It’s Time To Move On From Casey Blake


Hey, I like Casey Blake. Despite the regrettable circumstances of his arrival, his lousy 2010, and the fact that his inability to stay healthy in 2011 was predictable from about a million miles away, Blake’s been a solid enough player and by all accounts an even better person and teammate. All of the nice things you’ve heard about Jim Thome‘s off-the-field demeanor lately? I’ve never met Casey Blake, but every last word I’ve heard about him suggests that they all apply to him as well.

Believe it or not, Blake is, by most measures, one of the three best Dodger third basemen in the last century. Think about that for a second, but it’s true. Among those with as many plate appearances as he has, with at least 50% of them coming at third, Blake has the third highest OPS+. (It was pointed out to me that Jim Gilliam provided plenty of value as a third baseman as well, though he does not appear on this list because less than half his time came at the hot corner.)

Rk Player OPS+ PA From To Age AB H 2B 3B HR OPS
1 Ron Cey 125 6108 1971 1982 23-34 5216 1378 223 18 228 .804
2 Red Smith 110 1667 1911 1914 21-24 1467 409 84 25 14 .743
3 Casey Blake 108 1592 2008 2011 34-37 1393 362 72 9 49 .768
4 Adrian Beltre 108 3818 1998 2004 19-25 3462 949 176 18 147 .794
5 Cookie Lavagetto 104 3241 1937 1947 24-34 2777 763 143 28 35 .756
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/22/2011.

Change that to WAR in order to get defense in, and that drops him to fourth, though you could argue that Cookie Lavagetto barely beats him out yet had the benefit of twice as many plate appearances to do it.

Rk Player WAR/pos PA From To Age AB H 2B 3B HR OPS
1 Ron Cey 46.2 6108 1971 1982 23-34 5216 1378 223 18 228 .804
2 Adrian Beltre 22.6 3818 1998 2004 19-25 3462 949 176 18 147 .794
3 Cookie Lavagetto 12.4 3241 1937 1947 24-34 2777 763 143 28 35 .756
4 Casey Blake 10.6 1592 2008 2011 34-37 1393 362 72 9 49 .768
5 Joe Stripp 8.3 2800 1932 1937 29-34 2567 758 129 30 13 .719
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/22/2011.

And while I don’t have a table for it, his VORB – that’s Value Over Replacement Beard – is off the charts.

(Here’s where we’ll get the arguments that Blake’s historical ranking somehow justifies the Carlos Santana trade. No, it doesn’t; that trade was good for only two months of Blake’s time, not his full Dodger career, and it’ll never be okay that Cleveland got more from the Dodgers for Blake than they did from Milwaukee for C.C. Sabathia at the same time. Besides, considering that Blake’s 2010-11 span has been awful and he’s still ranking where he does, it should be clear that third base has not exactly been a position with a glorious history for the Dodgers.)

Anyway, the point of all this is not to reflect upon Blake’s position in Dodger history, such as it were, but to suggest that perhaps it’s time to shut it down, for the benefit of all involved. Blake has missed substantial amounts of time this season, from starting the year on the DL with a back injury to missing over a month with a left elbow infection to his current malady, a pinched nerve in his neck. 

As Dylan Hernandez writes, the neck injury has Blake thinking about his long-term health:

Casey Blake hit off a tee Sunday, the start of his latest comeback from a pinched nerve in his neck that has bothered him for a significant part of the season.

But Blake, who has missed the Dodgers’ last four games, is proceeding with caution.

“Obviously, this neck thing is pretty serious,” he said. “I want to be able to move my neck when I’m 50.”

As recently as last month, the 38-year-old third baseman said he wasn’t entertaining the idea of retirement. But he said this weekend that his condition was making him reconsider.

“Sure,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t want to go out like this. Hopefully, with rest in the off-season this thing goes away and I can get ready to play another season. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

He said he is unsure whether he would continue playing if it meant jeopardizing his long-term health.

Blake, who has made three trips to the disabled list and is batting .250 in 58 games, said his goals for the remainder of the season have also changed.

