Perhaps it was all the talk of celebratory pie, that attracted the man affectionately known as “cupcakes” back into the organization he once called home. Or maybe, it’s simply because the Athletics could use an influx of starting pitching depth and with the division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on the hook for the remaining $8.5 million left on the contract of one Joe Blanton, there is very little to lose.
Feb 26, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Joe Blanton poses for a portrait during photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Regardless, Blanton has reported to Triple-A Sacramento to be immediately placed in the River Cats rotation as he attempts to return to relevancy after a disastrous 2013 campaign. Reportedly down to 210 pounds, the 33-year old threw a simulated game earlier today in his first action since being handed his walking papers after allowing 16 earned runs in 20 1/3 spring training innings for the Angels.
Blanton’s spring statistics resemble an unfortunate continuation of his 2013 season in the Angels rotation, which by nearly ever pitching metric available was an atomic bomb of massive proportions. In 132 2/3 innings pitched, the right-hander was battered to the tune of a 6.04 ERA, 5.12 FIP and allowed an astronomical 29 home runs which amounted to 2 surrendered every 9 innings pitched. The veterans strikeout and walk ratios were in line with his career averages with 7.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9, which isn’t quite a silver lining — but at least it doesn’t warrant an immediate gag reaction.
For the moment, Blanton will serve as Triple-A insurance as the Athletics attempt to fix whatever flaw lead to the burly hurler allowing 20% of fly balls to leave the yard in 2013. A proverbial “break in case of emergency”, which would dictate another injury within the rotation or I’d gather some sort of national disaster.
Here are some of my favorite Blanton-related tweets from fellow A’s fans: