Blanton Traded to The Phillies
The A’s shipped Joe Blanton to the Philadelphia Phillies for three minor leaguers Thursday, a trade that was not as surprising as the one Beane made nine days earlier. That was when he traded Rich Harden to the Chicago Cubs in a six-player deal, even though the A’s were six games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the American League West. Oakland is still six games out of first and is now four and a half games out of the wild-card hunt.
This is not a very surprising move on Beane's part, but what is interesting is the Phillies just acquired what could be the missing piece in the back end of their rotation. Brett Myers has struggled mightily (3-9, 5.84) since coming back from the closer role he occupied in 2007. He was recently optioned to Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley but will rejoin the team sometime next week. But his days in the rotation may be numbered with the acquisition of Blanton.
Cole Hamels (9-6, 3.15), Jamie Moyer (8-6, 3.95) and Kyle Kendrick (8-3, 4.47) have done a fine job leading this rotation so far this season. To add Blanton at this point gives them a pitcher that can eat up a ton of innings (he has averaged well over 200 innings per season since 2005). He's not the dominant anchor to any rotation, but he provides a stable arm that allows their potent offense to win games.
“The rebuilding process is something I find exhilarating,” Beane said by telephone before the Blanton deal was completed. “We’re not interested in being a one-year wonder.”
The antithesis of anyone in Major League Baseball named Steinbrenner, Beane sees a bigger picture, and that picture includes the A's as a perennial playoff contender once again as they were earlier in this decade. Billy Beane has a way of gathering talented pitching and offensive stalwarts to create surprising teams who have staying power in the American League. We haven't seen the last of the A's for a while. They'll be among the contenders in the American League West within the next few seasons and it will be because of Billy Beane.
With Blanton, who was a disappointing 5-12 with a 4.96 E.R.A. this year and has been the subject of trade talk for months, Beane might have waited too long to unload him. The A’s acquired three minor leaguers for Blanton: second baseman Adrian Cardenas, pitcher Josh Outman and outfielder Matthew Spencer.
With the National League East race staying tight between the New York Mets and current division leaders, Philadelphia Phillies, this move might be the one that pushes the Phils just out of reach of their NL East foes. Unless the New York Mets counter with a trade of their own to solidify the very shaky closer situation with Bill Wagner, you're more than likely looking at a headline later this season that reads "Phillies Repeat as NL East Champs".