Earlier in the year, he talked about wanting to play well enough to essentially force the Dodgers to exercise the $6-million team option in his contract for next season. He said this week that his priorities have now shifted.

“I’m not even worried about that right now,” Blake said. “The main focus is just getting healthy and doing what’s best for my neck and my future.”

He said doctors have warned him that his condition could worsen if he continues to play.

“The more I play, the more chance I have to really put more pressure on that nerve,” Blake said. “If you put enough pressure on it, you bang it enough, you can cause some damage.”

While you certainly feel for Blake as a player, because no one wants to see their career possibly end like this, you do have to wonder what exactly the point is for the Dodgers. I hardly need to remind you how short the bench has been over the last few days, particularly with Rod Barajas banged up, the bullpen exhausted, and Eugenio Velez continuing to be Eugenio Velez. Remember, James Loney had to throw a bullpen session yesterday and Aaron Miles was prepared to be the backup catcher, simply because there were no appropriate bodies to do the job. Considering that Barajas couldn’t catch and Velez can’t play, the Dodgers have been essentially going with a 22.5-man roster in part because Blake is taking up a roster spot yet can’t contribute.

Even if he can, how does that help the Dodgers? Blake’s clearly not going to be with the team in 2012, so the focus should be on finding out right now if you have anything in the system who can help. (I know, I know - there probably isn’t, but what’s to lose? The team is already in last place.) Disable Blake, and call up Russ Mitchell. DFA Velez, and call up Ivan DeJesus. DFA Dioner Navarro – or donate him to science, I don’t care – and call up A.J. Ellis. Play Justin Sellers every day at short (which, to their credit, they generally are) until Dee Gordon returns.

If Blake’s ready to make a few appearances before the end of the season, that’s fine, because rosters expand a week from Thursday, and since he last played on August 17, he’d be eligible to return the very next day. Letting him take up a roster spot isn’t helping the team now, and it’s not helping him by pushing him to rush back and risk further injury.

It’s time to move on.

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Speaking of minor leaguers we’ll likely see soon, Christopher Jackson’s latest – this time for MiLB.com – is a feature on catcher Tim Federowicz which is a must-click if only for the photo of the mustache that I pray Federowicz brought with him from Boston.

To his credit, Federowicz seems to understand that the trade which brought him to the Dodgers wasn’t necessarily welcomed by a lot of fans:

The stated intent by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was to acquire a catching prospect, something Los Angeles lacked in its farm system. Federowicz said he understands the frustration of Dodgers fans.

“Yeah, they gave up Trayvon — he’s a great player and now he’s in the big leagues, doing his thing up there,” Federowicz said. “That’s tough to lose.

“I guess there is a little bit of pressure to show fans what I’ve got. But I think it’ll eventually work out the way the Dodgers want it to.”

My guess is that Fedorowicz is probably not going to be ready to start 2012 in the majors, and since he’s not eligible for the Rule 5 draft, he most likely will not be called up in September, since that would require him to be added to the 40-man roster. But could we see an Ellis/Federowicz tandem by this time next year? It certainly couldn’t be worse than Barajas/Navarro.

The Aftermath of the Trayvon Robinson Trade

A day after the unexpected Trayvon Robinson trade with Boston & Seattle, the dust has started to settle, but the shock is still there. 98% of Dodger fans, at least the ones I’ve heard from, are horrified, and rightfully so. However, I want to clear up one misconception, and this is the same one I heard often when the Dodgers traded Carlos Santana for Casey Blake and several prospects for Scott Podsednik, Octavio Dotel, Ryan Theriot, and Ted Lilly last year: trading away a prospect, no matter how good, does not automatically make it a bad trade.

With the rise of the internet and social media, fans have become far more aware of prospects than they’d ever been before. For decades, fans would only perhaps know their team’s best prospect, if even that. Whereas before, you might have only heard of Robinson when he hit 26 homers in little more than half an AAA season, now you have fans who have been following his career for 3-4 years already. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s good that fans have more interest in the team’s fuller organization. However, it also means that people get invested and attached to a prospect, and it’s understandably difficult when someone you’ve been dreaming about as a Dodger for several years gets shipped out weeks before he’s likely to make his debut.

