It's Official

Jonathan Meloan and Carlos Santana to the Indians for Casey Blake. The Indians will pay Blake's salary.

I like Jonathan Meloan, and I'm not sure why the Dodgers continued to try to make him a crappy starter instead of a dominant reliever. Last year, Meloan had almost twice as many strikeouts as base runners allowed. Do you know how absurd that is? Moving to a starting role has tanked Meloan's control and decreased his strikeout rate. Since we're in a situation right now where we don't have a setup man, why wasn't Meloan given a chance to return to the role that put him on the map? Maybe he's nothing more than a middle reliever, but anyone who puts up video game numbers deserves a chance to excel in the role where he got those numbers.

Carlos Santana has broken out in a huge way this year. His walk rate and power shot up, and he now has 10 more walks than strikeouts. His .323 average is probably a bit fluky thanks to a .357 BABIP, but anyone who walks more than they strikeout and hits for power immediately grabs my attention. Santana was probably gone at some point since Russ isn't going anywhere, and this could be a good sell high, but there is a really good chance we end up regretting giving up Santana.

The most important question is does this trade make the Dodgers better for the next 62 games? I don't know if the answer is yes. Blake is in the middle of the second bestseason of his career with an OPS+ of 119 at age 34. Since players tend to not have career years in their mid 30s, I have to think he's due for some regression. Blake's history is consistent with this, he's got a career .801 OPS in the first half and a .757 in the second. If history and normal aging curves hold true, Blake isn't going to hit all that well as a Dodger.

This is a really big problem because even if he continued to hit, he might not be a huge improvement over a non hitting LaRoche or DeWitt. Casey Blake's defense took a huge hit this year, dropping from below average (-5 last year) to absolutely useless (-11, 29th in the league). Hopefully this is just small sample size but defense tends to decline every year. He's probably not as bad as he's shown but he's certainly not an asset.

In the context of the entire team, this could be a huge issue. Blake is actually pretty good at stopping balls going down the line. He was +9 on those plays last year and is +2 this year. The problem is balls to his left where he was at -13 last year and -5 this year. This means that any ball that is hit between Blake and Nomar is getting through. When you have Kent on Nomar's other side any balls hit from Blake's left to Loney's range are getting through unless they're hit directly at someone. This is going to make Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, and Brad Penny, who all have ground ball to fly ball rates over 1.5, extremely unhappy. Casey Blake gives the Dodgers quite possibly the worst defensive infield in baseball, and that doesn't seem wise when your four best pitchers are all ground ball pitchers.

In this context, there's almost no way that Blake could outplay Andy LaRoche unless you think what LaRoche is doing is his true talent level. If LaRoche just put up a .750 OPS the rest of the way, he'd easily be more valuable than Blake is right now. We gave up talent to make our team worse.

The only positive here is that Casey Blake is a type B free agent and could potentially move up to type A if he plays well in L.A. However, that would mean offering him arbitration, and taking the chance that we'll have to pay Blake nine million with an out of options Andy LaRoche on the roster doesn't seem like one you'd want to take.

For this deal to be considered a success, Blake has to keep hitting like he has and Meloan, Santana, and Andy have to turn into absolute nothings. It seems like all Ned did was look at Casey Blake, see he was hitting decently and decided he would be an upgrade without looking at the context of the team. Paul DePodesta got taken to task for making "fantasy baseball" moves but this trade is far worse in that regard than anything DePo did. An absolutely terrible move, even for Ned.

Update>> Something else to complain about LaRoche's predicted OPS is .840 right now, Blake's is .832.

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