Joe Blanton Rumors
In an article for ESPN.com, Jayson Stark collects opinions from around baseball on the new wild card game. While the arrangement motivates teams to win their divisions, Braves catcher Brian McCann, a veteran of last year's NL wild card contest, tells Stark that the game doesn't have a playoff atmosphere. "I just feel like, you play 162 games, you win 90-plus, and all of a sudden, it's one game and you're home?" McCann said. Stark's article also covers suggestions on how to address complaints with the one-game format. Here's more links from around the majors:
- For the Rangers, the season is increasingly looking like a troubling repeat of last year's collapse down the stretch. Looking ahead at possible free agent targets, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the team could pursue one of the top international free agents -- first baseman Jose Abreu and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka -- but not both. Brian McCann will be the team's primary target, however, Grant predicts in another tweet.
- The Angels' decision to give Friday's start to minor-leaguer Matt Shoemaker isn't an encouraging sign for Tommy Hanson or Joe Blanton, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. Hanson was recalled from Triple-A on Monday, while Blanton has spent the last two months in the bullpen. Though manager Mike Scioscia indicated the club merely wanted to get a look at Shoemaker, DiGiovanna says there's a good chance that Blanton will be released before the 2014 season, while Hanson is a non-tender candidate.
- The Astros' Chris Carter is aware of his high strikeout total this season, which currently sits at 202 and is the highest in the majors, Gene Duffey writes in an article for MLB.com. "Everybody's talking about it, but I just try to have good at-bats," Carter said. "I want to be around .290. I want to be a complete hitter. I've got to get the strikeouts down and the average up." While Carter's batted just .221 this season, he leads the Astros with 67 walks.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn addressed his team's long-term plans in an interview with Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Two of the most significant items in the Sox's budget will be spending in the draft and international market, Hahn says. "Spending to our max in those two areas is important to the long-term sustaining of our success that we are trying to build to," the GM said. "Those will be kind of the first two items, and [they will be] significantly more than the past."
- Cubs righty Scott Baker says he'd like to return to the club next season, Manny Randhawa of MLB.com reports. "I think it's a wonderful place to play," Baker said. "I kind of feel like with these last few starts, there's less of a question mark about me next year than there was going into this year ... Hopefully, whether it's the Cubs or other teams, [they] feel the same way." Baker made just three starts for the Cubs in 2013 after spending most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
As noted earlier today, the Angels' acquisition of infielder Grant Green from the Athletics looks to be a sound move thus far, but the team still has plenty of holes, namely in the pitching department. Here's more on the Halos...
- Asked by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times whether or not GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia would return next season, owner Arte Moreno declined comment. Not surprisingly, Scioscia told Shaikin that he wants to remain with the Angels. He says he has not given any thought to one day managing his hometown Phillies now that Charlie Manuel has been fired.
- One general manager told Peter Gammons of the MLB Network that the Angels have the two most unmovable contracts in baseball in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. The same GM added that they "have no farm system" after trading for Zack Greinke and forfeiting their 2013 first-rounder to sign Hamilton, and they've wasted the inexpensive years of Mike Trout's career.
- Dipoto failed on his four offseason pitching acquisitions, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton have contributed very little for the Halos, which Dipoto himself acknowledged. The team is confident that Burnett will be healthy for 2014, but DiGiovanna writes that Blanton could be released in the offseason and Hanson non-tendered. The thin market for free agent pitching might ultimately lead the Halos to consider trading Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick for young, controllable pitching help.
Joe Blanton will start for the Angels against the Dodgers Tuesday night, and with the imminent returns of Jered Weaver and Tommy Hanson, it would appear to be a crucial start. But that's not how Blanton sees it, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports. "I don't have anything to prove," says Blanton. "This is my ninth [full season]. If I have to prove something my ninth year … you know, obviously I want to throw the ball well." Blanton has a 6.19 ERA with 5.7 K/9 in 56 2/3 innings, although he has only walked 2.1 batters per nine. "I feel like I've pretty much thrown the ball the way I want to throw. Stuff's been fine, and they've just hit balls where people aren't," Blanton says. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Shohei Otani made his NPB debut as a starting pitcher last Thursday, and a member of the Rangers' front office was in attendance, Sponichi reports. "I was aware of him, but his pitching really left an impression," Scott Littlefield, a special assistant to Rangers GM Jon Daniels, said. "I think he's got a bright future ahead of him if he can stay healthy." Otani, who at one point seemed likely to sign with an MLB team directly out of high school, gave up two earned runs over five innings in his debut, striking out two and walking three. Sponichi also notes that Littlefield was on hand to watch Masahiro Tanaka's start on Wednesday. Tanaka, 24, has a career 2.47 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in seven seasons for Rakuten.
