Tag: Casey Blake

Casey Blake: Are the Los Angeles Dodgers Thinking Outfield for the Beard?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest buzz around the Dodgers camp right now is the uncertainty surrounding which player will see the bulk of action in left field for Los Angeles during the upcoming 2011 campaign.

As absurd as it sounds, one name that continues to crop up is Casey Blake.

Since the evolution of the Internet, the Dodgers’ fanbase has been known for its overwhelming number of fan forums and blogs.

At the present moment, in every direction on each one of these websites are endless discussions about the left field situation, as posters offer their own advice to skipper Don Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti on how to staff the squad’s roster.

While many believe that Tony Gwynn Jr. may be the best option in left, some have brought up several different platoon situations, most specifically scenarios involving Jay Gibbons splitting time with everyday third baseman Casey Blake.

Other notable bloggers have gone as far to say that Andre Ethier should be platooned, pointing out his ineffectiveness against left-handed pitching.

For the record, it should be noted that several of us here at Bleacher Report believe that Xavier Paul just may surprise everyone in Dodgertown and have a breakout season while substantially contributing to the offense. We’ve also indicated several times that it’s even logical to shift Matt Kemp to right field and Ethier into left in order to optimize the defensive game.

Nevertheless, for the casual Dodger fan, all of this speculation can be quite confusing or misleading. Yet that’s all it is—completely hypothetical. This is why players report to spring training six weeks before the regular season begins—anything can happen, and everybody invited has the potential to shine.

Speaking to Ken Gurnick from Dodgers.com, Mattingly has offered up a few ideas already and admitted he talked to Blake about the possibility of seeing outfield time.

“Casey understands at this point in his career he might benefit by playing a hair less [in the infield] and might get more production,” Mattingly told Gurnick on Wednesday. “He’s played a lot of outfield, more right field than left.”

Although not a prototypical platooning team, the Dodgers have benefited from several platoon situations in recent history. Even managing great Tommy Lasorda, who never really advocated these types of scenarios, utilized several combinations in the early 1990s that showed a bit of success.

In 1991, Lasorda utilized right-handed-hitting Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter against leftties, while plugging in Mike Scioscia against right-handed pitching. At third base he rotated utility men Mike Sharperson and Lenny Harris based on pitching matchups.

In 2004, Dodger manager Jim Tracy benefited from perhaps his most successful platoon advantage when Alex Cora shared time with Jose Hernandez at second base. Cora hit .264 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI that year, while Hernandez belted 13 HRs of his own while batting .289 with a .540 slugging percentage.

Still, as critical as these hitting matchups seem, they may not be as vital as many people think. As a general rule, most analysts use the typical 2:1 split—on average, teams normally face right-handed pitching two-thirds of the time while seeing left-handers the other third.

For the Dodgers in 2010, it was a bit more lopsided. Los Angeles saw lefty starters in 50 games while they battled right-handed starting pitching in 112 games. In 6,140 total plate appearances, the Dodgers logged 4,454 against right-handed pitching and 1,686 against lefties, which calculates to a 73/27 percent split.

As for the 37-year-old Blake, although he may benefit from more rest than he’s accustomed, the outfield may not be the best option. It was only several years ago when he saw significant outfield time with the Cleveland Indians. However, he experienced his fair share of struggles.

Over the course of 2005-2006 he played a total of 231 games in the outfield but committed a whopping 11 errors. His UZR in right field for the 2005 season was 5.3, while in 2006 he dropped to 0.9, which is considered well below the norm.

In addition, Dodger Stadium, with its vast real estate and treacherous corners in the outfield, isn’t exactly friendly to those who are not so much fleet of foot. Just ask Manny Ramirez.

Regardless, Blake is the type of competitor who will do whatever it takes for the team to win, and if it means playing outfield, first base or being utilized as a pinch hitter, he’s more than up for the challenge. However, with a full five-man outfielding corps already on the roster, it remains to be seen if left field is a spot where he’ll find success.

View B/R’s complete 25-man roster projections for the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers here.

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Los Angeles Dodgers Preparing for Potentially Large Waiver Sale

Folks across Dodgertown who don’t quite understand the waiver wire process were buzzing with concern on Wednesday after learning that the Dodgers were gearing up for a potential fire sale by placing a total of five players on waivers.

In addition to workhorse pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, outfielder Manny Ramirez finally hit waivers as expected, and veterans Scott Podsednik, Casey Blake, and Jay Gibbons were also waived later in the afternoon, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times.

