Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/21/11
Major_league_baseballseattle_1fad

Casey Blake is reportedly joining the Rockies on a non-guaranteed, one-year deal worth up to $3 million. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like too much money — and the Rockies are a perpetual contender in a weak division — so blocking a cheaper prospect might not be of the utmost concern. It’s a small, short deal that fills a need.

What is notable about the move, though, is the motley crew of infielders that the team is collecting at third base. With Arizona Fall League MVP Nolan Arenado yet to taste a day of Double-A ball, the Rockies need stopgap players to help bide the time until Arenado is ready. Blake is the final piece in a four-headed monster at the position.

Incumbent Ian Stewart is gone, and in his place are a few new faces. DJ LeMahieu came over in the deal that sent Stewart packing, but his minor league statistics don’t show any power or patience. He only once cracked a .100 ISO in a full season, and his best walk rate was 7.1% in A-ball. But he doesn’t strike out, and he can play a little second or third, so he could make for a fine backup infielder.

You could drop the same moniker on Jordan Pacheco, as well. He only once showed above-average power in the minor leagues, and that was in A-ball. One time, he walked at an 11.7% rate, but that was in high-A. As he’s progressed through the system, his power and plate patience have waned. In triple-A last year he had a .099 ISO, walked 7.3% of the time, struck out 11.7% of the time and stole two bases. LeMahieu had a .079 ISO, walked 5.7% of the time, struck out 10.9% of the time and stole five bases. Both are right-handed. Maybe one will work out.

Should we add former shortstop Chris Nelson to the list? If Jonathan Herrera takes second base, with occasional help from Eric Young Jr., then Nelson might play some third. Nelson is another right-hander, but — unlike the others — he actually has some power (.218 triple-A ISO, .196 in double-A in 2009). Until last season, he walked at an average rate too. He does strike out more than LeMahieu and Pachecho, but he still should remain better-than-league-average in that category.

The fact remains that none of these three options so far is a lock to even put up the .257/.317/.387 line that the average National League third baseman reached in 2011. Nelson might have the best shot, but he might be needed elsewhere.

Enter Blake. The 38-year-old was at his worst season last year and only had 239 plate appearances. His was an injury riddled year, yet he still managed a .252/.342/.371 in those limited at-bats — which pretty much duplicated an average third baseman’s production. His upside in Colorado would be if he produced a league-average strikeout rate (20.4% career), league-average power (.178 career, but down recently) and slightly above-average patience (8.7% career, but up recently). His three-year UZR average is close to plus-10, so he won’t give it all back with the glove.

Blake didn’t get regular playing time until he was 30, and that’s a shame. Most years, he’s been a decent third baseman — last year was the first time he failed to produce surplus value. But the late debut means that he seemingly became a brittle older dude quicker than most players.

Now, at the tail-end of his career, Blake now is most useful on a short-term contract with a team that has decent backup options and a long-term prospect on the way. And that suits the Rockies just fine.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Vin Scully will return to the Dodgers in 2016

Rob Gronkowski’s younger brother, Glenn, trying to make NFL as fullback

Michael Bennett fined over $17K for nasty hit on Alex Smith

Cam Cameron battling prostate cancer

RG3 to be held out 1-2 weeks after doctor changes mind

LA Kings offer Peter Budaj a professional tryout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Carlos Boozer hoping roster spot opens on playoff team

Starting EJ Manuel not a bad idea for Bills’ third preseason game

Tim Beckman fired by Illinois amid mistreatment allegations

Chip Kelly reveals thought process behind Bradford trade

Charles Barkley on ex-agent: ‘I’d blow his damn brains out’

Bryce Harper doesn’t seem to care if Nationals make playoffs

Ronda Rousey makes breakfast look good in Carl’s Jr. ad

NFL admits communication breakdown in Pats-Saints game

WATCH: TJ Yeldon gets crushed in brutal goal-line collision

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

PHOTO: Enes Kanter dwarfed by world’s tallest man

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

Jonathan Kraft: Patriots haven’t apologized to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen

Ballmer declines $60M/yr TV deal, could start streaming

Nationals forced to re-issue massive bobblehead order

Jay Gruden would like the media to stop calling him fat

Spieth: New irons the reason for missed cut at Barclays?

Opening Drive: Where have all the great UM tailbacks gone?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ronda Rousey's Carl’s Jr. ad

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Red Sox

10 NFL players set for down seasons in 2015

Why NFL preseason games matter

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker