Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trade: Joe Blanton to Philadelphia

Don't question Billy Beane. That was the response of many after Oakland traded Rich Harden to the Cubs last week. It's understandable to feel that way based on the way Beane has fleeced teams in the past when making trades. Many of Beane's moves over the years seemed unconventional at the time, but made his team better in the long run.

Perhaps the moves Oakland has made this month will be looked at the same way in the future, because it is certainly unconventional to trade 40% of your starting rotation when your team is seven games over .500, only six games out of the division lead and only four and a half games out of the Wild Card race. Oakland's rotation is down to Justin Duchscherer, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith and Sean Gallagher - not exactly an intimidating rotation.

So trading Joe Blanton to Philadelphia for prospects (and the best of these prospects isn't very close to the big leagues) seems to be an odd move on its face. In an earlier post, I said that I thought that Oakland was a team that should go for it and be buyers at the deadline. Clearly Billy Beane disagreed and I admire his ability to honestly evaluate his team and its chances of making the postseason this year. It certainly won't be a popular decision with the fanbase.

My biggest problem with the trade, which is the same objection I had to the Harden trade, is that it doesn't seem like Oakland maximized its return on Blanton. With two weeks left before the deadline, it seems like Oakland could have created a bidding war and increased the return by waiting. There will certainly be other teams that will be looking for dependable pitching at the deadline, and while Blanton is having an off year, he has proven to be a solid middle of the rotation starter in his career.

As always, only time will tell, but I wonder how many GMs around the league are scratching their heads and thinking "I would have given him more than that for Blanton." Then again, it's Billy Beane, who am I to question the move?


bfadds said...

A lot of Phillies fans think that Beane took advantage of a senile old Gillick with this deal, though.

The question is: Is Blanton and upgrade over Brett Myers? A lot of Phillies fans think that the arrival of Blanton will force Brett Myers into a set-up role out of the bullpen.

roarke said...

You know, when I got to the end of my post I realized that I hadn't addressed whether the trade was a good one based on the players exchanged. But that's not really my point, my point is whether Oakland could have gotten more. Of course, if Beane really took advantage of Gillick, then perhaps he thought he better jump on the deal while before Gillick came to his senses, but I didn't get the feeling that it was quite that lopsided.