Posts Tagged ‘Joe Blanton’

Phillies Handing Out Extensions Like Candy

January 25, 2010

I am going to admit, I am writing this post in a very bad mood. As many of you know, I am a New York Jets fan. I have had season tickets for the past seven years and yesterday’s loss was a killer for me.

I wasn’t as confident going into this game as I was going into the 1998 AFC Championship Game, but confident none-the-less. In 1998, the Jets lost to an all-world (at the time) running back in Terrell Davis and a Hall of Fame quarterback in John Elway.

Yesterday, the Jets lost to another Hall of Fame QB, Peyton Manning. When people ask me the greatest QB I have ever seen play, the answer I always give is Joe Montana. Manning is doing his best to change my mind.

As the great Joe Benigno always says “Oh the pain, the pain, the pain.”

Now on the matter or post at hand.

The Philadelphia Phillies have had themselves quite the busy offseason. They have signed free agents (Placido Polanco, Danys Baez), made trades (Roy Halladay), and now they are taking care of their own.

Over the last week, the Phillies have signed three players to contract extensions. The Phillies are taking a page out of the old Cleveland Indians’ playbook in the early 90’s when they were locking up all of their talent to contract extensions.

Let’s take a look at who the Phillies locked up, their contracts, and whether or not those extensions make sense.

Carlos Ruiz: Three-years, $8.85 million.

I absolutely love, love, love this extension for the Phillies. Last year, Ruiz set a career high in home runs with nine and OPS with a .780 mark. But that is not the reason I love this deal.

Ruiz is one of those glue guys that every team needs. Ruiz raises his game in the postseason (career .303 hitter) and doesn’t it always seem he is in the middle of every big rally the Phillies have in October?

Ruiz also catches a very good game. Watching him in the last couple of postseasons, Ruiz has developed a good rapport with the Phillies’ pitching staff and usually makes the right pitch selection in a big spot.

Good extension by the Phillies

Shane Victorino: Three-years, $22 million.

Again, this is a very good extension by the Phillies. According to Fangraphs, Victorino was worth about $33.5 million to the Phillies over the last two years. Roughly $17 million a year.

I would smile too if I just got $24MM

To give a player around $7 million a year, who gives your team $17 million in value, is a pretty good deal in my opinion. Victorino, who was acquired by Philadelphia in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft from the Los Angeles Dodgers, can do it all for the Phillies.

Victorino finished in the top-10 in 2009 in triples (first), hits (eighth), doubles (ninth), and stolen bases (ninth). Though he slipped a little in 2009, Victorino is also a pretty solid center fielder.

So far the Phillies are two-for-two in their contract extensions.

Joe Blanton: Three-years, $24 million.

This extension I am going to have to question. I don’t mind the money per years that the Phillies are giving Blanton, but why give him three years?

If Blanton was a free agent this offseason, he would get a one or at the most, a two-year deal. Joel Pineiro is a pretty comparable pitcher and he got a two-year deal. No reason for the Phillies to go three years with Blanton.

Blanton last year was 12-8 with a 4.09 ERA with 163 K’s and a 1.32 WHIP in 195.1 innings. He will be 33 when his three-year contract expires.

So as Meatloaf once said “Two out of three ain’t bad.” With the Phillies locking up most of their top talent for years to come, they have established themselves as the team to beat in the National League for at least the next three years.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


Starting Rotation: National League East

January 21, 2010

Earlier in the week, I took a look at the starting rotations for each American League team. Now it’s time to switch gears and focus on the National League.

I will start in the National League East and go from there. The NL East is home to perhaps the two best pitchers in baseball in Roy Halladay and Johan Santana. Not only are there superstar pitchers in this division, there are also some great young arms like Josh Johnson and Tommy Hanson.

Here are the starting rotations for each National League East team as presently constructed.

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Roy Halladay, RHP

2. Cole Hamels, LHP

3. Joe Blanton, RHP

4. JA Happ, LHP

5. Jaime Moyer, LHP

Quick Take – The Phillies made the big move this offseason trading for Halladay. In doing such, they had to trade playoff hero Cliff Lee. While I have no doubt Halladay will be a Cy Young candidate in 2010, this rotation will only be as good as Hamels is. They really need him to bounce back this year.

