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Mets Should Target Joe Blanton

By Howard Megdal ~ December 14th, 2010. Filed under: Howard Megdal.

Mets fans all over the world are disappointed today, with Cliff Lee signing a pact to pitch in Philadelphia. That deal makes it likely that the Phillies will try to dump Joe Blanton, and will probably need to take on some of the $8.5 million salary Blanton is owed each of the next two years to do so.

I think the Mets should help them out. And not because I’m caught up in the charity of the season, or the frigid weather has rendered me insane. This is what’s best for the New York Mets. Hear me out.

As it stands right now, the Mets need some additional innings in 2011. With Johan Santana‘s return uncertain, and Dillon Gee penciled in as the number four starter, they potentially need a lot of innings. While he’s no Cliff Lee, Blanton has been a reliable provider of said innings for years. His ERA jumped from 4.05 in 2009 to 4.82 in 2010, but his xFIP remained virtually static-from 4.07 in 2009 to 4.06 in 2010. He’ll be 30 years old next season, with little reason to believe he’ll fall off significantly from that performance.

As for 2012, who exactly appears to be a year away for the Mets? Possibly Jenrry Mejia, maybe Matt Harvey if he’s rushed Minaya-style. Otherwise, not a lot of obvious options out there. And the potential free agent pitching is already pretty thin, before we take into account those pitchers who re-sign with their own teams over the next year. Not to mention that with pitchers, there’s a strong likelihood of injury problems we don’t yet know about.

So hypothetically, let’s say the Mets take Blanton from the Phillies for a nothing prospect, and agree to pay his entire 2012 salary- $8.5 million of the $17 million he is owed.  The Mets get an innings-eater in 2011 for free-remember, the upcoming season didn’t actually end yesterday- and for $8.5 million, Blanton’s age-31 season in 2012. How much more will that be than what Blanton-level pitchers get via free agency next year? Given the scarcity involved, and the numbers that a Bronson Arroyo got in his extension, for instance, that should be a relative bargain- and a one-year commitment to boot.

And if it takes more salary to get Blanton for a non-prospect- well, how much is it likely to take? Let’s say three million in 2011. Well, that’s less than the guaranteed money Jeff Francis, a far lesser bet to provide quality innings, is looking for. And if the Mets do bring Francis in, and he excels on a one-year deal, you can bet he’ll hearn more than a 1/8.5 contract next offseason.

I know it seems distasteful to offer salary relief to the Phillies, a divisional rival.  But it also doesn’t help the Mets any if the Phillies get Cliff Lee and send Blanton somewhere else, keeping the Mets from a piece they could really use.

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Howard Megdal is the Editor-in-Chief of The Perpetual Post. He covers baseball, basketball and soccer for Capital New York, MLBTradeRumors.com, New York Baseball Digest and has written for ESPN.com as well as numerous other publications. He is the Poet Laureate for SBNation New York. His book about Jewish baseball players, “The Baseball Talmud,” is available for purchase on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold. His next book, "Taking The Field", is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will publish in May 2011.

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6 Responses to Mets Should Target Joe Blanton

  1. Stu B

    Sound reasoning, Howard. I especially like the idea of Blanton moving from the Phils’ bandbox to Citi Field. It should improve his numbers by at least 10-20%…

  2. Jay

    2012 is a bad year for the Mets to suddenly find themselves with lots of cash to spend. You make a great point about the FA SP for the 2012 season which are mediocre. The biggest names likely to get the big cash as 2012 free agents are 1B, a position that ideally the Mets have filled adequately and cheaply by Ike Davis.

    The only player (without a contract option) in the 2012 FA class that would in my opinion be ideal for the Mets is 2B Rickie Weeks. He would be a very nice addition but doesn’t help out the pitching staff much.

    Creative moves such as your suggested trade here, moves that the previous regime didn’t seem capable of, are what will be required to firm up the pitching staff. I look forward to seeing what Alderson and company do in this regard.

  3. aladou

    Stu B, “I especially like the idea of Blanton moving from the Phils’ bandbox”
    Citizens Bank Park has actually been one of the most neutral parks in baseball in recent years, particulary in terms of overall scoring. Park factors are available here… http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor/_/sort/HRFactor

  4. Stu B

    @aladou: But without looking at the ESPN site, I bet Citi Field is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks, making the Bank a bandbox by comparison…

  5. Jay

    Stu and aladou,

    In a sense you’re both right. While CBP’s “bandboxiness” has been overstated, Citi Field is the favorable park for pitchers both in the context of HR and runs scored.

    In HR park factor CBP ranked 10th of 30 NL parks and Citi 27th, in runs scored park factor CBP ranked 16th and Citi 25th.

    So while CBP is no Coors Field, US Cellular or Yankee Stadium (the only 3 parks to appear in the top 4 in both HR & runs scored park factor) in terms of grossly favoring offense, it does favor offense much more than Citi Field.

  6. aladou

    Jay, that’s right. CBP has been neutral to slightly hitter-friendly, while Citi has been one of the most pitcher-friendly parks. See this graph for 2008-2010: http://cdn0.sbnation.com/imported_assets/566215/image008e.gif

    and the accompanying article:

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