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If Pettitte Retires Yanks Should Push for Blanton

By Mike Silva ~ December 28th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

According to Pete Caldera, Andy Pettitte is spending the holidays in Hawaii, and a decision regarding his future may be near. Pettitte is the best “post Cliff Lee” option for the Yankees, as he still can provide top of the rotation quality at age 38. Although there have been reports the team is holding out hope for a Pettitte return, I believe the long wait isn’t a good sign. Part of the reason may be the upcoming Roger Clemens trial, where Pettitte may be asked to give a critical testimony. So what is Plan B?

Obviously the best free agent choice left is Carl Pavano, but we all know why this isn’t an option. The Yankees could sign one of the scrapheap relievers like Jeff Francis, Chris Young, or Freddy Garcia, but their health, combined with pitching in the American League East, might make the $3-5 million dollar price tag too risky. Although if you do this, perhaps they could splurge on a bullpen arm like Rafael Soriano as well. I thought a young pitcher (see Ricky Nolasco) would become available, but small market teams are doing a better job keeping their talent. Two options are left:

1. Have Mark Prior, Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, and the kids battle it out for the final two rotation spots. Assess where the team is at, and make a deal in late spring training, or early in the season, if necessary. Some believe that Hector Noesi, David Phelps, or Andrew Brackman could be ready at some point this year. Remember how this worked out in 2008? One kid in the rotation is fine, but multiple kids and the Yankees are asking for trouble.

2. Bring in a veteran pitcher that a team wants to dump because of their exorbitant salary. Names that come to mind are Derek Lowe and Joe Blanton.

We have been told Atlanta is very willing to deal Lowe because of the $30 million owed over two seasons, but thus far there is no interest on the Yankees end. That’s why Joe Blanton might be the best option left.

Before you turn up your nose take a look at these numbers courtesy of Dave Cameron of Fangraphs:

Pitcher A: 2.51 BB/9, 5.82 K/9, 1.02 HR/9, 43.7% GB%, 4.21 FIP, 4.30 ERA
Pitcher B: 2.26 BB/9, 5.72 K/9, 1.01 HR/9, 46.0% GB%, 4.15 FIP, 4.34 ERA

Pitcher A is Joe Blanton, and pitcher B is Carl Pavano. The same Pavano who would be perfect for the Yankees now that Cliff Lee is in Philadelphia.

Pavano is looking for a similar contract to Ted Lilly, which is in the 3 year/$30 million dollar range. Blanton is owed only $17 million for the next two years, or just two million more than what Derek Lowe will make in 2011.

Money aside, I would prefer Lowe to Blanton because of his AL East pedigree, and big game ability. Reality dictates that money is an issue, and Blanton could give them what they need for half the price of Lowe.

He had an off year with the Phillies last year, but had a solid second half (3.48 ERA), and his peripheral numbers weren’t that much different than career norms. Whether it’s been in the AL or NL, Blanton is good for 190+ innings, 12 wins, and an ERA of about 4.50. If he can do that with the Yankees I think 17 to 18 wins isn’t out of the question. Is he who you want on the mound in a big playoff game? No, but you need to get there first, and the Yankees might not have enough starting pitching to do so without him. Acquiring Blanton doesn’t mean they can’t go after a top of the rotation starter midseason. You never know who can become available.

By all accounts the Phillies are looking to dump salary after the Lee deal, so acquiring Blanton will probably not require a big time prospect.

Take away the “pie in the sky” ideas of signing a second closer (see Soriano), and the most realistic option, if Pettitte retires, is to acquire Joe Blanton.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to If Pettitte Retires Yanks Should Push for Blanton

  1. Phil Privitera

    Interesting ideas and as a Yankee fan let me say that I prefer to go with the “young guys” and a “scrap heap veteran” The comparison of Blanton and Pavano is indeed a good match with one exception, Blanton played in the National league. Raise his ERA a run if he pitches again in the AL.
    As for the back end of the rotation Nova will be as good as who is available today so he would be in my rotation along with Francis or Garcia. It buys Cashman time to work out something (via trade) before the all star game. By that time another spring training will have taken place and Cashman should have a good idea of who he wants to keep. Also Phelps, Brackman and maybe Betances if the arm troubles are over can be considered at that time.
    For the first time in years this pitching staff has a load of question marks but in a strange way a welcoming challenge to see how this all plays out.

  2. tony73

    Yes,the pitching staff has a ton of question’s.give thank’s to Cashman.i luv my yankees,can’t stand Cashman..he has made one big goof after another so far.he waited for Lee & lost.he lost out on Crawford,Greinke,not to say what other’s while sitting back waiting & waiting for one player..oh,im sorry,i forgot Thames is still out there as well as Thome,Manny R. not to mention pitcher’s he has mentioned that are over the hill also.He rather trade “Young” to get “Old”..I say,let’s package Cashman in a trade & let’s see what we get….ooooooooooooops!!!!!!

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