December 20, 2014

Should the Dodgers Trade for Catching Help?

Yes, Russell Martin is out for four to six weeks, with four of those weeks being during Spring Training.  But I don’t think the Dodgers should hit the panic and trade for a replacement catcher.  We’re talking about two weeks people!  Steve Dilbeck at the Los Angeles Times agrees:

“If that’s the length of his absence, making a trade seems unlikely and unwise. You don’t give up a young player to plug a two-week hole.

And, really, there is no catcher of significance left who’s a free agent. The only free-agent catcher of any renown is Paul Bako, and the Dodgers have already had that experience. He was a backup to Dioner Navarro in 2005.”

I’m with you, Steve.  Bako is no better than the young A.J. Ellis.  The Dodgers obviously feel comfortable with the kid (after all, they traded top catching prospect Carlos Santana for Casey Blake in 2008), with backup support from the 41 year-old Brad Ausmus.  Ausmus should be a fantastic influence on Ellis, while he tries to make the adjustment to being an everyday catcher at the big league level.  Here’s a little more on Ellisfrom Ken Gurnick:

Ellis, 28, was an 18th-round pick out of Austin Peay University in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft who has a .278 career Minor League batting average and more career walks than strikeouts.

He hit .314 in 90 games at Triple-A Albuquerque last year, leading the organization with a .438 on-base percentage. He had brief callups in 2008 and ’09.

Joe Torre is also on board with A.J. Ellis:

“I have no hesitation at all,” Torre said of catching Ellis, who has 12 games of Major League service and a .077 career batting average. “He handles a game well. He’s a tireless worker. Being a former catcher, I know how important the defensive end is. He’s made himself a good hitter, he’s a grinding type of guy. I’ve seen him enough to be comfortable with it.”

Here’s my real worry with this situation right now: I’m a little worried that Martin totally downplayed the abdomen issue when speaking to reporters the first time, calling it “not anything major.”  Yes, I’m encouraged that he thinks he’ll be back by opening day, but abdomen injuries like this are tricky and Martin has never had to deal with something like this on a professional level.

When I read quotes from Martin about his desire to continue to bulk up while resting his abdomen like, “I know my guns are going to be even bigger,” I worry that he’s not looking at potential causes for the injury (over-training) and potentially being naive when it comes to his recovery.

My opinion?  Take all the time you need, Russell.  If Martin doesn’t rest enough, comes back early and promptly gets hurt, the Dodgers are screwed and Martin may be battling through this thing for months, if not longer.  That’s another story, and one I would prefer to not think about right now.

Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

A perfect night…

Dodgers vs. Angels, 6/20/09

Dodgers vs. Angels, 6/20/09

Tonight’s game at Angel Stadium was nearly perfect, and I was there to witness it…

Jeff Weaver and the Dodgers beat Jered Weaver and the Angels, 6-4…in yesterday’s post, I “correctly” predicted Jeff would win because he was the older brother…the trend from the past 3 brother matchups had the older brother winning the game over the younger brother!

…actually, that had nothing to do with it…the Dodgers played a great game and there were plenty of highlights…

The game started off a bit rocky for Jeff and the Dodgers…the Angels got out to a 1-0 lead after the first inning and increased it to 2-0 when Kendry Morales hit a home run in the 2nd inning…while that may seem like it was really bad for the Dodgers, I wasn’t too disappointed…why?…Morales’ home run meant ALL fans in the stadium got a coupon for a free classic taco at Del Taco! (it was the “home run” inning)

The play that may have changed the momentum for the Dodgers came on the 3rd out in the bottom half of the 2nd inning…

Erick Aybar hit a shot to right center field that looked like it was going to go for extra bases…instead, Matt Kemp timed his leap perfectly and made a spectacular catch (from my vantage point) while crashing into the wall to end the inning…the Dodger fans were going crazy…

