You can mark that down right now, as we enjoy today’s 4-2 win over San Diego, which represents the eighth victory in nine games and finishes off the first winning month of the season at 16-11. As much as we might like to think that A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz might start next season as the backstop duo, it’s not likely to happen, nor should it: Federowicz has just 111 games of experience above A-ball. So while the out-of-options Ellis seems almost certain to be on the roster, the Dodgers are going to need another guy to pair with him. As Rod Barajas finishes off a smoking August (.357/.403/.750 with ten extra-base hits, including six homers) it seems more and more likely it’s going to be him, particularly with his professed love of playing in his hometown.
While we make fun of Barajas and his .293 OBP, I’m not entirely convinced that’s an awful thing. Don’t get me wrong; Barajas isn’t a great player, and I would love to have a better option than him. Just keep in mind how atrocious the state of the game is as far as offense from catchers is right now, because even lousy Rod Barajas is worth 1.2 WAR (in a rare situation where both WAR systems agree). The Dodgers have a .690 OPS from their catchers, which is pretty bad… except that 13 teams are even worse, and that’s even including the healthy dose of Dioner Navarro the Dodgers just suffered through. Sad as it sounds, a combination of Barajas and Ellis could possibly be average to slightly-above both at the plate and behind it.
That says a lot about the catching situation in the bigs, I think, but unless any of the guys on the 2012 free agent list thrill you (I joked recently that 41-year-olds Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Varitek are exactly the type of guys Ned Colletti would go after), it might be the best we can hope for.
Eugenio Velez went hitless in two more at-bats; there is no reason for him to ever play again, ever. I’m serious about that, especially since Dee Gordon is back soon and rosters will be expanding. That said, thanks to Chad Moriyama and his smartly-named new site ChadMoriyama.com, we do have footage of the one thing Velez did hit today:
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves were the team who won the claim on Jamey Carroll, but the Dodgers said “they will not trade him”. It’s hard to know what, if anything, was discussed as the return from Atlanta (not much, most likely), but this does seem short-sighted. I like Carroll as much as anyone, yet having him around for another month isn’t going to add much. Ideally, he’d have been moved for whatever return was available, with the middle infield being handled exclusively by youngsters Gordon, Justin Sellers, and Ivan DeJesus, and third base dealt with from a grab-bag of whomever can walk among Aaron Miles, Casey Blake, and Juan Uribe. (Russ Mitchell can fetch coffee, I guess.) Again, it’s not that they were going to get a top prospect or anything in return for Carroll, it’s just that something would seemingly have been better than nothing.
To the surprise of absolutely no one with a pulse, Dana Eveland will be recalled to start for the Dodgers on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Eveland appeared in three games for the Pirates last season, allowing 20 baserunners in 9.2 innings, though he was named a PCL All-Star this season for the Isotopes. DeJesus is also expected to join the team for the game, with further call-ups happening in the days ahead. (Update: now it sounds like it might be Mitchell instead.)
Glancing at the remaining schedules, each pitcher appears to be in line for five more starts (although, with rotation shuffling and double-headers, it’s impossible to know for sure). Kershaw may have an easier go of things. Assuming regular rest, three of his remaining starts will come against the two worst offenses in the league by runs per game, the Giants and Padres. Entering play Tuesday, Kershaw’s probable remaining opponents had hit a collective .242/.307/.372 (.679 OPS). Meanwhile, Halladay’s likely slate sits at .261/.326/.400 (.726 OPS). It includes the Mets, Brewers, and Cardinals, all well above-average offenses. Don’t be surprised if Kershaw emerges from the 2011 season with his first piece of hardware. Either way, the NL Cy Young vote figures to be hotly debated and narrowly decided.