Now that the White Sox have been soundly taken care of by the Tampa Bay Rays, I can really focus in on the Minnesota Twins during these winter months. I normally can’t get enough postseason baseball, but for some reason it has faded to a distant blur in the background of my mind. I really have no idea who will win the World Series, nor do I care. It’s time to think about how to make the Twins better.
It doesn’t take a genious to knew that the biggest and most blatant hole on this roster is third base. The left corner bag is currently being occupied by no fewer than three people: Brian Buscher, Nick Punto, and Matt Tolbert. The three of them combined hit for good average, but have almost no power at all.
Trades not considered, the best option for this hole would be Casey Blake. He is 35 years old and is eligible for free agency as soon as his new team, the Dodgers, finish up the postseason. Previously with the Cleveland Indians, he is hitting a total of .274/.345/.463 this year; his twelfth in the major leagues. He has 21 home runs to boot, the third most in his career. With age comes power?
One thing that was heavily debated when Blake was traded to the Dodgers is his defensive ability. Some feel that his age places a huge hamper on his movement, but the truth is that Blake has proven himself a great defensive third baseman while with the Dodgers. He sports a fielding percentage of .985 while with the Dodgers at third, and a .720 zone rating; meaning that he retires 72% of the balls hit into his zone at third base. It sounds low, but he is actually among the leaders at third base in that category (granted, he is not qualified because he was traded mid-season.)
Defensively, Blake seems like a solid glove. Punto also has a great defensive nose, but I’ll talk about him in the future. Buscher and Tolbert are another story.
Offensively, Blake isn’t what you would call a clutch hitter. In high leverage situations he is
hitting at a .233/.302/.383 clip, compared to low leverage situations where he hits
.266/.399/.462. Also, with two outs and a runner in scoring position Blake hits
.211/.317/.324. Numbers like those aren’t at the level of frightening yet, but they are scarily close (no pun intended.)
Blake seems to be in the prime of his career despite his being 35 years old. This probably means that a drop in numbers is inevitable, but come what may. He is already a huge upgrade over what the Twins currently have at third base, and would be my choice for the most needed acqusition.
That said, there are better options and roads that can be taken via trade, which I will dive into in the near future. But for now, what are your impressions of Casey Blake? How would he fit into the Twins’ system, and do you think there are better options available through free agency? Be sure to leave your comments!