Good lord, with this. After last night’s two double, three RBI performance, Casey Blake is now hitting .309 – and it’s high time to recognize what he’s doing. Remember yesterday, when I went over what the young hitting core has (or in some case, hasn’t) done since Manny’s suspension? Well, dig Casey’s line of .431/.462/.793, with 4 homers and 14 RBI. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?
In fact, last night’s victory was just more evidence of what I’d put forward yesterday, despite the claims of Peter Gammons: it’s the veterans who are driving this offense right now, not the kids. Blake, Juan Pierre (who got extensive praise here), and Orlando Hudson (who is far overdue for a post about his great start) combined for 7 hits, 6 RBI, and 2 walks, while even old-and-busted Juan Castro and Brad Ausmus had 2 hits apiece. Hell, even Eric Milton stepped up with 5 effective innings for his first victory since about 1976. Meanwhile, James Loney, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier combined for just 1 hit. That’s a seperate issue of its own, of course, but what Blake is doing has been dramatic.
Casey’s .956 OPS is 4th among all MLB 3B, behind only the incomparable Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Wright, and his slugging percentage ranks 3rd. What’s really most impressive is the timing of his streak, however, because at the end of the last game Manny played, Blake’s OPS was just .751 – 200 points lower than it is now. While other guys have struggled to pick up the slack, Blake’s been phenomenal.
“But MSTI,” you might say. “You hated – hated – the trade that brought Blake here. Then, when Colletti gave him a three-year deal, you hated that too. Aren’t you being a little hypocritical now?” And it’s true, I did hate both of those moves. The trade gave up far too much, because Carlos Santana was ranked higher than Matt LaPorta, and the Brewers got CC Sabathia for LaPorta, and while the money was okay on the contract, the third year seemed completely unneccessary.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy Blake’s contributions, because I never said he was a bad player – just that he wasn’t worth what was given up to acquire him. Blake’s been a good addition to the team, but look at it this way: I’d love to see Albert Pujols in blue, and I’d cheer for his performance no matter what. But if it took Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, and Andrew Lambo to acquire him, and then Pujols was given a 20 year, $800 million contract, I’d still say that Pujols wasn’t worth that cost. Oh sure, watching him hit .350 with 37 homers would be great, but not at that cost.
That’s besides the point, though, because Blake has really been a life-saver at the best possible time. I won’t even get on him for his inevitable second half slide (.813 career first-half OPS vs. .760 second-half OPS) because by that point, Manny will be back and you like to think that Ethier, Furcal, & the rest will have gotten going. We needed Casey Blake right now, and he’s done nothing but step up. He is indeed, the most interesting man in the world. And he’s even mocking the Giants!
(Completely unrelated note: a veteran not helping out would be Jason Schmidt, shut down with shoulder soreness, according to Tony Jackson. It’s official: this horse needs to be put down.)