Friday, August 3, 2012
Not the Phillie expected, but Blanton fills a need
By Ramona Shelburne
OK, so Joe Blanton isn't Cliff Lee. But he's also not Stephen Fife or one of the other kids from Triple-A Albuquerque the Dodgers would have been using as a fifth starter until Ted Lilly is healthy, whenever that might be.
Blanton is what he always has been: solid, if not spectacular. But for the Dodgers' purposes, he's a nice upgrade who should help add depth and dimension to a rotation that has been a little wobbly of late.
After missing out on Ryan Dempster at the deadline, the Dodgers' brass was insistent it wasn't done dealing. In fact, when I caught up with him on the field Tuesday afternoon, new controlling owner Mark Walter openly hinted at that idea.
"Do you really ever want to say we did enough?" Walter said. "That's not an attitude I really want a lot of around here. I guess if the entire All-Star team is on your team, you could feel like you had enough. But I don't want to think that way. That's now how you want to look at it.
"I think we are a very competitive team now. But you can always get better."
Walter has been an interesting guy to get to know in the three months he has owned the Dodgers. Before we met, I'd been told he was a quiet guy from Chicago who would mostly remain behind the scenes and let team president Stan Kasten and co-owner Magic Johnson do the talking. His role was to put up the cash, then authorize Kasten to spend it.
That's mostly what he has done. Except he actually has been a whole lot more visible that anticipated. Walter has been at the stadium quite a bit, and when he's there, he's often down on the field or in the clubhouse before games. He's not shy, either.
When I joked with him about how much money he had spent in the past few weeks, he laughed and said, "Yeah, I guess I have."
He described the trade deadline as something of a roller coaster ride, said he was hanging on every phone call from Kasten or GM Ned Colletti and wasn't doing much to conceal some disappointment he felt at not being able to do even more.
In other words, Walter is invested -- and not just financially.
What does that have to do with Blanton, Lee or any other trades the Dodgers might make this month? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The Dodgers' new owner isn't going to be a silent partner in all this. He's into it, Mark Cuban style.
As he said himself, "Do you really ever want to say we did enough? That's not an attitude I really want a lot of around here."