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Do Dodgers really think Dioner Navarro is an upgrade over A.J. Ellis?

December 9, 2010 |  7:24 am

Well, you know, it’s not like you have to understand all their moves.

So you look at the Dodgers signing Tony Gwynn Jr. and note that .204 batting average and think, "Hey, at least he could be useful as a defensive replacement or running the bases."

And then you look at signing catcher Dioner Navarro, glance at that .194 batting average and think ... yeah, exactly what are you supposed to think?

Haven’t got a clue.

Apparently, the Dodgers see something in Navarro they don’t in A.J. Ellis. He’s three years younger? He switch hits? General Manager Ned Colletti has developed a thing for pudgy players?

Beats me, which is that thing Navarro has been struggling to do to a baseball the last two seasons. He hit .218 in 2009, when he also had a staggering .261 on-base percentage. He upped that all the way to .270 last season.

In fact, of the five offensive players the Dodgers have signed this offseason -- Juan Uribe, Jay Gibbons, Rod Barajas, Gwynn and Navarro -- TrueBlueLA.com’s Eric Stephen figured they combined to hit .233 with a .299 on-base percentage.

Maybe you’re not all in love with the on-base stat, but somebody has to be on base to score a run. Unless you’re planning on a record number of solo homers.

Can’t figure out how Navarro is seen as an upgrade over Ellis, who finished strongly (he hit .417 the last month), is solid to strong behind the plate, well liked in the clubhouse and has a good relationship with newbie manager Don Mattingly.

Navarro lost his job in Tampa Bay last season, cleared waivers, was left off their playoff roster, went home in a huff and didn’t stay with the team during the postseason, and then was non-tendered by the Rays.

Neither have any power. Both threw out exactly 28% of their baserunners last season. Ellis could be on the upswing, Navarro seems clearly headed down.

Some things in life, you’re just not meant to understand. Kinda like owning seven mansions.

Me, I hope Ellis is given a real chance to beat Navarro out. The terms of the Navarro’s deal haven’t been released, but let’s get crazy and assume the numbers are low, which makes the risk low. Really low, anyway, would almost be understandable.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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