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  1. “I just still don’t get why it seems like the Phillies chose Blanton over Cliff Lee.”

    They didn’t choose Blanton over Lee. They wanted Roy Halladay because they could extend him long-term on a reasonable deal (as opposed to Lee), but they didn’t want to decimate their farm system to get him. They figured the only way to do this was to trade Lee for a package of prospects that would help offset the ones going to Toronto for Halladay. This obviously couldn’t have been accomplished by moving Blanton. In reality the Phillies chose Halladay over Lee.

    Comment by 92-93 — January 22, 2010 @ 1:02 am

  2. They didn’t chose Blanton of Lee. They chose Blanton + prospects over Lee. Lee – Blanton is probably only 3 WAR next year (which is a lot, but still). They wouldn’t have been able to sign Lee to a long term deal and it’s very likely that the prospects they got back are worth more than 3 WAR in one year.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 22, 2010 @ 1:15 am

  3. Don’t forget the draft picks. Its actually Blanton + prospects over Lee + draft picks.

    Comment by Everett — January 22, 2010 @ 2:01 am

  4. wouldnt the yankees first round pick + sup pick + whatever they could have got for Blanton have also been worth more than 3WAR? possibly could have even been worth more than what they did wind up getting for Lee.

    Comment by miles4099 — January 22, 2010 @ 2:12 am

  5. The draft picks are too far away for the FO’s liking. Hamels, Howard, Rollins, & Ibanez are only signed through 2011, so it’s possible they want the system to be able to replenish itself if need be. Aumont & Gillies both have very solid seasons as 20 year olds at high A, and represent surer things than draft picks likely out of the Top 20. Granted I’d still like to think they could have gotten more for one year of an affordable ace.

    Comment by 92-93 — January 22, 2010 @ 2:37 am

  6. I dunno, having a 1-3 of Halladay, Hamels and Blanton for a few years isn’t that bad. Considering the relative value of it, the return on Lee, and saving $2M in year 1…I understand the business of it. Also understand the fans’ disappointment of not seeing Hallady, Lee, Hamels give the bullpen three days rest on occasion.

    Comment by Jimbo — January 22, 2010 @ 3:11 am

  7. You have to figure that the Phils prefer the security of slightly above average for three years to outstanding for one. The prospects are probably a wash, because even if Aumont and Gilles are ready by next year, they both only ever look to be again “average to slightly above average.” A first round pick wouldn’t have all the comfort and security of a prospect with a minor league track record, but would sure be shinier. The bottom line: they didn’t get can’t-miss prospects for Lee, but gave up better to get Halladay. The potential of winning a WS in 2010 with trio of aces at the top should outweigh worrying about getting average pitchers on the mound in 2011.

    Comment by AK707 — January 22, 2010 @ 3:12 am

  8. Hamels first came up in mid-2006. He’s controlled by the Phillies through the 2012 season.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — January 22, 2010 @ 3:14 am

  9. The return they got on Lee was quite dismal– basically a handful of C+ prospects.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — January 22, 2010 @ 3:15 am

  10. Wanted to add that as a baseball fan, I’m disappointed too. Cuz Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton would easily rival the Yankers top 4. Not many teams have that.

    Comment by Jimbo — January 22, 2010 @ 3:18 am

  11. People seem to forget we didn’t really have to give up that much for Lee and alot of people like our return better then we gave up plus the value of him helping us make the world series which made the organization a ton of money. And it never was a Lee and Halladay thing it was well if we move Lee we can afford to trade for halladay and they went with it.

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    Comment by bossss — January 22, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  12. A first round round pick, especially from the Yankees, really isn’t worth that much:

    So I would say the package they got for Lee is going to be more than what they could get for Blanton, by a pretty big margin.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — January 22, 2010 @ 4:08 am

  13. barring injury, Halladay and Lee basically guarantees a trip to the World Series. there is no NL team that can match up with that.

    i kindof understand the reasoning behind these moves, but i don’t like it. keeping Lee gives them the very best chance to win the 2010 World Series.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  14. I’m confused by the role played by sabremetrics on a guy like Blanton.

