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Next season Dodgers caught in dilemma behind plate

Rod Barajas is scheduled to join the team in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and let the confetti fly. Sorry, it really is an upgrade at the catching position.

That’s what it’s come down to, the Dodgers picking up a Mets reject on the cheap. And one who turns 35 on Sept. 5.

So this is no long-term solution but a move to get through the rest of the year.

Trouble is, the Dodgers need a long-term solution, because right now they have no starting catcher for 2011.

It just wouldn’t be prudent for the Dodgers to count on Russell Martin returning behind the plate next season.

Martin’s hip injury is a bit of an unknown. A labral tear normally comes from repetitive use, not trauma like Martin experienced. And although other players have come back from the injury, none were catchers. None has to squat behind the plate more than 100 times a game and put that kind of stress on the hip joint.

So if Martin pulls his comeback, great. More power to him. The Dodgers just had better not go into the off-season planning on it.

Barajas’ numbers are pretty unimpressive (.225, 12 home runs, 34 RBI), but he does have a little pop. Behind the plate, he’s thrown out only four of 27.

Brad Ausmus, who threw out 49% of all base stealers in 1997, is currently 0-for-9. And he’s hitting .196 with no home runs and two RBI in 46 at-bats. Anyway, he’s 41 and retiring at the end of the season.

A.J. Ellis was sent down after his three hits Sunday to make room on the 25-man roster for Barajas. He’s thrown out five of 25 base stealers and hit .208 without a home run and 10 RBI in 72 at-bats.

And right now, your 2011 starting catcher?

Not likely. The Dodgers like Ellis behind the plate, but he’s 29. He’s an able backup, but it’s not like there’s some huge upside here.

Which leaves the Dodgers … where?

Doing the Band-Aid approach right now but without a starting catcher for next season.

The Dodgers, of course, did trade highly rated prospect Carlos Santana for Casey Blake in 2008. And last month they traded good-hitting Lucas May to Kansas City for outfielder Scott Podsednik.

The Dodgers were convinced May wasn’t ready to handle a Major League staff, having been converted from shortstop to catcher in 2007.

Martin, of course, was converted from third to catcher in 2003 and was the Dodgers’ regular catcher by 2006.
For all their other obvious needs, catching could loom as the Dodgers’ biggest area of concern going into next season.

-- Steve Dilbeck
Comments () | Archives (22)

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The biggest area of concern? Really? What about shortstop? 3b? Kuroda might retire back to Japan? If that happens I guess the 3-4-5 spots in the rotation need to be sorted out. Assuming Kuo's arm holds up through the rest of the season and into next, he is our back end stud with nobody close to reliable as a situational lefty. Oh yeah and if we want to score more than 2 runs a game next year we need a RH batter that will hit around .300 and 20hrs playing half his games at Chavez Ravine. There are so many good young catchers stuck in the minors because they are latin and cheap while their American bonus baby counterparts fail to produce in the bigs(with the exception of Posey damn him and maybe Wieters). The Bluejays have 2 quality LHP in the pen and R.Diaz in the Minors doesn't seem like to much of a stretch to go after em' in the offseason. A.J. Ellis is solid and deserves a look at more than 2 games a week. If not our own Division is loaded with catching talent. Torrealba should go for reasonable$$. The rockies have one more than they need. Hester in AZ is like Ellis, he could be solid if he ever got a chance. Wouldn't take much to upgrade what martin gave us the last 2yrs. I rate C at about 6 on priority list.

Yes. Catching among other things. Like the D-I-V-O-R-C-E, for instance. That's going to affect the off season quite a bit, to say the least. The McCourt wars have played a major role in this disappointing season. It is the primary factor.
This may sound stupid, but re-sign Martin with an incentive laden contract and re-convert him back to third base. I dunno. Shoot me down.
Ethier, Kemp and Loney have to learn how to hit again. We still will need a sound five man rotation and a bullpen. Broxton has proved he's not the guy.
So, yes, catching and a lot, lot more needs to change.

Its no bigger worry than the lackadaisical center fielder currently employed.
Its no bigger worry than lack of power in LF.
Its no bigger worry than lack of power or a glove at 3B when Blake is replaced.
Its no bigger worry than lack of a closer.
Its no bigger worry than lack of set-up men in the bullpen.
Its no bigger worry than lack of long relief in the bullpen.
Its no bigger worry than lack of situational pitchers in the bullpen.
Its no bigger worry than lack of a hitting coach who can get the Dodgers to hit.
Its no bigger worry than lack of a capable third-base coach.
Its no bigger worry than lack of a manager who doesn't have the tools he needs.
Its no bigger worry than lack of an owner who cares about the team.
Its a big worry, all right, but only a piece of the more enormous puzzle.

And unfortunately, it'll get worse before it gets better.

Tell me something I don't know.

