On December 12, 2013 word out of the Major League Baseball Winter Meeting was circulating that the Angels had signed a starting pitcher. You could hear the sighs of relief from Anaheim to Palm Springs. YES! Finally the Angels were able to retain free agent pitcher Zack Greinke and they had reached an agreement to return to the ballclub.
Then reality set it. General Manager Jerry Dipoto did sign a free agent starting pitcher that day. Joseph Matthew Blanton, a Kentucky native celebrated his 32nd birthday with a guaranteed 2-year contract for $14 million dollars ($8 mm option for '15) to be the Halos 5th starter.
Needless to say this did not (and still does not) sit real well with the Angels Family when there were much better available starting pitchers on the market (heck Kyle Lohse is still unsigned). Before the addition of Jason Vargas; the rotation looked very thin behind Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. Tommy Hanson, Jerome Williams, Garret Richards and Joe Blanton were going to fill out the back end of the rotation? How will this team compete? How could they survive a playoff series with this group?
What was Jerry Thinking ?
It appeared as if the Jedi had made his mistake on the path to the Dark Side, but Jerry Dipoto is not a stupid man. The Angels front office staff have really turned their attention to finding pitchers who they believe will excel in Angels Stadium.
Joe Blanton is an extreme fly ball pitcher (he gave up 29 homers) on a team with an extremely talented outfield defense. Mike Trout in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Josh Hamilton in right, the odds of fly balls finding a hole between this alignment is low. Hitters will have to blast the ball over the wall to get it past this defense.
The other key to Blanton's signing is the rarity in the statistics. Since 2009 Blanton's K/BB ratio has improved dramatically. Before his trade to from Philadelphia to Los Angeles NL Blanton's K/BB was 6.39 finishing at a impressive 4.88 K/BB.
Blanton also has a history of pitching well at Angels Stadium while a member of the Oakland Athletics. With a career tOPS of 75.
Dipoto is trusting the number crunchers that Blanton will be the perfect pitcher for the Angels. Perhaps with the offense Blanton can give the Halos 200 innings and 13 wins. Not bad at all for a league average veteran.
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