2013 Dodgers in Review #2: C Tim Federowicz

90topps_timfederowicz.231/.275/.356 173pa .266 wOBA 4hr 0.0 WAR C

2013 in brief: After some early season up-and-down, spent most of the year backing up A.J. Ellis in Los Angeles, doing little to change his “good field / no hit” reputation.

2014 status: Under team control, likely to see considerable playing time, though he does have an option remaining.

Previous: 2011 | 2012

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You may or may not have noticed that this site has category tags, which means that you can easily sort through all posts tagged by any player or topic. It’s not used every time a player is ever mentioned, but whenever he’s the primary focus of a post. For example, here’s the link for Yasiel Puig. Lots of articles appear.

Now try it with Tim Federowicz, and see what comes up. The last time I tagged Federowicz in a post was way back on March 18, when I said this:

With Castillo & Castro gone, the battle to back up A.J. Ellis is essentially over. There’s three catchers remaining behind Ellis in camp, and two of them are Matt Wallach (a warm body who has never played above Double-A) and Jesus Flores (one hit in 19 spring plate appearances). Barring injury or trade, it’s difficult to see Tim Federowicz not breaking camp with the team, especially since he’s the only one of the three to already own a 40-man roster spot.

Perhaps that’s a bit unfair to Federowicz, who spent the majority of the year with the club, but it’s also a good indicator of just how much the second-string (and sometimes third-string) catcher occupied our thoughts this year.

If there was something noteworthy about his season, it’s how it started. Federowicz did indeed break camp with the club, a situation that didn’t last long, because on April 6, Ramon Hernandez arrived in a trade for Aaron Harang. He went down but for barely more than a week, because on April 17 he was back up when Chris Capuano was hurt, and his wild ride had hardly even begun. April 24 saw him go back down for Ted Lilly; May 8 saw another return when the team tired of Justin Sellers, but only until May 19 when he was optioned to make room for Mark Ellis, then back up again on May 30 when Matt Kemp was lost, leading us to wonder why exactly the team was carrying three catchers when A) Hernandez was both not playing and not producing and B) injuries were destroying every other position that could badly have used the depth.

We later learned that Ellis was dealing with an oblique injury that sent him to the DL, and Federowicz took advantage of the playing time to hit his first big league homer on June 1, then popped another one four days later. Finally, on June 14, Hernandez was mercifully DFA’d, and Federowicz retained his spot for the remainder of the season.

But really, other than becoming Capuano’s personal catcher — with extremely mixed results — Federowicz didn’t do a whole lot to make a name for himself, even as Ellis struggled badly down the stretch, and he never got off the bench in the postseason. Basically, before the season, I thought his future would be as a backup catcher who could be a solid defender and hit enough to not kill you, but not enough to be someone you’d want as a starter. Despite some absurd offensive stats at Triple-A and the usual home/road splits to go with it (since 2011, .348/.416/.592 at Albuquerque, .255/.338/.390 on the road), that impression really hasn’t changed much for me. That’s good enough to make a career out of, so that’s something. It’s just not a lot to hang your hat on.

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Next! Ramon Hernandez knows what GIF is coming, and he’s not going to like it!

Tony Gwynn Gets Cut, Tim Federowicz (Probably) Wins a Job, and Monday Lineups

92topps_tonygwynnOther than pitcher Juan Abreu getting whacked after the game, we never did get the multiple promised post-doubleheader cuts we were expecting yesterday. Today, we finally got news of three moves: outfielder Tony Gwynn & catcher Wilkin Castillo have been reassigned to minor league camp, and catcher Ramon Castro was released. There are now 43 players remaining in camp, so — breaks out abacus, carries the one — 18 more need to go before Opening Day.

