Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview: Catcher

In the fourth of a nine-part series, I preview the Dodgers' catching situation for 2011.

This is gonna be rough. With the departure of Russell Martin, the Dodgers' catching situation is a big question mark for the first time since 2007.

Rod Barajas
- Barajas was acquired last August in a waiver-trade deal from the New York Mets. Barajas signed with the Mets on a minor-league deal prior to the 2010 season and, unsurprisingly, didn't hit much (.225/.263/.414). When he came to L.A., though, he turned into Mike Piazza, posting a .939 OPS in 72 plate appearances. Many were not fooled by this anomaly, but Ned Colletti was. That's why Barajas was able to land a $3.25 million deal. Barajas' career slash line of .239/.284/.412 is about all we can expect from him in 2011. He sure as hell isn't going to sniff an .750 OPS.

Dioner Navarro
- I previewed Navarro a little in my bench preview on Tuesday. Navarro got $1 million to back up Barajas and he's not likely to put up numbers worth that contract. Navarro hit a robust .194 last season with a .270 OBP. As the prize from the Shawn Green trade following the 2004 season, Navarro hasn't quite lived up to expectations. He made the AL All-Star team in 2008, but that was by far his only good season in the majors.

A.J. Ellis
- Unless the Dodgers release Navarro before the season, Ellis will -- again -- start in Triple-A. Ellis had a decent September, leading many to believe he'd be the Dodgers' backup backstop in 2011. That likely won't be the case. He's the team's third catcher.

Guys in the mix

Hector Gimenez
- Gimenez spent the last two seasons in the Pirates' organization, failing to make a big-league appearance. He had a small cup of coffee with the Astros in 2006 (two at-bats). He hit .305/.384/.916 in Triple-A last season -- as a 27-year-old. He has a career 34 percent caught-stealing rate in the minors, so I guess that's a positive. He's on the 40-man roster, so I thought I'd include him in this preview.

- This is a sad bunch. The Dodgers wisely did not waste money on A.J. Pierzynski, who was minutes from being a Dodger, or Jason Varitek. However, what they ended up with could be just as bad. And there are no hot-shot minor-leaguers coming up through the system to even be excited about.

There are a couple positives: Barajas has power and is not horrible behind the plate, despite being 35 years old. The Dodger catchers will likely bat in the No. 8 spot in the lineup and not produce up to the major-league average. As long as league-average defense is played, it's kind of hard to complain; but I'm sure I'll find a way sometime this season.

Next up: Corner Infield


  1. I wasn't a big Russell Martin fan, but these two are gonna have me missing the guy.

    If Barajas can hit a few homeruns, I'll be happy.

    I feel bad for AJ Ellis.

  2. I was a Martin fan..... wish I could put my finger on what happened to him. Some point to Mattingly... it was when Donnie took over as hitting coach that Martin began his slide.

    As for this year, our catchers will hit 8th and hopefully handle a successful staff. Barajas will connect occasionally, I hope it's WRISP. I too feel for Ellis and have to ask.. why Navarro?