Tag Archives: Casey Blake

A Brief Conversation with Casey Blake About Hitting and Fastballs

I asked Casey Blake today to tell me some secrets he has about hitting fastballs and he said, smiling, “I’m not gonna give away some of my secrets.”

Regardless, I asked him a couple questions about hitting fastballs, and basically he said this:

Hitting a 90 mph fastball with a lot of movement is harder than hitting a 95 mph fastball with medium movement.

But hitting a 100 mph fastball, regardless of break, is harder than both.

His exact words were “100 is 100, man.”

Casey Blake, mind you, is well past the age of 30, but still does well against fastballs. If Blake were Indiana Jones, 100 mph fastballs would be his snakes.

I then asked him who has the hardest fastball to hit in the majors, and he said after a mild hesitation Josh Johnson. Interestingly, Johnson doesn’t have the raw speed that Blake hates (why’d it have to be 100 mph fastballs??), but that’s mostly because of his use as a starter.

There’s a huge difference between what a pitcher hits on a radar gun in a vacuum and what a pitcher hits on a radar gun in the middle of a full season.

Johnson’s fastball averages in the mid-90s, which is almost tops among the majors, but its his movement that drives batters nuts.

Johnson's Pitch F/X Aug. 1 2010

Johnson's Pitch F/X Aug. 1 2010

11 vertical inches is INSANE movement, almost wiffle ball-esque.  Then couple that with the two-seamer’s 10 inches and slightly more horizontal movement and, well, that’s a hard-ass pitch to hit.

That Aug. 1 game was against the Padres, who seemingly hit Johnson well because he had trouble locating (4 walks in 5.2 innings tied a season high).

Fortunately, Blake hasn’t had to face Jonathan Broxton who, in his better times, has Johnson’s movement AND 100 mph.

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Ned Colletti Made a Not … Bad … Trade???

Rethinking this after 24 hours.

You know you get so used to these deadline deals that you expect the Dodgers to lose. Two years ago, the Dodgers traded away Carlos Santana. Last year, the Dodgers traded away Josh Bell. In return, they got an every day 3B in Casey Blake and a good reliever in George Sherrill. Certainly the return was OK, but the cost was expensive.

Yesterday, Ned Colletti traded two also-rans for a decent, cheap starting outfielder. Scott Podsednik is now a Dodger and Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel are now Royals. Neither of the latter two will have a big impact on the MLB roster.

Yesterday, I also incorrectly argued against the trade. Despite Podsednik having three awful years, 2006-08, his past one and a half seasons have seen him return to value. He’s not going to hit home runs, but he gets on base at a decent clip and he has decent range.

Most Dodger fans know Lucas May as the fourth-string Dodgers catcher. He comes up to the big leagues when two of Russell Martin, Brad Ausmus and AJ Ellis are injured.

Pimentel is an unknown, but not in the way Santana and Bell were in 2009/2008 respectively. Ben Badler said he was a fringy guy at best. So basically the Dodgers traded a possible relief pitcher and a back-up catcher. If Pimentel develops into anything more than that, then it’s a hindsight-is-20/20 deal.

If Podsednik is indeed a spot filler until Manny Ramirez is back (if he comes back), then this is a great trade.

If Manny never comes back, then this season may be lost already. But the thing you’re not hearing is that Podsednik may return a Type B or even Type A draft pick compensation in the event that he’s offered arbitration this off-season. He’s put in the time over the last two years, which is the thing Elias Sports Bureau is most concerned about in A/B compensation, and he’s performed well over that time too.

Overall, not a bad trade. Well done, Mr. Colletti.

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Looking Back on the Sherrill-Bell 2009 Deadline Trade

Jordan at OrioleProspects.com and I have been sharing thoughts on the 2009 trade deadline trade between the Dodgers and Orioles that sent George Sherrill to Los Angeles for prospects Josh Bell and Steven Johnson.

Here are my thoughts.  You can read his thoughts here.

Outcome Bias.  It’s a real thing.  It happens all the time.  Your perspective of something changes because of the end result.  Player A, who is not good, is traded for Player B, who is bad.  Player B performs inexplicably well and Player A continues to perform not good.  The fans of Player B’s new team gloat about the trade and the fans of Player A’s new team scowl and curse the trade and all management involved.

Thoughts at the time of the trade

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Dodgers avoid arb. with all of their eligibles

Maybe it’s time to give some credit to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.

The Dodgers’ situation this off-season has so far been the most interesting, what with the McCourts’ divorce and the team’s inability to spend money as a result.  However, Ned Colletti and company have been creative.  Kicking Juan Pierre to the White Sox in exchange for paying some of his contract and getting a genuine relief prospect out of it was … I want to say impressive, but I get the feeling Colletti stumbled into that one, so I’ll say lucky.  Then last week, the Dodgers came to agreements with key 2009 players Matt Kemp and Chad Billingsley.  Colletti and company then avoided arbitration with almost all of their young talent: Kuo, Loney and Sherrill.

And today, Andre Ethier agreed to a two-year deal, pending a physical, according to Ken Gurnick.

Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe reports (via Cots Contracts) that they’ll be free of a lot of money as of 2010 and almost all contracts by 2011.

[Kemp’s 2011] deal more or less represents the Dodgers’ strongest acknowledgment to date that the world will not end after the coming season, which should come as a relief to anxious fans. According to the data at Cot’s Baseball Contracts (h/t new colleague Jeff Euston), the team has just four players under contract after this year: Kemp, Rafael Furcal ($12 million), Casey Blake ($5.25 million), and Carroll ($1.925 million). The club will still have control over the seven remaining arbitration-eligible players: Billingsley, James Loney, and Hong-Chih Kuo (who will be in their second years), Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, and Russell Martin (third years), and George Sherrill (fourth year).  [Ed. note: Ethier’s agreement came shortly after this was published–like, five minutes.  That sucks.]

Of course this makes Dodger fans nervous–who’s going to play for the team??–but this opens the door to make wiser financial decisions than throwing two- or three-year deals for high per annum dollars at aging superstars.  Rebuilding the farm is considerably more important and cheaper. We’ll stay tuned to see if they spend the dollars in the first round come June.

Colletti is not a good evaluator of talent (and both of last year’s July 31 deadline trades are examples of that), but he’s been remarkable at showing financial dexterity in a not-so-good time.  That he was able to trade Pierre and get some of that contract off the table while also not signing big free agents to hefty contracts and using that money toward his more important assets–his arb. eligible players–is great.  He also found a good value in 2B Jamey Carroll, who is slightly undervalued because of his above-average on-base percentage.

If he can pull off signing either Joel Piniero, Ben Sheets or another high-reward potential starter on the cheap, it’ll be a great off-season for the Dodgers.

Edit: Dylan Hernandez reports the Dodgers have now agreed to contracts with Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin as well, meaning they’ve avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players.  Well done.

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