Two Decembers ago, we were all in the midst of a tear-soaked orgy as Cliff Lee ran toward us on a beach, arms outstretched and in slow motion. His return blinded us from a multitude of other responsibilities, as dogs went unfed for days, children inadvertently stayed home from school, and the doorbell ringing of concerned neighbors watching the newspapers pile up went unnoticed.
Within that circle of forgotten aspects was a young man named Joe Blanton. A fine young specimen, he slunk even further from view as the Phillies mounted a serviceable All-Star team to use as their starting rotation. The only headlines he appeared in were about a seemingly inevitable trade to the Red Sox in order to dump some salary. That’s what he was. Not “Joe Blanton, professional baseball guy,” but “Joe Blanton, subtrahend.”
He went on to handle himself nicely in front of a giggling press corps, then hurt himself, and hasn’t really been a driving force of anything for a while. But now, Joe Blanton is back in the headlines. Because once again, the Phillies need to dump some salary.
The Phils are rubbing up against that luxury tax. Still, I mean. In fact, they appear to be a little bit above it (They’re at $180 million, $2 million above the threshold), so right now, it’s just a matter of time before the government penalizes them out of jealousy.
So obviously, that means somebody’s got to go. It’s not going to be any of those guys you’ve heard of. And it’s not going to be Wilson Valdez. And it’s certainly not going to be the Phanatic. I’m sure they don’t pay him that much anyway. He sends most of his paychecks home to the Galapagos, and I don’t think his family is living in a 10-bedroom jungle cave.
That seems to mean it’s going to be Joe Blanton, according to certain sources. The guy is, technically, superfluous, what with Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings. Also in those wings are bunches of seemingly mindless signings Ruben Amaro scooped up this winter. Could they still be mindless? Most definitely. The point is, somebody’s going to have to pitch fifth. And that person isn’t going to be paid much.