Atlanta Braves

1. Derek Lowe, RHP

2. Jair Jurrjens, RHP

3. Tim Hudson, RHP

4. Tommy Hanson, RHP

5. Kenshin Kawakami, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation has so much depth, that the Braves were able to trade Javier Vazquez. I like this rotation because it’s a good mix of young (Jurrjens and Hanson) and old (Hudson and Lowe). If the Braves give him any run support, Jurrjens could be a Cy Young candidate in 2010.

New York Mets

1. Johan Santana, LHP

2. Mike Pelfrey, RHP

3. John Maine, RHP

4. Oliver Perez, LHP

5. John Niese, LHP

Quick Take – This rotation reminds me of those Boston Red Sox rotations back in the late-90’s. They had Pedro Martinez and a bunch of question marks. This is a big year for Pelfrey. Perez is reportedly got in the best shape of his life this offseason, so let’s see if that translates to his performance on the mound.

Florida Marlins

1. Josh Johnson, RHP

2. Ricky Nolasco, RHP

3. Anibal Sanchez, RHP

4. Sean West, LHP

5. Chris Volstad, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation is young, tall, and talented. Johnson leads this staff and is an early favorite to win the NL Cy Young award in 2010. At 6’8″, 240 lbs, West has a ton of potential. This staff also has top pitching prospect Andrew Miller waiting in the wings.

Washington Nationals

1. John Lannan, LHP

2. Jason Marquis, RHP

3. Scott Olsen, LHP

4. J.D. Martin, RHP

5. Craig Stammen, RHP

Quick Take – The addition of Marquis will help this staff, but overall, it’s still pretty weak. I really like Lannan. He is a good pitcher, who unfortunately plays on the worst team in baseball. Of course, all eyes will be on the development of Stephen Strasburg. There is a chance he could join this staff by the end of the year.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the National League Central.

Jamie Moyer May Not Be Ready For Opening Day

January 7, 2010

At 47-years-old, you have to start wondering how much more Philadelphia Phillies’ LHP Jamie Moyer can put his body through.

On October 2, Moyer underwent surgery to repair three muscle tears in his groin and lower abdomen. Almost two months later, Moyer underwent another surgery after an MRI exam showed a small blood collection that could have been infected.

Moyer will have knee surgery on Monday

Now, Moyer is scheduled to undergo another surgery–this time on his right knee. Moyer will undergo the surgery on Monday.

That’s a lot of surgeries for a 27-year-old to have, let alone a 47-year-old. Thanks to all these procedures, Moyer may not be ready for opening day for the Phillies.

“I would doubt that Jamie would be ready for opening day,” Ruben Amaro said through the Philadelphia Inquirer. (The Phils open April 5 in Washington.) “It’s possible. If anybody can do it, Jamie can.”

Moyer signed a two-year extension for $13 million before the 2009 season, so one has to figure this will be Moyer’s final season in the major leagues. Unless he wants to say he played till he was 50, I don’t see why Moyer would continue to pitch after this season.

The Phillies’ first four spots in the rotation is set with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, JA Happ, and Joe Blanton. When Moyer comes back, he could either compete for the fifth spot in the rotation or be a long reliever out of the pen.

I think because of his ability to eat innings, Moyer will be given every chance to start for the Phillies in 2010. In the two seasons before last, Moyer threw over 190 innings.

Moyer will be entering his 24th year in the major leagues in 2010. Every time Moyer takes the mound, he is living proof that A. It pays to be born left-handed and B. You don’t have to throw 100 mph to be a successful major league pitcher.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


Brad Lidge Implodes, Yankees On Cusp Of World Series Title

November 2, 2009

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies rode Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge to a World Series title. In this year’s World Series, Hamels and Lidge have imploded in back to back games and now the Phillies are on the brink of elimination.

In a crucial Game Four, Alex Rodriguez broke a 4-4 tie with a double in the ninth inning off of Lidge and Jorge Posada singled home two more runs to give the Yankees a 7-4 victory over the Phillies.

The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-1 and are on the cusp of their 27th World Series title.

While Rodriguez might have broken the tie in the ninth, it was the great AB and then some heads up baserunning by Johnny Damon that was the story of the inning.

With two outs and nobody on, Lidge was cruising. He looked like the Lidge of 2008. He was throwing wicked sliders and more importantly–he was throwing with confidence.


Damon's play last night was heads up

Then Damon came to the plate.

Lidge got Damon in a 1-2 hole, but couldn’t put him away. Damon worked the count to 3-2 and then served a single to leftfield.

What happened next was stuff of legend.

With Mark Teixeira at the plate, Damon stole second. But because the infield was in a shift, third baseman Pedro Feliz took the throw to second.