That means that fans – not just Dodger fans, this happens on all teams – tend to overvalue their own players, and even yesterday on Twitter I saw people groaning about losing Robinson before even knowing who was coming back. I think that’s short-sighted, because I have no problem with trading prospects. A solid farm system exists to provide value, and while the obvious outcome is “good young player comes up to join the big club”, value can also come from “good young player is traded for immediate impact veteran or another good young player”. Depending on the circumstances, trading a top prospect is not always a bad thing – as long as you get value back. If the Dodgers are deep in outfielders and short in catching, than the idea of trading Robinson for an impact catching prospect is not a terrible plan.

The problem here is that few think Tim Federowicz is an impact catcher, and many doubt he can hit enough to even be a viable major league starter. This isn’t a new theme, because so far in Ned Colletti’s tenure, he’s often spent prospects to get players who were not of equal value. I didn’t mind trading Santana when we all thought Russell Martin would be here for 5-7 more years; I hated trading him for two months of a good-but-not-great third baseman. (If Santana had been sent to Cleveland for CC Sabathia that year rather than Blake, I guarantee you there wouldn’t have been anywhere near the same outcry.) I didn’t mind the idea of trading James McDonald & Andrew Lambo, two players unlikely to be stars, but the problem was a team that had no business going for it in 2010 trading them for an elderly reliever who wasn’t going to make a difference. This is why the Robinson trade stinks so bad, because you’re trading a top-5 Dodger prospect for three guys who are barely top-25 Red Sox prospects. (Jon Weisman has more on the newcomers at Dodger Thoughts.)

Worse, there’s also the feeling that this goes back to Hiroki Kuroda‘s refusal to accept a trade. Boston writers Gordon Edes and Sean McAdam each reported that Federowicz and Juan Rodriguez were initially discussed in negotiations for Kuroda, an assertion backed up by Ned Colletti’s comments that Federowicz was someone he’d been eyeing for some time. (McAdam says that a third prospect likely would have been included, though he doesn’t state if that was Stephen Fife or not.) Kuroda was clearly higher on Boston’s starting pitching shopping list than Erik Bedard, so if he agrees to the deal, the Dodgers send two months of Kuroda to Boston for a package nearly identical to the one that ended up coming for Robinson. That’s a deal that I think most of us would have been pretty satisfied with – I know I’d have been – and Robinson would have remained in the system. Remember when I said I was disappointed in Kuroda’s choice? Yeah, that paid off a lot quicker than I thought it would.

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It’s no question that most Dodger fans don’t like the trade, but we’re not a fair sample. We’re biased. We loved Robinson, none of us had heard of the three Boston guys before yesterday, and we don’t trust Colletti. What’s really informative is looking outside our little sphere of Dodger fandom, and seeing what the feeling is on the other side of the trade and from the national writers who don’t cheer for either team. If the trade is getting positive reviews from those groups, then maybe we need to shift our way of thinking.

Not today, however, because just about every smart person who writes about baseball is completely confused about what the Dodgers are trying to do. Red Sox & Mariner writers are thrilled. Prospect writers are blown away. Just about everyone is united in killing the Dodgers over this; in fact, the only person I could find who wasn’t 100% against it was Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times, and even he could only muster an “it ain’t so bad”.  Read these assorted quotes on the deal at your own risk.

Mainstream media!

Jeff Passan, Yahoo:

Los Angeles Dodgers, who couldn’t convince Hiroki Kuroda(notes) to drop his no-trade clause and gave up their top hitting prospect, Trayvon Robinson, an outfielder with pop and plate discipline, to get into the Erik Bedard(notes) three-way deal and land catcher Tim Federowicz and two arms. As is the case with everything Dodger-related this year, they are losers.

Evan Brunell, CBS Sports:

There was only one trade made the entire week in which a team was instantly ridiculed for its move. The Cardinals were headed for the loser’s seat before the waning minutes of the deadline, but Los Angeles took it away with a staggering display of incompetence. To help Boston facilitate acquiring Erik Bedard, the Dodgers agreed to trade away Trayvon Robinson, one of the few bright spots in the high minors that could actually hit. Robinson, along with Jerry Sands, could have made a pretty decent first base-left field combo over the next few years. Instead, Robinson will take his .293/.375/.563 line with 26 home runs in Triple-A to Seattle while the Dodgers come away with three organizational pieces.

