Posts Tagged ‘Joe Blanton’

Blanton Does L.A., and other trade tossings . . .

Joe Blanton has a new home in the Philadelphia Phillies’ continuing bid to fine-tune the club for a 2013 comeback: he goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who claimed him off the waiver wire Friday, in exchange for either the proverbial player to be named later or some fresh cabbage from the Dodgers’ crisper. Like his erstwhile-turned-continuing teammate Shane Victorino, who was dealt to the Dodgers as the non-waiver trade deadline loomed Tuesday, Blanton can become a free agent at season’s end.

Go west, young man . . .

The Phillies, however, still have a mile or three to go before they get the complete salary relief they’ve sought in hand with remaking the club. Cliff Lee is on the waiver wire at this writing, too, and though his remaining annual salaries and 2016 option might make a few teams a little nervous, the bottom line may yet prove to be picking up a quality lefthander for a stretch run, assuming the team in question isn’t on Lee’s no-trade list.

Sports Illustrated thinks Lee has about a 65 percent chance of being dealt. Right now, with Victorino, Blanton, and Hunter Pence (to the San Francisco Giants) gone, Lee may be the only tradeable asset the Phillies have to move this season, what with the other high-priced spreads on the roster having the kind of seasons that’s flatted their trade value. The big holes for the Phillies now: third base and the outfield. The big pressure on them: getting at least a decent prospect or two in return.

Other waiver trade possibilities at this writing:

Aramis Ramirez (Brewers, 3B)—It’s probably fair to presume Cliff Lee isn’t going anywhere but to a bona fide contender, which the Brewers aren’t, so the Phillies can’t think about Ramirez as a veteran stopgap at third for the rest of 2012 and perhaps all 2013.  Ramirez also has something else the Phillies don’t need: his backloaded contract, considering the Phillies’ own salary problems. The good news for the Brewers: a) There are contenders who could use Ramirez’s experience and power at third base; the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics come to mind at once; and, b) Brewers owner Mark Attanasio isn’t exactly shy about spending if it’ll mean improving the Brewers, even if spending in this case means eating some of Ramirez’s salary.

Matt Garza (Cubs, RHP)—The fluid on Garza’s upper arm stopped him from going anywhere at the non-waiver deadline, but if he recovers well and shortly he could still go as a waiver trade. A point in the favour of any team who kicks his proverbial tires: he’s under team control through the end of the 2013, so he’s more than just a rental for any team interested in him.

Denard Span (Twins, OF)—He’s probably the best everyday player on the market right now; a contender who needs a leadoff man could romance him. The problem is that the Twins aren’t in all that much of a hurry to lose a guy under team control through the end of 2014, but they might want to think twice—he could bring a nice return of a prospect or two from, among others, Washington, Cincinnati, or Detroit—all three of whom are contenders, and all three of whom could use Span profitably.

* B.J. Upton (Rays, OF)SI says it best: The next time your buddies are going on and on about how players only show up when they’re playing for a contract, show them B.J. Upton’s 2012 statistics. Upton, who can hit the market after this season, has once again failed to turn his enormous talent into production, batting .244/.305/.372 with deteriorating plate discipline (101/32 K/BB) and a lack of power (nine homers and a full-season low .372 SLG). Upton’s poor season has made it less likely that he’ll cash in on the free-agent market, which in turn opens up the possibility that he would accept a one-year, $12.5-million qualifying offer from the Rays…which may make the Rays queasy about tendering that offer to remain eligible for a compensatory draft pick. Translation: The Rays may have to settle for working out a deal since it isn’t likely Upton clears waivers.

* Alfonso Soriano (Cubs, OF)—Was it really that long ago that we thought of him as the one the Yankees let get away the better to beat the Red Sox to Alex Rodriguez’s punch? God knows we haven’t been able to go a month (sometimes a week) without hearing about Soriano’s decline ever since he signed that off-the-chart Cub contract, which has been a millstone around the Cubs’ necks long enough. Yes, he’s having a bounceback season this year, or at least his best year since about 2008, but when the Cubs couldn’t find a way to tie him to a Ryan Dempster deal (if Dempster had gone to the Dodgers Soriano might have gone along for the ride) they may have lost their best chance to get out of Soriano’s final two years. Now? If a team desperate for righthanded power crops up, that might be the Cubs’ last best hope to unload him this year.

