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I said about 48 hours ago that I didn't have any names to give you in the Orioles' pursuit of a veteran starting pitcher, but that has changed.

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton, who is reportedly being shopped heavily after the Phillies agreed to terms a few hours ago with ace Cliff Lee, makes sense for the Orioles for a lot of reasons.

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First, the Orioles and Phillies have talked about Blanton before. At the 2009 winter meetings in Indianapolis, the clubs discussed a deal involving Blanton. The Phillies were looking for a couple of the Orioles' young pitchers, including the recently traded David Hernandez. The Orioles weren't interested enough in Blanton for that price and suspected that if they did make such a deal, the Phillies would turn around those players and send them to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay deal.

Second, one of Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail's best friends in the game is Phillies president David Montgomery. They talk often. MacPhail also remains friendly with Scott Proefrock, an assistant to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and a former high-ranking executive with the Orioles, first under Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette and then MacPhail. In his effort to find a veteran starting pitcher, MacPhail has called several teams, including the Phillies, so they undoubtedly know the club is hungry to add another arm. At the time of the call, there really wasn't anything promising discussed. But that might have changed in a big way with the Lee addition forcing the Phillies' hand with Blanton.

Third, Blanton, 30, is exactly the type of pitcher MacPhail has been seeking to add to the 2011 rotation. Sure, he is no ace. He went 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA in the National League this past year. His career ERA is 4.30. But he gets deep into games and eats innings, and at the very least, would take some of the pressure off the Orioles' young starters. Blanton pitched 175 2/3 innings in 2010, which broke his streak of five consecutive seasons of pitching 190 innings or more. He had also made 31 starts or more in five consecutive seasons. He's a big, burly guy who wants the ball and is not afraid to throw strikes. He also projects way better in the Orioles' rotation than pretty much any of the pitchers available on the free-agent market.

Now, the question obviously is how much of the remaining $17 million on Blanton's contract over the next two seasons would MacPhail be willing to absorb? I would have to think that the Phillies would need to help the Orioles out a little there, but remember, the Orioles ate $9 million of the $12 million remaining on Kevin Millwood to land him last offseason. Before you ask, I also cannot immediately answer what the Phillies would be looking for in return, and whether it would be just a straight salary dump where they'd be content with a mid-level prospect, or they are looking for a serviceable piece.

But I am confident in saying that it seems like a pretty good fit in a lot of ways.

(UPDATE)

My impression after talking to a couple of people with the Orioles today is the club has "tepid" interest in Blanton. They are not sold that he'd represent a significant upgrade over what they already have, and they have several concerns about how he would fare in the American League East. But if they could get him for virtually nothing and have the Phillies pick up a decent chunk of the contract, which they are apparently willing to do, it is not out of the question that the Orioles would make that move. But I don't think they're burning up the phone lines in the Phillies' front office today begging for Blanton, that's for sure.

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