Make Or Break Year: Casey Blake

AQA10091411_Dodgers_at_Giants It's not quite as bad as Zambrano-for-Kazmir, but you have to think that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti would love to have a do-over on the trade that sent Carlos Santana and Jon Meloan to the Indians for Casey Blake and about $2MM in 2008. Two-and-a-half years later, Santana has developed into one of the two best young catchers in baseball while Blake finds himself at a career crossroads.

Following the trade, the now 37-year-old Blake hit .251/.313/.460 with ten homers in 233 plate appearances. The Dodgers re-signed him to a three-year, $17.5MM contract after the 2008 season, and Blake rewarded them in 2009. He hit .280/.363/.468 with 18 homers in 565 plate appearances, though he did battle nagging hamstring issues throughout the season.

Last season was a much different story. Blake came out of the gate well, hitting .273/.354/.482 in his first 39 games, but it all went downhill from there. His final 106 games featured a .238/.307/.378 batting line, and he struck out in 28 of his final 69 plate appearances of the season. The end result was a .248/.320/.407 line, a 99 OPS+ that was his worst in three years.

The Dodgers owe Blake a reasonable $5.25MM in 2011, then must decide whether to exercise his $6MM club option for 2012 or buy him out for $1.25MM. Given his declining performance and age, the latter looks more likely right now. The free agent market for players in their late-30's and relegated to the corner infield spots is not robust, so the best case scenario for Blake likely has him playing well enough that the team picks up that option. 

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

54 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Casey Blake Leave a Reply

  1. grant77 4 years ago

    Typo alert!


  2. I’m not going to read this article b/c it’s about casey blake… but going off the title im sure its about whether he will make the hall of fame when he retires. I vote yes he is a formidable hitter with a plus glove.

  3. bonestock94 4 years ago

    Santana is gonna make this trade REALLY ugly soon.

  4. If he’d just make the beard bushier…….

  5. agwatchdog 4 years ago

    Ned is an idiot!

  6. CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

    Casey Blake DeWitt were my favorite 7-8 hitters ever.

  7. s8n666 4 years ago

    Make or break? Dude, he’s 37.

    • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

      Haha.. I just read it and was going to say the same thing. No offense to the writer but at age 37, as far as baseball is concerned, he’s either “made it” or “broke it” by now.

      • BlueSkyLA
        BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

        But he’s at a “turning point in his career” — we don’t know if he’ll retire after this season or the one after that!

  8. bigbird24 4 years ago

    I hope he taunts Brian Wilson again this year, that turned out really well for the guy last time…

    • vonhayesdays 4 years ago

      what is that thing brian wilson does some kinda half texas long horn half horns of satan thing going on and then look to the sky to let god know he is coming up there kick his a$$ too , what ever it is baseball needs more of it, that individuality

      • bigbird24 4 years ago

        He does it for his diseased father, part of why Casey Blake was drilled for it.

    • Whole_New_World 4 years ago

      Yep, that right there is what Blake is about. Went yard off Wilson, can’t just celebrate, gotta mock him. Like a little Jr. High School girl. Well Casey, how you doing now? Uribe’s gonna take your spot. No ring for you! No soup for you!

      • vtadave 4 years ago

        Um, Uribe is the second baseman…

        As for Casey, he’ll have made in excess of $32 million dollars in his career by the end of the 2011 season. I think he’s just fine.

        • Whole_New_World 4 years ago

          Obviously I don’t like Blake, so take it for what it’s worth: You guys are going to see a lot of Uribe at 3rd this year.

      • Wilson is a tard that cried like a little girl after Blake pwned him.

    • monkeydung 4 years ago

      Brian Wilson is easily the douchiest guy in sports. He is like an A-Rod/Kobe GQ photoshoot with a beard. Anytime he is mocked, it is well deserved.

      • vtadave 4 years ago

        …as a fellow Dodgers fan, I’d tend to agree, but I still wouldn’t mind him on my team.

