Tag:Casey Blake
Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Matt Kemp joining elite group with new deal

Turns out, bankruptcy was a minor little inconvenience on the road to forever between the Dodgers and Matt Kemp: The two have agreed to an eight-year, $160 million contract extension pending the outfielder passing a physical examination, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

Talk about a serious commitment. Only six men in baseball history had reached the $160-million mark: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez.

Now, Kemp.

For those with a sense of humor ... or a sense of irony ... Kemp's deal is for the same numbers -- years and dollars -- that Ramirez received from Boston before the 2001 season.

In becoming the face of the Dodgers for years to come and en route to serious MVP consideration, Kemp first had to blow past comeback player of the year.

It was barely more than a year ago when Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti delivered harsh criticism of Kemp's defense and focus.

But after the disappointment of 2010 came a sensational 2011 in which Kemp batted .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league in homers, RBIs, runs (115) and total bases (353), and he swiped 40 bases.

And in one more bit of irony, the man who now will remain in Hollywood will stay in part because he went a little less Hollywood last summer. Those close to Kemp do not think it is a coincidence that he took his game to a different level after his high-profile romance with Rihanna blew up.

"I think he has less distractions in his life -- from my perspective," third baseman Casey Blake, one of Kemp's closest friends on the 2011 team, told me late last summer. "This game, some guys can do it with a million things going on. But this game is tough enough by itself.

"It's a hard game, and it seems like you're always dealing with a lot of thoughts of failure. The more you can lessen those thoughts, the better. The fact that he doesn't have some of those distractions anymore. ..."

Blake told me he thought Kemp had made a conscious effort to simplify things in his life, and it worked.

"I think he was embarrassed by a lot of things," Blake said, referring to Kemp's 2010 season in which he batted just .249 with a .310 on-base percentage, 28 homers and 89 RBIs. "And he made up his mind he was going to get serious about it."

The off-field stuff, the Rihanna romance, "I think they all directly related," Blake said.

Blake could tell Kemp was more focused in 2011 from the first day of spring training.

"He showed it in his attitude and in his play," Blake said. "How he went about it, from day one.

"He's respecting the game a lot more this year. He has an understanding that to be a complete player, you can't take a day off -- whether it's on the bases, on defense, anywhere."

Today, that respect is coming right back at Kemp to the tune of $160 million ... and a trust the Dodgers are placing in him that maybe you can't even hang a price tag on.
Posted on: December 8, 2008 4:36 pm
 

Dodgers appear close with Casey Blake

LAS VEGAS -- Don't be surprised if the Dodgers and third baseman Casey Blake reach an agreement in the very near future.

Blake's agent, Jim McDowell, has been holding out for a three-year offer, and the Dodgers appear poised to meet it -- while the Minnesota Twins indicated the other day they would not budge beyond two years.

"If we can get Casey locked up, it would be a huge piece for us," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said. "We'd be able to move Blake DeWitt over to second base. Casey's character, he's team-oriented, he's a grinder.

"We love having players like that."

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 25, 2008 6:52 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 6:55 pm
 

Free agency: Calm before the storm?

If you're wondering why there continues to be a whole lot of talk and little action on baseball's Hot Stove front this week, circle Dec. 1 on your calendar.

That's the deadline for clubs offering salary arbitration to any of their own free agents.

Most importantly, of course is this: If arbitration is offered, the signing team must compensate the player's old team with a draft pick. Now that might not be of concern to clubs chasing the biggest free-agent prizes this winter -- Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, et. al. -- it definitely comes into play with the next-tier guys.

Consequently, many clubs are in wait mode until after Monday. Maybe San Francisco is interested in shortstop Edgar Renteria if Rafael Furcal signs elsewhere, but the Giants surely would wait until after Monday to see whether Detroit offers him arbitration (which the Tigers aren't expected to do).

And maybe Cleveland will make an offer to a free-agent closer -- Trevor Hoffman? Kerry Wood? -- but from where the Indians sit right now, in a market saturated with closers, it makes a whole lot more sense for them to wait and see who might be available that wouldn't cost them a draft pick.

While Dec. 1 is the date by which clubs must offer their free agents salary arbitration or cut bait with them for good, the players have until Dec. 7 to decide whether or not to accept.

Which is why a couple of executives with whom I've spoken this week said they think the winter meetings -- which begin Dec. 8 in Las Vegas -- will be where the action is this year.

***

The economy continues to be on the minds of front-office executives and may wind up affecting this winter's player market more than we thought.

"It's pretty treacherous for us," says Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro, whose needs include a closer and an infielder (second or third base or shortstop). "The economic situation is a real factor here. We're seeing it in season-ticket renewals. Some of our city issues pre-date the international and national economic issues, and those are amplifying our city issues.