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda?

Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports), always an interesting reporter and analyst, unsheaths some deals that hit the talk stage but didn’t get done before the non-waiver deadline. We’re going to play coulda, woulda, shoulda here—you may have another view on these, but here’s mine:

* Jason Bay (OF, Mets) for Heath Bell (RHP, Marlins) and John Buck (C, Marlins)—Rosenthal says this one wasn’t close to being done but would have given both clubs a change to give faltering men the proverbial change of scenery. For the Mets: It would have brought back a reliever on whom they once gave up, who led the National League in saves a couple of years ago and might still have had enough left to help right one of the Show’s worst bullpens. For the Marlins: It would have plugged Bay into left field and let them move Logan Morrison to his best position, first base, if they’d also have pulled the trigger on moving Carlos Lee, as we’ll see shortly.

Say I: Shoulda. The deal might have involved three struggling players but it wouldn’t have hurt either team, as Rosenthal says.

* Carlos Lee (1B, Marlins) to the Yankees for . . . Bad enough the Fish learned the hard way it was foolish to get Lee in the first place. Worse: As Rosenthal notes, Houston was paying Lee’s salary the rest of the year other than the pro-rated minimum. In other words, the Marlins were paying him a short medley. Yet a) Lee spurned a deal to the Yankees on Tuesday, where he might have stepped into a bona fide pennant race with a team that needs some offencive help; and, b) the Marlins are said to have talked to fifteen teams about Lee . . . without budging once on demanding $2.5 million coming their way in any deal for a player who was costing them practically nothing. Perhaps needless to say, they were probably told only up which rope to urinate.

Say I: Coulda. But Lee himself won’t hurt the Marlins as bad as their own front office did on this one. On the other hand, they could still move Lee, Bell, and Buck on the waiver track before August’s end, so you never know.

Francisco Rodriguez (RHP, Brewers) to the Giants for . . . The Giants wanted K-Rod a week before the non-waiver deadline. He’d just been named the Brewers’ closer when John Axford finally wore the club down, and Brad Penny (a former starter) had just been lit up for the Giants. Except that K-Rod got murdered in Philadelphia, and the Giants ran tail as fast as their legs could travel.

Say I: Woulda. K-Rod has postseason experience to burn. He’s not the pitcher he used to be; he seems to have left his absolute best in Anaheim and New York, and there were obviously reasons above and beyond why the Angels weren’t in that big a hurry to re-sign him and the Mets were in hurry enough to lose him, reasons not limited to his contract options. Still, he would have been useful enough until his Philly implosion. And he still could be if he starts to work with the fact that he may never again be the pure power pitcher who once knocked the American League on its ears.

Joe Blanton (RHP, Phillies) to the Orioles for . . . Well, neither the Phillies nor the Orioles could have agreed on the prospects.

Say I: Shoulda. Blanton would have given the Orioles a steady veteran hand if they really are in it to win it (“it” being a postseason berth this year), and the Phillies’ remake/remodel did need another couple of prospects. Maybe the Phillies were a little too occupied with moving Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, and testing the waters on Cliff Lee, but maybe the Orioles were being just stubborn enough. Hard to say.

 

The End for Abreu, Possibly . . .

Abreu—approaching the end of a solid career?

Someone had to go in order for the Los Angeles Dodgers to clear a spot for incoming Shane Victorino, and it looks as though veteran Bobby Abreu, Victorino’s former Philadelphia Phillies teammate, is the unlucky candidate. The Dodgers designated him for assignment Wednesday.

It isn’t that Abreu had become baggage by any means—in seventy games he had a .359 on-base percentage, though he wasn’t hitting quite to his one-time level—but the Dodgers for now just had little enough role for him now other than pinch-hitting duty, with an outfield of Victorino, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. Clearly, according to ESPN, manager Don Mattingly wasn’t all that anxious to let Abreu go just yet.