For non-playoff contending squads, many players are waived the week before rosters expand on September 1, as teams look to possibly cut salary, gain prospects, and prepare to build their rosters and budgets heading into next season.

However, at the beginning of the day on Thursday, the Dodgers find themselves trailing only 5.5 games in the National League Wild Card race, and with 35 games still remaining to be played, the front office in Los Angeles is left wondering whether a playoff shot is realistic.

Teams around the league have until the end of the week to make potential claims, after which deals would need to be agreed upon by Tuesday afternoon to complete any transaction.

If by some chance Los Angeles climbs even further into contention by the beginning of next week, the Dodgers have the right to rescind the waivers, and retain all the players mentioned above, even if they are already claimed by another team.

Los Angeles has been busy talking to the Chicago White Sox about possible trade scenarios, and according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Ramirez has already told friends that he would waive his no-trade clause and approve a deal sending him to Chicago.

Nevertheless, since Manny’s return from the disabled list last Saturday, the Dodgers have seen a spark in their offense, which has been almost dormant since the All-Star break.

In the three games that Ramirez has been in the lineup since being recalled, Los Angeles has scored 18 runs, including seven home runs—a resurgence of power that has been lacking since the first month of the season.

Kuroda is in the final season of a three-year deal worth over $35 million, while Blake still has one additional year remaining on his three-year, $17 million contract with a club option for 2012.

Podsednik’s contract is valued at $1.75 million this year with an option for 2011, while Gibbons’ contract is setup only for the remainder of this season after being bought from Triple-A Albuquerque.

After finishing a series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday afternoon, the Dodgers will travel to Coors Field for a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies beginning Friday, then return to Dodger Stadium for a series with the defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.

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Vin Scully To Return in 2011, Keep Los Angeles Dodgers Relevant

For the 62nd spring, Vin Scully will pull up a chair and call games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Scully announced Sunday that he will return for the 2011 season on a one-year contract and keep his normal schedule with the Dodgers, which consists of calling all home games plus road games against National League West opponents.

“I’m just honored and humbled to continue my association with the Dodgers, which has been a major part of my life,” Scully said in a statement.

There was speculation before the season started whether this would be Scully’s last year in the broadcast booth. He almost didn’t make it to this season.

During spring training, Scully was hospitalized after falling in his home and hitting his head on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night.

Scully has cut back his work schedule in recent years, working on a year-to-year basis and traveling less. He wants to spend more time at home with his wife, he says.

Scully could walk away and be strictly a family man now if he wanted because he doesn’t need the Dodgers, he doesn’t need the notoriety, and he probably doesn’t need the money.

But Scully is coming back because he loves what he does, and that means everything to the Dodgers. The Dodgers need him more than ever.

Scully gives the Dodgers an identity. He gives fans a reason to click on the TV every night and listen in.

It’s time for Dodger baseball only because Scully says it is.

With the Dodgers in a time of change—from manager to players to potentially new owners—Scully is the one thing that connects this era’s team with the boys from Brooklyn and ’88. He has seen and called all of it.

Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series? Scully called it. Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer in Game 1 of the ’88 World Series? Scully called it. A Sandy Koufax perfect game and a Fernando Valenzuela no-no? Those were Scully’s, too.

As current owner Frank McCourt tries to settle a divorce with his wife and former co-owner, Jamie, Dodgers fans have watched the club play lifeless baseball and sink to the cellar of the NL West.

Los Angeles is a club of young, talented guys with no clear direction. There’s no leadership in L.A., nobody to challenge the team and tell them how the Dodgers are expected to play.

Manny Ramirez has the talent and the pedigree to be that guy, but it’s hard to demand respect when you milk a calf injury on the DL while continuing to collect millions and count down to free agency.

Casey Blake has the professionalism and character to lead a team, but rarely does a role player take on that job.

Matt Kemp has all the ability in the world but for whatever reason hasn’t figured out how to play up to his ability on a consistent basis.

At times, Kemp carries himself with a sense of entitlement that is sometimes seen with superstars. Kemp can be a superstar, but he’s not there yet.

The list of issues runs deep on this team.

It used to be that Tommy Lasorda would march down to the clubhouse and light a fire under players he thought weren’t performing up to their capabilities.

A few years ago when Brad Penny pitched for the Dodgers, Lasorda grew tired of watching Penny, who was supposed to be the Dodgers ace, continually struggle to get out of the sixth inning during his starts.