    Blanton is the prototype of an “innings-eater.” From the perspective of a fan, his individual innings are quite mediocre, and with high variability. But he’s a big guy with an easy motion, and he’s healthy.

    Do the metrics somehow factor this in when they compute statistics akin to “WAR”? Are injury histories and durability factored in?

    Comment by JayCee — January 22, 2010 @ 8:04 am

  15. I’ve got mixed feelings on all of these Phillies moves. I think I would have preferred for the Phillies to go all in in 2010, rather than to hedge their bets that they can compete for a few years, primarily because the core is aging/leaving. Werth and Howard are both gone after their contracts expire (after 2010 and 2011 respectively). Rollins was dreadful the first half last year, and though he still has a few good years in him, he’s not a star anymore (if he ever was). Also, who knows what he will think he’s worth when he’s due up for his next contract after the 2011 season. Ibanez is an enigma, not sure the geriatric can put up numbers like that again (look at that UZR!). Chase Utley will wear a Phillies uniform till the day he dies. Then I remember how the Phillies pitchers, other than Lee, looked pretty bad in the WS last year and think, “So even if we were to get there again we haven’t improved much.”

    BUT, you have to remember Cole Hamels had an off year with his BABIP and FIP indicating he was quite unlucky. Also, Blanton was misused during the WS (and playoffs) as a reliever, something he had very little experience doing. Many will recall that he was quite solid in the 08 playoffs and WS. So, perhaps he can be effective again, so long as Charlie doesn’t change his role around too much. Also, Halladay is at least a little bit better than Lee by all accounts.

    Who knows? I hate being a fan because you want to hope for the best even when you think its unrealistic.

    Comment by Rut — January 22, 2010 @ 8:07 am

  16. Blanton was not used out of the bullpen in the NLCS or the WS. he started game 4 of the WS.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 8:40 am

  17. Phillies also locked up Victorino for 3yrs/$22M, which seems like a pretty good deal especially if his bad range in Center last year was an aberration.

    Comment by don — January 22, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  18. Why did this reply go here when I replied to the article? That doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by don — January 22, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  19. Draft pick compensation… even if they held on to Lee, the Phillies would get 2 draft picks for letting him go. Two first round draft picks could possibly be equal to the value they got in Aumont, Ramirez, and Gillies. Unless each of those ends up hitting their absolute ceilings. The Phillies could have realistically had their cake and ate it, instead of flipping Lee to the first team they could.

    Comment by DKulich44 — January 22, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  20. I don’t buy the Phillies’ “replenish the farm system” argument. The decision was purely one of dollars (needed $ for Victorino and Ruiz this year) and strategy. Strategy-wise, someone decided that the Phillies didn’t need a full year of Cliff Lee to make a division run. In the last two years the Phillies have won with less SP than they have this year. IMO, this is the best SP rotation the Phillies have had in many years.

    So what is wrong with getting rid of Lee, getting Halladay, signing Blanton, and in July picking up a healthy SP? Having a healthy Lee for a year would be great, but if ownership can’t pay for it, then eh.

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — January 22, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  21. Phillies also got Ben Francisco in the Lee deal. Of course he is no star, but should be factored in here somewhere.

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — January 22, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  22. at what point did the yankees want joe blanton?

    Comment by Tom B — January 22, 2010 @ 9:44 am

  23. Unless my memory has failed me, it was not a 3-team-trade but, instead, two 2-team trades. The Phillies chose to trade Lee for prospects. Again, unless my memory is bad here, epic fail for your post.

    Comment by JayCee — January 22, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  24. I also think part of this is the Phillies overvaluing Happ.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — January 22, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  25. TomB-

    Borrowing from the great line from “Animal House,” “Don’t stop them- they’re on a roll!”