Bobby kind of came at a time when we had some guys hurt, did a great job for us. He’s another guy in the clubhouse who’s been good with the young players, talking to them about hitting. To me, he’s an intelligent guy who understands the game and everything that’s going on with it. He’s just good for guys.

Once a Phillies mainstay who became a better than useful player with the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels, Abreu found himself released in late April when Mike Trout—making a solid Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player case (he leads the Show in WAR at this writing)—was promoted to stay.

The Dodgers picked him up with the Angels paying most of his $9 million 2012 salary. Mattingly hopes the Dodgers can hold onto Abreu in one way or another, pending his acceptance to Albuquerque (AAA) until the Show rosters can expand 1 September, ESPN says. The Dodgers have ten days to trade or release the veteran otherwise; if they find a deal to their reluctant liking, Abreu could still help a team as a designated hitter who can still hit reasonably enough (his outfield skills, which were never formidable, have all but eroded) as well as mentoring their younger hitters.

Abreu himself was realistic about his role with the Dodgers during July, even though his once-formidable power numbers were no longer possible at age 38.

I never change my approach. I’m just trying to work the count, get on base and start rallies. I’ve got good guys behind me that can knock home some runs, so I just need to get on base.

If this is approaching the end of Abreu’s line, though, he would leave the game with a formidable resume. Over seventeen major league seasons, he is, at this writing, number 23 on the all-time doubles list (he led the National League in 2002 with 50 doubles), and he’s number 51 all time in times on base. In parts of 17 seasons, Abreu has amassed 2,434 hits and drawn 1,451 walks. He actually ranks 51st in baseball history in overall times on base. Perhaps more impressive: His 565 doubles rank 23rd in the history of baseball. He’s driven in 100 or more runs in a season eight times.

In his heyday with the Phillies . . .

And, Abreu has more WAR than a small boatload of players including a few Hall of Famers—his 57 overall WAR through this writing are more than Hall of Famers Zack Wheat, Yogi Berra, Willie Stargell, Bill Dickey, Joe Medwick, Tony Perez, and Kirby Puckett, among others; among active players, he’s behind only (in ascending order) Adrian Beltre, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Carlos Beltran, Roy Halladay, Derek Jeter, Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez. He has 57.3 offensive WAR, which puts him in the top hundred all-time in that isolated category.

He was highly enough valued even as he approached the apparent end. What might be forgotten now is this: before the Yankees unloaded A.J. Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates last winter, they wanted to bring Abreu back (he’d been a useful Yankee from 2006-2008 and, among other things, stole the last known base in the old Yankee Stadium before it closed) and offered Burnett to the Angels for him.

The Angels were willing to do it. They respected Abreu while having no room for him as a regular anymore, after he’d played well enough for them over three seasons, making a parallel reputation for shepherding their younger hitters toward better plate patience. But Burnett scotched the deal, infuriating Abreu, who wanted to go to the Yankees if the Angels couldn’t play him every day (the Yankees sought DH help last winter and Abreu would have fit the plan well enough) when they had young comers ready to step up.

Burnett ended up with the Pirates, where he’s enjoying a renaissance of his own. (He’s got a respectable record on the season thus far and damn near no-hit the Cubs the other night.) Abreu ended up further fighting the reality that age was finally catching up to him in terms of regular play, demanding the Angels play him as an everyday DH or trade him. (The Angels also couldn’t swing a deal with the Indians for him.) Then, they released him to make room for Trout.

Abreu actually might have gotten back to the Yankees in another way. Strange as it may seem, considering how the Phillies unloaded him to the Yankees for a package of non-entities at the 2006 non-waiver deadline, the Phillies had ideas last winter about dealing for Abreu—it was thought they’d send Joe Blanton to the Angels for Abreu, then flip Abreu to the Yankees for Burnett. That deal didn’t pan out, either.

