Kentucky Fried Extension

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, January 21, 2010 06:40 PM | Comments: 28
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

When Jon Heyman reported earlier in the week that Joe Blanton was seeking $10.25M from the Phillies for the 2010 season, all of those old feelings of confusion over the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee deals resurfaced. Many of us began asking the same questions:

  • Does Blanton really think he’s worth $10.25M?
  • Was the Phillies counter of $7.5M too much of a lowball offer to drive the price down?
  • Would Blanton’s 2010 contract exceed the $8M the team was scheduled to pay Cliff Lee (once upon a time?)

Needless to say, this wasn’t good news for the Phillies. It led to multiple articles being written about the benefits of keeping Lee and instead trading Blanton, an idea that unfortunately means nothing in this pre-time machine world we live in.

Let’s face facts: even with the Lee trade being more so about prospects than money, it was still about financial wiggle room to a certain degree. It would have been inexcusable to pay Joe Blanton, a pitcher quantifiably worse than Lee in every category known to man (or computer,) between $8-10M if Lee could have been kept for the same, or an even lower price.

Luckily, Ruben Amaro and Blanton’s agent, Jeff Barry, were able to agree to terms Thursday that will keep the righthander in Philadelphia through 2012. The three-year deal is worth $24M with $500,000 in incentives that can be reached if Kentucky Joe pitches a certain amount of innings.

Had Blanton gone to arbitration, it’s unclear if he would have been awarded $7.5M or $10.25M, because he would have been worth more than what the Phillies were offering but less than what he wanted. But avoiding the possibility of having to pay him over $10M is a huge coup for the Phils.

Blanton will make $7M in 2010, and $8.5M in 2011 and 2012. So, all in all, the Phillies saved a million bucks by keeping Blanton instead of Lee. (I’m sure that makes you all feel so much better about what’s transpired…)

Looking at this deal in a vacuum, ignoring what happened with Cliff Lee during that whirlwind week, this contract is f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c for the Phillies.

For years Blanton was known as an “innings eater,” a term that any loyal Phillies Nation follower knows that I hate, because it is only used to describe average/mediocre pitchers. Example: you don’t hear Roy Halladay mentioned as an innings eater because there are roughly 6,787 other adjectives that sound better. You don’t hear people call Zack Greinke an innings eater and you never saw that label precede the name Greg Maddux for similar reasons.

But in 2009, Blanton did more than merely pitch a bunch of mediocre innings. He pitched 195 1/3 in all, while giving up his fewest amount of earned runs since his rookie season. His hit rate was also the lowest it had been since his rookie year.

But most importantly, Blanton became a strikeout pitcher. The best K/9 ratio he had ever compiled was 6.2, but last year it was 7.5. In five seasons with the Athletics, Blanton struck out 5.1 batters per nine innings, but in his year-and-a-half with the Phillies it has risen to 7.1

Blanton isn’t merely “eating innings” anymore, he’s mowing down the opposition and garnering actual, legitimate praise that can’t also be applied to a guy like Livan Hernandez.

After recognizing that Blanton has improved to the point that a three-year deal was beneficial to the Phillies, let’s take a look at the amount of money he’ll make from 2010-12.

A comparable pitcher that immediately came to mind for me was Randy Wolf. Before continuing to read, take a second to ask yourself, is Joe Blanton a better pitcher than Randy Wolf? Is he worse? Or are they similar enough that it’s hard to predict which pitcher will fare better in the next three years?

Regardless of what your answer was, keep in mind that Randy Wolf inked a three-year/$30M deal with the Brewers only a month ago. Wolf is 33 and often injured. Blanton is 29 and has made 31 or more starts in all five of his full seasons in the majors. So, even if you consider Wolf slightly better, Blanton being younger and healthier makes this deal more worth it.

(And, for the record, I see Blanton as having more upside than Wolf over the next three years, regardless of money or contracts.)

The current market value for N0. 3 starters like Joe Blanton is roughly $8-10 million a year, evidenced by Wolf’s deal and the 2-year/$16M contract Joel Pineiro signed earlier this week. The Phils were able to keep Blanton around for the low-part of that market value.

It will be easy to complain about Cliff Lee again. But let’s instead applaud the great work by Amaro and Blanton and rejoice at the fact that Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, and Happ are all locked up until at least 2011.

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About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff P

    You say ‘had blanton gone to arbitration he would have been awarded 8.5M” – arbitration doesn’t work that way – the arbiter either chooses the Phillies number or Blantons number.

    I agree with the article though. You can’t really look at it in terms of Cliff Lee, and when you exclude that, it’s a fantastic deal.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    No, I said that $8.5 is likely what he would have been awarded. Often times the number is in between what the team offers and what the player wants.

  • Posts: 0 Just Crushed

    Teams that want to compete for a World Series, have a stadium that runs at 102%, concessions, parking, merchandise, radio deal, Cable deal, play in the number 5 media market, are in the Top 10 in franchise value would have found a way to do this deal and keep Lee. Go and chose to forget about it….and if we are in the World Series I will eat my crow…but I bet by August you will all wish with me that Lee was here.

    You are nuts to think it was not about money or potential money. Do the math…We ended up with a great pitcher in Halliday…had Lee for 3 months…and depleted our farm system of all our top level prspects expect one (Brown). What we got for Lee was an embarrasment…pay Lee the 8.5 million for a year…sign Blanton to this deal….win a World Series and pick up a couple of first rounders.

    I love Joe B…this off-season will be knwn as a joke….wait until we need to replace both Werth, Ibanez and Howard (and shortly thereafter Rollins).

    And pray we have no injuries to a weaker than last year pen…

  • Posts: 0 Adam

    1) read what Jeff P wrote
    2) i think this is a great deal- we pay ‘tucky joe less this year than we would have even had we won arbitration (which we surely would have with his outrageous bid) and only give a modest raise of 1M over our bid for the next 2 years. solid.
    3) it wouldve been great to keep CPL in CBP but he’s gone and we have our top 3 locked in. gotta like that. you know… as long as you can forget about cliff…

  • Posts: 0 Adam

    lol corey the number is never between the 2 bids, it is always one or the other


  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Corey, its one of the two numbers. Thats why the teams submit them. My prediction for Joe’s record over the next three years: 45-30, 3.88. Thats worth 8m a year.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Didn’t realize that was the case. Would have made a deal for Blanton even more difficult, though, because the Phillies offer was slightly more ridiculous than what Blanton wanted.

  • Posts: 0 John

    However, Blanton could have chosen the midpoint and avoided arbitration. But once you go to arbitration then it becomes one or the other.

  • Posts: 0 Mazinman

    I really like this. Halladay, Happ, Blanton, and hopefully Hamels gives us a starting rotation that we can take to the bank for years to come and that is what I think things come down to. We traded away what would have been one spectacular year with Lee for a solid rotation not only for this year but for the following ones too.

    The Lee deal is still a bitter pill to swallow but I think that the other deals have been good for the Phillies and they will be going into the 2010 season in better shape that they were going into the 2009 one. Except for the Bullpen. That still worries me a bit. Still no one else in the NL has really done much to improve so we are still looking good.

  • Posts: 0 John

    I lied…ignore my post :)

  • Posts: 0 Corey Seidman

    Thanks for the clarification on the arb process, article’s been fixed. The possibility of a compromise being reached between both parties before reaching arbitration was what I intended with the 8.5-8.75 hypothesis.

  • Posts: 0 PhxPhilly

    Instead of “Had Blanton gone to arbitration, he would have made ~$8.5M” you could have written, “Had Blanton settled prior to arbitration at the customary midpoint of the offers he could have signed for ~$8.5M this year.”
    Still a reasonable argument. However, given the market this year most people seem to agree Blanton was going to have some difficulty having the Phillies settle that high.

    I wish they kept Lee but they wanted more than a “B level” prospect had they traded Blanton (e.g. Ramirez). Lee would have been here in 2010 then worth two draft picks: late first or early second round pick and a 1.5 round pick. These players are more likely Jason Knapp / Travis D’Arnaud types rather than Aumont (high 1st round) types. The benefit of trading for prospects (over draft picks) is the have some history in professional baseball and may be considered lower risks. I understand the rationalization but would have preferred the Phillies traded someone else to get prospects if they wanted them (e.g. Victorino).

  • Posts: 0 Corey Seidman

    It’s funny that NOW we hear the Buster Olneys of the world saying that the Phillies could have gotten a “B” level prospect for Blanton.

    Jayson Stark said during that whole Halladay/Lee period of time that nobody bit on Blanton and nobody was offering any prospects of value.

    It’s easy to make claims like that now, when it’s impossible to prove it or go back and time and change it.

  • [...] PhilliesNation.com is ecstaticabout the team signing Joe Blanton to a 3-year [...]

  • Posts: 0 Brook

    This team is just about ready to rock – damn I’m getting excited. Just Joe could have played it out but decided the Phils offer was sweet enough.

    Anyone familiar with the book writings of Frank Lieb? I have one of his books and its a gas, about the Phils from the turn of the century.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    I am for the Blanton deal and for the Lee trade. Great work.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Who wants a B level prospect instead of a #3 at a resonable price?

  • Posts: 0 Keith E

    A fair deal for everyone.
    Bring your lunch pail Joe, we need innings!
    GO PHILS!!!

