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Joe Blanton is not Rich Harden or CC Sabathia. He also doesn’t come with a price tag that includes Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson or Shane Victorino. Joe Blanton will help stabilize the Phillies rotation and finally allow Charlie Manuel to banish the awful Adam Eaton to Clay Condrey territory in the Phillies bullpen. Joe Blanton is a mid-season pick-up in the mold of Kyle Lohse and Jamie Moyer, an unspectacular yet reliable innings eater who keeps the ball down and won’t give games away every fifth day.
By the way, hats off to GM Pat Gillick for showing restraint, especially during his swan song, when the remaining trade options weren’t worth the cost. Carrasco could claim a spot in the Phillies’ 2009 rotation. Lou Marson has a shot to be catching at Citizens Bank Park next year. J.A. Happ, fresh off a 12-strikeout performance at Triple A last night, seems to be finally putting it all together. Even 2007 first-round pick Joe Savery have been pitching well lately at Clearwater. Including any of these players in a trade for a rental like Erik Bedard or A.J. Burnett would have been a mistake. Joe Blanton is under contract through 2010 and is a virtual lock for 200-plus innings.
While Blanton is a solid addition, the key to the Phillies’ postseason dreams is still Brett Myers. Cole Hamels is clearly the ace, but it’s Myers who must step up and become a big-time number two. Myers is better than Blanton, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick and has the God-given ability to throw a gem anytime he takes the mound. Unfortunately, his head makes him just as likely to throw a fit. He needs to regain some of that cockiness and swagger that made him so effective in the past and stop acting as if every pitch is Armageddon.
The strikeout prone Phillies offense has shown it can be shut down, and teams don’t come back from seven or eight run deficits in the playoffs. If Brett Myers doesn’t become the second part of a strong one-two punch, the Phillies could be in trouble if they make it to October baseball. I still think the Mets and Marlins have too many holes to contend all season. Pedro Martinez is hurt again and trade options are limited because the Mets farm system is paper thin, while the Marlins just don’t have the cash. However, the Phillies could be looking at a repeat of last year’s postseason without the successful return of Brett Myers.