The Phillies did become a National League East powerhouse after the original Abreu trade. But Abreu’s image as a clubhouse cancer may actually have stemmed from his concern that, as good as they looked, those Phillies weren’t as close to contending as some thought. And the Phillies’ rise may have had less to do with moving Abreu than you might think.

You wonder if the Phillies would have bagged more than one World Series ring in the coming run if they’d kept him, especially since Abreu did help the Yankees win the American League East in 2006 and the American League wild card in 2007. (He also played well for them in those two division series, both of which the Yankees lost.) You wonder if the Phillies would have done better in their impressive run had they gotten better for Abreu, since his value was at its absolute peak at the time of that trade. Bleacher Report isn’t the only one who wonders if there weren’t better offers on the table for him (only one of the minor leaguers who went to the Phillies is still with the organisation), and whether the 2006 Phillies used the chemistry issue to beard a salary dump.

Abreu may have a solid future ahead of him as a hitting instructor, at least. He’s smart enough to become a manager, even. He’s been, basically, one of the game’s quiet stars, a solid hitter with an off-the-chart ability to work pitch counts (he often led his league in pitches seen) and reach base. (He has averaged 126 strikeouts per 162 games lifetime, but he’s also averaged 101 walks per 162.) As a matter of fact, according to the Bill James definitions, Abreu meets 54 of the Hall of Fame batting standards (the average Hall of Famer would meet 50) and scores 94 on the Hall of Fame batting monitor.

I bet you didn’t realise Abreu shook out through this writing as just about an average Hall of Famer. The kind who snuck up on you when you almost weren’t looking, even if his case, if he has one, would be made almost entirely by his bat and his ability to reach base. (At best, Abreu was a serviceable outfielder; at worst, he could be a bit of a klutz whom people thought, perhaps wrongly, was dogging it.) I don’t think he will become a Hall of Famer; I’d have to say his odds are long enough. (Among other liabilities: he’s only ever been an All-Star twice.) But never let anyone tell you this guy was anything less than a thoroughgoing professional who learned to use his skills as they were, not as he might have hoped they’d be.

Abreu’s been a  brainy hitter with quite a bit of power, brilliance on the basepaths (bet you didn’t realise his lifetime stolen base percentage as of today is .756) and quite a bit of run productivity. (He averaged 194 runs produced per 162 games lifetime, through this writing.) He learned his strengths, played with and to them, and did whatever he could do within them to help his teams win, even if his teams often didn’t realise what they would miss until after they let him go.

DID YOU KNOW . . . Bobby Abreu has been almost the same hitter on the road as he’s been at home. He has only twenty less lifetime home runs on the road; his road OBP and slugging percentages aren’t that far off his home figures; and, he’s been practically even up between the first and second halves of a season. He was as consistent as they came when his skills were at full strength.

His best months, lifetime: June and September/October, in both of which he’s a lifetime .400+ hitter. Situational hitting: .942 OPS with runners in scoring position; .855 with a man on third and two out;  .928 with two out and men in scoring position; 1.052 with two out and the bases loaded; .855 when the game was late and close; and, .882 when the game was tied or within a run either way.

In other words, Bobby Abreu was an excellent clutch hitter. Maybe not quite a Hall of Fame-caliber clutch hitter, but you never should have been anywhere close to a nervous breakdown if he was at the plate and the game was on the line or close enough to it.

A Snag on Blanton

There’s a snag in the possible movement of Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton to the Baltimore Orioles—and it has nothing to do with anything the Orioles found in Blanton’s medical records, for which they asked to review Monday. The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly says the snag is money:

Blanton.

The Orioles are deep into negotiations with the Philadelphia Phillies about acquiring right-hander Joe Blanton, but the amount of money the Orioles would have to pick up could be a sticking point in reaching an agreement before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.

They likely could acquire the 31-year-old Blanton for a mid-level minor leaguer, but the Phillies also want to shed what remains on Blanton’s $8.5 million contract — which is approximately $3 million.

