NEW YORK - I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. That’s my promise to you. But I’m saying right here and right now that the Orioles will not trade minor league infielder Jonathan Schoop to the Phillies for pitcher Joe Blanton.
It’s more likely that a bottle of Scope will be included in a deal than the Orioles No. 3 prospect, as dubbed before the season by Baseball America.
That doesn’t mean the deal is dead. The two sides will continue talking today, perhaps right up to the 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline. But it will be fruitless if the Phillies keep insisting on Schoop.
The Orioles have no intention of giving up Schoop for a pitcher who isn’t built to be the ace of a staff. For a pitcher who could be with them for two months and become a free agent. No need to panic.
Blanton can be viewed as a potential upgrade over pitchers currently in the system because he’s able to provide innings and he’s 10 games above .500 in his career. His resume may not dazzle you, but he could be more useful to a team that’s two games out of the wild card race. But he’s not going to fetch a highly rated prospect, as the Phillies apparently are finding out.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette is trying to perform the delicate balancing act of improving the club right now while not jeopardizing its future. Go for it, but don’t give away too much.
The farm system isn’t that deep, as the Orioles apparently are finding out. It’s in better shape than previous years, but it’s still under construction.
Duquette said he won’t make a trade just for the sake of, you know, making a trade, but he must feel at least a little pressure to swing a deal and appease a fan base that’s also in full buyer’s mode.
He’s looking at starters, he’s looking at hitters, he’s looking at relievers - both right-handed and left-handed.
The Orioles will view Jason Hammel’s return in early September as the equivalent of making a trade without giving up anyone, but can the rotation hold up through August?
My concern with adding Blanton, besides his struggles against the American League East, is that he’s allowed 22 home runs this season. Tommy Hunter has allowed 24. Miguel Gonzalez has allowed nine in only five major league starts. That’s a lot of souvenirs.
Who comes out of the rotation if Blanton joins it? Did Gonzalez earn more starts? Should Hunter and Zach Britton be worried? Should Chris Tillman be feeling the pressure tonight? Is Wei-Yin Chen the only one in the group who’s truly safe?
Sure seems like the Orioles could use another starter. We’ll know by 4 p.m. today whether the Phillies cooperated.
Update: I’m told the Phillies also sent the Orioles medical records on two of their minor leaguers. Not just Blanton.
This could mean the Phillies are willing to sweeten the deal in order to get a better prospect from the Orioles, or to entice them into picking up the remainder of the nearly $3 million that Blanton is owed in 2012.
At this point, the chances of a trade going down are beginning to dim. There’s been quite a shift from yesterday at this time, when it seemed all but certain.