The Dodgers biggest area of concern going in to 2011 is Team Ownership. That must be resolved (SELL THE TEAM McCOURT). Until the ownership cloud clears, trying to decide on a catcher for 2011 is the least of their worries.

Any good news?

As you said, there's no guarantee Martin will be able to catch again. So yeah, finding a good catcher is something they'll have to do. But they need a few other things, such as one or two solid starting pitchers, a left fielder (I like Podsednik, but...), a third baseman and probably a shortstop (Carroll has done a great job, but...). I doubt Torre will be back, so they need a new manager. I don't think Mattingly is qualified, so Tim Wallach should get the job. Oh yeah, one more thing...a new owner.

I still live in LA.

For those of you that ragged on Steve, why even Post ? He's making a comment re: the catching situation, & he could easily do the same for CF, 3B, SS, LF, SP, RP, etc. but I agree that catching is the most serious, for many reasons. One, there will be far fewer Catchers available on the Free Agent wire, two, at least we have some prospects for those other positions, whereas with the Catching position, thanks to Dread, we have lost our 2 top & best prospects!
And with Rusty Marlin(I know!) temporarily penciled in, it's as good as not having him back there. He is not the Dodger catcher of the future, or even now; poor hitting, too may K's, not a good enough def. catcher to offest his lack of offense.
And while there will/should be a lot of holes to fill, catching will be the most difficult as good catchers are a true premium in MLB. There are many great OF'sa, 3B, SP's, RP's, SS's, but very few top tier catchers.

Oh my God ! LA Times used to be a trust worthy source for information & insight Mr.Dill ...... really? catching is are biggest problem? How about a little thought going into this article ! This article looks as lazy as Don Mattingley with his offensive productivity as LA's batting coach job or how about this ? about as lazy as a current problem Dodger center fielder !
Catching problem is easy !!!!!! Trade Martin to Toronto for a pitcher or 2 ,their catcher may be leaving them free agent (Buck) & get Torrealba !!!!! Done! next problem?

Although ALL catchers available are over 30 yrs. old that says to me veteran experienced catchers able to handle a pitching staff . HELLO ! 2 Molina brothers! (Bengie n Jose) Buck out of Toronto handling a rather deep staff , Jason LaRue OR You paying attention Dilbeck?
My favorite choice that had the Rockies pitching staff at the top of their game last year & now has got the friggin Padres rotation in order & helping out with the surprise team of the year 1st place San Diego friggin Padres Yorvit Torrealba !!!!! When I heard the Rockies let him go & I was thinking good luck with the highly regarded Yorvit replacement ,Ianetta . Thats when I was ready to trade Martin to his homeland Canada-Toronto for some pitching & picking up Torrealba .Barrajas has some pop & is cheap( Ellis shoulda been the one traded before May) Rod Barajas a decent #2 and some pop off bench .

Torrealba .292 4 hr .994 fld% throws out 37% = $1.2 million '10
Buck .280 14 hr .976 fld % 19% = $2.1 million '10
Bengi slow but has pop $4 million
Jose $1 million
To name a few ! Now get a grip on some work Dilbeck !

well, there is something now-a-daze called "free agency," & it says here to do whatever it takes to ink current Bosox/soon-2b-free-agent Victor Martinez.....then, in a few yrs., maybe another youngster shall be ready from the farm system, perhaps even Wallach's boy???.....

this hardly seems 2b "rocket-science"........& if "martie" neva returns, no big loss, &, indeed, "addition-by-subtraction" -- good riddance!!!!

now, if we can just "waive" bye 2minnie-mannie!!!!

If you simply list all the good things Ned has done on one side of the page and list the bad things on the other side of the page, there is no way he could justify continuing his position. We all pile on McCourt for being cheap but if you had let Ned spend your money exactly why would you ever let him spend more than the minimum. Here are the big $$$ contracts Ned has given: Schmidt, Furcal, Jones, Pierre, and Kuroda. It would be nice if he was right 50% of the time.

First things first. Please sell the team to capable owners that understand the honor of owning the Dodgers. Not these jackasses that just wanted fame and glory.

Dump Manny ASAP.

Convince Torre to come back and hope he instills confidence in his core players to become winners. Bring the fire. If Torre can't, then it's time for new blood. No rehash manager.

Have a good talking to Kemp or trade him. Trade him before he loses more value.

Herman as I already said, catching IS the biggest issue! We have OF prospects, we have 3B prospects, we have a few SP prospects, what we don't have, thanks to Dread Colletti is MLB Ready catching prospects.
& you can hypothesize all you want - trade him for him, then him for him,"Trade Martin to Toronto for a pitcher or 2 ,their catcher may be leaving them free agent (Buck) & get Torrealba !!!!! Done! next problem?" etc. but it's pure speculation, at best, as there are so many more variables, than to have your own prospects. Why would BlueJays want our problem ? & NO way we get "a pitcher or 2" for him anyway! & same goes for Yorvit. & with such a big mess in our front office & the instability, why would any veteran want to come here ?
With due respect, you're wrong on this issue. Granted we need help all over the diamond, but due to lack of help in the Monirs - thanks Dread - we can more eassily fill OF, 3B & SP.

westcoastram: i agree as I have posted previously, Dread spent 170 Mil on Schmidt, MasnSham, Pierre & Andruw Jones, alone & all we have from that 170 Mil ? ManSHam & his disatorous past 2 seasons; suspension, skill/talent fall off, his lame excuse for a "calf injury" & paying him 15 Mil from 2011 - 13!