And, according to an industry source, the Orioles appear hesitant to absorb that figure for a pitcher who is considered a mid-to-late-rotation innings eater. The Phillies, who surprisingly are last in the National League East despite a $170 million-plus payroll, are looking for salary relief, especially after inking lefty Cole Hamels to a $144 million contract extension Wednesday.

The Phillies aren’t necessarily looking to blow up the team entirely even with the trades of Shane Victorino (Dodgers) and Hunter Pence (Giants)—they’re merely looking to shuffle a few pieces for a 2013 regrouping as well as salary relief. There may be no better analysis of their current position and what has fueled it than Jonah Keri at Grantland.com:

Halladay.

After the Phils lost in the ’09 World Series, Amaro started doubling down. There were smaller deals, like a three-year, $18 million pact with Placido Polanco to upgrade at third base. Then there were the mega-deals. First, Amaro flipped three more prospects to Toronto, landing arguably the best pitcher in the game in Roy Halladay. The Phillies then locked up Halladay in another below-market deal, getting a steal at three years, $60 million plus an option. The next contract sparked far more controversy, when [Ryan] Howard signed a five-year, $125 million extension that didn’t kick in until Opening Day 2012, nearly two years after pen hit paper. Whether the Phillies were opening the vault because they overvalued home runs and RBIs and overlooked Howard’s shortcomings (his struggles versus lefties; lack of defensive value; the fact that he’d already peaked three years earlier) or because they wanted to retain the de facto face of the franchise, it was an overpay. [Cliff] Lee returned to Philly in 2011 after a year away at five years, $120 million; [Jimmy] Rollins re-upped for three years, $33 million the next season; and Jonathan Papelbon also joined the next season at four years, $50 million.

When the Phillies took the field to start the 2012 season, they were shooting for their sixth straight division title. Except Howard, [Chase] Utley, and Rollins were all well past their prime with Howard and Utley on the DL, and the rest of the roster looked thin behind Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Papelbon, and a couple of key position players. All told, the Phillies’ payroll had nearly doubled in five years, to $172 million. They’d finally moved into the Yankees’ neighborhood.

Howard.

It’s easy to criticize Amaro for the flawed, hugely expensive roster he now has: If you want to know why Philly owes about $115 million to six players next year and craves payroll flexibility now, look no further than the deals they handed out over the past few years. But really, that’s the nature of success. More often than not, winning leads to more spending, and not necessarily the other way around. Maybe the Howard deal shouldn’t have happened, and the team’s nucleus should have seen more turnover as everyone got older. But the Phillies’ revenue streams had exploded thanks to their five straight division titles and new stadium, and Amaro had a mandate to keep the good times rolling. We were going to reach this point sooner or later, even if Branch Rickey were in charge.

Most recently, Blanton posted five quality starts in his last six assignments and rolled a respectable 3.82 earned run average in July. The Orioles targeted Blanton as a pitcher who could help stablise a younger rotation.

The money may not be the only snag in the works. The Sun says the Phillies’ targets in a Blanton deal include infield prospect Jonathan Schoop, a 20-year-old who won the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson Award as their minor league player of the year, but the Orioles wouldn’t be likely to include Schoop in a deal.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

NOW, THIS IS A SWITCH!—Thus far, the New York Mets’ 2012 has been marked by an arduous grapple for a shot at the postseason, but one made difficult to impossible by a bullpen that tends to detonate nuclear weapons instead of pitches at the Mets’ expense.

That was a collective New York heart attack you’ve been hearing since late Monday night, when the San Francisco Giants’ pen imploded on the Mets’ behalf—the Giants’ bulls upchucked a two-run lead and let the Mets hang up six runs in the final three innings, including but not limited to Scott Hairston’s two late bombs, a two-run shot in the eighth and a solo in the tenth. It’s as though the Giants’ bulls were trying to return the favour, since the Mets’ middle infield misplayed a sure one-out double-play, letting a Giants run score. The two teams actually traded leads four times before the game went to the extras and the Mets came out on top 8-7.

