I always hesitate to claim that a rumor is close to happening, but I've been surprised that the A's hadn't moved Joe Blanton yet. So it doesn't come as a surprise that now that Johan Santana is off the market and the choice of free agent pitchers left consist of Kyle Lohse and Livan Hernandez, the market for Joe Blanton's services appear to have picked up again.
It would be interesting that the Reds would want Blanton because they'd already scored nicely with Aaron Harang a few years ago and they have a few different prospects who are right on the verge of making a nice impact at the pro level.
I just recently got John Sickels' 2008 Prospect Book (the best in the business if you ask me, but I might be a bit biased). And Votto and Cueto are graded out as A- in the book and Bailey is a B+. For a baseline of how hard Sickels grades prospects, none of the A's prospects that they got in any of the deals earned anything above a B+. And while many have claimed that Beane should look away from another first baseman, my opinion is that if you can get a talent like Votto, you have to do it. Votto has a ton of power and that is one thing that Barton may or may not consistently show. I'm probably one of the few here who believes in acquiring talent based on how good they can be, not necessarily on organizational positional needs. Especially if the A's could move the talent for something else.
At the same time, if the A's could get Cueto AND Votto, then you have to pull the trigger on the deal. Even if that means a truly abysmal 2008. Cueto is an A- in Sickels' book and this sentence from the portion about Cueto is all I need to know about him to know that I would love to have him.
My one concern about Cueto after reading about him is that he's listed at 5'11" and Sickels says that he appears smaller than that. And having been through Tim Hudson's oblique issues and Rich Harden's various different ailments, a smaller power pitcher makes me nervous.
Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Twins and Rays might be the other destinations interested in Blanton, but the Twins don't seem to make much sense right now since they seem to be moving in the same direction the A's are. The Rays would make sense since they have a few left-handed pitchers who grade out as straight A's according to Sickels. They've also needed an established, veteran starting pitcher in their staff since...well, forever.
Any way, it will be interesting to see how long Joe lasts. I still think it makes sense to keep him for now, but if the A's get a great deal for him, you might as well go the distance with the rebuild.
Finally, this will likely be my last post before the brand new Athletics Nation debuts next week. I'm really excited for all of our users to get their hands on it. It's going to add a ton of functionality to the mix and AN gets to be the first community to take the new platform for a test drive. I'm really excited that this community will be the lucky ones to see what we've essentially spent the last year building.