Over the course of this afternoon it became obvious that the Orioles were in hard on Philadelphia starting pitcher Joe Blanton. I’ve heard several times that Blanton is a rich man’s Tommy Hunter, among other things. Blanton’s career numbers: 81-71, 4.35 ERA, 163 HR, 362 BB, 927 K. (In 2012 with Philadelphia Blanton’s 8-9, 4.59 ERA, 22 HR, 18 BB, 115 K.) Blanton’s been playing well of late, having gone 2-0 in his last two starts, however he does give up homers. According to Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com, Philadelphia sent Blanton’s medical records to Dr. John Wilkens (the Orioles’ team orthopedist) this afternoon. That can often be a sign that a deal is somewhat imminent. So what should Oriole fans think of their would-be new starter?
First off if you’ve been following the trade wire with regard to the Orioles at all over the weekend, you can’t be surprised that they won’t be able to net themselves an A-List starter or position player. If you read my guest column on masnsports.com this morning you saw me write that the Orioles weren’t willing to deal Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy. I’ve written it before right here on Birds Watcher, and odds are I’ll probably write it again at some point. Yet that’s what teams are demanding of the O’s if they’re going to do business. I have to wonder if the rest of the league doesn’t resent the fact that one team has the #2 and #3 prospects in baseball! Nevertheless, in my view Orioles fans should be happy that the organization isn’t going to deal either player. Granted they’re only prospects, but the fact is that there’s a reason why other teams are interested.
But back to Blanton; good deal or bad? The answer to that question is in fact another question: what are the Orioles giving up? Obviously no MLB executive wouldn’t trade a top prospect for what almost amounts to a journeyman pitcher. However the name that I’ve heard all afternoon and into the evening is Ryan Adams, who’s currently playing second base for triple-A Norfolk. Adams has struggled this year (only hitting .199 overall in the minors), however he did spend a 29-game stint in the big leagues with the Orioles last season. As of 7 PM this evening however, Bob Brookover of the Philadephia Inquirer was reporting that Philadephia wanted Jonathan Schoop (the Orioles’ third best prospect behind Bundy and Machado). I suppose at this point either one is possible, but I’d lean more towards Schoop.
I’m going to put on my GM hat for a second; if Adams is the one that’s in play here, I’d make that trade in a second. When the O’s dealt a single-A pitcher and catcher to Philadelphia last month for Jim Thome, there was a small percentage of Orioles fans that went nuts. Some people are going to balk at trading prospects in general, however anyone with any sort of savoir-faire on the business side of baseball know that’s not a possibility. Keep in mind that many more prospects are career minor leaguers (or get run out of baseball in general) than end up in the big leagues. So I have no issue trading a minor leaguer the caliber of Adams to someone in return for a veteran starting pitcher. However if indeed Schoop’s the guy they’re targeting, it might take just a bit more. I might need Philadelphia to pay his salary for the remainder of the year or something along those lines. Schoop isn’t anywhere near the quality of a prospect that Bundy and Machado are, however he’s still a highly-touted prospect in the Orioles’ system.
If this trade gets done there will be some folks that don’t like it, but that’s always going to be the case. If the deal is right I wouldn’t have an issue with it. However within the last few hours news has also trickled out that San Diego’s demands for third baseman Chase Headley were Jake Arrieta and two Delmarva Shorebird prospects. I would say that the O’s need a corner infielder just a bit more than pitching at the moment, so if that’s true I might consider making that deal. (Keep in mind that I’m sitting in front of my computer analyzing numbers while Dan Duquette probably has a “board” in his war room breaking all of this information down. In other words, he knows better than I!)
While I think most fans would rather see the Orioles aquire Headley, my personal prediction is that the Blanton-for-Schoop (plus salary) deal is the most likely outcome. The question then becomes what to do with the rotation, because Blanton would be a guy that would be inserted immediately. Do the Orioles have multiple deals in place that might involve someone else which would open up a rotation spot? You never know, but my bet would be that perhaps Tommy Hunter would go to the bullpen. However let’s get Blanton here before we figure out how that’s going to work. Also bear in mind that this might all be smoke in mirrors for something else and it might never happen. One way or the other we’ll know for sure at 4 PM tomorrow.
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