Brian Cashman loves to dumpster dive and he’s already indicated he could go that route to fill out the rest of the starting rotation. In our new series affectionately titled “Garbage Pail Kids“, we’ll go dumpster diving too and look for players covered in crap that may serve some utility to the Bombers.

First up…

Garbage Pail Kid NoMaas Yankees Joe Blanton

In 2013, Angels starter Joe Blanton went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA in the first year of a 2 year / $15 million contract. The Angels media contingent recently suggested that LAA is looking to trade Blanton and eat salary, or release him come Spring Training.

Here’s why he would make sense as a dumpster dive. Despite the horrendous ERA, his xFIP was a very nice 3.84, which was 26th-best in the American League (min 130 IP), right behind CC Sabathia’s 3.76. As another point of reference, two of the “biggest” free agent starters, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, had xFIPs of 3.62 and 3.69, respectively. In fact, on a park- and league-adjusted basis, Blanton’s xFIP was 3% better than the average pitcher.

The reason for his good nerd number is that his peripherals were solid, namely his 7.33 K/9 (32nd-best in the AL) and 2.31 BB/9 (19th-best in the AL).

His bloated 2013 ERA can be sourced to two main culprits. The first being his BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which was .346 — compared to his career .305. The second was a crazy-high HR/FB rate of 19.1% (2nd-worst in the AL), compared to his career 11.0%. Basically, 1 out of 5 flyballs Blanton allowed left the yard. That will come down to some degree.

It’s not all roses obviously for Blanton, and there’s a reason why he’s a Garbage Pail Kid. For whatever reason, Blanton has underperformed his nerd numbers just about every season. His career xFIP (4.12) is better than the average pitcher, but since 2007, his ERA has never matched what his peripherals have indicated his quality to be. That probably wasn’t helped by pitching HR-friendly Citizens Bank Park for over 4 years.

A reasonable expectation for 2014 would be about 175 innings about 4.20-4.30 ERA ball, as his HR/FB% and BABIP improve, and his strikeout and walk rates remain solid. That type of contribution would be huge for an NYY rotation that can’t place any certainty on major innings individually by Pineda, Phelps, Warren, Nuno, or Banuelos. If the Angels would pick up half of the $7.5 million he’s owed for the upcoming season, and the Yankees were to throw in some B-minus to C-level prospect (they have lots of those!), it would be a nice little garbage pickup and provide urgently-needed depth. After all, Phil Hughes has a worse career ERA and xFIP than Joe Blanton, and the Twins just gave him $24 million.