The Cubs appear deadset on trading more minor league talent for Matt Garza than any team – including the Phillies – has given up for a starting pitcher in several years.
As reported by Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald, the Cubs will trade:
- their top overall prospect, righthander Chris Archer (15-3, 2.24 ERA, 9.4 K/9 in Single-A and Double-A in 2010)
- outfielder and 2010 Cubs Minor League Player of the Year, Brandon Guyer (.344/.398/.588, 13 HR, 39 doubles last year in Double-A)
- versatile infielder-turned-catcher Robinson Chirinos (.999 OPS, 18 HR in Double-A and Triple-A in 2010)
- and Hak-Ju Lee, a young speedster who has performed well at the lower levels
The trade is baffling. Nearly every credible Cubs analyst is questioning it, wondering why GM Jim Hendry believes Garza is worth this much given what it took to net Cliff Lee (twice), Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, and Zack Greinke.
From a Phillies standpoint, this trade would make Joe Blanton the best available starting pitching piece left on the trading block. With the Twins and Carl Pavano closing in on a two-year deal, Blanton is arguably the best pitcher available, period.
But a report surfaced this morning on Yahoo! Sports that Ruben Amaro is quite content with Blanton as his number five starter in 2011.
Is Kentucky Joe really here to stay, or should we read this as another in a long line of strategic moves by Amaro to drive up the asking price?
Based on what has happened since the signing of Cliff Lee – both in the Phillies front office and around the league – it can be reasonably surmised that nobody bit hard on Blanton. The Phillies were looking for either substantial salary relief (i.e. half or slightly more than half of Blanton’s remaining money) or an intriguing return.
Now, with few starting pitching options left and the unrelenting need every major league team has at the position, Blanton could actually net what Amaro originally sought.
So, while it may appear that Blanton is in the Phillies plans for 2011, it is difficult to read this as anything other than a ploy by Amaro to get what he wanted all along – some necessary salary relief.
If the market heats up in the coming days, we will know the truth of Amaro’s intentions. If it does not, you can pencil Joe Blanton in as the Phillies number five. The next 48-72 hours will tell the story.