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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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