- The Indians' bullpen is a bit banged-up right now, but with the trade deadline still two months away, GM Chris Antonetti is optimistic about the relievers he has, the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes reports. Closer Chris Perez headed to the disabled list Monday with a shoulder injury. "Losing your closer is never easy, but we still feel the solutions are in our clubhouse," says Antonetti. Perez's replacement, Vinnie Pestano, has had lower velocity since his own return from the disabled list two weeks ago. Still, trading for a reliever at this early point in the season would be a little unusual. Hoynes mentions signing Brian Wilson as a possibility, but Wilson had Tommy John surgery last year and hasn't pitched in 2013.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan spoke with Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN recently and told Mackey that he's not yet ready to pat himself on the back for last season's Francisco Liriano trade. Mackey opines that the Twins look like clear winners already, noting that the White Sox paid $2MM for lackluster results from Liriano, who didn't even re-sign with the team. In exchange, Minnesota has a serviceable utility infielder in Eduardo Escobar and a 23-year-old lefty in Pedro Hernandez who already has four solid MLB outings under his belt for the Twins. Mackey notes what a breath of fresh air a good trade is after recent missteps including the Johan Santana trade, the Wilson Ramos trade and the J.J. Hardy-for-Jim Hoey swap. Here are more highlights from Mackey's excellent piece...
- Ryan told Mackey that he's embracing statistical analysis far more in his second run as the team's GM than his first. Ryan consults with Twins' stat guru Jack Goin on every personnel decision, but Mackey notes that "...Ryan's background is still firmly entrenched in traditional scouting."
- When asked by Mackey if he could form opinions on 18 college players he'd never seen after attending just one college game, Ryan replied: "That's what you're supposed to do, and if you go into that college game and you can't do that then you need to get out of the business, because you're paid to evaluate and make a decision."
- Ryan feels that lack of command, not lack of stuff, has been the reason for Mike Pelfrey's early struggles in his first season with the Twins. Pelfrey is still less than one year removed from Tommy John surgery. Ryan isn't surprised by the early problems and feels that Pelfrey "will be fine" in the long run, which implies to yours truly that Pelfrey will have a fairly long leash.
- The Twins have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, whom they signed to a Major League contract this offseason following his dominant season for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in 2012. Mackey reports that Wood's stuff has looked good but notes that the Twins will have to expose him to waivers if he's not on the 25-man roster at the end of his 30-day rehab window because he is out of options.
- Minnesota "flirted pretty heavily" with Joe Blanton this winter, but it looks like they dodged a bullet when Blanton picked the Angels instead. Mackey notes that Blanton has allowed as many homers (nine) as the entire Twins rotation combined.
- The Twins will be cautious with how quickly they promote top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, as the organization wants to see how they fare when facing pitchers in their respective leagues for a second time. Mackey adds that Sano -- Baseball America's No. 9 overall prospect -- doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season.
- Burnett’s 2015 option vests if he pitches in 110 total games from 2013-14, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports (all Twitter links). The 2015 option is valued at $4.5MM. The Angels recently agreed to sign Burnett to a two-year, $8MM contract that includes incentives. The option becomes a club option with a $500K buyout if it doesn't vest, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Burnett obtains a $250K signing bonus, $3.5MM in 2013 and $3.75MM in 2014, Rosenthal reports.
- Blanton’s two-year, $15MM contract with the Angels calls for a $6.5MM salary in 2013 and a $7.5MM salary in 2014, DiGiovanna reports. The deal includes an $8MM club option for 2015 with a $1MM buyout.
- Randy Choate will earn base salaries of $1.5MM in 2013, $3MM in 2014 and $3MM in 2015 on his three-year, $7.5MM contract with the Cardinals, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Langosch has all of the details on the deal, which was agreed upon one week ago.
