With his failure to slide into home plate on a sacrifice fly attempt on Tuesday night, Russell Martin effectively ended his season, and potentially his Dodger career.
Martin's poor performance is well-documented (not just by this blog). That, coupled with his rising price tag ($5.05 million this year, could rise to more than $6 million in 2011 before unrestricted free agency in 2012) is reason to believe the Dodgers might go in another direction behind the dish.
Two years ago, no one would have thought this was a remote possibility. Now, it makes a lot of sense.
The in-house alternatives leave much to be desired. A.J. Ellis is organizational depth at best and the rest of the Dodger catching prospects are in the low minors -- none of whom are impressive.
And no, trading Lucas May was still not a bad move. He is potentially much better with the bat than Ellis, but his defense leaves a ton to be desired. Ellis definitely has the edge in defense.
The free agent alternatives are decent. The best of the bunch appears to be John Buck, who made the American League All-Star team as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays this season. Other candidates include Miguel Olivo (club option) and Yorvit Torrealba (mutual option), Josh Bard and Gerald Laird. The Dodgers, if they chose to ditch Martin, could also look for a replacement via trade -- either major leaguers or minor leaguers close to the majors.
Martin, once a fan-favorite, is now no more than a Punch 'n Judy hitter with a decent -- not great -- glove. This guy was destined for stardoom after his first season. Everyone thought he was the Dodgers' catcher for the next 10-12 years. Fans and the like wanted the Dodgers to lock him up long-term. Martin's agent wouldn't have any of that. In hindsight, that might be a good thing.
5:11 p.m. update: Martin's career path is eerily similar to Jason Kendall, who was considered one of the best catchers in the NL early in his career. Thanks to Scanman33 for bringing this to my attention.
Data courtesy of Fangraphs. The first graph is each player's wOBA by year (Martin is green, Kendall is orange, league-average is blue) and the second is each player's wOBA by age. Martin actually started declining quicker than Kendall.
Whatever happens, Martin's tenure as a Dodger has been up and down, with it being down for the last 2 1/2 years. He'll definitely catch on (pardon the pun) with another team (Boston?). However, his days wearing No. 55 in Dodger Blue could -- and should -- be coming to an end.
Dunn claimed by LA?
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Giants were not awarded the waiver claim on Washington Nationals' 1B/OF Adam Dunn.
"My speculation on who got the waiver claim, and you can call this an educated guess based on some things I heard around the league: It was the Dodgers."
With Manny Ramirez still down, Dunn seems like a viable replacement. However, the Nats were asking for a ransom prior to the July 31 trade deadline, so there's no reason to expect he gets traded now. The Dodgers won't give up the necessary prospects it would take to get him and the Nats aren't going to let him go for salary relief, as they'll either sign him to an extension in the off-season or collect two first-round picks as compensation because of Dunn's Type-A status.
The Dodgers are all but out of the race, so this move is just to block other NL West teams (SF and San Diego) from putting a claim in on him.