      • bigbird24 4 years ago

        Name one thing Brian Wilson has done in a game that is on par with A-Rod running across the mound, trying to slap the ball out of someone’s hands, or Casey Blake making fun of someone after hitting a home run and then I’ll agree with you. Kobe raped a girl, Brian Wilson pretended to be a Seaman… don’t see the parallels.

        • Wilson is a dumb goon who got his feelings hurt like a little baby.. WAAAHHHHH!

          • Rawlsian 4 years ago

            Brian Wilson is apparently too awesome for you

  9. BruinPirateAnteater 4 years ago

    I watched Santana catch a few games when he was in Advanced Single A at San Bernardino and I knew the kid was going to be something. Of course he has become something. Originally I did not like the trade for Blake, but Blake won me over.

    Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20. A few seasons ago, we had an All-Star catcher who was hitting for power and had speed. There was no reason to think that catcher was going to degrade as badly as he did, so the trade made sense. Had Martin not fallen apart, Santana probably would have not gotten a fair shot at the majors for a long while (at best he would have been Martin’s back up); so he was always going to be trade bait. We needed a serious 3B solution and Blake was it.

    Looking at what happened to Martin, of course we can view this as a bad trade. So we bash Ned for it. But what are we really bashing Ned over? Because he didn’t have a magic 8-ball to tell him “Martin is going to fall apart”? Can we REALLY blame him for thinking Martin would continue to perform?

    I think its unfair to view this trade in that kind of light. We had an all-star catcher at the time, we needed a good 3Baseman immediately. End of Story.

    • Very well said. I enjoyed reading that more then half of the articles on this site. Very very well done.

    • “I think its unfair to view this trade in that kind of light. We had an all-star catcher at the time, we needed a good 3Baseman immediately. End of Story.”

      It’s not end of story…we could’ve had Blake for Meloan..Santana is always thought to have been traded for the $2M left on Blake’s contract. The Indians trade Victor Martinez, CC Sabathia, and Cliff Lee…and they didn’t receive one prospect better than Carlos Santana…we were taken because McCourt didn’t want to pick up the check. If Ned was content with Martin at the time, that’s fine…and if he was comfortable trading Santana at that time (that’s fine too…I guess) but he should’ve been the chip that got us over the top for Halladay or Lee…not Casey Blake.

      Giving him up so easily costs the Dodgers the “ace” that they kept missing out on during the two years that the Phillies beat them in the NLCS…add Santana to the packages that they offered up for Lee or Halladay…and we get our guy instead of just missing out. Huge error by Ned in my opinion.

    • Doesn’t Martin play 3B as well as catcher? I’m not a Dodger fan but I seem to remember him playing at least some games at 3B.

      • BruinPirateAnteater 4 years ago

        You bring up a very good point. But at the time, Carlos was still toiling around in Class A and was a couple of seasons away from being Major League ready, so moving Martin to third at the time would have meant having having Ellis or Ardoin as our backstop.

      • whitesoxfan424 4 years ago

        He played 3B in 2008 only. And he wasn’t exactly stellar. Blake was better.

    • thegrayrace 4 years ago

      The problem with your argument is it assumes that there were only two paths for Carlos Santana: to be traded for Casey Blake, or to become the Dodgers future catcher.

      My argument would be that, had the Dodgers retained Carlos Santana and traded, say, Lucas May in his place, Carlos Santana would have then been available to trade as the centerpiece in a deal for Cliff Lee in 2009.

      Now, had the Dodgers acquired Cliff Lee in 2009, that not only would have bolstered their rotation, but kept him away from the Phillies, probably forcing their hand into overpaying early for Roy Halladay. It also means the Dodgers compete with Cliff Lee in their 2010 rotation, probably keeping them in contention rather than fading to 4th place. And 1st round picks this off-season.

      That’s why the trade didn’t make sense at the time. You simply do not trade a prospect of that caliber for a 2 month rental of a 35 year old league average 3B to save $2m on his salary. Bad move any way you slice it.