In the top of the third inning, Russell Martin hit his first homer of the season to left field…it was the first of 3 hits for Russell on the day…has he found his stroke?…is this the start of a hot streak?…only time will tell…

The Dodgers added another run in the inning to tie the score at 2-2…

The 5th inning saw the Dodgers break the game open…three runs courtesy of an RBI single by Casey Blake and a two run triple by Andre Ethier…our boys had a 5-2 lead and were looking good…

Chone Figgins led off the bottom of the 6th with a triple…Joe Torre pulled Jeff Weaver after just 66 pitches, but he brought in another guy who came up with a huge game – Ronald Belisario…

Man on third, nobody out…a golden opportunity to score a run, right???…the Angels couldn’t thanks to a great pitching performance by Belisario…he struck out the side in the inning and had 2 more strikeouts in the 7th…1 2/3 innings pitched…all 5 outs courtesy of the strikeout…THAT’S what we call shutting a team down when it matters…

Despite a 2 run homer for the Angels in the bottom of the 9th off of Jonathan Broxton, the Boys in Blue won the game and sent the thousands of Dodger fans home with ear-to-ear grins…

It was a perfect night…

  • the electric atmosphere…many Dodger fans sporting their Dodger blue…
  • the Weaver brothers matchup with our favorite Weaver picking up the win…
  • the free taco (thanks, Kendry Morales)
  • Matt Kemp making a great play in the field
  • Russell Martin hitting his first homer of the season
  • Ronald Belisario throwing bullets and coming up with a big game
  • the Dodgers winning

Can it get any better?…yes, how ‘bout a win on Sunday?

Post-Game Thoughts From Torre, Kershaw and Martin

Tough loss for the Dodgers.  Here are the post-game comments.  Needless to say, it was a pretty short session.  Plus, it was Fireworks Night, so the guys either wanted to catch the show or beat the crowds out, depending on who you were listening to.

On the Game as a Whole (Joe Torre): “It was a good baseball game, but a very frustrating baseball game.”

On Missed Opportunities (Joe Torre): “That’s frustrating, but you have to give their pitching a little credit for that.  They missed opportunities too.  They had a man at 3rd base, nobody out.  We were able to get them on a good play.  There were missed opportunities on both sides.  Unfortunately they broke through and we didn’t.”

On Clayton Kershaw (Joe Torre): “You know what, he bends, but he doesn’t break.  He still was able to right the ship.  He’s paying a heavy price here, running that pitch count early.  But this kid doesn’t melt away and that’s certainly a step in the right direction.”

On the Offense (Joe Torre): “Yeah, we’ve been scuffling.  The longer it goes, the worse it gets because everyone puts pressure on themselves, saying, ‘I have to do it here.  I have to do it here.’  I don’t think the pressure of the game is getting to anybody.  I think it’s just the pressure that we’ve been scuffling and each guy is probably trying to do a little bit more than they’re capable of doing.”

On the Offense (Russell Martin): “You get guys on third base, less than two outs, you’re supposed to put the ball in play and get the run in.  Some days it works, some days it doesn’t.  Today is obviously a day when it didn’t work, especially for me.  Maybe tomorrow.”

On Clayton Kershaw (Russel Martin): “He was kind of inconsistent with his location, his command, today, but he battled through it.  Kept them to one run.  You’re going to have days where you don’t have your best stuff and you just gotta compete and that’s what he did today.”

On His Pitching (Clayton Kershaw): “I just didn’t find a rhythm in the first inning.  Really in the second inning I just got fortunate and went deep in the counts.  Just one of those things that you have, probably over 30 pitches…it’s going to be tough to stay in a game past five innings when you do something like that.  So, just gotta figure out a way to minimize my pitches early in the game.”

On Throwing 97 Pitches Today After 112 His Previous Start (Clayton Kershaw): “I don’t think it has any affect at all.  I had four days to recover from it.  I don’t think it matters to be honest with you.  Pitch count is pitch count, but as a starter you get four days off so you can recover.”