Dodgers Say 'Goodbye' to Casey Blake

Third baseman Casey Blake did not make the road trip that begain in Pittsburgh on Thursday, remaining in Los Angeles to have tests in advance of an operation Tuesday. Blake has been bothered by the nerve and a cervical strain much of the season, and missed time with an elbow infection and back spasms. He hit .252 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 63 games.

Blake told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez, "Obviously, this neck thing is pretty serious. I want to be able to move my neck when I'm 50."

The Dodgers were already planning on exercising their buyout of Blake's 2012 option. Even if he doesn't retire, he probably would not fit into their future plans.

Blake came to the Dodgers over 1,200 games ago and to avoid paying the final $2 million on his contract, Los Angeles sent a pair of minor leaguers, catcher Carlos Santana pitcher Jon Melon to Cleveland. As man predicted, the cost was high. Santana has taken over the Indians catching duties this year and has over 20 home runs while the Dodgers are scrambling for a solid catcher.

Blake, who turned 38 last week, hit .267 had a .313 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage down the stretch for the Dodgers in 2008, and n 2009 he was 5-for-30 (.167) in the post-season. Over his 406-game Dodger career, Blake had a .338 OBP and .431 slugging.

Eveland Might Pitch to The Finish
Dana Eveland wasn't previously considered a major part of the Dodgers' future. But he has five or six opportunities to change that perception. Eveland was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday to start against the Pirates in the makeup of a May 12 rainout and allowed one run in eight innings of the Dodgers' 6-4 victory at PNC Park.

Eveland will remain in the Dodgers' rotation as long as his performance warrants it because rookie Nathan Eovaldi is being moved to the bullpen, after one more start, to limit his innings.

That figures to be five starts, perhaps six, for Eveland to showcase himself to the Dodgers, or the other 29 teams in the majors.

The first showcase wasn't bad. Eveland didn't walk a batter, five of the six hits he allowed were singles, and the eight innings (with only 99 pitches) saved the bullpen at the start of a four-city, 11-game trip that goes to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

Granted, the Pirates are in freefall after being a surprising first-place team in July. Pittsburgh flew home after getting swept at Houston and flew back out afterward to Chicago. The game had the look and feel of an exhibition game, including many hitters (on both teams) swinging early in at-bats.

Eveland was the pitcher of the year for the Albuquerque Isotopes and made the Pacific Coast League all-star team. His ERA was a respectable 4.38, seventh best in the ultra hitter-friendly league.

Still, even with massive injuries to the Dodgers' pitching staff, he wasn't called up to the majors until now.

Eveland didn't do himself any favors by coming down with a leg injury on the first day of spring training. That eliminated his chance of making the Opening Day roster, which was slim anyway.

Eveland has pitched in parts of seven big-league seasons with Milwaukee, Arizona, Oakland, Toronto, Pittsburgh and the Dodgers, accumulating 95 games and 54 starts.

That itinerary sounds like a journeyman, but he's only 27 years old. Walks have been his biggest problem in the past (174 in 330 2/3 innings). This year, he walked 61 in 154 innings in the minors.

The next two opponents bode well for Eveland continuing to put up good numbers to showcase himself. His next start is against the Nationals (tied for second-fewest runs in the league) and then the Giants (fewest runs in the league).

Bill Burke-Group Offers 1 Billion for Dodgers
A surprise offer of $1.2 billion was proffered embattled Frank McCourt the Los Angeles Times reports. The offer states that the offer would be funded in part by Chinese investors.

The bid would expire in 21 days and would be subject to approval by the court overseeing the Dodgers bankruptcy case and Major League Baseball, the letter states. The letter does not specify if McCourt's ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, would have to approve the deal. But she had previously asked courts for an immediate sale of the team.

Details weren't given on the foreign investors except to characterize them as "certain state-owned investment institutions of the People's Republic of China," the newspaper reports.

In 2004, Burke and his partner sold the L.A. Marathon, which was subsequently bought from Devine Racing in 2008 by none other than (you guessed it) Frank McCourt.

The Times also reported Thursday that court filings show that the McCourts recently sold one of the two homes they own near the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles for $6.525 million. The McCourts are disputing how the proceeds should be used, according to the report.

"I have no comment at this time," Burke told the newspaper of the record offer for a major league franchise.

McCourt had previously said he doesn't want to sell the Dodgers and intends to remain the owner after he emerges from bankruptcy court.

Revised goals are within reach
The Dodgers have won four straight and nine of 10 and at 66-70 are four games under .500. When the Dodgers began the season, a .500 record and finishing higher than the Giants wasn't a goal.