    Comment by JayCee — January 22, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  26. $8MM a year for three years was good a few years ago, but the free agent market has contracted violently for all but the elite free agent. Joe Blanton doesn’t fit the elite free agent mold.

    The contract is fair assuming Blanton’s agent recognizes this and gets him inked for Piniero money. Of course, why should the Phillies have locked in all the risk of three years rather than one season is beyond me.

    Comment by Fantasy Alpha — January 22, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  27. And don’t forget the optionality.

    IF somehow Philadelphia were to crash next year, they could trade Lee at the deadline for a lot of value.

    Comment by JayCee — January 22, 2010 @ 10:06 am

  28. Okay…let’s go slowly here. It was not Blanton vs. Lee. It never was gonna be that. Blanton was offered Arbitration BEFORE the Halladay deal got underway. He was already set (and budgeted) to make $7 million or so in 2010 regardless of what happened to Lee.

    Amaro tried to trade Blanton during the winter meetings and got tepid responses at best. The Halladay trade wiped out all the MLB ready talent in the Phillies system. To restock the system (cleared out by the previous Lee trade and the new Halladay trade), Amaro needed to get prospects that could help the team sooner than any potential draft picks would. Even had Amaro gone the draft pick route (nabbing 2 picks for Lee after 2010), those picks would not be ready until the 2015/2016 timeframe if ever. Instead, they got 3 decent to good prospects that have already shown ability and will all be at AA this year and be possibly ready by 2012…a date that fits in far better with the Phillies plans than the previous 2016 date.

    Also, keeping Blanton and Lee was never an option as the Philleis weren’t gonna push payroll into the $150+ million range anyway.

    Short-term (read: 2010), keeping Lee would have of course helped their chances significantly in making and/or winning a World Series. Long-term, trading Lee for prospects gives them a much better chance to stay competitive. If and when Hamels bounces back to a 140ish ERA+ guy (like 2007-2008), the Phillies will have 2 top of the rotation guys, a solid #3 in Blanton and an okay #4 in Happ. If they could win a rotation with Hamels and Myers topping the rotation, they can certainly do okay with Halladay and Hamels over the next 3 years they have both.

    On the Blanton signing, he’s a good solid pitcher who will likely give you 32 starts and 200 innings a year…hell, that’s what he’s averaged for his career. If he gives you that and an ERA around 4, its a good solid signing for a team that desperately needs cost controls. Some will point to the deals that Pineiro and Marquee got and say this is overpaying. For one, both of those pitchers are a few years older and neither has been as consistent as Blanton over the past 5 seasons.

    Comment by NEPP — January 22, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  29. TomB – the Yankees first round pick for signing Cliff Lee as a type A free agent after 2010, on the assumption that the Yankees sign every high priced free agent.

    Comment by don — January 22, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  30. Considering he’ll likely be their starting RF next year after Werth leaves, that definitely needs to be factored in. Sure, he just a bit above replacement level but he’s cheap.

    Comment by NEPP — January 22, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  31. His peripherals have him as a fairly good #4 pitcher…they have him penciled in as their #4 pitcher for the next 3 years. How is that overvaluing?

    No one expects him to post a sub 3 ERA ever again. A low 4s ERA is likely though.

    Comment by NEPP — January 22, 2010 @ 10:25 am

  32. It’s clear that the Phillies intention was not to cut cost but to retain talent. They did a very poor job accomplishing this. On the face of their initial 1 year deals, Lee and Halladay had identical value. The reason they were forced to trade down was because Halladay was willing to accept such an incredibly reduced cost contract. I would have been happier if the Phillies could have managed to get Triunfel in that deal instead of one of the other pieces.

    Comment by The A Team — January 22, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  33. The phillies already owed blanton in excess of 5 mil this year, and they tried like crazy to move him at winter meetings and could not. So they didn’t “choose” blanton over lee, since they were stuck with blantons contract they probably could not afford lee. Also they replenished some prospects to a farm system that is depleted from trading for lee and halladay.