  • Posts: 0 Corey Seidman

    PsuJoe – Someone who wants Cliff Lee instead of Joe Blanton…I’m not getting into that discussion again, but I was just pointing out how stupid it is for people like Buster Olney to write articles about what the Phillies should’ve done if Jayson Stark made it abundantly clear that nobody wanted Blanton the way Olney suggested.

  • Posts: 0 PhxPhilly

    What is a “B” level prospect starting pitcher? Upside as a #2/3? That’s what Blanton is (maybe #4 on an excellent staff). Why would the Phillies trade a proven major league #3 for a ‘possible’ #3 prospect? If I was the GM, I would taken what I could get for Joe as a salary dump, kept Lee, and worried about it later.

    Concerning the Blanton deal: seems about right. Mid-level pitcher with proven track record is worth about $7-$8M. He is a known quantity in Philly and at CPB and seems like the grinder type which I think fits well with the fan base. On all these recent 3 year deals the Phillies seem to spend about $1M/yr more than I would like (Lidge, Ibanez, Moyer, Polanco, Blanton). Eventually that adds up but in each case they are not too bad. I keep hoping for a better ‘winning team’ discount from the players.

    I figured if Blanton left after 2010 they would need to replace him with someone like Ted Lilly who is a similar pitcher who should cost about the same. Blanton was unlikely to be a type A free agent so no compensation if we lost him. Halladay and Blanton are #1 and #3. Hamels is an inconsistent #2. Happ will hopefully remain an above average #4. That leaves #5 for a young guy to break through in 2011.

  • Posts: 0 jrollpatrol08

    good article. good comparison with wolfpack’s recent 3/30 deal and i think blanton will definitely have better numbers over the next 3 years than randy. overall i agree with most on here…good deal for the phils to keep blanton locked in at 8mil per year.

    and the cliff lee part of the story…im just sick of hearing about it. if people are still continuing to compare lee’s 9mil with blanton’s 8 then they havent understood the basis of the cliff lee trade. lee, being highly superior in all significant pitching categories, obviously was going to bring to the phils more prospects than a solid middle-rotation guy 1 year away from free agency. this was why the deal was made. not that i agree with it, but its very easy to understand. if it was about money they would have shopped blanton for ANYTHING to clear payroll. they wouldnt have considered pickin up rollins’ option so early. there are many combinations the phils could have done to make room financially for cliff lee…they didnt do it…and i have faith that the fellas making these decisions KNOW the power of a 1-2 halladay, lee combination, and would have tried to work it out…if it was about money they would have. period. since it was about prospects, here we are.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Just Crushed = crybaby

    “by August I bet you will all wish with me that that Lee was here.”

    No….By August…I will be glad that the Phillies are leading the division and that Roy Halladay is on his way to winning 20 games for us..

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I “WISH” that Lee was here now… and unlike some people, I’ve moved on with my life…and the realization that although a great pitcher left, an even better one has taken his place

  • Posts: 0 ChuckS

    Can we agree that this is the last time we mention Cliff Lee’s name, please. He’s gone. In just a few short months we get to see why “Doc” is one of the games best. Cole Hamels will remind us why he won an NLCS and World Series MVP. Joe Blanton will be a bulldog, J.A. Happ will continue right were he left off. Then, people will realize that these guys will be around for years to come, smile :), and forget all about the pitcher from Arkansas.

  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    I agree with Chuck, JustCrushed = crybaby. Lee is gone, get over it. As we cheer on our team, you can continue to cry about former players on other teams. FYI Halladay is a better pitcher than Lee so its not like we have no ace at all. I also like this deal. Blanton ended up signing a contract averaging 8 million a year. Not bad considering he wanted 10.5 mil, and the Phils wanted 7.5. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Lee (I know I said get over it) was supposed to be paid 9 Mill not 8 Mil? Problem is if the Phillies couldnt reach a deal with Lee, that would be 9 for Lee and 6-7 ish in 2010 for Blanton. True, that would have given us all 5 starters, but thats a sizeable payroll (of course not compared to the Yankmees.) Either way, I like this signing. 1-4 starters are looking pretty good (if Hamels can be anywhere close to his ’08 form and Happ doesnt hit the Sophemore slump).

  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    We still need more starting pitching!

    With injuries we need six starter. If you count Kendrick (not sure I do) we are one short. The league may have figured out Happ (like they did Kendrick). Here is where the issue of prospects comes up. If you have strong prospects in the minors you can bring them up.
    No one likes to worry about tomorrow but tomorrow has a funny way of becoming today.

  • Posts: 0 John K

    Actually you always hear about how many innings Halladay pitches and how good of a thing that is. IP as a stat is somewhat underrated. If blanton has a 2009 repeat this year, that’s easily worth 8 mil..

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Yes, but you don’t hear him referred to as an “innings eater,” you hear him referred to as a dominant starting pitcher. Tacky, formulaic cliches like “innings eater” are reserved for the Jon Garlands of the world.

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