Still, the Mets need to reconstitute their bullpen—and fast, if they think they have a prayer of staying in the postseason picture. Bobby Parnell looks like a closer of the future but he needs to get better control of his lightning fastball, Frank Francisco (the incumbent) isn’t quite back from his injury, and Pedro Beato—who could yet be their future setup man—was sent back to the minors to get himself back on track. The Mets have been quiet on the non-waiver deadline trade market thus far.

The Giants Sing a Song of Hunter Pence

They won’t be doing this with each other anymore: Hunter Pence (r.) will be doing it against Shane Victorino (l.), now that Pence is a Giant and Victorino, a Dodger . . .

Now we’re rolling. The Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants have finished a deal to send Hunter Pence to the Giants for major league-established outfielder Nate Schierholtz and two prospects, catcher Tommy Joseph and pitcher Seth Rosin. (Now, there’s a name for a pitcher!)

The Giants were looking for an upgrade in the lineup and in the outfield, which Pence—who’s signed through this season and could earn over $13 million in 2013—would bring with the 17 homers and 59 RBI he has so far in 2012. The deal comes right on the tail of the Phillies sending Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

For Pence, it’s his second non-waiver deadline move in as many seasons: the Phillies landed him near the deadline last year from the team named later to complete the deal that sent the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are said to have stopped all talk involving trading Cliff Lee despite Lee’s struggling. The Texas Rangers, whom Lee helped lead to a World Series in 2010, were thought to be interested in bringing him back, but various reports point to the Rangers not wanting to surrender quite the package the Phillies sought in return even if the Rangers were willing to work with the Phillies on Lee’s remaining salary.

The Phillies aren’t looking (yet) for a downright organisational overhaul, but they are trying to rehorse for a run in 2013 after injuries and inconsistencies drove them to the bottom of the National League East this season. At this writing, the Phillies are still said to be in serious discussion with the Baltimore Orioles on a deal to send the Orioles pitcher Joe Blanton, with the Orioles going far enough to request a look at Blanton’s medical records. Blanton would be just one move for the Orioles; they’re said to be looking for bullpen help as well.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

EMPIRICAL MOVES?—The New York Yankees aren’t being as quiet as a lot of people thought in the past fortnight, the Ichiro Suzuki deal to the contrary: they’re now said to have eyes for Ryan Dempster while possibly looking for a little third base help with Alex Rodriguez down for the count for six weeks at least. San Diego’s Chase Headley—whom most analysts think the Padres must move if they want to get rebuilding in earnest—is thought to be on the Yankee radar. What might make the Yankees think they have a shot at Dempster, who’s being pretty finicky in invoking his no-trade clause? Easy enough: Two men Dempster respects, former Cubs GM Jim Hendry and former Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild, are in the Yankee organisation now. However, a few reports indicate the Yankees and Cubs are merely talking—for now.

TEXAS SHIELDS?—At this writing, it’s believed the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays are talking about Rays pitcher James Shields, formerly thought to be on the Los Angeles Angels’ radar until they pulled the proverbial trigger on the Zack Greinke deal. Right now, that’s all it is, according to a few reports: talking.

SNAKES IN THE GRASS?—The Arizona Diamondbacks may be making a move in their quest to land a major league-established starting pitcher: they’re said to have pulled minor league pitching prospect Patrick Corbin from a scheduled start in Sacramento (AAA), indicating a possible deal in the works in which Corbin would be included, though nobody’s saying just whom the Snakes have as their target. On the other hand, it’s also possible that they could move a major league starter (as yet unnamed) in a deal. The Diamondbacks are widely thought to be trying to move two other players, infielder Stephen Drew and outfielder Justin Upton.

UH-OH . . . There’s a snag in the speculation on Ryan Dempster as a Dodger target. Fox’s Ken Rosenthal tweets it this way: the Dodgers’ position “is that they have made deals without moving any of top 7-8 prospects. Will not move any of them for rental like Dempster.” Which could mean the Dodgers may back away from Dempster unless there’s a fair chance they can sign him beyond his current deal that expires at season’s end.

The Phlippin' Phillies?

