Daily Dodger in review: Rod Barajas enjoys his homecoming, but can it last?
ROD BARAJAS, 35, catcher
Final 2010 stats: .240 batting average, 17 home runs, 47 RBI, .284 on-base percentage, .447 slugging percentage in 313 at-bats.
Contract status: Free agent.
The good: After being claimed on waivers from the Mets at the end of August, he had a strong start as a Dodger. Hit three home runs in his first five games, including his first game as a Dodger at home. On the season overall, still showed some pop with 17 home runs. In his 64 at-bats as a Dodger, hit .297, on-base was .361 and slugging at .578. A local product (Santa Fe Springs High and Cerritos College) who actually wants to be a Dodger.
The bad: Throughout his 10-year career, has been pretty much a mediocre-hitting catcher (.239, .284, .412). After the hot start in his first five games as a Dodger, he cooled to hit .250 with two homers and seven RBI in his last 48 at-bats. He’s 35, so it’s not like he’s still peaking.
What’s next: Barajas is probably a backup plan for the Dodgers, everything at catcher will be determined by what they decide to do with Russell Martin. If they don’t return Russell or bring in a more significant free-agent catcher (John Buck, Miguel Olivo), then they could decide to go with a Barajas-A.J. Ellis combo.
The take: Which is not exactly appealing. This is a tough call for the Dodgers, because none of the options are particularly thrilling. Assuming they are unable to sign Buck, and they have flashed no signs of real interest.
Barajas’ home-run power is attractive in a lineup in dire need of extra pop, but it’s hard to get away from his career .239 batting average and woeful .284 on-base percentage. That has to be a better indicator of what the Dodgers could expect over the course of an entire season, rather than his brief streak in Los Angeles.
But I can’t fathom them committing to Martin for the season, when his hip health is such an unknown, not to mention his declining production. Somebody has to be behind the plate.
If the Dodgers are unable to go outside the organization to upgrade this position, they may yet be looking at Barajas-Ellis. Not exciting, considering their other lineup holes. That is, of course, if Barajas doesn’t sign elsewhere in the interim.
-- Steve Dilbeck