With Feliz taking the throw at second, nobody was covering third base. Damon realized that and immediately took off for third base. It was one of the most heads up plays you will ever see on a baseball diamond.

Now with Damon on third, Lidge was scared to throw his devastating slider because he didn’t want to bounce it in the dirt and he had to rely on his fastball.

Lidge then plunked Teixeira and the rest was history.

Here are some other observations from last night:

I don’t know why Lidge didn’t try to put Damon away with a slider in the ninth? He kept going to his fastball when his slider was unhittable at that point.

I don’t understand the theory of “If a guy is on third, you can’t throw your slider.” When did Carlos Ruiz become swiss cheese behind the plate?

If Derek Jeter makes that Damon baserunning play, Jeter’s cleats, socks, uniform, and the base are sent to the Hall of Fame.

I have no problem with bringing Lidge into the game at that point. If he can’t pitch in that situation when can he pitch?

Now Lidge knows what Mark Wohlers feels like when you don’t get beat on your best pitch.

All seven other closers have imploded at some point this postseason. The only one that hasn’t? Mariano Rivera. There is a reason why the Yankees are one game away from winning the World Series.

There was only one pitch that Feliz could have hit a homerun on and Joba Chamberlain threw it.

The Yankees got a glimpse of their future when Rivera retires on that Chamberlain gopher ball.

Chamberlain’s “win” last night is the perfect example of why wins for a relief pitcher is one of the most overrated stats in baseball.

It’s taken Rivera only 13 pitches to retire five batters the last two nights. Amazing.

Joe Buck talked more about the NFL than he did the baseball game he was announcing through the first three innings.

Somebody should tell Robinson Cano that the World Series started.

Ryan Howard still hasn’t touched home plate.

Very good, but not great performance from CC Sabathia last night. 6.2 innings, three runs, three walks, and six K’s.

I thought Blanton was good as well last night. And yes, it was the right decision to start him instead of Cliff Lee. Someone other than Lidge needs to a win a game for the Phillies. What’s the difference if it is Game Four of Game Five?

The biggest mistake Blanton made last night was walking Nick Swisher to lead off the fifth. That just can’t happen. It was no surprise that Swisher eventually scored.

Great baserunning by Melky Cabrera scoring on that Damon blooper in that inning. Great read on the ball.

Chase Utley just hit another homerun off of Sabathia.

The last team to come back from a 3-1 World Series deficit was the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Sadly, this was the last time any Royals fan felt any joy.

I wonder if the air has come out of the balloon for the Phillies? As Bob Boone said to Don Sutton on the play ride from California to Boston after the California Angels lost an epic Game Five (the Dave Henderson game) to the Boston Red Sox in 1986–“When the air comes out of the balloon, it’s hard to get it back up.”

That being said, I would be shocked if the Phillies didn’t win tonight. Lee on full rest and AJ Burnett on short rest should get them to Game Six.

Hero for Game Four – Johnny Damon

Goat for Game Four – Brad Lidge

Series MVP – Johnny Damon

Game Five is tonight at 7:57


Joe Blanton To Start For Phillies In Game Four

October 30, 2009

In his press conference today, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel announced that RHP Joe Blanton will start Game Four of the World Series. Cliff Lee will start Game Five.

Joe Blanton

Blanton will start in Game Four

When asked why he will go with Blanton in Game Four, Manuel said “I think Blanton fits for us because I think we want to keep [J.A.] Happ right now in the bullpen, especially kind of in the middle where he could do some innings,” Manuel said, “and also Joe pitched last year in the World Series, and he’s got a little bit more experience.

Blanton is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in four starts versus the New York Yankees lifetime. All of Blanton’s starts versus the Yankees were with the Oakland A’s.

Despite Blanton’s lack of success versus the Yankees, this is the right move for the Phillies. Lee threw too many pitches in Game One to come back on three days rest and plus, Lee has never pitched on three games rest before.

If a guy is on a roll like Lee is, you probably don’t want to mess with him.

I also think it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Blanton pitches well on Sunday night. Remember, this is a Yankees’ lineup that didn’t hit Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano, or Joe Saunders in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Blanton is in the same mold as those pitchers.

Game Four is Sunday night at 8:20 ET


Phillies-Rockies Postpone Game Three

October 10, 2009

Game Three of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies playoff on Saturday night has been postponed because of cold, snowy weather.