    That being said I disagree with the decision. I think I would have bit the cliff lee bullet for 1 year to potentially win a championship, farm system matters nothing to me right now. No one touches hamels lee halladay blanton happ.

    Comment by Erik — January 22, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  34. I think “likely” is quite an overstatement, he’s probably plan D or E

    Comment by The A Team — January 22, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  35. WAR factors in his on-field contributions, so yes they consider that he pitches a lot of innings and remains healthy.

    Projections of WAR also consider his previous health record.

    Comment by The A Team — January 22, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  36. “…given the ballpark that he calls home, I am not so sure that regression is going to come.”

    CBP has been as neutral as a park can be the past 3 years. Park factors of 1.03, 1.03, and 1.03 in 2007-2009.

    Comment by schmenkman — January 22, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  37. Well, they’re tapped out budget wise and he’s a league average/slightly above average corner OF on the roster.

    I’d say its a bit higher than Choice D or E.

    Comment by NEPP — January 22, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  38. Your logic has no place here…everyone knows that CBP is a “bandbox” that pitchers can’t survive in. Its Coors Field East…Bobby Cox told me so!

    Comment by NEPP — January 22, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  39. But they weren’t “forced” to trade down. That’s the point. They could have simply NOT traded Lee and still added Halladay.

    Then you just trade Blanton and look for a Blanton-replacement next winter.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  40. it’s wierd that people are still talking about Damon going to the Yankees considering they signed both Holliday and Bay this winter. same with the Joba/Hughes debate considering they have CC, Lackey, AJ, Pettitte, and Vazquez.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  41. So what is wrong with getting rid of Lee, getting Halladay, signing Blanton, and in July picking up a healthy SP?

    there is nothing “wrong” with it, but i think you are greatly underweighting the advantage that having Halladay and Lee throw 4 or possibly 5 games out of 7 in a playoff series would have given the Phillies.

    the Phillies, as constructed, are very likely to make the playoffs. the Phillies, with Lee instead of Blanton, are much more likely to WIN in the playoffs.

    i don’t think it’s any more complicated than that.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  42. This isn’t exactly true. You *could* simply non-tender Blanton. The Phillies were not “stuck” with any of Blanton’s contract.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 11:21 am

  43. Steve is correct, of course.

    Joe Blanton for one year for $7 million from arbitration is worth more than, say, Vicente Padilla for one year for $5. Blanton with his arbitration award could have been unloaded for something more than a bag of balls. I understand there are Phillies fans who want to jock the Phillies, but the false claim the Lee trade was a part of the Halladay trade is getting a bit old.

    Comment by JayCee — January 22, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  44. Ok, i missed NEPP’s point about the timing of the arbitration offer, which is valid.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  45. The Yankees signed both Holliday and Bay this winter?!? Holy smokes I bet the Mets and Cards are gonna be might peeved when they hear about this…

    Comment by Jason B — January 22, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  46. re: picking Blanton over Lee:

    *Big Joe opens a Valentine’s card with a picture of a train on it, and looks up at Amaro* You…choo-choo-choose me?

    Comment by Jason B — January 22, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  47. domonic brown says hi.

    Comment by arsenal — January 22, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  48. The Mets don’t mind b/c they now have Gary Matthews Jr.

    Comment by Steve — January 22, 2010 @ 11:48 am

  49. Dom Brown likely won’t be ready to start on a playoff level team in 2011. He’ll have a good shot at making the roster as a 4th OF but he’ll be starting this year in AA Reading. He’s still quite raw defensively.

    Comment by NEPP — January 22, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  50. Right about that. Still, you can’t quantify what the change in his role in the NLDS may have done to him.

    Comment by Rut — January 22, 2010 @ 11:59 am

  51. whether or not you agree with this comment, I fail to see why it warrants 10 “thumbs-downs”. It’s a valid comment and is supported. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the comment system.

    Comment by chuckb — January 22, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  52. Blanton + prospects over Lee + draft picks.