  10. keplol 4 years ago

    damn it

  11. Jeremiah Graves 4 years ago

    This trade–like most Dodgers deals in the past half-decade or so–as ill-advised at the time. They’ve been playing in “win now” mode for quite some time…and have yet to, you know, win now…so they better hope it works out soon or they’re SOL.

  12. Casey struggled because he tried to come into camp clean shaven. The beard lost his mojo. Then.. the beard got weird, (brian wilson) and the Mighty Casey kept striking out. If (the real) Beard comes out full stubble, he will have a big, bushy year, and snatch “The (real) Beard” title back from brian (god that thing was ugly, it’s no wonder nobody could hit the guy..) wilson, before it gets any weirder.

    • scluse 4 years ago

      Bushy? Snatch? I’m just throwing this out there but… do you have an obsession with Pubic hair?

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Are you suggesting he go brazilian or go with the strip landing?

        • scluse 4 years ago

          Maybe the “Tear Drop” or the “Japanese Rising Sun”?

      • You are using snatch, out of context. Its not pubic hair, just facial. Its all beard envy. Im a grown man, that cant grow one.

  13. scluse 4 years ago

    I’m sorry but to see what Kazmir has become and to see the potential of what Santana CAN become I’d say this was a bigger F%$K up trade.

  14. scluse 4 years ago

    As a Mets fan and from watching Jose Reyes and K-Rod for the last couple of years I’ll tell you baseball has alot of “individuality” already.

  15. scluse 4 years ago

    As a Mets fan and from watching Jose Reyes and K-Rod for the last couple of years I’ll tell you baseball has alot of “individuality” already.

  16. If Blake stays healthy I think he will be alright. The 3rd base market is going to be thin in 2012, minus possibly Aramis Ramirez, so I could see his option being picked up if he does well.

  17. phoenix2042 4 years ago

    how does a team contend with a below average (not just for the position, but for the ML) hitting third baseman? their first baseman is similarly inept with the stick. the corners are for bats, the middle is for gloves (generally). so who are the bats at the corners? blake, loney, no-name LFer, and ethier. well at least they have one good hitter there. the dodgers have some great pitching, but they have to get some production out of the all-bat no-glove positions which give them below average hitting and defense. if only the mccourts could get their marriage fixed by dr. phil and then get involved in some real offseason moves.

  18. whitesoxfan424 4 years ago

    I’ll admit that Carlos Santana looked pretty good last year, but until he plays a couple FULL seasons and shows he can sustain successful play, he’s still just a highly anticipated, high ceiling prospect. When the Dodgers traded him away, they already had a seasoned, all-star catcher. Too many (high ceiling) prospects fall flat on their face.

  19. scluse 4 years ago

    Sorry I was trying to reply to vonhayesdays’ comment regarding what Brian Wilson does after he saves a game. I’m not trying to rip anyone, I’m talking about a double-standard. People consider Wilson’s on-field antics as “individuality” but when Reyes/K-Rod do something its considered “showboating”.

  20. YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

    I don’t think he meant it as a negative. He is pretty charismatic on the field thus “individualistic”. That word does connotate he’s selfish. Just flashy.

  21. One example would be Reyes humping Pedro Martinez in the dugout.

  22. scluse 4 years ago

    It’s all good brutha, BTW I loved you in The Simpsons.

  23. vtadave 4 years ago

    Actually we CAN blame Colletti.

    You don’t trade a guy like Santana just because he’s supposedly blocked.

  24. bigbird24 4 years ago

    Wilson doesn’t show up his opponents on the mound, the only thing he does is his little salute to his dad. If he strikes someone out he doesn’t do some salsa dance on the mound and shove his testicles into the batters face like K-Rod, he turns around and walks around the mound…

  25. thegrayrace 4 years ago

    Seriously. If you’re going to trade Santana, you do it as a centerpiece for Cliff Lee. Not a 2 month rental of a 35 year old league average 3B.

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