Penny had great stuff, but the Dodgers weren’t getting the most out of him.

Lasorda went down to the clubhouse and asked Penny if there was anything wrong with him.

“It’s a different era, Tommy,” Penny said, clearly content with turning in his five or six innings of work and hitting the showers.

Lasorda, disgusted and struggling to come up with a response, simply looked at Penny and said, “A new era, my ass!”

But Lasorda is slowing down, too. His presence isn’t as felt throughout the organization, his voice not quite as boisterous.

Once Scully leaves, the Dodgers are going to have to ask a simple question: Who are we?

For the first time since the organization moved to Los Angeles, the answer is unclear. The Dodgers are a proud franchise with loads of tradition, but tradition needs to be carried on.

If Scully isn’t calling games and the Dodgers aren’t winning, what reason will there be to watch them play? The most prestigious baseball team in the country’s second-largest market won’t have anything of substance to sell to its fan base.

That’s almost unfathomable, but it’s reality now in L.A.

The ownership issue will need to be resolved before the Dodgers can move forward and build a team capable of returning to the World Series.

It would behoove them to do that while Scully is still around and keeping fans watching, if only for nostalgia’s sake.

When Vinny is gone, there will be nobody to tell us, “Lets get back to this one.”

Follow Teddy Mitrosilis on Twitter. You can reach him at tm4000@yahoo.com.

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Top Current L.A. Dodgers Likely To Make It To the Hall of Fame

With the latest installment of Hall of Fame inductees being honored Sunday, the concept of current players with the ability to make it to the Hall of Fame is once again on the minds of fans around the league.

The Dodgers have a talented outfield and some well-known names in the infield. There’s a “sure thing,” a “quite likely,” and a “possibly,” on the Dodgers roster when it comes to the Hall of Fame, and some big names that may not make it.

Here are three players I feel have a legitimate chance at finding their way to Cooperstown, and some honorable mentions that might just miss the mark.

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Los Angeles Dodgers Injury Update 6/6/10

Just over a third of the way through the 2010 season, it is overly apparent: The Dodgers have been hit hard by injuries straight out of the gate.

However, hope is on the horizon. A perpetually depleted bullpen is starting to rebound from injuries to its main characters. Hong-Chih Kuo is beginning to find his form that enabled him to have success in his 2009 campaign.

Jeff Weaver, the Dodgers veteran righty out of the ‘pen has been heckled by numerous health issues all season. However, it appears as though his recent soreness will not force him to the disabled list.

George Sherrill is recovering nicely from a back strain that forced him to the 15-day disabled list on May 24. The set-up man made his first rehab start June 1, and reports were promising. Following more work on Saturday, in which Sherrill pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Albuquerque, the lefty is on pace to return shortly.

Cory Wade is set to start his minor league rehabilitation in the upcoming week, and may make his season debut in the month of June.

Vicente Padilla is scheduled to return on June 18, just in time to start against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. His return will necessitate a decision for Joe Torre. The skipper will have to decide between two young arms.

Charlie Haeger is coming off the DL following a rehab to firm up the healing process on the turf toe that has hindered his delivery over the last month.

Haeger’s competition for the final spot in the starting rotation is fierce. Rookie John Ely has made a strong campaign to remain on the roster. His 2.54 ERA and .208 opponents’ BA would be difficult to dismiss, especially considering Haeger has struggled all season.

Ely has also shown he has the ability to go deep in to games, which had been Haeger’s number one attribute. A rubber arm will certainly be welcomed during a time of inconsistency healthwise on the Dodgers’ 25-man roster.

There is still no estimated time of return for Russell Martin’s veteran back-up, Brad Ausmus. The 41-year-old catcher is still on the 60-day disabled list following April surgery on a pinched nerve in his lower back. Although Ausmus is able to walk around and even play a little toss, his back still tightens up on occasion and there’s no reason to chance it given A.J. Ellis’ youth and versatility.

Finally, the Dodgers will decide the immediate future for starting third baseman Casey Blake. While fielding pre-game ground balls on Thursday, Blake felt pain in his lower back, and was immediately removed from the line-up. He will be evaluated on Sunday, after an MRI showed perplexing and inconclusive results.

If Blake lands on the DL, expect veterans Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard to pick up the slack, and see increased playing time. Blake DeWitt will have to find an offensive groove; he will be called upon to be the every day second baseman in Blake’s absence.

