FIRE JOE MORGAN: Dodger Fans, Rest Easy


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Sunday, July 27, 2008


Dodger Fans, Rest Easy

There's a steady hand at the helm of your ship. A hand that wears a cowboy hat. A hand that also wears snakeskin boots. Ned's hand.

What's that? You just traded a 22-year-old catcher with a .994 OPS in 2008 and a pitcher with 335 strikeouts in 262.2 minor league innings for a defensively challenged third baseman with a career 106 OPS+ who turns 35 in a month?

And he's a two-month rental?

Relax -- there are good reasons for this. Excellent reasons. Reasons like -- Ned, you want to take this one?

"Casey Blake is a gamer," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.

See? Don't you feel better now? What, you need more? Ned's got more.

"I think we improved the club," Colletti said. "Blake's a grinder with great character, a passionate player."

That's not all, Dodger fans. In addition to the privilege of trading away two talented prospects, you'll get the added benefit of continuing to block the progress of Andy LaRoche, who's racked up an .898 OPS in 1796 minor league at bats, has been heralded as a top prospect for what seems like hundreds of years now, was projected by PECOTA to OPS something like .850, and yet can't seem to ever be good enough to play in more than a handful of games in a row for the Dodgers. Ever. (LaRoche, by the way, has awful numbers in the majors this year, but he's been incredibly hit-unlucky (BABIP of .200) and he's walked more than he's struck out. Plus -- dude. The guy has gotten all of 59 at bats. Angel Berroa has gotten 89 at bats for Joe Torre's TerribleVetSquad already.)

It's not like Carlos Santana and Jonathan Meloan are sure things. Santana is kind of old to be in High A (and he's in the hitter-friendly Cal League), and Meloan has been terrible as a starter (though he should be a reliever anyway). But we're talking about giving them away for two hundred-some-odd at bats of Casey Blake. .336 career OBP Casey Blake. Bad defender in an already defensively suspect Dodger infield Casey Blake. Gamer Casey Blake. Grinder Casey Blake. Beardy Casey Blake. Casey Beard.

So yeah, I guess if I had to give this trade a grade, I would give it an A-. The only reason there's a minus is: there now appears to be a gamer surplus in the Dodger clubhouse. What happens when a team attains such a dangerously high gaminess quotient? Will Juan Pierre grow a thick, Baron Davis-style beard to prove that he's more of a gamer than Blake? What if Jeff Kent shoots himself in the foot with a crossbow just so he can play through the pain of a crossbow wound and be hailed as the gamiest Dodger of all? What if Nomar turns himself into a 5'6" white guy, and then Broxton transforms himself into Brett Favre in retaliation, and then Hong-Chih Kuo tops them all by becoming the ultimate gamer: a 5'6" Brett Favre?

I think the answer to all of these questions is: the Dodgers and their fans win, that's what happens. Casey Blake is the key to the World Series. Ned, you're a genius.

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posted by Junior  # 2:58 AM
I've had a couple of people send me none-too-enthusiastic defenses of the Blake trade. This is what I wrote to one guy:

As with almost all trades, of course there's a pretty significant chance that Blake rakes for two months and the two prospies amount to nothing. Blake does, however, have a BABIP of .343 that seems pretty unsustainable. Take that away, his average drops back down to .265, and you're looking at a very average piece.

There's the argument, I suppose, that Torre simply was never going to play LaRoche every day. But to me that seems like allowing lower-level decision-making craziness to dictate further craziness on the upper levels.
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