As you follow the Cardinals-Angels game out in Anaheim tonight, keep in mind that Joe Blanton – the Angels’ pitcher – almost came to the Reds in what would have been one of the biggest disasters in the history of the franchise.

Before the 2008 season, rumors had Blanton coming to the Reds for Joey Votto plus either Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto.

Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty offered his opinion back then that he would do the trade “in a second” in part because “Blanton is a proven winner.”

Blanton was 5-12 for the Oakland A’s the following season. He’s never had an ERA below 4 and his ERA in all the years since then approaches 5.00. Blanton, the proven winner, and Bailey have each had 43 wins since then. Johnny Cueto has won 64 games.

And the other guy the Reds would have given up in that trade has done OK, too.

Imagine if the Reds had followed through with it …

But tonight, we’re all Joe Blanton fans!


45 Responses

  1. rhayex

    It’s also worth noting that the column was written by an idiot. It’s Paul Daugherty, the same columnist who was upset Homer cursed after his no hitter.

  2. RedForever

    I am laughing at some of the comments that followed the article. Glad the Reds brass knows more about baseball then the hacks that write some of these blogs. 😀

  3. Hank Aarons Teammate

    Under the current Reds’ management, some of the things they say I find really lame (we need a pitcher who’s a proven winner, and an RBI bat). However, they haven’t actually acted on that. When the time came to make the big deals, they acquired Latos and Choo—good K/BB for Latos, and great OBP for Choo. Proper evaluation was done.

    • greenmtred

      @Hank Aarons Teammate: As someone who knows next to nothing about sabermetrics, beyond what I get through osmosis by reading comments here, I’m curious about the dismissal of rbi as a significant stat. I understand that it is partially dependent upon what other players do, but have noted over the past 60 years that some guys consistently drive in a lot of runs, and that it doesn’t seem accidental, and that runs win games. Also, the importance of every other stat is influenced by what other players do. Even obp; you get on base, and that’s nice, but unless you steal 2nd, 3rd and home, you need other players to drive you in. I also suspect that I may be missing something, and would be grateful if somebody could elucidate.

      • Shchi Cossack


        …some guys consistently drive in a lot of runs, and that it doesn’t seem accidental, and that runs win games.

        You are absolutely correct that the real measure of offensive effectiveness is runs scored and it doesn’t matter how the runs score as long as they score. When I review the top teams in the NL in terms of runs scored (as a measure of the most effective offenses), I routinely see a direct correlation between the top offenses as measured by runs scored and the top offenses as measured by OBP. In example, right now the top 4 teams in the NL in runs scored are the same and in the same order as the top 4 teams in the NL in OBP:

        1. 419 runs Birds
        2. 407 runs Rox
        3. 369 runs Reds
        4. 363 runs Braves

        1. .335 OBP Birds
        2. .329 OBP Rox
        3. .327 OBP Reds
        4. .324 OBP Braves

        The same correlation does not exist for RBI or SLG or BA or stolen bases, just OBP.

        In answer to your question, the Reds are probably the best example to refute the value of RBI as a major offensive measurement. BP is 3rd in the league in RBI, but no one can realistically argue that BP ranks highly among the best offensive threats in the NL, but who is hitting ahead of BP and getting on base better than anyone else in the league? If you answered Choo & Votto, you win a cuppie doll! Note that neither Choo nor Votto lead the lead (or are even in the top 3) in runs scored.

        69 RBI=> .302/.380/.550/.930 Goldsmidt
        66 RBI=> .325/.370/.490/.860 Craig
        63 RBI=> .269/.324/.427/.751 Phillips
        62 RBI=> .295/.362/.605/.967 Gonzalez
        60 RBI=> .279/.326/.549/.875 Brown

        You are correct, that no one scores runs on their own and someone must drive them in, but the more important factor in scoring runs is simply getting on base.

      • pinson343

        @Shchi Cossack: A study of not just this season, but many seasons, showed that the team stat with the stronger correlation to runs scored is OBP. Even more important than slugging pct. I don’t think OPS was considered, as that’s combining two stats.

      • Eric the Red

        @greenmtred: Over time, almost every player has about the same average with RISP as they do without RISP. So it may seem like someone is “great at driving in runs”, but over time it balances out and that player is as great at driving in runs as he is at hitting when there aren’t RISP. On the other hand, if you’re constantly batting with runners on then even if you “just” match your usual numbers you have a much better chance of collecting a lot of RBIs. (In any given game, I’d rather be the team batting .250 with RISP instead of .333, if the first team has 12 chances with RISP and the second team has 3).

