Cliff Lee is coming back to Philadelphia, and it appears as though the Phillies will need to shed salary to accomodate his new deal. With such a stacked rotation, Joe Blanton's name -- not to mention $17 million the Phils owe him through 2012 -- is starting to come up in trade rumors. Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse says the Brewers are one of the teams interested, although they'd want Philadelphia to pick up some of the salary.
I joked earlier today on Twitter that Blanton is a huskier version of Carl Pavano, at least from a statistical standpoint. Career numbers for both:
4.34 ERA / 4.15 FIP
22.0 fWAR in 1503.2 IP
17.5 fWAR in 1202.1 IP
They're quite a bit closer statistically than what I was expecting. Of course, the game isn't played in a vacuum, and there are other factors to consider.
Pavano will be 35 in 2011, and wants a three year contract. Blanton will be 30 and under contract for two more years. Pavano has a substantial injury history that has quite a few people scared. Going back to 2005, Blanton has thrown 201.1, 194.1, 230, 187.2, 195.1, and 175.2 innings. Pavano had the better year in 2010. Blanton seems to alternate good years and bad ones, and would be due for a good one in 2011.
So who do you go for if you're Doug Melvin and you're trying to fill the #4 spot in the rotation? The question may boil down to simply being about the money and years the team would have to commit. The Brewers don't want to go past two years on Pavano, and just a stab in the dark, but they probably don't want to pay him $10 million a year, either.
Blanton would likely be cheaper than Pavano on both counts, even without the Phillies picking up any salary. He would cost a mediocre prospect or two, but signing Pavano -- a Type A free agent -- would cost the Brewers their second round pick.
If I had to choose between the two, I'd probably pick up Blanton -- I just have more confidence that Blanton's game won't fall off a cliff after this season. It still is hard to trust Carl Pavano, even after proving he can be a solid starter the past couple seasons.