2013 in brief: Unexpected depth addition lasted only two months before getting cut loose.
2014 status: 38-year-old catchers with .257 OBP over the previous two seasons, and who get cut from Triple-A squads in July, generally don’t find work.
Ramon Hernandez actually found himself hitting cleanup for the Dodgers twice this year. Just thought you should know.
Anyway, remember how confused we all were when the news came out that the Dodgers had acquired Hernandez on the afternoon of April 6? Initially, we didn’t know that he was coming for Aaron Harang, and so I put it that the Dodgers had picked up Hernandez “for reasons that I absolutely cannot fathom”. Later that day, we learned that the Dodgers would actually be saving some money as well as upgrading their catching depth, and while none of that was too exciting, it seemed reasonable at the time:
I will, however, buy the idea that the Dodgers needed some catching depth, because Jesus Flores & Matt Wallach in Triple-A aren’t exactly the kind of guys you really want to use if you don’t have to. And what I do have to disagree with a lot of fans on — at least the ones that I’ve heard from — is that “this is all you could get for Harang?” That perspective works only if you believe Harang is valuable, and while he’s a decent back-end starter, he’s past his prime and not that great. Clearly, a few dollars saved, some catching depth, and alleviating a quickly growing roster headache is what he’s worth. The Rockies will try to trade him too, and the amount of people thinking they’re suddenly going to do what the Dodgers were unable to and trade to, say, Boston, for a huge return are way off the mark.
The problem is that Hernandez was used infrequently, since Tim Federowicz kept going up and back to often give the club three catchers. The other problem is that he didn’t perform when he did. Sure, he ran into three homers, including one in his final plate appearance with the team, but a .291 OBP isn’t going to get you too far when you’re also atrocious on defense.
For example, there was this:
With Federowicz adding a nice Triple-A hitting resume to a glowing reputation, the calls to jettison Hernandez continued to grow louder, though I tried to temper those by pointing out just how minimal the organizational catching depth really was in late May. (Also, by reminding people that Federowicz really can’t hit, Albuquerque aside, which he showed he couldn’t.)
When A.J. Ellis went on the disabled list with a strained oblique, Hernandez earned a reprieve, but as Federowicz gained the lion’s share of starts, the signs were pretty clear, especially when this play, in his final game, directly impacted a Dodger loss:
When Ellis returned on June 14, Hernandez was set free, catching depth be damned. He signed with Toronto’s Triple-A team in Buffalo, but played just five games there before being released in early July, and didn’t catch on with another club after that. If this is the end for him, at least he’ll go out being able to say he hit that homer to finish off his career… and almost no one will ever remember he was a Dodger. I’m pretty fine with that, actually.
Next! You know you’ve all been waiting for Drew Butera, right? Right?