      • al

        @greenmtred: RBI is just a really inexact measure of offense and there are better ones, so why use it? It would be like relying on asking your kid how they feel to see if they have a fever, rather than just taking their temperature.

        Think about what you want to measure with RBI. Part of it is just wanting to measure whether a guy is a good hitter, right? But we have better measures than that. AVG/OBP/SLG tells you a heck of a lot more about whether a guy is a good hitter than his RBI total. And those are hardly revolutionary stats since they were all on my baseball cards when I was growing up.

        The other part of RBI is the idea that some guys are just “clutch.” But again, even if you believe in clutchiness, RBIs don’t tell you that much, because you have no idea how many chances a guy has had. There are better numbers to look at clutchiness too.

        Baseball Prospectus has a stat they call OBI%, which stands for Others Batted In Percentage. All it is is the number of runners on base you’ve had when you’re at bat, divided by the number of RBI you have minus your HRs so you don’t get credit for knocking yourself in. Pretty simple.

        This season Chris Davis is leading the league in OBI% at 24.9%, and Brandon Phillips is doing quite well at 19.6% (league average is usually around 14%). So it’s fair to say that THIS YEAR, Phillips has been about a league average hitter that has had some timely hits. That’s combining his slash line of .269/.324/.427 with his OBI%. Now doesn’t that paint a more accurate picture than just saying Phillips is 3rd in the league in RBI?

        The problem with the clutchiness part, is that it’s pretty hard to find anyone who can do that year after year, which is a big knock against the idea of clutch hitting overall. Phillips for example, in his previous 4 years has knocked in 18%, 13% 16%, and 16% of the runners he’s had on base. It’s hard to see much of a pattern there.

        So that, I believe, is why a lot of people now prefer to just look at how good a hitter is, in isolation, rather than at how clutch he has been. Being clutch in the past doesn’t seem to predict being clutch in the future.

      • pinson343

        @al: RBIs is a very partial (incomplete) measure of a very important stat- advancing base runners, including yourself. Advancing base runners is good, making an out is bad. All one needs is a measure of how bad an out is in proportion to how good advancing a base runner is, and presto, you have a good measure of how effective a hitter has been.

        Has this stat, based on how many bases a hitter has advanced runners vs. outs made, been introduced by Baseball Prospectus ?

        Every major league team has its own think tank for advanced stats. I would think some are using this data.

      • pinson343

        @pinson343: A measure of “advancing base runners” would need a lot of refinement, of course. Advancing yourself is more difficult than advancing other base runners, it’s captured by OBP and slugging pct. Advancing a runner home (also known as an RBI) is more important than advancing a runner to 3rd, etc.

        In this world, both OBP and RBis are important, but OBP would be more important.

      • pinson343

        @pinson343: You’d also have to consider opportunities to advance base runners. That is, some outs are worse than others. If this were my full time job, I’d keep working on it.

      • al

        @pinson343: There are some people who have done work in this direction. Certainly these types of stats are more for front offices (those that use them) and researchers than for fans. I think OBI% is a pretty solid quick and dirty way of looking at clutchiness.

        If you wanted a more sophisticated approach, here’s one from the HBT.

        They basically assign an “expected RBI” amount to each of the 24 base/out situations (that is none on none out, none on 1 out, etc…). Then they can generate an expected RBI amount for each player based on the situations they’ve faced, and compare this to the players actual amount of RBI, to see if the person has been more or less clutch than the average player would be expected to be.

        This approach takes into account how many outs there are in each situation and where the runners are on base, rather than just counting the men on base and dividing by RBI. It also gives a player credit for RBI from HRs.

        Baseball Prospectus also has a whole section for each player on situational hitting, that includes advancing runners and the like. As far as I know, they haven’t tried to aggregate all those numbers into one clutchiness number yet.

      • pinson343

        @al: Thanks for the link, Al. I assumed work had been done in this area but didn’t know where to find it. Right, it’s more for front office research teams than for fans.

      • pinson343

        @greenmtred: With all the comments below, I missed your original comment. I tried to state what RBIs would mean in an “advanced stat” world.

  4. Hank Aarons Teammate

    Blanton is a really interesting case. At the time of the proposed deal, Blanton had a career K/9 rate of under 5.5. You’d have to be absolutely insane to trade anything of value for that, let alone Votto and Cueto/Bailey. (And Blanton’s unadjusted ERAs over his Oakland career weren’t even that good, let alone his adjusted ERAs!)

    Since then, Blanton’s K/9 and BB/9 are good and getting better every year, just about. But his ERA has been awful. One reason is that he makes Tom Browning look like a ground ball pitcher. Blanton is a home run machine. And it’s basically every year.

  5. Greg Dafler

    That and the Erik Bedard rumors of the time are two big trades I’m glad the Reds never made.

  6. Eric

    I still wish that Mike Trout trade would have happened though.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    Pujols singles and Hamilton homers in the bottom of the 9th to tie the score, 5-5, now with 0 outs, Kendrick on 1B & Trumbo batting.

  8. Shchi Cossack

    Trumbo singles with Kendrick to 3B, no outs and Callaspo at the plate.

  9. LWBlogger

    That won’t get it done either… Guess the Reds aren’t the only team that can’t get a runner home from 3B with less than 2 outs.

    It is up to Aybar now.

  10. LWBlogger

    Woot! Aybar with the big hit!! Cards go down!!

  11. Shchi Cossack

    Game over, the Birds go down again. You gotta be glad you’re Reds fan and not a Birds fan right now.

  12. Steve Mancuso

    Sure hate to see the Cardinals lose in such a gut-wrenching fashion. Blowing a two-run lead in the ninth. Then getting two outs before giving up the single. So close to getting out of it. Pity.

    • vegastypo

      @Steve Mancuso: I suspect you’re also as broken up as I am that Wainwright lost the opportunity to get a win.

      I’ll be it made Dusty doubly happy, though. I can imagine him thinking, “See, if he had just brought in his closer to START the ninth inning like you’re supposed to, that inning wouldn’t have happened the way it did.”

      • OhioJim

        @vegastypo: The same thought about Dusty crossed my mind but then I decided, that maybe we all need to take a step back and figure that sometimes you just pay your money and take your chances.

  13. Shchi Cossack

    Note to the Nation:

    The Reds could plow back into 2nd place this weekend and start making the Bucos wonder about the 2nd half collapses from the past two seasons.

    Is everyone having fun again?!

    • greenmtred

      @Shchi Cossack: Yes and yes. However, I did see some of the Pirates game and, despite the loss, didn’t get the feeling that I was watching a team on the verge of collapse. Reds just have to keep winning.

  14. CP

    It’s still a little too early for me to start worrying about the standings, but I still enjoy rooting against the Cards.

    Also, I saw that Chapman has pitched 9 innings in the last 30 days. Closers are sooooooo valuable.

  15. CI3J

    Reds get the Mariners, Cards get the Marlins, and ‘Rats get the Cubs.

    Let’s see who’s best at beating up bad teams.

    • OhioJim

      @CI3J: I see these next two series (7 games; 3 vs. Mariners @home, 4 vs. Brewers on the road) as a potential trap situation for the Reds.

      I think they need to win 5 of the 7.

      • pinson343

        @OhioJim: The Reds have a tough schedule after that All Star break, so I agree gaining some ground over the next 7 is important.

        There’s the Pirates at home and then a West coast road trip. West coast road trips are always tough – the list of teams might not sound so scary, but the Dodgers are very hot right now with a loaded lineup, the Padres have played well after a terrible start, and the Giants are much better at home. All 3 parks are big and the Reds don’t like that.

  16. vegastypo

    That Blanton stuff is true, that such a trade was seriously discussed? I know it’s not April Fool’s Day, unless people set off fireworks on that “holiday” now. Geez, I can’t imagine if that trade had happened.

  17. Eric the Red

    That Daugherty column is hysterical. Now I know what to call it when he writes something idiotic like he did about Homer swearing: “Oh, Daugherty wrote another Blanton.”

  18. Eric

    If only that trade for Bryce Harper would have gone through.

  19. pinson343

    On both Hamilton’s HR and Aybar’s single, Mujica shook off Molina’s sign and went with his usual changeup-split. According to an article, those were the first two times this season that Mujica had shaken off Molina. I don’t know who would keep track of that, but anyway that was the first blown save of the season for Mujica.

    • LWBlogger

      @pinson343: I can’t stand Molina, but unless I really, really felt bad about throwing a certain pitch, there is no way I would shake off Molina. He’s the best defensive catcher in the league.

      • pinson343

        @LWBlogger: I can’t stand him either, but he’s really, really good, a great defensive catcher. And now he hits lot too.