Monday, July 28, 2008

Keith Law Calls Out Crazy Neddie: Dodgers' Asking Prices Are Insane!

Just like the nostalgic consumer electronic store's pitch, Ned "Crazy Neddie" Colletti's deadline wheeling and dealing has led's Keith Law to highlight the Dodgers' annual bargain-basement firesale of youth (as if other teams really weren't aware of Colletti's M.O. by now): (no link, insider only)

The Dodgers, determined to avoid playing Andy LaRoche at all costs, acquired Casey Blake from Cleveland for two prospects. Blake is in the middle of a bounce-back year at the plate, hitting for the highest average of his career while showing his usual marginal patience and fringe-average power. Blake's problem -- and now the Dodgers' -- is that he's a statue at third base; he's okay on balls hit right to him, but he offers very little lateral range. Add him to an infield that already has pillar-of-salt Jeff Kent at second base, and Derek Lowe might have cause to sue.

Carlos Santana is a recent convert from third base to catcher, and like most players converted to the position, he has an above-average arm. He's also a good receiver and has unusually good plate discipline. He has a compact swing and generates power through hard contact and upper-body strength. He projects as an everyday catcher with great defense, average power and an average to above-average hit tool.

Jonathan Meloan has worked this year as a starter with awful results. It's no surprise, as he projected all along as a good reliever. He works with a solid-average 88-92 mph fastball, but he's effective because he has two plus offspeed pitches, a 12-6 curveball with great depth and an 86-87 mph cutter with a long, late break. His downside is that despite his size (he's 6-3), he gets no downhill plane on his pitches and tends to leave his fastball up in the zone.

Meloan could probably pitch in Cleveland's bullpen this year, and at worst should be in it in April of 2009. Long term, he should be an above-average short reliever, maybe even an unconventional closer because he can miss so many bats in spite of the average velocity.

In total, it's a great return for Blake, who at most would have fetched two draft picks this offseason, and could have fetched just one, with the players selected with those picks much further from major league value than Santana and Meloan. When you consider that Cleveland signed Blake as a minor-league free agent on a one-year deal in 2003, received almost five years of big-league production and flipped him for two prospects, the ROI on the original deal must be off the charts.

The Los Angeles Times on Saturday reported that the Dodgers are shopping LaRoche for relief pitching or middle infield help. That's as good a buy-low opportunity as you'll find, and teams with shortstop options or middle relievers to spare should be calling the Dodgers as we speak.

Poor Andy LaRoche. And poor us Dodger fans.