Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is Joe Blanton on his way to LA?

A story from suggests that Joe Blanton is being hotly pursued by the Dodgers. While LA already has Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Jason Schmidt, and Estaban Loaiza, Ned Colletti still does not feel 100% comfortable. Knowing the Dodgers' injury history, I can't blame him.

The article accurately points out that Kuroda has never thrown a pitch in the majors, and Schmidt and Loaiza are anything but reliable starters with their injuries. So, going after a proven arm might make sense. Who do the A's want? Andre Ethier and Andy LaRoche are the 2 big names along with another prospect. Let's take a look at the possible trade:

Blanton - Coming off a 2006 season in which he won 16 games but posted a 4.82 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, he turned things around last year by going 14-10, 3.95 ERA, 1.22 WHIP. Also important was that he had 230 IP in 34 starts, which translates into nearly 7 innings per game. Making it into the 7th inning from the starting pitcher is considered a positive these days. As is always the case with the A's, if there's a veteran that can play, he will be shopped, and this is no different.

Ethier - If this trade does go through, he will come full circle after being involved in the Milton Bradley deal a couple of years back. Playing in a semi-regular role last year, he hit .284 with 13 HR and 64 RBI. He has a decent amount of pop and good arm in the outfield. He hasn't quite broken out to really establish himself yet, which has caused his value to kind of flatten out. Plus, the crowded outfield situation has made him even more expendable. I wouldn't exactly shed a tear if he were traded, but would certainly like to see him stay as well.

LaRoche - Another trade rumor, another mention of LaRoche. Why am I not surprised? On the one hand, he only hit .226 in 93 at-bats last year with 1 HR and 10 RBI. Not exactly a breakthrough performance. But, he's been Mr. Everything in the minor leagues, and deserves a chance to play as the main 3rd base option over Nomar Garciaparra.

If I were given the option of making the decision, I think I'd have to lay off of this one. Including LaRoche is what scares me. The Dodgers would be down to Nomar and would have to look to get someone else, like a Joe Crede. I think keeping LaRoche and letting him prove his worth is the best way to go. Blanton is a solid starter, no doubt, but it's time to make a commitment to both LaRoche and Ethier and let them prove they can play, much like the DBacks did last year with their young guys.

The Reds are the other team involved, and they would need a starter much more badly than the Dodgers. Playing in that ballpark, they can use any good arm they can get.

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