Well, the Zack Greinke era was fun while it lasted. Though Greinke has yet to pick a new home, it appears that the Angels have raised the white flag on bringing him back with the breaking news that they are on the verge of signing veteran innings-eater Joe Blanton:
Source: #Angels close to signing RHP Joe Blanton to one-year deal. He pitched for #Phillies/#Dodgers last season. @joeontheradio tweeted 1st
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) December 6, 2012
This is obviously far from official, but Joe McDonnell first broke the story and while he doesn't break a lot of news, he is almost always right when he does.
In a vacuum, there is nothing wrong with Joe Blanton. He is basically a league average or slightly below starter who is a virtual lock for 190+ uninspiring innings and 200+ mildly offensive fat jokes. He has a reasonable K% rate and is stingy with walks but generous with homers. These are all perfectly fine if the Angels intend to use him as their fifth starter.
The problem is we don't know where in the rotation totem pole Blanton is going to slot. Given that he won't be super cheap, this all but guarantees that the Angels are punting on Zack Greinke, but does this mean Blanton is assuming his slot? If so, then the back three of the rotation is Hanson-Blanton-Richards. That could get real ugly, real fast, though there is some upside. However, it would also leave the Angels with upwards of $10 million to spend potentially, which leads me to believe that Blanton is, in fact, being brought in to replace Garrett Richards in the rotation.
That would be a bold choice since Richards has some real upside, but there are plenty of rumors abound that the team is not terribly pleased with his attitude, not to mention valid concerns that he is more suited for relief work. At best, the moves Richards to the pen where he is a real weapon and very viable rotation depth along with Jerome Williams. You can never have too much of either of those. At worst, it means Richards is going to be moved, and that is not a bad thing at all. As I said, he still has plenty of upside, so he could be a very big trade chip as the Halos seek to find a higher end starter to complete the rotation. So, if either of those scenarios prove to be true, then this is hard to complain about, even if it isn't a "sexy" move.
UPDATE: Jon Heyman is now reporting the deal is actually for two years and a total of $15 million, which, if true, makes this signing a little harder to stomach, though it probably supports the idea that Blanton is here to bump Garrett Richards out of the rotation.