"It's a challenge. We're trying to get our arms around it and see how it affects our revenues."

In Toronto, meanwhile, the Blue Jays already are resigned to not filling every item on their winter wish list (starting pitching, big bat in the middle of the lineup).

"The Canadian dollar isn't as strong, and we're taking a hit with the United States' dollar with the exchange rate," Blue Jays GM J.P. RIcciardi says. "The world in general is being affected by this, and to stick our head in the sand and say it's not affecting us is crazy.

"We're talking about people's discretionary spending, and they might not spend it."

Things have changed in Toronto, even from season's end to now.

"What we thought at the end of the season and what we think now is different," Ricciardi said.

***

Random other items:

-- The Los Angeles Angels' sudden turn toward CC Sabathia, explained here by colleague Danny Knobler, should really rattle the Yankees' cage. Even with Milwaukee offering five years and $100 million, until the Angels decided to get so aggressive, most executives with whom I've spoken figured the ace would sign with the Yankees.

"I've heard talk of this guy wanting to do this and do that, but you know what? They all follow the money," one National League executive said. "It's just the facts of life."

"I don't think the Yankees will allow him to go anywhere else," one AL GM said, referring to the enormous contract the Yankees reportedly have offered. "Wherever he goes, it's going to have to be to someone who has a giant payroll and can absorb it if he gets hurt."

The Yankees qualify in that department. So, too, do the Angels.

-- Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi says the Blue Jays don't have an offer out to pitcher A.J. Burnett right now and have not spoken with agent Derek Braunauer about the length of a potential deal.

-- One National League executive on pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $8-million deal with San Francisco: "I think Affeldt might be the smartest free agent out there. He had a deal on the table and said, 'Screw it, I'm taking it.'"

-- Clubs looking for infield help are not seeing any quick fixes in a free-agent market that includes Rafael Furcal (the most sought-after, by far), Orlando Hudson, Ray Durham, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake and Joe Crede. Hudson and Crede are coming off of injuries, Blake and Durham are into their upper-30s and Renteria is coming off of a miserable season in Detroit during which scouts were alarmed at both his lack of defensive range and his lack of arm. "Extremely thin market," one GM says. "A lot of it is flawed."

-- Minnesota, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland continue to be the most aggressive suitors for Casey Blake, though his agent, Jim McDowell, did say Tuesday that there is a small group of four or five other clubs that have "stayed close." "I don't expect anything to happen this week," McDowell said. "We've had good discussions with several teams." Blake's versatility -- he can play the outfield and first base in addition to third, and the Dodgers even used him at second base in a playoff game this fall -- may wind up being his strongest selling point.

Posted on: November 25, 2008 6:52 pm
 

Free agency: Calm before the storm?

If you're wondering why there continues to be a whole lot of talk and little action on baseball's Hot Stove front this week, circle Dec. 1 on your calendar.

That's the deadline for clubs offering salary arbitration to any of their own free agents.

Most importantly, of course is this: If arbitration is offered, the signing team must compensate the player's old team with a draft pick. Now that might not be of concern to clubs chasing the biggest free-agent prizes this winter -- Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, et. al. -- it definitely comes into play with the next-tier guys.

Consequently, many clubs are in wait mode until after Monday. Maybe San Francisco is interested in shortstop Edgar Renteria if Rafael Furcal signs elsewhere, but the Giants surely would wait until after Monday to see whether Detroit offers him arbitration (which the Tigers aren't expected to do).

And maybe Cleveland will make an offer to a free-agent closer -- Trevor Hoffman? Kerry Wood? -- but from where the Indians sit right now, in a market saturated with closers, it makes a whole lot more sense for them to wait and see who might be available that wouldn't cost them a draft pick.

While Dec. 1 is the date by which clubs must offer their free agents salary arbitration or cut bait with them for good, the players have until Dec. 7 to decide whether or not to accept.

Which is why a couple of executives with whom I've spoken this week said they think the winter meetings -- which begin Dec. 8 in Las Vegas -- will be where the action is this year.

***

The economy continues to be on the minds of front-office executives and may wind up affecting this winter's player market more than we thought.

"It's pretty treacherous for us," says Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro, whose needs include a closer and an infielder (second or third base or shortstop). "The economic situation is a real factor here. We're seeing it in season-ticket renewals. Some of our city issues pre-date the international and national economic issues, and those are amplifying our city issues.

"It's a challenge. We're trying to get our arms around it and see how it affects our revenues."

In Toronto, meanwhile, the Blue Jays already are resigned to not filling every item on their winter wish list (starting pitching, big bat in the middle of the lineup).

"The Canadian dollar isn't as strong, and we're taking a hit with the United States' dollar with the exchange rate," Blue Jays GM J.P. RIcciardi says. "The world in general is being affected by this, and to stick our head in the sand and say it's not affecting us is crazy.