Dread has done 1, ONE good thing - move Bradley for Ethier. That is it!
As well as Lilly has picthed, as well as Pods & Ryan have played, we are still never making the playofs this season, so why trade our best remaining catching prospect & a few SP prospects as well, when most likely, Lilly, Theriot & Dotel will walk after season's end!

Also, I feel a GM should have been a manager at some point in his past as I am sick of saying "I..." this or "I..." that, when he doesn't fully understand managing a game, not that No-Mo-Joe does anymore & Dread is simply not a good judge of talent.

And let's look at ManSham's deal alone; one, the Dodgers SHOULD have been the one's with the option, NOT him, two, we have to pay him, (unless they can move him in the next week)15 Mil for 3 years he won't even be in a Dodger's uniform & lastly, ManSham also has Veto power of waiver deals - that also SHOULD have been with the team & not him - nice job Dread!
And he didn't even get any comp. picks for Wolf, why ? Because he didn't offer even a cosmetic contract for 1 year, whcih RW would have turned down - duh Dread!
Yes, the left handed column would be next to empty if not for the no brainer Eithier/Bradley deal!

Hopefully the McCourts have to sell the team and Mark Cuban scoops it up. As much as I dislike the Mavs (only because I'm a Laker fan), Mark Cuban would be perfect for LA - a players owner, has $$$, and loves the spotlight.

I would then package the following players and try to get something of value in return:

Dodger's needs are 3B, 1B, and a C. Need at least one power bat in there to protect Ethier. Give the closer role to Kuo/Jansen.
Also need to reload on the starting 5 and bullpen. Not to mention upgrade the farm.

A lot of ifs....sigh

Barajas will be the opening day catcher.

When it's all said and done Rafael Furcal will have earned over $70 million dollars from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I agree about 90% with ya TK! I too am a Lakers fan, but I also know Cuban is a proactive type owner & won't stand for the current BS on this team. I do disagree with you on Loney; the guy has a great glove, is Mark Grace at the plate Redux as he is a gap, doubles, go the otrher way hitter yet still knocks in 90 or more ribbies; & he's young & cheap, relatively speaking. But yes, we need a slugging 3B, a slugging OF, most likely a SS, an ace in the SP rotation & figure our their mess with the Closer role!

Fear not, I'm sure Colletti will find a good "character" guy who can't play worth a d@mn to serve as a filler in the lineup.

And as crap as Colletti has been (the worst offense being the trade of Santana for Casey "Freaking" Blake, in my opinion) , what kind of team goes to the NLCS and unloads players the following year rather than trying to improve and add weapons to make it to the World Series??? That's on McCheap. Not only did they fail to add a Halladay, Cliff Lee, or Roy Oswalt (or two of them, like Philly), they let Randy Wolf walk. The regression they've undergone this season is simply stunning. But I suppose that's what you get when you've got an owner in debt up to his eyeballs, and going through a costly divorce, and a GM who values the Casey Blake's, and Scott Podsednik's of the world over real talent.

wilbur post said: "The Dodgers biggest area of concern going in to 2011 is Team Ownership. That must be resolved (SELL THE TEAM McCOURT). Until the ownership cloud clears, trying to decide on a catcher for 2011 is the least of their worries."

That's exactly what I was thinking as I read this article. Frank McCourt doesn't care a whit about this team except as a cash cow to fund his real interests away from the stadium. That's why he has almost doubled ticket, concession and parking prices and hacked player payroll to smithereens.

Catcher? How about a new owner, one who actually cares about the team! SELL! SELL! SELL!

Steve, you hit it on the head that catcher should be the Dodgers biggest concern. Russell Martin has been suffering from Paul LoDuca syndrome for a couple years now and arguably should be playing second base instead of catcher based on his offensive skills. I'd note that the suggestion of Victor Martinez makes no sense because he's horrible at throwing runners out and the National League doesn't have a Designated Hitter.

As for other positions of weakness (i.e. 3B, SS, LF, SP, RP), a lot of these are going to most likely get filled from within the organization until the divorce is finalized. This isn't the worst thing in the world as the Dodgers do have some decent talent on their Double A Chattanooga team many of which is very close to being major league ready (i.e. Dee Gordon a SS with 40+ SB's, Jerry Sands an OF/1B with a minor league leading 32 HR's, Trayvon Robinson, Kyle Russell...etc).


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