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.

A.J. Ellis sprains ankle celebrating Josh Beckett’s no-hitter, goes on 15-day disabled list.

A.J. Ellis sprained ankle

A.J. Ellis (second from right) said he sprained his right ankle immediately after this photo was taken, when he landed on Drew Butera’s catcher’s mask on the turf in Philadelphia. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)


A.J. Ellis spoke in somber tones Monday as he described one of baseball’s all-time freak injuries. An old adage was certainly at play: It’s only funny if it doesn’t happen to you.

Ellis sprained his ankle Sunday while the Dodgers ran out to congratulate Josh Beckett for his no-hitter at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Ellis didn’t catch the game — Drew Butera did — but Ellis leaped and landed on Butera’s discarded catcher’s mask in the midst of the celebration.

“I knew right away it was more significant than other ankle rolls I’ve had in the past,” Ellis said. “I immediately came in, saw (Dodgers head athletic trainer) Stan Conte, got an x-ray which came back negative, treated it the entire flight home yesterday, and came in this morning.

“I woke up and called Stan this morning I didn’t think I would be able to play the next few days just because of the way I felt. Probably best for the club to get another catcher up here. So I’m beyond frustrated, still kind of shocked and just ready to get back in the rhythm of things, whenever that might be.”

The Dodgers recalled Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Albuquerque with Ellis on the 15-day disabled list. Ellis was scheduled to meet with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache to determine the severity of the injury and a timetable for recovery.
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Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis takes batting practice, but return from the disabled list is on hold.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday. He took batting practice in the afternoon along with Juan Uribe, separate from the rest of the club.

Though he looked healthy, the Dodgers will wait at least a day before activating the catcher from the 15-day disabled list.

“We feel like today tells us if he feels good, he bounces back after catching two days,” Mattingly said. “He feels like he’s ready to play. Medical feels like he’s ready to play. It’s soon.”

Drew Butera is catching Josh Beckett and Miguel Olivo is serving as the backup.

Daily Distractions: Who will be the Dodgers’ backup catcher when A.J. Ellis returns from the disabled list?

A.J. Ellis, Brian Gorman

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis will play in a Triple-A rehab game today. (Karl Gehring/The Denver Post)

A.J. Ellis will play his second rehab game for Triple-A Albuquerque in as many days today. It could be his last. Tuesday is smack-dab in the middle of the 4 to 6 week timetable the team gave at the time of the arthroscopic procedure on Ellis’ left knee, so it would make perfect sense for him to rejoin the Dodgers then.

Without Ellis, the catching duties have been split fairly liberally among Miguel Olivo, Drew Butera and Tim Federowicz, who’s currently in Triple-A. Which of the three becomes the backup once Ellis returns?

“If you want me to make that decision now, I probably can’t do that,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before Sunday’s game against the Giants, a 7-4 loss. “I wouldn’t want to do that anyway. We’ll figure that out as we get there. It comes down to conversations, us talking about what we need, what we want that position to be and what we think about it.”

Mattingly said the conversations have already begun.

When imagining where the conversation begins, it’s tempting to focus on offense. There isn’t much to look at there. Olivo started hot, but in his last 11 at-bats he has no hits and eight strikeouts. Overall he is 5 for 23 (.217). Butera is 10 for 44 (.227) with two home runs. Federowicz was 5 for 46 (.109) with one home run before his demotion.

Of course, the Dodgers aren’t focusing on offense from their catchers. More important to the conversation is how each player handles the position defensively and how well they work with the pitching staff. Those are harder to quantify, especially in a small sample size.

Nonetheless, here we go.

Butera has the lowest catchers’ ERA of the bunch (2.90, 10th in baseball) and hasn’t made an error. He’s also tied for the league lead in passed balls (four) and has thrown out only one of four attempted base stealers.

Of course, passed balls are a judgment call. Olivo wasn’t charged with a passed ball last night when J.P. Howell threw a slider in the dirt in the 10th inning. But because Olivo didn’t keep the ball in front him, a runner was able to score from third base. In 54 innings, Olivo has a 4.73 catchers’ ERA. Two baserunners have tried stealing on him; one was caught.

Pitch framing is not an asset for any of the Dodgers’ catchers, according to StatCorner.com.

We could parse Federowicz’s numbers, but his contract status separates him from this discussion if Olivo, Butera and Ellis are healthy. Federowicz can be optioned to the minors at any time. He’ll stay there so long as he continues to miss 48 percent of the breaking pitches he swings at. (That was his miss rate in the majors.) Butera and Olivo are out of options, so one of the two will probably be designated for assignment in the next 48 hours.

“We’ve been pretty clear about what we like out of our catchers,” Mattingly said. “The backup catcher … you’re not playing as much. You want to make sure that you’re getting the right guy back there for all the things you’re asking him to do — studying, working with pitchers, all those things because it’s just what we want out of the position. As much as what we’re looking for offensively … it’s what we’re looking for out of the position.”

Some bullet points for an International Nurses Day:
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