Major League Baseball rescheduled the game for Sunday night at 10:07 p.m. ET, and Game Four was pushed back to Monday. Game Five, if necessary, will be played as scheduled on Tuesday in Philadelphia, without a day off for travel.

The NL Division Series is tied at one game each.

A cold front moved into Denver overnight, dropping temperatures into the teens with record lows for the date. Coors Field was covered with a thin layer of snow and ice Saturday morning and flurries were expected to continue through the night.

Who does this postponement favor? Clearly the Phillies. Instead of using either JA Happ or Joe Blanton in Game Four, Charlie Manuel can now use Cliff Lee on full rest in Game Four.

Manuel can come back with Cole Hamels on full rest for Game Five as well.


Philadelphia Phillies To Start Pedro Martinez In Game Three

October 9, 2009

According to, Philadelphia Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel has decided that Pedro Martinez will start Game Three of their National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies.

Anyone who has read my blog on a consistent basis knows how much I love Martinez. However, I think this start is going to end very badly for Martinez.

Pedro gets the call in Game 3

Pedro gets the call in Game 3

The Rockies destroy right-handed pitching in Colorado and I am convinced that Martinez’s 130 pitch effort on September 19th against the New York Mets did permanent damage to Martinez.

He made one start since then and he had nothing in that start against the Houston Astros. Allowing Martinez to throw 130 pitches in that game was so inexcusably irresponsible by Manuel and his staff, that I really can’t believe it happened.

If anyone can regroup and give a solid effort with less than his best stuff–it would be Martinez. But I think he is going to have a rough go of it in Colorado.

Also, keep an eye on the weather for this game. If this game gets frozen, snowed, or rained out it would be a massive, series changing break for the Phillies.

If this game gets moved to Sunday, then the Phillies can start Game One winner, Cliff Lee in Game Four on normal rest. I would think that would be a no brainer for Manuel.

I’ll take Lee over Joe Blanton or JA Happ any day of the week, twice on Sunday.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


Fantasy Week In Review, September 21-27

September 28, 2009

This is it kids — the final week in the regular season and of course, the final week in fantasy baseball. For those of you playing for your league championship this week, good luck.

Here were the fantasy studs and the potential pickups from the fantasy week that was September 21-27.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Howard: .375/2/14. It seems that the big man always heats up down the stretch. A hot Howard spells trouble for opposing teams in the playoffs.

Ortiz has bounced back from a slow start

Ortiz has bounced back from a slow start

Marlon Byrd: .320/3/11/.433. Byrd is having the best year of his career and is a free agent at the end of this season — convenient.

David Ortiz: .280/3/10/.419. Despite everything Ortiz has been through this season, he still has 27 homeruns and 94 RBI on the season.

Alex Rodriguez: .350/3/8 with three SB’s. Rodriguez and Ortiz on the same list. It’s like a PED festival here at The Ghost of Moonlight Graham.

Joey Votto: .560/1/8. Votto had 11 runs scored and 10 doubles last week. In five years he will be on the ballot for entry into the Paul Molitor Hall of Fame for players if they played in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles would be superstars.

Adrian Gonzalez: .321/2/8/.441. Six months into the season and still haven’t figured out why opposing teams pitch to him.

Zack Greinke: 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 13 K’s in 13 IP. Hasn’t Greinke been on this list every week? If you have a vote and don’t vote for him for the Cy Young, you should have your voting privileges revoked.

Joe Blanton: 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA and 13 K’s in 12.2 IP. Blanton has quietly been the Philadelphia Phillies most consistent pitcher this year.

Tom Gorzelanny: 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 16 K’s in 12 IP. Gorzelanny is going his best to win a spot in the Chicago Cubs’ rotation in 2010. Remember, he did win 14 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007.

Gorzelanny could be a nice sleeper in 2010.

Rafael Soriano: Three saves with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in 3.1 IP. Soriano had 16 career saves coming into 2009. In 2009, Soriano has 27 saves and has the highest K/9 rate of his career (11.9/9).

Potential Pickups

Paul Bako: Need a catcher for the last week? Take a look at Paul Bako (something I never thought I would write). He hit .381/1/3 last week in 21 AB’s.

Ronnie Belliard: Belliard is getting regular playing time in Los Angeles. Last week he hit .409/1/3 with seven runs scored.

Jay Bruce: For those of you who dropped Bruce after his injury — shame on you. Bruce has keeper potential and has turned it on as of late.

Bruce hit .500/2/7/.611 last week in 14 AB’s.

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