a part of the Halladay trade is getting a bit old.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

re: picking Blanton over Lee:

*Big Joe opens a Valentine’s card with a picture of a train on it, and looks up at Amaro* You…choo-choo-choose me?

chuckb
Guest
chuckb

whether or not you agree with this comment, I fail to see why it warrants 10 “thumbs-downs”. It’s a valid comment and is supported. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the comment system.

Martha Coakley
Guest
Martha Coakley

I agree – letting the public vote is vastly overrated.