And really, that’s all they are. You’ve got catcher Tim Federowicz, who has a strong defensive reputation but whose hitting will be challenged enough that he best profiles as a long-term backup catcher. Those aren’t tough to find. Add in starter Stephen Fife, who has pitched to Federowicz all season for Double-A Portland, who profiles as a back of the rotation starter or solid middle reliever. Lastly, Juan Rodriguez, a reliever who throws smoke but is 22 years old and in Class A. Splendid. Oh, and all three will be Rule 5 eligible after the year, meaning they need to be added to the 40-man roster or risk being lost in the draft — and all three would be strong candidates to be taken. The Dodgers, in one fell swoop, traded away one of their few high-ceiling prospects for three organizational players who will all require 40-man spots, which are incredibly valuable.

Nationally respected prospect writers!

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus:

I spent 15 minutes after this trade waiting to hear which players I’m missing while simultaneously trying to talk Jay Jaffe off a ledge via instant messenger. The Dodgers took a perfectly good Top-11 prospect, a player who is having a great year at Triple-A and easily projects as an everyday outfielder, and received three pieces of fringe in return. You’d almost think Frank McCourt was running the team.

Keith Law, ESPN:

The Dodgers get … I’m not really sure what they get. Tim Federowicz is a catch-and-throw specialist who isn’t likely to produce enough at the plate to be an average regular, but is plus across the board behind the plate (including a career 34-percent caught-stealing rate) and is no worse than a good backup in the majors. Stephen Fife probably profiles as a right-handed reliever rather than a starter because he lacks the out pitch to start; he’ll touch 95 as a starter with a fringe-average curveball. Juan Rodriguez has a plus fastball, no average second pitch, and below-average command and control — a nice arm to add to your system but a reliever at best and not a high-probability guy either. Unless Robinson was somehow burning a hole in their pockets, this doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, as they didn’t get any prospect as good as he is in the exchange.

Statistically-inclined sites!

Jay Jaffe, Baseball Prospectus:

What the… excuse me… whiskey tango foxtrot? A deal sending a good prospect such as Robinson in one direction and a possible stretch-run helper such as Bedard in the other is the stuff deadline deals are made of, but what business did the Dodgers have for throwing their good prospect into this deal in order to enable somebody else’s stretch run acquisition without something to make it especially worth their while? Is Colletti expecting a playoff share from the Red Sox? A future job with the Mariners? Is this being written off as a charitable donation? Is it a cry for help from a man about to jump out the window? Is there somebody out there who will post bail if I fly to Los Angeles myself and extract a few teeth in search of the real truth?

(later in the article – MSTI) Against this bleak backdrop, the GM managed to make the situation worse by trading down in a deal he had no business butting into, punting away a future everyday player. This wasn’t the Angels taking on Vernon Wells‘ bloated contract or the Cardinals punting the future of Colby Rasmus, but it ranks among the most shockingly inept deals of the year. In a five-and-a-half year tenure that’s seen its good moments—three playoff appearances, including back-to-back trips to the NLCS—and bad ones (the Jason Schmidt contract, the Andruw Jones contract, the Juan Pierre contract, the Blake trade…), Colletti may have set a new low. That’s saying something.

Jack Moore, Fangraphs:

It did take four warm bodies to acquire Bedard, but that’s about it. None of the players moved by Boston appear on Kevin Goldstein’s top 20 organizational prospect list, nor do they appear in our Top 100 Prospects list or top 10 organizational prospect list. This isn’t to say they’re doomed to complete non-productivity in the Major Leagues — the prospects will be covered in a separate post — but the Red Sox don’t lose much from a good farm system and improve their chances at a World Series. Hard to argue with that logic.

Other Dodger bloggers!

