2011 Dodgers Exit Interviews: Catchers

Now that the starting pitchers are out of the way, it's time to turn our 2011 review attention to their battery mates. The Dodgers used five backstops this season with three catchers starting 156 of the 161 games, led by Rod Barajas.

Dodgers catchers were third in the National League with 23 home runs this season, but they were 13th out of 16 teams with a .227 batting average and .305 on-base percentage. Here is a look back at the Dodgers' catching corps in 2011:

Rod Barajas

What went right: In August, Barajas turned on the power, hitting .357/.403/.750 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 18 games. On the season, Barajas hit 16 home runs, which was second on the team behind Matt Kemp's league-leading 39 bombs.

What went wrong: Barajas made outs in bulk, as his .287 on-base percentage ranked 22nd among the 28 major league catchers who caught at least 80 games in 2011. But this was expected from Barajas, who came into the year a career .239/.284/.412 hitter and was right in line with that, hitting .230/.287/.430 on the year.

2012 status: The pancake man is a free agent, and while he could return to his hometown team don't expect the Dodgers to pay him another $3.25 million. Ned Colletti said in an interview with Jim Bowden of ESPN last week that the Dodgers in 2012 will "probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties," but that could just be posturing by Colletti.

 

A.J. Ellis

A-j-ellis-home-run-atlanta-getty_medium  

What went right: Ellis continued to get on base -- he had a .392 OBP in 103 major league plate appearances and a .467 OBP in 248 minor league PA -- but also turned on the power in 2011. He broke a drought of nearly three years without a home run by hitting two with Triple A Albuquerque in July and two more with the Dodgers, his first two major league taters. The 30-year old Ellis has a career .360 OBP in 244 major league PA.

What went wrong: Ellis got thrown out trying to steal second base with an 8-1 lead in the fifth inning at Wrigley Field on April 22. It is the only stolen base attempt in his major league career.

2012 status: Ellis is out of options, and will almost certainly start 2012 on the major league team. Whether he is the backup or the primary backstop remains to be seen.

 

Tim Federowicz

What went right: Federowicz got a cup of coffee with the Dodgers in September, and reached base in five of his first eight major league plate appearances. After hitting four home runs in 109 games in High A in 2010 and hitting eight home runs in 90 games in Double A this season, Federowicz welcomed his promotion to Triple A upon his trade to the Dodgers on July 31 by hitting six home runs in just 25 games in the Pacific Coast League.

What went wrong: Yes, Federowicz hit .325/.431/.607 in his first 25 games in Triple A, but it's important to note that he hit .405/.500/.857 in Albuquerque and just .231/.333/.385 on the road. Small sample sizes apply, so take with a grain of salt. Hat tip to Minor League Central.

2012 status: The 24-year old catcher is thought to be major league ready defensively, and there is a decent chance he ends up splitting time with A.J. Ellis if the Dodgers decide to save money at catcher next year.

 

Dioner Navarro

  Dioner-navarro-san-francisco-splash-hr_medium

What went right: Navarro didn't get many hits, but he did make a few of them count. He drove in the lone run of three different 1-0 victories in 2011, joining Gary Sheffield as the only Los Angeles Dodgers ever to do that. Two of those RBI for Navarro were home runs, including a splash hit into McCovey Cove on July 20, the only run in a classic duel between Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.

In 202 plate appearances, Navarro hit five home runs, which tied him for fifth on the club.

What went wrong: Navarro hit just .212/.263/.306 in 2009 and 2010 combined, and he continued on that path in 2011, hitting .193/.276/.324 in 2011. Why the Dodgers guaranteed Navarro $1 million after two putrid seasons is puzzling to say the least, and their offer even surprised Navarro. In April, Curt Hitchens of Seamheads.com caught up with Navarro while the catcher was on a rehab assignment in Chattanooga with the Double A lookouts:

Hitchens: "What is it about L.A. that appealed to you?"

Navarro: "Money." [laughs] "They offered me a good contract and I jumped on it."

2011 departure: By August 23, the Dodgers finally had enough of Navarro, and designated him for assignment, citing "philosophical differences." 

 

Hector Gimenez

Hector-gimenez-spring-trainng-getty_medium  

What went right: Gimenez parlayed a hot streak late in spring training into his first opening day roster spot. His stay was short as he hit the disabled list after just 10 days, but he did manage to start a major league game for the first time, and amassed seven plate appearances, which is about seven more than anyone would have guessed before spring training. Gimenez collected his first major league hit, a single to left field against Javier Lopez of the Giants, on April 2.

What went wrong: He missed two months after undergoing right knee surgery, and upon he activation from the disabled list the Dodgers outrighted him to Double A, removing him from the 40-man roster.

2011 departure: The 29-year old Gimenez opted for free agency last week, per Baseball America.

The Ellis, Navarro, and Gimenez photos are courtesy of Getty Images.

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