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Daily Dodger in review: Casey Blake -- at 37, does his falloff indicate a continuing decline?

October 18, 2010 |  8:19 am

CASEY BLAKE, 37, third base.

Final 2010 stats: .248 batting average, 17 home runs, 64 RBI, .320 on-base  percentage, .407 slugging percentage.

Contract status: signed for next season at $5.25 million.

The good: continued to stabilize a position that previously had been chaotic. Solid, positive, veteran clubhouse presence. Steady defensively. Modest offensive production.

The bad: modest offensive production. As a third baseman, more is required. All his numbers fell last season, and he’s not aging backward. With the Dodgers already having power-lite James Loney at the other corner, more is needed.

What’s next: The coming season is the final year of his contract, though the Dodgers have a $6-million option for 2012 with a $1.25-million buyout. He’s seriously going to have to regain his offensive groove to have any chance of the team picking up that option.

The always highly introspective Blake outwardly expressed dismay at his falloff but remained confident he still had outstanding years left.

"I just want another chance to play for something," Blake said.

The take: The Dodgers will watch him more carefully in the coming season, and he figures to see less playing time. Which is not the same as saying he’ll be the platoon player some favor (he hit .314 vs. lefties, .222 vs. righties).

"That’s something we have to address, perhaps," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He’ll probably play a little bit less than this year, not dramatically."

But it isn’t like they have someone ready to take over third or even split the job. I don’t care how "intrigued" Joe Torre was with Russ Mitchell; he showed little to indicate he’s ready to be even a part-time player.

And the only real free-agent third baseman of value is Adrian Beltre, who is going to demand a salary, and years, way out of the Dodgers’ league. And in truth, someone is probably going to overpay for Beltre.

So unless Colletti can work a deal, this is your Dodgers' everyday third baseman next season. He turns 38 next Aug. 23.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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