Jon Weisman, Dodger Thoughts:

For those three, the Dodgers gave up Robinson (24 in September), who has a .375 on-base percentage and .563 slugging percentage (26 homers) this year for Triple-A Albuquerque. Robinson, who has hit well on the road as well as at home this season, has had his fine year marred by striking out 122 times in 100 games. But it’s stunning to see him traded for such an offensively challenged catcher and two sketchy pitching prospects.

In 2007, A.J. Ellis had a .382 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage in Double-A – better than what Federowicz has – and Ned Colletti does all he can to keep Ellis from getting regular playing time.

The only rationale I can think of is that the Dodgers think they’ll do better in the offseason trying to find a proper left fielder than they would trying to find a proper catcher. Essentially, Robinson was not in their plans, and they decided to unload him to fill a positional need. But it’s still puzzling, because the trade feels less like a step forward behind the plate and more like a step backward in outfield depth.

Eric Stephen, TrueBlueLA:

There is a decent enough chance Trayvon Robinson may never be a major league regular. But at the very least, Robinson could have been a cheap fourth outfielder for three to six years, which seems like more of an upside than the Dodgers received in return. To me this trade is an overreaction to fill a need, a need Colletti himself was largely responsible in creating. I’m not even confident that need was anywhere close to being filled. Which leaves me empty.

Jared Massey, LADodgerTalk:

At least it appears that Ned tried to address an area of need with Federowicz, given the fact that their catching depth is suspect. The problem is they didn’t need another glove first backstop with questions about his hitting. They have that guy in Matt Wallach. They also have the aforementioned Griff Erickson, who’s batting .275 thru 19 Double A games, is younger and has more potential at the plate. Add to that the three catchers drafted this past June and Tim becomes even less valuable.

The two pitchers profile as relievers, which is another area in which the Dodgers don’t need help. With the young hurlers in the majors, as well as guys like Steve Ames and Shawn Tolleson in Double A, Fife and Rodriguez don’t fill areas of need.

I suppose it’s nice to have depth, but you don’t trade the best hitting prospect in the organization for warm bodies. Unless Tray had incriminating photos of members of the front office, I really don’t get this deal.

Jimmy Bramlett, LAist:

So fine. The Dodgers got a catcher. The other source of confusion was the Dodgers receiving two pitchers who project to be back-end of the rotation guys at best in the deal.

“We’ve got a lot of pitching,” Colletti told reporters on Saturday explaining his evaluation of the Dodgers’ farm system.

“You’ll never turn down good pitching, but a lot of our emphasis is on position players.”

Evidently good pitching can be expanded to mean mediocre pitching.

With all of this double-speak, it is hard to determine the direction of the Dodgers. It seems they acknowledge and want to remedy their offensive holes, but all of the actions they undertake are contrary to that goal. Perhaps Colletti is thinking two or three moves ahead of everyone and will pull off a genius move.

But here’s is a sobering thought for everyone. With both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp eligible for free agency in 2013, what happens in the very likely possibility the Dodgers cannot re-sign them?

Federowicz might be the catcher of the future for the Dodgers, but what good will it do if the only power sources for the Dodgers jump ship?

Bloggers from the other teams involved!

Jeff Sullivan, Lookout Landing:

But the Mariners just gained two good talents without really making any kind of significant sacrifice at all, and that’s the sign of a hell of a trade. It is impossible to be disappointed by this.

Jay Yencich, U.S.S. Mariner:

All-in-all, I’d say this is a win for the M’s, far better than what was initially coming down the wire, which was some backup catcher coming our way. I wouldn’t say either of these guys is a guy that I’m going to pencil in as the anything of the future, though Robinson has good odds on seeing some time down the road. For what may end up as a rental for the Red Sox (and whatever it is that Fields is), this is a pretty darned good return.

Marc Normandin, Over the Monster:

Most importantly, Federowicz, Fife, and Chiang were all going to be Rule 5 eligible this upcoming winter, so Boston was moving pieces it was planning to lose anyway in exchange for help now.

All in all, this was a good trade for Boston, as they didn’t give up anything they weren’t planning on losing in the short-term anyway, and they received a high-risk, high-reward hurler in Bedard. If Buchholz ends up missing significant time the rest of the year, and Bedard can stay on the mound, the Red Sox and their fans will be very happy about a rare July 31 deal that has a major impact.

