Yasmani Grandal: Eternal optimist, or just what the Dodgers need?

Yasmani Grandal

Switch-hitting Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has a 105 OPS-plus in his career batting left-handed and an 88 OPS-plus batting right-handed. (Getty Images)

Yasmani Grandal‘s brief major league career is checkered at best. He was suspended for 50 games in November 2012 following a positive test for testosterone. He’s batted just .224 since. His 2013 season ended when he tore multiple ligaments in his right knee during a collision at home plate, an injury that required reconstructive surgery.

And this was the player the Dodgers coveted in a trade for Matt Kemp?
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Don Mattingly on A.J. Ellis, Yasmani Grandal and personal catchers.

Yasmani Grandal

Switch-hitting Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has a 105 OPS-plus in his career batting right-handed and an 88 OPS-plus batting left-handed. (Getty Images)

Don Mattingly addressed the media yesterday for the first time since the Winter Meetings. I posted a bunch of videos from his interviews here. My story about the impending center-field competition is here.

Mattingly addressed a number of topics after my video recorder ran out of memory, or unfit for print. One was the catcher position.
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Update: Dodgers, A.J. Ellis avoid arbitration at $4.25 million.

Catcher A.J. Ellis batted .191 in 93 games for the Dodgers last season. (Associated Press photo)

Catcher A.J. Ellis batted .191 in 93 games for the Dodgers last season. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers and catcher A.J. Ellis have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth a reported $4.25 million.

Ellis, 33, made $3.55 million in 2014, when he batted .191/.323/.254 in 93 games. The new contract would make Ellis the 12th-highest paid catcher in baseball, not bad for a player who has yet to hit free agency.

MLBTradeRumors.com projected Ellis to earn $3.8 million in arbitration.

The Dodgers acquired switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal from the San Diego Padres in December with the intention of dividing playing time between Grandal and Ellis in 2015.

Five other Dodgers remain eligible for arbitration: pitchers Kenley Jansen and Juan Nicasio, infielder Justin Turner and outfielder Chris Heisey. The Dodgers avoided arbitration with infielder Darwin Barney in December by agreeing to a $2.5 million contract.

Russell Martin, Jason Hammel, not Hanley Ramirez are best fits for Dodgers: report.

Sports Illustrated today ranked the top 50 free agents and picked two — catcher Russell Martin and pitcher Jason Hammel — as “best fits” for the Dodgers.

Of Hammel, Ben Reiter writes:

He’d be a smart signing for the Dodgers and could make for a very effective No. 4 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

And of Martin:

The Dodgers have been getting by with A.J. Ellis behind the plate for a few seasons, but that will change in 2015. New team president Andrew Friedman’s first major expenditure will likely be to bring Martin back to the club for which he played between 2006 and ’10.

Free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez, meanwhile, was tabbed a “best fit” for the New York Yankees. The Dodgers are expected to extend Ramirez a qualifying offer today.

Each qualifying offer is a one-year, $15.3 million contract. If the player rejects it and signs elsewhere, his former team receives a supplemental-round draft pick in 2015.

St. Louis Cardinals 10, Dodgers 9: A stunning turn of events puts the Dodgers in a 1-0 hole.

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A see-saw battle left the Dodgers speechless after a 10-9 loss in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

Losing pitcher Clayton Kershaw and catcher A.J. Ellis tried to dissect the Cardinals’ eight-run seventh inning.

You can watch what a somber Kershaw said after the game here; the box score is here.

Dodgers announce NLDS roster; Paco Rodriguez, Joc Pederson, Darwin Barney cut.

The Dodgers will carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players on their roster for the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Among the final cuts were left-hander Paco Rodriguez, outfielder Joc Pederson and infielder Darwin Barney.

The Dodgers will carry four starting pitchers and eight relievers, including two left-handers: Scott Elbert and J.P. Howell.

Here is the complete roster:
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Why Erisbel Arruebarrena — who can’t swing — didn’t pinch run for A.J. Ellis earlier.

Erisbel Arruebarrena

Erisbel Arruebarrena was limited to pinch-running duties Wednesday because of a shoulder injury. (Getty Images)

In the 10th inning, when A.J. Ellis drew a one-out walk in a tie game, many of you chimed in on social media wondering why Don Mattingly didn’t pinch run for the slow-footed catcher.

Mattingly did use a pinch runner eventually, when the bases were loaded with one out. Erisbel Arruebarrena took Ellis’ place at third base, and barely had to move as Adrian Gonzalez and Juan Uribe struck out.
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A.J. Ellis’ strange slash line is almost unprecedented.

A.J. Ellis has an unusual slash line: A .192 batting average, .335 on-base percentage and a .234 slugging percentage.

It takes a special combination of traits to achieve those numbers: A good eye, little power, and a complete inability to hit for average. That’s been Ellis this year. But exactly how special is this combination?

Thanks to baseball-reference.com’s play index, there is an answer to this question.

Since 1901, only one player has finished a season with 300 or more plate appearances, a batting average below .200, an on-base percentage above .330 and a slugging percentage below .240. That man is Jimmy Sheckard. In his final major-league season of 1913, Sheckard batted .194/.368/.238.

Yep, it’s the same Jimmy Sheckard whose three triples in one game (in 1901) were not matched by a Dodger until Yasiel Puig did it last month in San Francisco.

Look out, Jimmy. Now A.J. is coming for you too.

Dodgers activate A.J. Ellis from the 15-day disabled list, option Tim Federowicz to Triple-A.

A.J. Ellis

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis missed 17 games with a sprained ankle before being activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday. (Getty Images)


A.J. Ellis was back in the Dodgers’ lineup Friday, 19 days after he sprained his ankle celebrating Josh Beckett‘s no-hitter in Philadelphia.

Ellis is batting .170/.350/.213 in a season limited by injuries to 15 games. The 33-year-old catcher missed 39 days in April and May after undergoing a procedure on the mensicus in his left knee.

As a group, Dodger catchers rank near the bottom of the league in batting average (29th, .185), on-base percentage (27th, .268), slugging percentage (29th, .275) and weighted on-base average (29th, .247) this year. Tim Federowicz, who has the worst on-base percentage of any major-leaguer with at least 50 plate appearances, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for Ellis.

Ellis might give the Dodgers’ lineup a dimension it missed in his absence.

“Over the course of last year, the last couple years, even when his average may not be jumping out at you, he’s always a guy that gives you a tough at-bat every day,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He makes a pitcher work. I think we’ll look forward to that. It just gets another ‘quality out’ when you make an out.”

Ellis’ 4.37 pitches per plate appearances in 2013 were the most by any major-league player with at least 400 plate appearances.