The Angels agreed to terms with righty Joe Blanton on a two-year, $15MM deal, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The deal includes a third-year option, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Blanton is represented by CAA Sports.
Blanton, 31, posted a 4.71 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 1.37 HR/9, and 44.6% groundball rate in 191 innings for the Phillies and Dodgers this year. The signing raises the question as to whether the Angels' rotation is set, with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson, Blanton, and Garrett Richards, and without Zack Greinke. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted earlier today, the Angels could be considering signing two starters for less than what it would have cost to make a competitive bid for Greinke.
Blanton hadn't been the subject of a ton of rumors so far in the offseason, but the Twins were another team known to have interest, and were said to be eyeing the right-hander as a "prime target" in Nashville.
Blanton, 31, posted a 4.71 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 1.37 HR/9, and 44.6% groundball rate in 191 innings for the Phillies and Dodgers this year. The near-signing raises the question as to whether the Angels' rotation is set, with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson, Blanton, and Garrett Richards, and without Zack Greinke.
While the top options on the free agent market may be out of the Twins' price range the club's search for pitching has Minnesota eyeing Joe Blanton as a "prime target," according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Kevin Correia and Brett Myers are also on the team's radar, Crasnick reports.
In addition to those three names, recently non-tendered pitchers like Mike Pelfrey, John Lannan, and others could interest the Twins, according to Crasnick. Vicente Padilla has also drawn a little interest from Minnesota.
Although the Twins seem to be looking at plenty of pitching options in free agency, the team has also been more active in trade talks than expected, says Crasnick. Teams with pitchers on the block have approached the Twins about both Ben Revere and Josh Willingham.
Here's the latest on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN...
- So far, the Twins have reached out to free agents Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. They're interested in Myers as a starter. They've also reached out to Brandon Webb even though he hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009.
- The club continues to have regular conversations with Alan Nero, who represents right-hander Scott Baker. The two sides are working on a new contract after Baker's $9.25MM option was declined.
- The Twins have not shown any interest in Jon Garland and were not present when the right-hander threw for teams during an audition back in September.
- Talks with reliever Jared Burton about a contract extension are underway. Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM salary for the right-hander next season, after which he'll become a free agent.
- The Twins have inquired about reliever Randy Messenger, though the Hanshin Tigers in Japan will not allow the right-hander out of his contract.
- The team has not contacted Bill Bray after he hit free agency. Special assistant Wayne Krivsky acquired the left-hander during his tenure as Reds GM.
MLBTradeRumors is introducing a new series in which two comparable free agents are analyzed side by side. Each post will conclude with a reader vote on the value of the two players.
Joe Saunders and Joe Blanton have a lot in common. They have both evolved into steady if unspectacular starters since being selected in the first round of the 2002 draft. Both of the 6’3” 31-year-olds were traded in waiver deals this past August. They even share a first name. Let’s move past the similarities and determine which free agent should appeal to teams more in the coming offseason, when both Saunders and Blanton will be eligible for free agency.
Saunders has averaged 175 innings over the course of the past five seasons and, unlike Blanton, hasn't missed significant time due to injuries in recent years. He’s six months younger than Blanton and he’s left-handed. Saunders also has the edge in career ERA (4.15 vs. 4.37). While Saunders has consistently kept his ERA below 4.50, Blanton hasn't posted an ERA below 4.50 since 2009. Let's not forget Saunders' two strong postseason starts against the elite offenses of the Rangers and Yankees this month.
Though Blanton missed much of the 2011 season, he pitched 191 innings this past season, and has completed at least 175 innings in seven of eight full years as an MLB player. He’s been every bit as durable as Saunders. Furthermore, he strikes out more hitters and does a better job at limiting walks. Blanton also throws harder than Saunders (90.4 mph) and generates more swings and misses (9.6% swinging strike rate). The right-hander’s ERA has been a little high in recent years, but once we look a little deeper, we’ll see he has produced more wins above replacement in his career, according to both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference (Blanton has been worth 20.4 WAR to Saunders' 12.0, per FanGraphs). And though he didn’t pitch in the 2012 playoffs, Blanton has 40 solid postseason innings to his name.
Both pitchers have a case for a multiyear deal this offseason, when many teams will be looking for rotation help. Which begs the question...