Gwynn accepted the assignment, as expected — he wasn’t going to simply forfeit the $1.15m he’s got coming to him this year, of course — and this move comes as little surprise, especially now that split-squad days are largely complete. With Matt Kemp back in the field, Carl Crawford on the mend, and Yasiel Puig clearly the sensation of camp, outfield time is becoming increasingly limited. Gwynn had just four hits in 23 plate appearances this spring, and had been almost completely off the radar since day one. He’ll likely pair with fellow non-roster outfielder Matt Angle to man center field for the Isotopes, waiting patiently for a chance that we all hope will never come.

With Castillo & Castro gone, the battle to back up A.J. Ellis is essentially over. There’s three catchers remaining behind Ellis in camp, and two of them are Matt Wallach (a warm body who has never played above Double-A) and Jesus Flores (one hit in 19 spring plate appearances). Barring injury or trade, it’s difficult to see Tim Federowicz not breaking camp with the team, especially since he’s the only one of the three to already own a 40-man roster spot.

D-Backs
Dodgers
RF
Eaton
DH
Crawford
SS
Bloomquist
2B
Amezaga
CF
Parra
CF
Kemp
2B
Hill
1B
Gonzalez
C
Montero
RF
Ethier
1B
Goldschmidt
3B
Cruz
DH
Hinske
LF
Herrera
3B
Teahen
C
A.Ellis
LF
Pollock
SS
Gordon

As for today’s game, Josh Beckett was originally slated to start, but he’s been scratched due to the flu. (He’ll still get his work in, pitching to minor leaguers.) That leaves the Dodgers in somewhat of a fun position for the day, believe it or not. Zack Greinke is now expected to start on Wednesday after a positive report from his bullpen session, and Chad Billingsley will likely miss his Tuesday start due to a finger injury he sustained while bunting. (Write your own joke there, folks.)

With the “five games in three days” run over the weekend meaning that Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Fife, & Aaron Harang have all pitched since Thursday, that means today’s starter is, of all people, Josh Wall. Apparently you really can’t have enough starting pitchers. Unsurprisingly, it’s a “bullpen game,” with Peter Moylan, Paco Rodriguez, Shawn Tolleson, and minor leaguers all expected to pitch.

Puig gets the day off today, as does Mark Ellis, but we’ll once again see Crawford atop the lineup at designated hitter. Today’s game will be broadcast on Prime Ticket at 1pm PT.

Projecting the Dodgers’ Minor-League Rosters: Double-A & Triple-A

Editor’s note: Chris Jackson rounds off the minor league roster projections with Chattanooga & Albuquerque. Also, don’t forget to enter the Opening Day roster contest — open through 9pm PT tonight!

Van Slyke is one of nine outfielders who will vie for an Isotopes roster spot this spring. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

Scott Van Slyke is one of nine outfielders who will vie for an Isotopes roster spot this spring. (Photo courtesy of the Isotopes)

Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A Southern League)

Starting rotation: Onelki Garcia, Zach Lee, Aaron Miller, Rob Rasmussen, Chris Reed

All prospects, all the time, in east Tennessee this year! Garcia has the most pure stuff, but the least experience. Lee and Reed will hope their potential matches the results this season. Miller will have to fight to keep his starting spot after a middling season. Rasmussen will get some attention as the new guy in the organization.

Bulllpen: Geison Aguasviva, Steve Ames, Kelvin De La Cruz, Eric Eadington, Jordan Roberts, Andres Santiago, Chris Withrow

That is a lot of lefties, but it is hard to figure out where else to put them. De la Cruz is not a LOOGY and will give them a second long reliever to go with Santiago, who could start if Miller struggles. Aguasviva could fight his way to Albuquerque. Roberts is 27, so if he can’t stick here, his time with the Dodgers may be done. Ames and Eadington figure to share the closing job, though Withrow could see saves, too, now that the Dodgers have committed to him as a reliever. Just missed: Javier Solano

Catchers: Gorman Erickson, Christopher O’Brien

Erickson will be looking for some redemption after a lousy 2012. O’Brien was decent enough at Rancho to merit the promotion.

