I can’t say this is a surprise, because we’ve said this was going to happen more than once around here, but it looks like the inevitable is happening: the patented Casey Blake Second Half Slide. Blake’s been a notorious first half player over his career, losing over 50 points of OPS in the second half, but still: I’d held out just a bit of hope based on how well he played when Manny was gone. As I said on May 27th,
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.
Unfortunately, we’ve now reached “second half slides-ville”, as he’s got just 7 hits in the last two weeks and is at just .225/.349/.338 with only 1 homer in the last month. It actually gets worse the further back you go, because since he hit his season high of OPS (.956) on May 26th, he’s spent the last two months being, well, lousy: .243/.333/.358 over the last two months, and just 3 homers.
I’m not here to pound on him, because he stepped up hugely when Manny was suspended, and it’s not like this isn’t a big feature of the Casey Blake package: it’s just what he does. Nor am I suggesting that we flat-out bench him, or try to acquire someone else via trade.
No, what the Dodgers ought to do is leverage the assets they have available. First of all, it’s time to platoon Blake a bit – he’s got a huge split, as he’s killing lefties (1.072 OPS) while struggling a bit against righties (.740 OPS). But it’s also time to add some new blood to third base, and I’m not talking about Mark Loretta. Remember Tony Abreu? Not only is he not dead, he’s tearing up the PCL (1.026 OPS!) and is particularly on a hot streak lately (.475 BA with 3 homers in his last 10 games). Injuries almost ruined his career, but don’t forget that we looked upon him as a huge part of the future at one point.
Why not give the old man a breather once or twice a week – which might also help his second half slide – while playing the hot hand in Abreu?