Daily Dodger in review: A.J. Ellis should stick at catcher
2011 statistics: .271 batting average, two home runs, 11 runs batted in, .392 on-base percentage in 85 at-bats, threw out 27% of would-be base-stealers.
Contract status: Final year under team control.
The good: Solid, reliable, all-around catcher. He is never going to be Johnny Bench but actually showed a flash of power. Hit two home runs with the Dodgers and three at triple-A Albuquerque. Before that outburst, he had not hit a home run at any level in almost three years.
He gets on base. Works well behind the plate and with pitchers. Was called up three times last season before he was brought up for good when the Dodgers finally wised up and released Dioner Navarro. Great in the clubhouse.
The bad: Has an average arm and, despite the home runs, hits mostly flares. He comes with limitations, but they're livable at an incredibly weak position baseball-wide.
What's next: He will finally make the team coming out of spring next year. Of course, it doesn't hurt his cause that he is out of options. He could share the position with rookie Tim Federowicz, though General Manager Ned Colletti may yet bring in a veteran catcher -– Rod Barajas remains a possibility -– to start the season with Ellis.
The take: Ellis should have made the team out of spring last season instead of Colletti trying to dredge up Navarro again. There are precious few power-hitting catchers in baseball anymore, so Ellis' lack of punch is hardly a deal-killer.
If Ellis can hit .270 with that kind of on-base percentage while being reliable behind the plate, that's a go. He will be 31 in April, so he is not some blossoming kid. But he is hard-working, upbeat and knows how to play the position. You don't build a team around an A.J. Ellis, but he figures to be a solid supplemental player. And for a catcher these days, that's almost a bonus.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Javy Guerra, No. 54, and A.J. Ellis celebrate after beating the San Diego Padres on August 30. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images.