With the Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already locked up in their starting rotation, do the Phillies still need Joe Blanton? The righty has two years left on his contract which will earn him a total of $17 million dollars.
In comparison, Kyle Kendrick has a 25-20 record with a 4.55 ERA in 63 starts since the 2008 season. The statistics are similar, but it should also be noted that Kendrick spent a good amount of time bouncing back and forth from the majors to the minors in 2009. And last year, Blanton spent time on the disabled list.
Another alternative for the fifth starter position is rookie Vance Worley. In two starts with the Phillies in 2010, Worley pitched 13 innings and recorded a 1.38 ERA. Between AA and AAA last year, Worley recorded a combined 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA over 27 starts. But Worley is still a big unknown. He is young and lacks experience.
With these options, it seems that either Blanton or Kendrick would be the best fit for the role. If the Phillies are concerned with payroll, trading Blanton may be a good idea as Kendrick is still under team control.
When asked if payroll would move him to trade Blanton, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media, “I really don’t have to do anything.” A lower payroll would help if Amaro has other future moves in mind, however, it does not appear to be necessary right now.
If money is not a true motivator at this times, the Phillies may be better served to keep Blanton. Having both Blanton and Kendrick provides tremendous pitching depth. In the event that one of the Fab Four gets injured, the decision to then move Kendrick into the rotation to fill the hole should be a no-brainer.
Blanton also has experience in eight different playoff series, including two World Series. Kendrick pitched less than four innings in the 2007 NLDS and has not seen any playoff action since that time.
And if the Phillies start the year off with Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, then Kendrick can fill a hole in the bullpen as a long reliever. With Chad Durbin still unsigned, there may be a greater need for a long man.
It appears that keeping Blanton is probably a good idea. Of course, if another team makes a good offer, the Phillies still have other options for the fifth spot in the rotation. But until the season actually begins, anything can happen.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography