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The Phillies were the “mystery team” for A.J. Burnett

Feb 17, 2012, 8:05 PM EDT

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The Yankees and Pirates have agreed to a deal that will send A.J. Burnett and cash considerations to the Pirates for Double-A reliever Diego Moreno and Low-A outfielder Exicardo Cayones, but it turns out there was another team in the mix. A”mystery team,” if you will. And this one might surprise you.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Phillies were involved in talks for Burnett before a deal was finally reached with Pittsburgh. This probably never had a realistic chance of happening, as the Phillies would have had to find a home for Joe Blanton (likely paying part of his $8.5 million salary) in order to make a deal work. No takers, apparently.

I’d rather have Burnett than Blanton at this point, but adding another $8 million to the payroll for 2013 (like the Pirates will do) when the Phillies already have approximately $108 million committed might not have been the best idea for a team who is hoping to work out an extension with Cole Hamels. They need all the flexibility they can get.

The big takeaway here is that the Phillies are looking to trade Blanton and currently seek an upgrade for their rotation. Blanton was limited to just 41 1/3 innings last season due to an elbow injury, so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to unload him unless he can prove healthy and effective during spring training. Of course, Roy Oswalt will probably sign somewhere by then, so it’s unclear where an upgrade would come from. But Ruben Amaro, Jr. has a habit of surprising us.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    On the other hand, it may be a mystery to the Phillies why they were dubbed “the Mystery Team”. For now, we have no idea if the story is true.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Feb 18, 2012 at 5:24 AM

      what we do know is that you talk right out of your arse….

  2. randygnyc - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Huh? The phillies must be really sour on Oswalt, if this story is true. Essentially, they’d be choosing AJ over Roy, for similar type money (6.5 million per year for AJ and maybe 8-9 million for Roy?)

    • chaseutley - Feb 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM

      Yeah, there must be something going on here that we’re not hearing….. Like Oswalt doesn’t want to come back to Philly but is too PR savvy to out and say it, or the Phillies think Oswalt is cooked and don’t want him back.

      Oswalt is slightly younger and (at least appears to be) the superior pitcher. Why trade for a lesser player when you can re-sign Oswalt for similar money?

    • paperlions - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      They may just prefer a healthy starter; if anything, this may indicate that they remain concerned about Oswalt’s back and would prefer not to rely on him. Burnett, at least, has been very durable while sucking.

      • chaseutley - Feb 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        Interesting thought, but we’ve already got a durable but shaky guy waiting in the wings in the form of Kyle Kendrick. While he drives me nuts out there, I’d rather roll with the 27-year old with room to grow for $3.5M than the 35-year old at whatever chunk of $16.5M we’d have to pick up and keep a couple of prospects.

        Admittedly, I don’t understand the ins and outs of the luxury tax, I’m not sure if we’re looking to get a pick back for Oswalt, and perhaps the organization either needs Kendrick in the pen or has no confidence in him as a starter. I could be missing a lot, here. That said, going after Burnett makes little sense to me.

  3. dondada10 - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    I still think Oswalt ends up back in Phillie.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Feb 18, 2012 at 5:25 AM

      god i hope so, id love to see a batting practice pitcher be added to the sillies

  4. macjacmccoy - Feb 18, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    Trade Blanton for Parts, Sign Oswalt and upgrade him with said parts like Optimus at the end of Transformers 2. Bam problem solved, no more Blanton, and some cash to sign a healthy half man half machine Oswalt.

    • paperlions - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

      No one is going to take on more than 1 or 2 million of Blanton’s contract. Trading him won’t clear payroll space because the Phillies will have to eat most of it.

      Blanton wasn’t healthy last year and doesn’t have great stuff. With Burnett, at least you can see the stuff and dream of a bounce back season or 2.

      • macjacmccoy - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:02 AM

        $2 million is $2 million off of the payroll. So it would clear space, but thats besides the point. If you couldnt tell by the ridiculous Transformers reference I was 100% just F’n around.

      • protius - Feb 19, 2012 at 5:37 AM

        No, we couldn’t, but it’s nice to see you speaking English again………..Lmao

      • macjacmccoy - Feb 20, 2012 at 1:39 AM

        what are u talking about how is getting cash for Blanton not putting money in the Phillies pockets?

  5. pitolove124 - Feb 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM


  6. etchedchaos - Feb 18, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    I don’t believe this. If the Phillies were the #mysteryteam then Burnett would be a Phillies right now 😛.

  7. ditto65 - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    I wish this scenario would have worked out.

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