Amaro deals Blanton, says Lee 'not going anywhere'
Joe Blanton never gave the idea of being traded a second thought. When the non-waivers trading deadline came and went last Tuesday, Blanton simply went about his normal routine in order to prepare for his scheduled start on Friday night.
But just before Blanton was about to begin his game-day routine prior to the game against the Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. summoned manager Charlie Manuel and Blanton back to the clubhouse.
Manuel was going to need a new starting pitcher for Friday’s game, while Blanton was going to need a plane ticket for the coast. He plays for the Dodgers now.
“When you’re in trade rumors you have to be ready to do whatever,” Blanton said. “I would have been happy if I stayed, but it will be a new thing and a new adventure, so that’s always fun in itself.”
Blanton was the second member of the 2008 World Series champion club sent to the Dodgers this week, joining Shane Victorino, who was dealt to LA last Tuesday. In return for Blanton the Phillies will receive either cash or a player to be named later. According to Amaro, it most likely will be a player and the arrangements should be completed, “pretty soon,” for a prospect.
In the meantime, the trade of Blanton might be the first of a handful of moves Amaro makes before the Aug. 31 deadline. After all, Amaro said the motive for the short term is to remodel the Phillies' outfield now that Victorino and veteran Hunter Pence have moved on to greener pastures. Presumably, one of the three outfield openings is earmarked for Domonic Brown, who will be an everyday player over the final two months of the season.
But the other two positions?
“I’d like to do more,” Amaro said. “We’ve had some talks about a number of players over the last several days and whether we can get them or not is another issue. We’re still trying to improve our club and I’d like to do more and I think we will.”
As for future moves Amaro could make, the suggestion is that Juan Pierre could be on the trade block since there was plenty of interest in the veteran outfielder before the July 31 deadline. Another player who was subject to trade talk was lefty Cliff Lee, who, according to reports, did not make it through waivers this week. Presumably Lee will be pulled back from waivers after being claimed because Amaro said the process was, “irrelevant.”
“He’s not going anywhere,” Amaro said about Lee.
Blanton also was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. However, Amaro said the Phillies pulled him back and worked out a deal with the Dodgers. Now, Blanton moves to a team in the middle of the wild-card picture as well as a heated race for the NL West with hated rival, San Francisco. Heading into Friday’s action, the Dodgers trailed the Giants by a half-game, which is a situation similar to the one Blanton experienced when he joined the Phillies in a trade with Oakland in July of 2008.
When he joined the Phillies, Blanton made 13 starts down the stretch, posting a 4-0 record and 4.20 ERA. He also won the clincher of the NLDS in Milwaukee and won Game 4 of the 2008 World Series in which he punctuated the victory with a home run off Tampa Bay’s Edwin Jackson.
Blanton’s homer in the World Series is the last by a pitcher and was the first by a pitcher since Ken Holtzman did it for Oakland in 1974. Obviously, the whirlwind of the 2008 season was a career highlight for Blanton.
“Winning the World Series, no doubt, if I had to pick one thing,” Blanton said about his fondest memories of playing for the Phillies. “The parade down Broad Street and the thrill of coming to such a great baseball city, it’s been unbelievable.”
Since then, Blanton had been a cog in the Phillies' rotation. During the 2009 season he made 31 starts and piled up 195 innings for a 12-8 record. During the 2009 postseason, Blanton pitched two games in relief and then started a game in the NLCS and World Series. He started a game in the 2010 NLCS and pitched in relief during the 2011 postseason, as well, despite battling injuries for much of last season.
Still, Blanton was as steady as a No. 4 or 5 starter could be for the Phillies. He always pitched with an eye on winning in the postseason, which has been the organization’s mission ever since he arrived in 2008. That didn’t change even though the Phillies have been cellar-dwellers for most of this season. After all, Blanton had made 20 starts and was leading the National League in strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
“Joe has been a big part of what we were about over the last several years,” Amaro said.
But Amaro has been effectively turning the page on the greatest era of Phillies baseball with just four players from the 2008 title team in Friday night’s lineup.