But when your team was 13 games under .500, tied for fourth place and 14 1/2 games out of first a little more than a month ago, second place and making a run at your storied rival doesn't sound half bad.

The Dodgers completed a 5-1 homestand Wednesday by finishing off a sweep of the Padres, 4-2, as Matt Kemp set a career high in RBI and James Loney continued ripping line drives everywhere. "It's definitely a goal for us," Kemp said of reaching .500 and passing the Giants. "We've been playing really good baseball the last couple weeks. I'm proud of my teammates. We've been fighting. We've had some good comeback wins. We had a good series against San Diego, and now it's time to take that onto the road and play some good teams."

If the Dodgers do reach those goals, they'll have to do it mostly on the road. They start an 11-game road trip Thursday with a makeup game in Pittsburgh, followed by three in Atlanta, three in Washington (including Stephen Strasburg's first start back in the majors), and then finish with three in San Francisco.

The Dodgers went 17-11 in August, their first winning month since June 2010. They are five games under .500, for the first time since June 12. They are within six games of the fading Giants in the NL West. They have a positive run differential (524 scored, 520 given up) for the first time since the second game of the season.

"I'd like to keep going and win as many games as we can possibly win," manager Don Mattingly said. "The biggest thing I've been proud of is this club has not quit playing. They didn't quit when we were really struggling, and they kept playing hard then. They're playing the same way now, but we're getting wins."

They're No. 1
In a season like this you gladly accept small victories where they appear and is wasn't a little win when the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers won the league championship with a 4-2 victory over the Giants. It's the first championship for a Dodger affiliate since the Double-A Jacksonville Suns won the 2005 Southern League title.

  The other farm clubs in the playoffs are Double-A Chattanooga, high Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and rookie-level Ogden.

In addition, the team's manager, Jody Reed, was selected as the Arizona League Manager of the Year and outfielder Joseph Winker earned a league All-Star selection.

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Matt Guerrier was placed on paternity leave because his wife was close to delivering the couple's second child. He'll rejoin the team in a few days on the road trip.

--RHP Josh Lindblom was called up from Double-A Chattanooga to take RHP Matt Guerrier's place and struck out Aaron Cunningham to bail out Ted Lilly and end the sixth inning. This is Lindblom's third stint with the Dodgers this year, and it's the first time he's not replacing, or getting replaced by, reliever Kenley Jansen. Lindblom will stay with the team the rest of the season since he was going to be a September call-up anyway.

--CF Matt Kemp set a career high of 102 RBI and and his 36th stolen base of the season but his Triple Crown took a hit, however, when Albert Pujols hit two home runs to give him 34 this year. Kemp is three behind Pujols. Kemp also recorded his 10th outfield assist, tying him for the NL lead with Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Lee, Ryan Ludwick and Hunter Pence.

--INF Juan Uribe, a massive bust this season, had a setback with his running a few days ago. Sidelined by what's now being called a sports hernia, Uribe almost certainly won't play again this year. Uribe and his agent will discuss whether to have surgery. After signing a three-year, $21 million contract, Uribe has produced a woeful .204/.264/.293 slash line this year.

--INF Russ Mitchell was among the Dodgers' call-ups on Thursday, providing more infield depth with 3B Casey Blake out. --SS Dee Gordon was activated from the disabled list and went right back to the leadoff spot. He singled and scored in the first inning, then doubled home two runs in the eighth inning that proved to be the difference in the game.

--RHP Kenley Jansen picked up his third save of the season, although it was a rare outing in which he allowed a walk, a hit and a run.

--James Loney went 2-for-5 with an RBI single and has now driven in at least one run in eight of his last nine contests. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, batting at a .468 clip with five doubles, four homers and 12 RBI since Aug. 21.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I felt it was a possibility. When it's something you don't have control over, you prepare for it as best you can. My wife and I are people who make plans, and we hopefully didn't want to get caught off guard. So we sat down and tried to come up with something of a plan." -- Infielder Jamey Carroll, on the possibility of getting traded Wednesday on the deadline to be eligible for postseason play. Carroll cleared waivers and the Braves were interested, but the offer wasn't good enough to satisfy general manager Ned Colletti, so Carroll remained with the Dodgers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's pretty slick with the glove. He's pretty sure with his hands. He's fun to watch. He has some range." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on infielder Justin Sellers. With Dee Gordon getting activated from the disabled list, Sellers won't be the everyday shortstop anymore. He's likely to get a bunch of starts at second base, a few at third base, and a few at shortstop. The Dodgers like his defense and believe he's holding his own offensively (.254/.333/.381 in 63 at-bats).

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