Analysis

Will Blanton be a Target for Yankees?

Bartolo Colon. Ivan Nova. A.J. Burnett. Sergio Mitre. Freddy Garcia.

If I’m a Yankees fan, I now light myself on fire. That’s what the rotation has in store for the Yankees this coming season behind CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes after the news that Andy Pettitte is retiring from baseball after 16 season. The long-time Yankee will make that announcement sometime today.

Although he was held to just 129 innings a season ago, Pettitte managed 190 innings or more 11 times in his career, including five straight from ’05-’10. His postseason numbers have been outstanding – so much so they might catapult him into the Hall of Fame discussion, like it or not.

Looking forward, the Yankees will have to replace that contribution. Colon is old and washed up, Nova is young and inexperienced, Mitre is a nice long-man or fifth starter, Freddy Garcia had a bounceback in 2010, but only after basically being out of baseball for three years, and A.J. Burnett is, well, A.J. Burnett. The Bronx Bombers and their followers can’t be too confident about what they see on paper right now.

That’s where Joe Blanton comes in. With an embarrassment of riches in the pitching department, the Phillies have quietly made it known that Blanton and his $17.5 million over the next two seasons, is available.

It’s not a slam dunk, but it’s close. By dealing Blanton, the Phillies allow themselves some breathing room in the financial sector for future moves to be made (RH bat, bullpen help midseason, etc.). In taking on Blanton, the Yankees suffice their need for an innings-eating No. 3 pitcher to step right in. As you’re well aware, Big Joe has plenty of playoff experience, starting in six career games and appearing in nine.

The only issue on the Yankees side is their willingness to add payroll. Seems strange doesn’t it. But Brian Cashman has changed the culture of that organization, pushing them toward the farm system rather than the checkbook.

Still, it’s easy to see this rumor taking flight in the coming days as Spring Training inches close. The question is, do the Phillies want to trade Blanton? He’d be – by far – the best fifth starter in baseball. And that embarrassment of riches can come in handy for the Phillies down the road.

My guess is the Yankees will make a call, but will not want to take on all of the contract. I’d put the odds (this is strictly an educated guess) at about 25 percent that Joe B gets dealt. The Phillies don’t have to do anything irrational being in a position of power.

UPDATE, 12:52 pm: According to a tweet from SNY.tv, Brian Cashman said at the Andy Pettitte press conference today that he is not comfortable with the Yankees starting rotation as it’s currently constituted.

Watch the clip here of Cashman’s interview with YES.

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