On July 18, the Phillies traded Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman and Matt Spencer to Oakland for Joe Blanton. At the time, not many liked the trade, including me:
“I’ve written the Phils need a pitcher who can go deep into games, dominate most teams and line up against other No. 2 starters in key games. Does Blanton (with his 6 IP, 3 ER starts) do such a thing? No. He’s Kyle Kendrick. He’s Jamie Moyer. He’s just another back piece.”
What nobody realized was Brett Myers would perform like a No. 2 pitcher during the second half, and that the collective rotation would toss a bunch of quality starts in the postseason. Blanton, meanwhile, performed at about the rate of a No. 3 starter (including playoffs):
87.2 IP / 6-0 / 39 ER / 82 H / 67 K / 37 BB / 4.00 ERA
As for what the club gave up:
Cardenas (AA): 26 G / .279 AVG / .392 OBP / .326 SLG / 0 HR / 7 RBI
Outman (AAA): 15.1 IP / 1-0 / 1.76 ERA / 15 K / 5 BB
Spencer (A+): 41 G / .331 AVG / .374 OBP / .556 SLG / 8 HR / 27 RBI
Outman finished the year in Oakland, going 1-2 with an ERA over 4.50 for the Athletics in four starts. He could begin 2009 in the A’s rotation. Cardenas has struggled a little since moving to AA, while Spencer has rejuvenated himself in A-ball over there.
Obviously prospects are high for the hard-throwing Outman, and still high for the young Cardenas. Blanton may always be a pitcher who hovers around 4.20 or so — his pitching style will probably never make him dominant — but for what he gave the Phils (a push to the championship through consistent pitching), he was worth his weight … literally.
Moreover, the Phils have him for another two years through arbitration rules. In trading away Cardenas, Outman and Spencer, the Phils received 2.5 years of Blanton and — in a way — a world championship. I’ll take that.