Chip Buck, Fire Brand of the American League:

The good news for the Red Sox is that none of the prospects they traded away were highly touted.  According to Sox Prospects, Federowicz was ranked #22; Chiang #23; Fife #32; and Rodriguez #44 in the Red Sox farm system.  Essentially, they traded depth, rather than premium talent.  All-in-all, I’m pretty psyched they were able to obtain a pitcher while holding onto Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick, Anthony Ranaudo, Ryan Kalish, Kyle Weiland, and Felix Doubront.  You should be as well.

Dodgers Shock Baseball by Trading Trayvon Robinson For Organizational Depth

I… am… speechless.

About 30 seconds after the deadline passed, I tried to hit publish on a post titled “Trade Deadline Passes Quietly for Dodgers”. WordPress blew up as I did, and the post never made it live. It included the line that I’m pretty sure I’m glad WP ate, “But let’s look at this in a positive light: being mildly disappointed at the lack of deals is far better than freaking out over the idea that Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel are improvements, right?”

Yeah… about that.

Shortly after the deadline, word broke that the Red Sox had traded for Erik Bedard. Okay, nothing unexpected there. Then Twitter blew up – I mean, literally exploded in a firey hellscape of “WAIT, WHAT?!” – when the news started to filter that the deal was actually a three-team move, and that the Dodgers had included Trayvon Robinson.

Before we all freak out, here’s the facts: Robinson goes off to the Mariners (via Boston) in exchange for catcher Tim Federowicz, RHP Stephen Fife and RHP Juan Rodriguez. I copied that from someone on Twitter, and I have so many browser tabs open right now that I can’t even pretend to know who it’s from at this point, so deal.

On the players coming in – none of whom I’ve heard of before – here’s the bad news: none of the three made Kevin Goldstein’s preseason list of top 20 Sox prospects at Baseball Prospectus before the season. (Robinson, for what it’s worth, was #4 on the Dodger list; it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, because the Red Sox system is probably deeper overall, but still.)

Over at SoxProspects.com, none of the three are on that top 20 list either. Federowicz is rated #22 (up from 27 in April), Fife is #32 (up from 39), and Rodriguez is 44 (up from 45). From the same site, quick scouting reports on the three:

Federowicz: (24 next week)

Intelligent catcher with ideal frame and strong core. Line drive hitter. Average power potential as swing is on the flat side. Profiles as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter. Makes best contact on balls down and out over the plate. At times struggles to get his hands above the baseball on higher velocity elevated fastballs. Good pitch recognition skills, but can chase hard breaking balls off the plate. Improving plate discipline. Behind the dish, Federowicz presently is above-average defensively. Plus, accurate arm with a fluid release. Can struggle with his grip when throwing, which causes ball to tail into runners during stretches. Outstanding instincts and reflexes. Excels at staying square to the ball with both his body and glove. Fluid footwork, especially when blocking pitches in the dirt. Improving with game management skills and taking charge of the pitching staff. Below-average speed, but heady on the base paths. Projects as a major league backup catcher, with potential as a second division starter. (emphasis mine -  MSTI)

Fife: (25 in October)

Great pitcher’s frame. At Utah, Fife worked middle relief in 2007 and earned a rotation spot for 2008.Two-seam fastball sits between 88-91 mph. Has a four-seamer with more velocity, but doesn’t feature it. Great movement on his two-seamer, tailing down and in on righties. Also works in a biting 76-79 mph curveball and an improving 79-81 mph changeup. Relies mostly on his fastball, but has gone to his curveball as his out pitch on occasion. Working on improving the command of his curve, but has outstanding control overall. Really pounds the strike zone. Fife also has a slider in his arsenal that has been put on the shelf while he works on his curveball. Extreme groundball pitcher. Fares better against righties. Workhorse, went deep into games in college, maintaining velocity well. Ultimately, Fife has a high potential to become a major league pitcher, and whether or not he’s able to become a starter in the bigs depends on how well he hones his secondary stuff. Somewhat jerky delivery with a lot of torque – snaps the ball as it comes out of his hand. Really came on as a draft prospect late in the 2008 NCAA season. Fife missed the first few months of the 2009 season with weakness in his throwing shoulder.

