Joe Blanton's 2008 Phillies season provided a lifetime of memories
There were two weeks to go until the official Major League Baseball trade deadline in July 2008 when the Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the A’s for prospects Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman and Matthew Spencer.
Like many of my restaurant co-workers at the time, we all asked the same question:
Joe Blanton? Really?
After four seasons, things have appeared to come full circle. On Friday, the Phillies traded Blanton to the Dodgers. And while his name has been often mentioned in trade rumors over the last several years, it’s hard to ignore the fact that yet another member of the Phillies’ 2008 World Championship team has moved on. Only Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Kendrick are left.
Interestingly enough, Blanton’s departure is almost being received like his arrival- with very little fanfare. But in sports as well as life, sometimes you really don’t know what you’re in store for until the moment arrives. And boy, Joe Blanton certainly had his moments wearing Phillies pinstripes.
You might recall that Phillies fans weren’t exactly thrilled when it was announced that GM Pat Gillick snagged Blanton to ‘bolster’ the club’s rotation. After all, the Cubs got Rich Harden from the A’s a little more than a week before. Furthermore, the Brewers had traded for C.C. Sabathia from the Indians in June. Meanwhile, we got Joe Blanton.......
Typical Phillies deadline move, right?
Wrong. While Harden and Sabathia were absolute difference makers to their respective teams, Blanton more than held his own, going 4-0 down the stretch with a 2-0 in the 2008 postseason, including a big win in the series-changing Game 4 of the World Series against the Rays. Earlier that game, Blanton, not known for his hitting prowess, popped out with the bases loaded. Shortly after, I leaned over to my dad and mentioned in passing that if Blanton ever got a hold of one, it would probably go a long way. And although he missed his chance in his previous at bat, he didn’t in the fifth inning. Blanton connected of Rays’ reliever Edwin Jackson and launched a home run into the left field seats for a 6-2 Phillies lead. It was the first time a pitcher homered in a World Series since Ken Holtzman went deep for the A’s back in 1974.
The Phightins went on to win, 10-2 to take a commanding three games to one series lead. That postseason was filled with some unforgettable moments, but Phillies fans couldn’t help but feel that they were about to experience something really special (keep in mind the “monsoon” hadn’t hit Philadelphia yet!). And 72 painstaking hours later, the Phillies were World Champions.
It’s pretty fair to say that 2008 was the peak of Blanton’s Phillies career. After that season, he struggled for consistency at times and ran out of gas in his other postseason offerings. Nonetheless, Blanton remained a serviceable starter for the Phillies during the team’s 2009 World Series run as well as the 2010 NL East division winners.
An elbow injury prevented Blanton from being part of the team’s much-hyped rotation in 2011, but his lone victory that season was enough to help the Phillies reach a team record 102 wins (beating the previous record of 101 victories set by 1976-1977 team). Another little known fact is that Blanton is the most successful second half pitcher in the majors during the last four years with a 17-5 record, so he should be a nice addition to the Dodgers’ struggling rotation.
As for the prospects the Phillies traded for Blanton, Outman underwent Tommy John Surgery and missed all of the 2010 season. He currently pitches for the Rockies and has only won eight games in the majors leagues. Meanwhile, second baseman Cardenas made his major league debut this past May for the Cubs and is currently hitting .205. After spending six seasons with eight minor league teams, Spencer is also in the Cubs organization. He has recently converted from position player to pitcher, and has yet to appear in a Major League game.
So when all was said and done, the Phillies acquired Joe Blanton for three prospects who made little or no impact on the teams they’ve played for. Meanwhile, they received a serviceable starter for four seasons who went undefeated in the 2008 regular season and postseason, while hitting a legendary home run as his team won the World Series. And oh yeah, he gave Philadelphia and its fans a lifetime of memories.
I’ll take it.
Philly2Philly wishes Joe Blanton the very best of luck in Los Angeles.
Contact Joe Vallee at firstname.lastname@example.org