"We're talking about people's discretionary spending, and they might not spend it."

Things have changed in Toronto, even from season's end to now.

"What we thought at the end of the season and what we think now is different," Ricciardi said.

***

Random other items:

-- The Los Angeles Angels' sudden turn toward CC Sabathia, explained here by colleague Danny Knobler, should really rattle the Yankees' cage. Even with Milwaukee offering five years and $100 million, until the Angels decided to get so aggressive, most executives with whom I've spoken figured the ace would sign with the Yankees.

"I've heard talk of this guy wanting to do this and do that, but you know what? They all follow the money," one National League executive said. "It's just the facts of life."

"I don't think the Yankees will allow him to go anywhere else," one AL GM said, referring to the enormous contract the Yankees reportedly have offered. "Wherever he goes, it's going to have to be to someone who has a giant payroll and can absorb it if he gets hurt."

The Yankees qualify in that department. So, too, do the Angels.

-- Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi says the Blue Jays don't have an offer out to pitcher A.J. Burnett right now and have not spoken with agent Derek Braunauer about the length of a potential deal.

-- One National League executive on pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $8-million deal with San Francisco: "I think Affeldt might be the smartest free agent out there. He had a deal on the table and said, 'Screw it, I'm taking it.'"

-- Clubs looking for infield help are not seeing any quick fixes in a free-agent market that includes Rafael Furcal (the most sought-after, by far), Orlando Hudson, Ray Durham, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake and Joe Crede. Hudson and Crede are coming off of injuries, Blake and Durham are into their upper-30s and Renteria is coming off of a miserable season in Detroit during which scouts were alarmed at both his lack of defensive range and his lack of arm. "Extremely thin market," one GM says. "A lot of it is flawed."

-- Minnesota, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland continue to be the most aggressive suitors for Casey Blake, though his agent, Jim McDowell, did say Tuesday that there is a small group of four or five other clubs that have "stayed close." "I don't expect anything to happen this week," McDowell said. "We've had good discussions with several teams." Blake's versatility -- he can play the outfield and first base in addition to third, and the Dodgers even used him at second base in a playoff game this fall -- may wind up being his strongest selling point.

Posted on: October 12, 2008 5:16 pm
 

Garciaparra for Loney in Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- Already in a 2-0 hole in this National League Championship Series, Los Angeles manager Joe Torre has made his first significant lineup change, inserting Nomar Garciaparra into his Game 3 lineup at first base instead of James Loney.

The move was made with Phillies starter Jamie Moyer in mind. Lifetime, Garciaparra is hitting .417 against Moyer, though most of that came earlier in his career when he was with Boston and Moyer with Seattle. Of Garciaparra's 36 lifetime hits against the soft-tossing left-hander, only three have come since 2003.

In playing Garciaparra at first base, Torre is sitting Loney, who is batting .429 (3-for-7) in this NLCS. For the postseason, Loney is hitting .286 (6-for-21) with seven RBI.

But Garciaparra is brittle enough that Torre prefers he not play third base, where Casey Blake is solid (though he's hitting only .143 (1-for-7) in the NLCS and .222 (4-for-18) in the postseason.

 

Posted on: August 19, 2008 1:26 am
 

Padres send Dodgers a gift out west

San Diego trading Greg Maddux to the hated Los Angeles Dodgers is Exhibit A in how the grand ol' game has changed over the years.

Time was when the Padres would have rather ingested a few gallons of WD-40 motor oil than do anything to aid the hated Dodgers in their quest to win a NL West title.

Now? Whatever. The Padres primary goal now is to cut payroll -- for the rest of this year and for 2009 and, possibly, depending on owner John Moores' divorce, beyond -- and if that means helping out the Los Angeles friggin' Dodgers, well, that's just the way it goes.

And beyond that, it's simply a matter of professional courtesy: Maddux deserves far more than the Padres are able to give him, given the lousy decisions they've made and the embarrassing team they've fielded, so they figure the least they can do is place him in what could be the final pennant race of his illustrious career.

It's a move bound to help the resurgent Dodgers, who are brimming with confidence in the days since Manny Ramirez' arrival. Picking up both Ramirez from Boston and Casey Blake from Cleveland were huge boosts that have helped Joe Torre's club climb into a first-place tie with Arizona, setting up one final sprint toward the finish line.

Maddux won't have as significant of an impact as Ramirez or Blake, but he'll help. Especially if, as expected, Brad Penny is finished for the season. Los Angeles needs pitching, and Maddux, even into his 40s, remains pretty darned good at providing five or six quality innings every fifth day.

And as for the Padres? Maddux's departure simply means there's one less reason to bother watching them the rest of this season. And there weren't that many left to begin with.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com