Blanton Is Likely Staying
Just a few weeks ago it seemed like Joe Blanton would be pitching elsewhere in 2011.
But asked this morning if Blanton will be with the team this season, Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “I expect that to happen. Those things can change obviously. It’s not etched in stone. But we’re not forced to trade Joe. There’s nothing forcing us to do anything either way. And I’m not comfortable doing it. I don’t want to trade anybody. I like our club.” That is following comments Amaro made Tuesday to Ken Rosenthal: “He’s going to pitch for the Phillies, probably for the entire season.”
Amaro said he is uncomfortable trading Blanton because he likes the depth he provides. Should the Phillies trade Blanton and Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt or Cole Hamels suffer an injury, Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley likely would be the team’s fourth and fifth starters. But with Blanton in the fold the Phillies have one of the best No. 5 starters in baseball.
The Phillies had shopped Blanton since they signed Lee to a $120 million contract in December because they need to create payroll flexibility. Blanton will make $17 million over the next two seasons. But teams that had been looking for starting pitching no longer are looking, which probably is the biggest reason Amaro is planning to keep Blanton. The Brewers acquired Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. The Rangers signed Brandon Webb. The Tigers signed Brad Penny. The Nationals just acquired Tom Gorzelanny. There simply are few places for Blanton to land at this point, especially if teams are unwilling to take on most of his salary.
So if Blanton is the fifth starter where does that leave Kendrick, who just agreed to a one-year, $2.45 million contract Tuesday? Does he have a guaranteed job, perhaps in the bullpen as a long man?
“No, sir,” Amaro said. “Kyle will be fighting for a job in the big leagues.”
It is possible the Phillies could try to trade Kendrick, although if Amaro likes his roster’s depth it might not make sense. Kendrick is relatively affordable and is an attractive No. 6 starter after going 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 33 appearances (31 starts) last season. Remember last season Blanton and J.A. Happ opened the season on the disabled list. Jamie Moyer then blew out his elbow in July. Even Lee missed time last season with the Mariners and Rangers because of injuries.
It’s good to have starting pitching depth, and for the moment the Phillies have it.
Asked if Blanton’s presence completely closes the door on right-hander Chad Durbin returning to the bullpen, Amaro said, “I was pretty comfortable with the club as it stood a month ago. I think once we filled the left-handed need (with J.C. Romero) we felt pretty comfortable about where we stood.”
The Phillies today announced they are installing a HD scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. They said it will be the largest HD display in the National League and among the largest in the world, measuring 76 feet high and 97 feet wide, totaling 7,372 square feet.
Congratulations to Phillies pro scouting director Mike Ondo and his wife Colleen, who had a baby girl yesterday. Marissa Michelle Ondo.
Not sure what’s happening in Twitter land, but I checked yesterday and Jimmy Rollins does not have a Twitter account.