For further updates, fans can catch the Dodgers versus the Braves, with a marquee pitching match-up (John Ely 3-2, 2.54 ERA vs. Tim Hudson 6-1, 2.30 ERA) set for 1:10 PT at Dodger Stadium.

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Casey Blake’s Balk-Off Wins Ballgame for Bleeding Blue

Usually, when people hear about a walk-off in Dodger Stadium, it involves an Andre Ethier walk-off home run. Although he was a part of a turning point in this game, and although he was back in the lineup for the first time in 15 games after suffering a broken pinkie finger, he wasn’t the reason why they won last night: Casey Blake was.

The latest walk-off victory for the Dodgers happened against the Diamondbacks on Monday, when the jesting third baseman played possum with relief pitcher Esmerling Vasquez.

The sneaky veteran took a few steps away from third base for his normal baserunner lead, faked making a run for home, and moved back to his regular lead. As Vasquez came to a set position, he reacted by taking the baseball out of his glove and then stepping off the rubber. As first-base umpire Tim Timmons saw this, he called the balk, giving Blake the extra base from third and the 5-4 win.

“Most of the time it doesn’t work,” Blake explained. “But sometimes it does.”

The victory finished the Dodgers’ May with a 20-8 record—their best May since they went 21-7 in 1962.

Joe Torre had no reason behind how the Dodgers won the game except for the simple fact that “[they] lucked out.”

Not only did they win the game in a bizarre way, but they also tied the game with a little help from the Diamondbacks’ defense. Down by two runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Andre Ethier (baseball’s top clutch performer who just got re-activated into the lineup) came up in the clutch again by hitting a routine ground ball to Kelly Johnson with runners on second and third.

Johnson bobbled the ball, giving a chance for Ethier to make it to first. The second baseman then threw the ball away, allowing both Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp to score and tie the game. Johnson was charged with two errors on that play.

“He made an error at a really bad time,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s been very sure-handed; he’s played every day and done a nice job for us. It’s unfortunate that it came at that time. It’s a killer. The ball was hit pretty hard and things like that happen, but it’s a play he normally makes.”

There was one more piece to this crazy puzzle. Before Blake’s little stunt, James Loney was on base. After drawing a walk, Blake singled to center field, putting runners on first and second. With nobody out, Russell Martin comes up to the plate.

The ball squirted away from catcher Chris Snyder, and third baseman Augie Ojeda had run toward the infield; it’s funny because the ball was about to be thrown to the pitcher by the time Ojeda moved inward. Loney attempted to steal third, but was too wary about being caught in a pickle and tried running back to second base.

In that situation, it was too late to think, as he was caught in a rundown anyway and was tagged out a few steps away from third; luckily, Casey Blake was smart enough to move to second during the rundown.

“I just saw him real close to the mound and I just reacted to him being so close to the mound,” Loney said. “If I kept going, I probably would’ve got there. But even in that situation, still, I mean why risk it? I just reacted in a bad way.”

All of that happened in one game. If that’s not a crazy game, then I don’t know what is.

On a few more notes:

This marks the first balk-off win for the Dodgers since Roger McDowell of the New York Mets balked in a run on May 28, 1989.

It is the first time a Major League game has ended on a balk since September 8, 2008.

The Diamondbacks hit three home runs in the first two innings of the ballgame. Justin Upton hit a two-run shot to the opposite field in the first inning, Chris Young led off the second inning with his eighth homer, and Chris Snyder hit his eighth of the season, as well. That’s right: all the Diamondbacks runs came off of home runs.

Manny Ramirez went deep in the second inning, hitting his 550th career home run. The solo shot put the Dodgers on the board, but still trailing, 4-1.

Chad Billingsley settled down after giving up those three home runs in the first two innings. He struck out 11 batters, which is a season high for him. The last time he struck out that many batters was on June 30, when he struck out 11 against the Rockies.

Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds was pulled out of the game in the ninth inning due to the recurrence of a right quad injury. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

This marks the Diamondbacks’ eighth straight loss. After winning four in a row, they’re back in the saddle.

After a month of battling out of last place, the Dodgers finally look like they have things back on track. They’re currently in second place (two games out of first), battling with the Padres, who look like they’re coming down to earth. The Dodgers’ pitching is only getting better, and Andre Ethier is back. Plus, they’re coming off a very good month, winning 20 games. What more could a Dodgers’ fan ask for?


Blake’s balk-off.

Kelly Johnson’s mishap.

Recap of the game , courtesy of MLB.com.

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