Rodriguez: (23 in December)

Large-framed righty dominated DSL competition in 2009, but was slightly old for the league. Mechanics can use some tuning-up, but he demonstrates a live arm. Attacks hitters. Fastball sits 92-95 mph and shows more life (96-97 mph) in short blasts. Also throws a 79-81 mph slurve, that has some potential if he can sharpen it and get it up in  the mid-80s.  Lots of projection, but he’s behind the age scale because he signed at 19, unlike many other Latin prospects who sign at 16. Needs to develop his curveball to be starter material. Has accumulated impressive strikeout numbers at every level so far with the Red Sox.

Those reports were all from before the season. Here’s what they’ve done so far in 2011:

Federowicz: .275/.337/.397 at AA (is reportedly considered a “plus defender“, says Yahoo’s Tim Brown. BP’s Marc Normandin concurs, saying “above-average defender, better blocking than throwing, possible doubles power. probably a second division starter, more likely solid backup”)

Fife: 11-4, 3.66 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 at AA (known for “pitchability”, whatever that means)

Rodriguez: 2-4, 5.19 ERA, 13.4 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 at A

Mike Andrew of SoxProspects commented on this on Twitter:

My take: #Red Sox traded 3 Rule 5 eligible B-prospects, each w/ a chance to be MLB role players, & a C-Level prospect w/ marginal MLB future

FWIW, each of Chiang, Fife, & Federowicz are Rule 5 eligible this winter. Rodriguez is the 4th chip – predicted that earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Robinson was tearing it up in AAA: 26 homers, and a .293/.375/.563 line. Lest you think that’s merely a product of ABQ, he’s hitting .306/.394/.585 at home, and .280/.354/.537 on the road. That’s in a hitter-friendly league overall, so take it with the requisite grain of salt, but by all indications he’s on the path to being a solid regular, though maybe something less than a star. Meanwhile, the three prospects coming in return all look to be something less than that.

Obviously, this all came out of nowhere, and we’ll need time to digest it. My initial impression, though? Pretty disappointed, and not just because we’ve all grown to love Robinson and the idea of him coming back to play in his hometown.

If anything, this summary of Ned Colleti’s post-trade interview from Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA sums it up best:

Synopsis from Ned Colletti: “We need catching…it’s easier to find an OF [on FA market] than it is a catcher.

He then went on to claim that you can create an outfielder, but not a catcher, though his comments were drowned out by Russell Martin and Carlos Santana (among others) laughing. In theory, that idea sounds fine. But in practice? Robinson is a solid outfield prospect with a chance to be much more. Federowicz sounds like a placeholder, and the pitchers are intriguing but little more. Position isn’t everything, otherwise you’d see the Jays trading Jose Bautista for, well, Dioner Navarro. (Actually, you wouldn’t, because the Jays have a real general manager.) I like the idea of Ned trying to address the catching issue (you know, the one he created), but in no way is this the way to do it.

Besides, what in the hell is a team deep in pitching, desperate for offense and with a gaping hole in the outfield doing trading an MLB-ready outfield prospect for a catcher who may or may not be able to hit and two mildly interesting pitchers?

The more I read about this trade, the less I like it. It hurts the Dodgers short term, since Robinson was by all accounts coming up in the next month or so. It probably hurts them long term, if Robinson develops as we hope he will. And I can’t imagine how it must feel for Robinson, expecting a call to LA any day, and instead being told to pack his bags for Seattle.

More to come. I guess.

Update: added Keith Law’s thoughts

The Dodgers get … I’m not really sure what they get. Tim Federowicz is a catch-and-throw specialist who isn’t likely to produce enough at the plate to be an average regular, but is plus across the board behind the plate (including a career 34-percent caught-stealing rate) and is no worse than a good backup in the majors. Stephen Fife probably profiles as a right-handed reliever rather than a starter because he lacks the out pitch to start; he’ll touch 95 as a starter with a fringe-average curveball. Juan Rodriguez has a plus fastball, no average second pitch, and below-average command and control — a nice arm to add to your system but a reliever at best and not a high-probability guy either. Unless Robinson was somehow burning a hole in their pockets, this doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, as they didn’t get any prospect as good as he is in the exchange.

