We fans are all outside this fuzzy snow globe called Major League Baseball, with our noses pressed up against the glass. Even those of us who have the opportunity to sneak into the winter meetings and make believe they're a real journalist are simply outside looking in, drooling over the goodie bag full of '07 baseball cards I'll never have. Sorry...drifted off there for a moment.
But from my vantage point, I'm wondering whether the Mets are seriously considering giving up Lastings Milledge and a player to be named later (whose name starts with an "H" and ends with an "eilman") for Joe Blanton, as rumored in the San Francisco Chronicle.
I'm not trashing Blanton here. He seems like a good middle of the rotation starter, whose off-speed stuff is regarded as the best on the A's staff, now that Barry Zito has crossed the Bay Bridge to the nice side. But we fans, like little old ladies at a Saturday morning yard sale, seem to turn over every prospect, look at the price tag, scrunch up our faces, and say, "It's not exactly what I want. Is this all there is?"
Lady, if there was anything else for sale, it would be out on the folding tables. That's all there is.
For his career, Blanton is four games over .500. While he tied for the A's team lead in victories last year, he was curiously removed from their playoff rotation, and ended up throwing only two innings in relief. His ERA was a shade under 5, definitely not superb, but not a deal-breaker for an NL team that might covet him. Like meters to yards, an AL ERA of 4.82 converts to a shade over 4 when translated to the NL.
Blanton doesn't give up a ton of long balls, but batters hit .309 against him; only two AL pitchers (Joel Piniero of the Mariners and Carols Silva of the Twins) were hit harder for average. He averaged six innings a start; but in his last five, he was touched up for 20 earned runs and 42 hits in 26 2/3 innings. Perhaps that's why he was held out of the postseason rotation.
Blanton is young -- he just turned 26 last month -- which, admittedly, is a strong plus. But to even consider discarding one good pitcher and one potentially very good player for one good pitcher doesn't sound like an even deal to me. I'm not convinced it's anything more than a beat writer trying to fill a column in the first week of January. As reported on MLB.com, A's GM Billy Beane, sounding positively Omar-ish, "isn't afraid to make an unpopular deal, but he's said to be comfortable with the team as constituted".
I like the still-not-totally congealed thoughts of my workmate Johnny Gunnz, who says that if Omar has his heart on dealing Milledge and Heilman, why not get Scott Kazmir back from the Devil Rays for them? Crazier things have happened.
Let's see what's at the next table, Agnes. Oooh, look -- Tomo Ohka! Would that fit the living room? Hmmm -- this one's not even at .500, though. Isn't there anything nice here?