NEW YORK - Not much has changed this morning. The Orioles are still one of the teams expressing interest in Joe Blanton. They’ve been scouting him. They’ve held talks with the Phillies. They’re in on him, as we like to say in the business.
Whether they have the most interest depends on what measuring device you use to make that determination. Maybe it’s number of phone calls or scouts. Maybe it’s text messages. Maybe it’s the tone in executive vice president Dan Duquette’s voice. But make no mistake, they’re giving serious consideration to acquiring Blanton before tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Blanton is in the final year of his three-year, $24 million contract and won’t require top prospects in return. The Orioles aren’t looking for an expensive rental.
The Phillies have been looking to move Blanton for quite a while, and the Orioles have been a rumored suitor since the ink dried on that contract. They had little or no interest in the past, but circumstances have changed on both sides. The Orioles are contending for the playoffs, the Phillies are sellers and the money isn’t such a detriment anymore.
Blanton’s appeal grows when you consider that he’s gone six innings or more in his last 10 starts, and he’s held opponents to seven runs in his last three outings over 23 innings, with only two walks and 20 strikeouts.
Blanton pounds the zone, having walked 18 and fanned 115 this season. More appeal.
In his only start against the Orioles this year at Camden Yards, Blanton allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 9-6 victory on June 8, which takes us to the challenges of pitching in the American League East.
Blanton is 2-2 with a 5.36 ERA lifetime against the Orioles, 3-4 with a 5.21 ERA against the Red Sox, 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA against the Yankees, 2-4 with a 5.55 ERA against the Rays and 4-2 with a 3.48 ERA against the Blue Jays.
Here are his career ERAs in each ballpark:
Camden Yards: 6.27
Fenway Park: 6.44
Tropicana Field: 6.20
Rogers Centre: 4.95
Blanton also had a 6.00 ERA at old Yankee Stadium, but that’s a moot point.
Maybe this would be more significant if the Orioles were considering an extension for Blanton, but at this point, they’re seeking an arm to push them into the post-season for the first time since 1997. It’s all about 2012.
Also a concern are the 22 home runs that Blanton has allowed this season - two fewer than Tommy Hunter.
The two teams already completed one trade this summer, with designated hitter Jim Thome coming to Baltimore for two minor leaguers. Former Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan is the Phillies’ director of player development, so he has a pretty good feel for the farm system in this organization.