    Comment by chuckb — January 22, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

  53. I agree – letting the public vote is vastly overrated.

    Comment by Martha Coakley — January 22, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  54. ok… so then it’s Lee + draft picks (or prospects)… We can go hypothetical all you want here and say what happens if Lee blows his arm out from all the innings he’s been throwing, tweaks his knee bunting or reverts to Cleveland 2007 and then they get squat AND don’t have Blanton.

    I don’t think they got enough from the Mariners for Lee, but let’s not go crazy here. The Phillies look a lot better with many years of Halladay and Blanton than they did with just one more of Lee. And if you don’t think those were the options… you just don’t understand how baseball teams are run.

    Comment by james — January 22, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

  55. How?

    He’s a league average starter entering his statistical prime with 5 years of team control remaining.

    That’s REALLY valuable when thinking trade value.

    Comment by BX — January 22, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  56. This isn’t the place to post about your contest.

    Comment by mattymatty — January 22, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  57. Well, Carpenter and Wainwright took the Cards to the promised land last year, right?

    Comment by Matt — January 22, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  58. The timeline for the 3 picks the Phils got for Lee is far more accelerated than 2 compensation picks they’d get if Lee walked after 2010. (And by the way, there’s no guarantee at all that these two picks will be any better, as players, than what Philly got from Seattle. Keep in mind that Aumont was a #1.)

    So… 3 picks who start this year in AA, setting themselves to be potentially available to the big league side as minimum wage replacements next year, versus two complete unknowns who won’t even be drafted until 2011, and who realistically won’t be ready to contribute until 2013. (And that’s a pretty optimistic assumption, considering that the Phillies, picking at the bottom of the round, probably aren’t getting Matt Wieters, ready now types with those picks.)

    The fact that Philly’s payroll situation is already a problem, and one that’s only going to get worse as the rest of their core gets past their arb years, means that cheap players who can step in soon is much better for the Phils than two guys who won’t be ready until long after they’re needed. The scenario with Seattle and Lee gives the Phils a much more reliable plan for the future than dice rolling on doing nothing to help the milb system, hoping you can muddle through with the thin talent pool that’s still there.

    Comment by bflaff — January 22, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  59. RAJ said all 3 guys they got from Seattle would start the year in AA, so they’re definitely closer to helping than 2 comp picks in 2011.

    Comment by bflaff — January 22, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  60. Don’t know why this hasn’t sunk in yet. The ‘Why’d they let Lee go?’ bashing has all the hallmarks of the ‘Why’d they let Burrell go and sign Ibanez?’ chatter from last offseason. It stems from a big misreading of the Phillies’ needs.

    Comment by bflaff — January 22, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  61. StatCorner’s park factors, which are more in-depth than the ESPN numbers you’re using, show that while CBP is close to average in some areas, it’s very homer-friendly.

    Comment by Teej — January 22, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  62. You could also still trade him.

    Comment by JayCee — January 23, 2010 @ 7:41 am

  63. There are also financial considerations that must be added to the Blanton + 3 prospects over Lee + 2 draft picks equation. The first is that Blanton will make $2M less than Lee in 2010. The second is that, by choosing prospects, who’ve already received their signing bonuses, over draft picks, the Phils save money by not having to sign the draft picks.

    Although I disagree with the course of action that the Phillies chose, I do understand their thought process (rebuilding the farm system with players who are close to being ready and saving some money).

    Comment by hk — January 23, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  64. Rut, I agree 100% with what you say about Hamels rebounding in 2010, but I don’t see any correlation between Blanton pitching in relief in the NLDS and his performance in the NLCS and WS. In his post-season starts, he basically pitched like he did all year. He threw 12 innings, gave up 11 hits and 4 BB’s and struck out 9. I wouldn’t put too much stock into 12 innings at all, but if you are going to analyze his 2 post-season starts, I’d say his H/9, BB/9 and K/9 are much more telling than his ERA.

    Comment by hk — January 24, 2010 @ 7:52 am

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