The Crow’s Nest: A Case(y) for Blake

Dodgers 3B Casey Blake

The Phillies could trade for Casey Blake to play 3B (photo: OctopusHat)

With Placido Polanco being diagnosed with a sports hernia and his status unknown for the foreseeable future the Phillies once again have some questions about third base. 

This is still a question that deserves an answer, despite the Phillies motoring along at a high rate with the best record in baseball again. Right now super sub Wilson Valdez and rule 5 draftee Michael Martinez are playing the position, again.  While Valdez has a nice glove and strong arm and Martinez has shown some good at bats at times, neither player will strike fear into opposing pitchers. 

In the minor leagues the Phillies have Pete Orr, who like Valdez and Martinez will not strike any fear in anyone with his bat.  With Shane Victorino, arguably the team’s best hitter, going to be undergoing a suspension sooner or later having another bat available might be a good idea.  Even more so if for some reason Polanco may not be available for the playoffs.

The Phillies have been rumored to be interested in Casey Blake of the Dodgers.  Blake is a veteran with playoff experience who can not only play third, but can also play first, leftfield, and rightfield giving the Phillies more versatility on their bench.  While his numbers are down this year, he has had some injury problems which have contributed to it. He missed almost the entire month of July, but since he has come back he has been hitting the ball much better.  His glove at third is not what it once was but it is adequate.

Throughout his career he has always hit left handed pitching very well, which can help the Phillies when they are starting John Mayberry in the game because they will still have a decent right handed bat on the bench.  Blake has also displayed decent power in the past and there is no reason to think he won’t pop a few balls out if he gets to play in the smaller eastern parks.  Another positive is Blake is a very good clubhouse guy and meshed very well in Toronto, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, becoming one of the team leaders in Cleveland and Los Angeles.

The biggest positive is, he would probably make it through waivers and would not probably cost a whole lot in return prospect wise. He has been batting in the 2 hole this year but has had success batting 6th, 8th, (where the Phillies would probably put him in the batting order) and has even put up alright numbers batting 5th and 7th.  His on base percentage this season is .356, which for a guy batting .256 is pretty good.

For the bench he is a major upgrade over the lame duck Ben Francisco, just because of his versatility.   With the exception of the Yankees he has good career numbers against most of the teams the Phillies may play in the playoffs (both NL and AL) and he has very good numbers against all of the teams in the Eastern division.  He is also an upgrade over Valdez and Martinez in spot starting at 3rd until the Polanco question is resolved.  This is also advantageous for the bench in that you still have Martinez and Valdez available to back up both Rollins and Utley to keep from wearing them out from having to over play them while Polanco is out. It also keeps Martinez available for use in centerfield behind Mayberry while Victorino is serving his bogus suspension.

The drawbacks to getting him, he has been injury plagued this year and his slugging has been low because of it.  His range in the field and glove are not what they used to be and he has never been confused for Jose Reyes or Michael Bourn when running the bases. His salary is also a potential snag.  That being said, I think the positives still outweigh the negatives if they can get him through waivers.

I would actually be willing to do a Ben Francisco for Blake swap, not sure if the Dodgers would but Francisco would be an upgrade over Trent Oeltjen and Ben is still pretty cheap and under team control and cheap is something the McCourts and the Dodgers currently need.

Rhodes update

My last write up was about former Phillie Arthur Lee Rhodes. Today the Texas Rangers are set to release him.  The Yankees and Cardinals are both heavily interested in the southpaw who I think the Phillies should sign to be their second lefty in the pen.  A sentiment beat writer Matt Gelb seems to also share. 

It should be interesting to see if the Phillies do try to make a move on him today, since they can get him for the pro-rated major league minimum if they do sign him.  He has a vesting option in his contract, which may make the signing have some risk, but like with Casey Blake, I believe the potential positives outweigh the risk and he is an upgrade over the departed Juan Perez. His numbers against lefties show that if he is used right he can still be effective.

It would also be nice to have someone who has playoff experience take some of the workload off of Antonio Bastardo down the stretch.  A roster spot on the 40 man could easily be made by taking Drew Carpenter or Juan Perez off.  No matter how you look at things right now, the bullpen could use another fresh arm. Ruben Amaro says that the Phillies won’t be active during the waiver deadline, but then again he said they wouldn’t be active during the regular trade deadline.  When he says that, it seems like he is always poised to strike right afterwards. 

These next few weeks should be interesting.

The suspension

Besides their out and out fear of actually disciplining an umpire for overstepping his bounds, if ever there was a case for Major League Baseball dropping the ball on something, this is it.  Ramon Ramirez intentionally throws at Shane Victorino and hits him.  Victorino takes a step towards the mound but does not charge it, prompting Ramirez to drop his glove and quickly move towards Victorino and Just For Men hair formula candidate Eli Whiteside to first hop around like Tigger looking for Pooh and then charge Placido Polanco, who was coming in from first towards Victorino, not Ramirez and face plant himself into Polanco’s legs with a tackle attempt that makes Asante Samuel’s tackling look like Brian Dawkins’, which is the real reason the brawl kicked off. 

Jenny Craig Panda puts a major choke hold on Carlos Ruiz from behind, which is actually what caused the brawl to get worse and prolonged it (It’s why Victorino charged back into the fray and Juan Samuel went ballistic), but somehow Shane Victorino gets the only suspension.  Whiteside and Ramirez get fines, Sandoval gets nothing at all, and Polanco actually got fined for Whiteside running into him. 

Plain and simple, this ruling is a total joke. I expected Victorino to get a suspension, actually said he would get 4 games instead of the 3 games he did get but I also expected Whiteside, Ramirez, and Sandoval to also get something handed down to them as well. Victorino’s suspension would be just; IF MLB would have had the guts to also have actually disciplined the Giants that were involved as well. This is basically the fact that MLB believes 3 games for Victorino will not affect the Phillies playoff run as they are well ahead of the pack, while the Giants are actually struggling to maintain their hold on their own division. 

MLB don’t have the guts to make the right call and then get blasted for potentially affecting a team’s playoff hunt, whether it is right to do so for the actions on the field.  Plain and simple, Bud Selig, Joe Torre, Joe Garagiola Jr. and MLB could have made the right call for all involved but refused to do so. MLB also cannot say that they did not see Sandoval’s actions either.  To do so would be a flat out lie since the pictures of it have gone viral on the internet, even being shown on San Francisco Giants blogs and sports sites.

Giants’ broadcaster Mike Krukow, a former Phillie, said this isn’t over yet, he is probably right, especially since it seems that the Giants don’t have to worry about anything coming down from the MLB Disciplinary Office for their actions.  By the way I wonder what the Giants think about Carlos Beltran not rushing in to protect his teammates, both bullpens made it in before him and a SR-71 could fly from San Francisco to New York in the time it took Beltran to make it in from rightfield. 

Looking at this, Ruben Amaro was smarter than most of us, including myself and got the right player for rightfield. The player that was actually out there sticking up for his teammates after Victorino was hit.

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Barry Jeffrey Jr. writes “The Crow’s Nest” column for PSC. – Philadelphia sports news, rumors, blogs, & message board discussion forums