******

Not that anyone cares about this anymore, but the canceled post had info on Alex Castellanos, so I might as well include it here. Los Angeles did send several million to the Cardinals along with Furcal, though they send up saving $1.4m overall, which was as much the point as it was getting Castellanos, who turns 25 next week.

Castellanos, a 10th-round pick in 2008 out of a small North Carolina college, played second and third base in his first two years with the Cardinals, but is now strictly a right fielder. He was a Texas League All-Star this year with a line of .319/.379/.562, and 19 HR. That sounds nice, though I’ve yet to see a scouting report that says he’s more than a fourth outfielder; he wasn’t even mentioned in Kevin Goldstein’s preseason Top 20 Cardinals prospects list at Baseball Prospectus. Of course, since Furcal is old, incredibly injury-prone, and having a terrible season, anyone who thought he was bringing back a top prospect was fooling themselves.

Since I admittedly hadn’t heard of Castellanos prior to yesterday, let’s let people who know a lot more about him than me fill in the blanks on what to expect.

Jim Callis of Baseball America:

Castellanos was having a career year in Double-A (he ranks eighth in the Texas League in hitting, fifth in homers and fourth in runs scored), but he’ll turn 25 on Thursday and his tools don’t live up to his performance. He has some pop but he has a long swing and chases too many pitches out of the strike zone. His speed and defensive tools are fringy, and the former Belmont Abbey (N.C.) second baseman fits best in right field. Despite his 2011 numbers, he doesn’t have the bat to profile as a big league regular there. He signed for $70,000 as a 10th-round pick in 2008.

Cardinal Nation:

The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was the Cardinals’ 10th-round draft pick in 2008. Castellanos set a new Palm Beach record with 35 doubles last season and his seven triples led the Cardinals system. Though he received votes, he did not crack The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect List during the off-season.

In 2011, Castellanos was The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for April and has twice been named the Texas League Player of the Week. He has a .319 average, 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 93 games. Castellanos has been especially hot recently, batting .419 with ten RBI in his last ten games.

Springfield News-Leader:

Castellanos, a 10th-round draft pick in 2008 from NCAA D-II Belmont Abbey (N.C.), owned the Texas League’s eighth-best batting average, its fifth-most home runs (19), fifth-most total bases (119). His 62 RBIs are second on the Cardinals behind Matt Adams’ 81.

A right-handed batter, Castellanos, 24, emerged as a potential prospect last season in the high Class A Florida State League, batting .270 but hitting 35 doubles, 13 home runs and owning a .462 slugging percentage in what is widely considered a pitcher’s circuit.

In Springfield, Castellanos still tends to chase too many off-speed pitches he couldn’t handle anyway (off-speed out of the zone). But when on base, he showed good speed and instincts, stealing 10 bases in 11 attempts.

Defensively, he played right field and showed a strong arm, though he tended to get too aggressive with runners on base and would go for the out, rather than hit the cut-off man.

Castellanos said he is being assigned to Chattanooga, Tenn., of the Double-A Southern League.

Future Redbirds (from April 2011)

Looking at the stats, it is pretty clear what type of player Castellanos is so far in his career.  He will swing for the fences and is happy to go down swinging while trying.  He will not try to work a walk and his OBP will not be much more than his AVG. But when he hits the ball it will go very far and he has the ability to stretch a single into a double and double into a triple which helps his slugging numbers.  Once on base, he also has dangerous speed to steal bases at will.  Castellanos is an intriguing prospect based on his power and speed numbers, but will need to cut down on the strikeouts and add some walks to really push his prospect status to the next level.

So it seems pretty clear that Castellanos is a 4th outfielder prospect, at best, with a small possibility of more if his sudden burst this year has something behind it. There’s value in that, I suppose, since Furcal had almost no value on the market, but this isn’t someone who is suddenly a building block for the future.