On the fifth of December last year, a mighty groan arose from the earth. The groan could be heard for miles as it reverberated through nearby canyons and was helped along by endless stretches of asphalt. Scribes wrote about it on scrolls of parchment. Mothers hid their children from the damaging effect it could have on one’s psyche. Angels fans, simply continued to groan. The team had just signed Joe Blanton, and everyone was underwhelmed.
After an offseason in which the Angels had decided to trade the forever inconsistent Ervin Santana, had decided to not pursue Zack Greinke and his pricey free agent price tag, had decided to decline Dan Haren‘s $13MM option, the Angels went out and decided to sign Joe Blanton to a two-year, $15MM contract with an option for a third year. Some of us (yours truly included), pointed out Blanton’s peripheral statistics and tried to paint him as being the perfect pitcher for the Angels. With the stellar defense that was being fielded behind him, and the forgiving nature of the Big A, Joe Blanton could only succeed in Anaheim. I mean, he had to succeed, right?
Fast forward to mid-May, and Joe Blanton has been flat-out awful. The Worst. A train wreck. This team’s new Vernon Wells. This team’s new Scott Kazmir (Who, in case you missed it, was fantastic in his most recent start). He’s been as bad as his defenders feared he could be, and as bad as his detractors expected him to be. There is no more defending, as my buddy said yesterday in a text message, Joke Blanton. Here are his numbers, so far:
Ugh. His FIP sits at 4.10, which would be a respectable ERA, but that's not an excuse anymore. Hitters are teeing off on Blanton to the tune of a .359/.389/.569 slash line. He leads the league in hits allowed with 75. His H/9 reflects that as it currently sits at a career high 14.7. His K/9 (which was at 7.8 last year) is at 5.7 this year. And somehow, even though he plays in a pitcher friendly ballpark, his HR/FB rate hasn't regressed. And a WHIP of 1.870? I'm not saying I'm a Major League caliber pitcher, I'm just saying I could replicate those numbers if I were being paid in Vietnamese Dong.
Blanton was brought into the fold along with Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas, to replace Grienke, Haren and Santana. Vargas and Hanson have at least had some level of success so far this season. Blanton on the other hand, has had one clean inning. But according to the LA Times Bill Shaikin, Mike Scioscia had this to say after another crap-tastic outing from Blanton:
Scioscia on rotation, and Blanton's spot in it: "I don't think there are any changes anybody is looking at."
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) May 14, 2013
Facepalm. Blanton is the first Angels starter to start the season of 0-7 since Joe Grahe in 1991. The only pitcher who was pitching worse than Joe Blanton was Phillip Humber. And he was released. By the Houston Astros. Let me say that again; the only starting pitcher in baseball that was pitching worse than Joe Blanton was released by the Houston Astros. Has that sunk in yet? But Scioscia feels zero urgency, apparently, to even move Blanton to the bullpen where he can be far less harmful to this team.
Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done quick. Whether it is moving Blanton to the bullpen, having him diagnosed with a mysterious ailment that forces him to the DL for an overly extended period of time, or flat out DFA'ing him, something has to change. Hell, trade him for a pack of bubbleicious, some Garbage Pail Kids cards and and a bucket of used little league batting practice balls. He can't start another game. And if Scioscia keeps trotting him out there every fifth day because of "veteran moxie," or whatever excuse he'll give to the media as to why he's sticking with Blanton, Scott Kazmir's forgettable 2010 season with the Halos, is going to look like a Cy Young caliber season. He's thrown enough Skip, the time is now, go get him.