The Philadelphia Phillies look to be major sellers after all, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who says teams talking to the Phillies are girding their loins for the Phillies possibly making as many as three deals aimed at beginning a transitional rebuilding of the club that had the National League East in a five-year headlock.

The possiblities, says Stark: the Cincinnati Reds making a play for Juan Pierre; the Los Angeles Dodgers having an inside track on landing Shane Victorino; and, the Baltimore Orioles, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Toronto Blue Jays circling for a possibly play at Joe Blanton.

Victorino: Going down, going out?

The realities, Stark continues: The Phillies would want a ready bullpen arm if they pull the trigger on Victorino, but they might also want a younger center fielder in a deal since they have concerns about whom in their organisation could step in for the aging Victorino. They may, Stark notes, think about asking for Tony Gwynn, Jr. in a Dodger deal.

The motives: Getting under the luxury tax as well as reconstituing a fading veteran team.

The peripheries: Stark thinks Blanton is likelier to be moved in August, while Hunter Pence—whose name remains in the trade winds approaching the non-waiver deadline—is likelier to leave after the season, giving the Phillies room to ensure themselves for outfield replacements.

On the other hand, several sources are cited by MLBTradeRumors.com as reporting the Orioles have received Blanton’s medical records from the Phillies after keeping a close enough eye on the pitcher since spring training. What the Phillies might ask for Blanton: a major league ready utility player or a middle relief prospect.

And, regarding the possible Cliff Lee move, if it’s the Texas Rangers who want to make him a prodigal the Phillies may be likely to ask for a glandular package—third base prize Mike Olt, a young outfielder, and at least two young, top pitching prospects. Which could scotch any Lee deal before it takes on wings, just as clubs interested in San Diego third baseman Chase Headley were told he’s off the market because the packages offered for him weren’t to the Padres’ satisfaction.

Only Fox Sports isn’t all that sure Lee’s going to move. Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Phillies didn’t offer a lot of contract relief regarding Lee for the package they might be demanding to trade the lefthander.

The Phlippin’ Phillies?

The Philadelphia Phillies look to be major sellers after all, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who says teams talking to the Phillies are girding their loins for the Phillies possibly making as many as three deals aimed at beginning a transitional rebuilding of the club that had the National League East in a five-year headlock.

The possiblities, says Stark: the Cincinnati Reds making a play for Juan Pierre; the Los Angeles Dodgers having an inside track on landing Shane Victorino; and, the Baltimore Orioles, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Toronto Blue Jays circling for a possibly play at Joe Blanton.

Victorino: Going down, going out?

The realities, Stark continues: The Phillies would want a ready bullpen arm if they pull the trigger on Victorino, but they might also want a younger center fielder in a deal since they have concerns about whom in their organisation could step in for the aging Victorino. They may, Stark notes, think about asking for Tony Gwynn, Jr. in a Dodger deal.

The motives: Getting under the luxury tax as well as reconstituing a fading veteran team.

The peripheries: Stark thinks Blanton is likelier to be moved in August, while Hunter Pence—whose name remains in the trade winds approaching the non-waiver deadline—is likelier to leave after the season, giving the Phillies room to ensure themselves for outfield replacements.

On the other hand, several sources are cited by MLBTradeRumors.com as reporting the Orioles have received Blanton’s medical records from the Phillies after keeping a close enough eye on the pitcher since spring training. What the Phillies might ask for Blanton: a major league ready utility player or a middle relief prospect.

And, regarding the possible Cliff Lee move, if it’s the Texas Rangers who want to make him a prodigal the Phillies may be likely to ask for a glandular package—third base prize Mike Olt, a young outfielder, and at least two young, top pitching prospects. Which could scotch any Lee deal before it takes on wings, just as clubs interested in San Diego third baseman Chase Headley were told he’s off the market because the packages offered for him weren’t to the Padres’ satisfaction.

Only Fox Sports isn’t all that sure Lee’s going to move. Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Phillies didn’t offer a lot of contract relief regarding Lee for the package they might be demanding to trade the lefthander.