Infielders: 1B–J.T. Wise, 2B–Rafael Ynoa, SS–Alexis Aguilar, 3B–C.J. Retherford, UTIL–Joe Becker, Omar Luna

Wise and Ynoa have played well enough to earn promotions, but they are blocked at Albuquerque barring some trades. Aguilar is the pick I am least confident in; it could be a half-dozen other guys. In other words, please, Dodgers, sign some random Cuban defector shortstop to spare the poor fans in Chattanooga watching a guy with a career .662 OPS. Retherford had a big year at Rancho, but struggled with the Lookouts, so he will return here. Luna and Becker didn’t play a lot of shortstop last year, but they sure could this year. Just missed: Chris Jacobs 1B, Elevys Gonzalez 3B/2B, Miguel Rojas 2B/SS

Outfielders: LF–Yasiel Puig, CF–Joc Pederson, RF–Blake Smith, OF–Nick Buss, Bobby Coyle

Puig and Pederson are premium prospects. They both figure to play all three outfield spots here. Smith deserves to move up, and he certainly could, but for now I have him starting with the Lookouts. Buss and the talented but oft-injured Coyle return. Just missed: Kyle Russell

Final analysis: If some of the pitchers can translate their potential into results, then this team could be the favorite to win the Southern League. The rotation is six-deep and strong, while the bullpen is strong from both sides of the mound. The outfield should carry the offense, with shortstop being the only real concern on the infield. The Lookouts should be fun to watch this season.

Albuquerque Isotopes (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

Starting rotation: Fabio Castro, Stephen Fife, Matt Magill, Matt Palmer, Mario Santiago

Magill is the legit prospect here. Fife returns and will be the first called up in the event of an injury to a starter in L.A. Palmer can chew up innings, but that is it. Castro was terrible last year with the A’s organization and might not last long in Albuquerque. Santiago is a gamble, with the Dodgers/Isotopes hoping he can carry over the success he found in Korea last year with the SK Wyverns.

Bullpen: Michael Antonini, Blake Johnson, Hector Nelo, Red Patterson, Paco Rodriguez, Cole St. Clair, Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall

Antonini’s health is in question, so he might not crack this group. Rodriguez and Tolleson both deserve to pitch in the Majors, but I have Javy Guerra and Ted Lilly taking the last two spots. Johnson and St. Clair return in the long relief roles. Wall should close again. Patterson moves up, but it could easily be Ames instead. Nelo, a minor-league Rule 5 pick, gets the nod over the plethora of Triple-A vets signed this off-season. I am also betting that the veteran trio of Kevin Gregg, Mark Lowe, and Peter Moylan will opt out at the end of the spring. Just missed: Juan Abreu, Victor Garate, Gregory Infante, Wilmin Rodriguez, Luis Vasquez

Catchers: Jesus Flores, Matt Wallach

Flores could easily be subbed out for Federowicz if the Dodgers opt to have the prospect play every day and the veteran back up A.J. Ellis. Consider them interchangeable. Wallach has never hit, but he plays good defense and seems like a safe bet to the backup. Just missed: Eliezer Alfonzo, Wilkin Castillo, Ramon Castro

Infielders: 1B–Nick Evans, 2B–Elian Herrera, SS–Dee Gordon, 3B–Dallas McPherson, UTIL–Rusty Ryal, Justin Sellers

Evans always earned rave reviews for his defense, which could be a big help for Gordon’s wild throws (remember how Mark Teixeira made Derek Jeter look better back in 2009?). While it can be speculated that Gordon could or should be in the Majors, until he proves otherwise, I have him here. Sellers is another guy most people are counting out, but the Dodgers have not dumped him yet, even after his arrest in Sacramento. Herrera can, and likely will, play everywhere, but he should play almost every day. McPherson will DH against AL teams, since his back is unlikely to hold up for 144 games. Ryal gets the nod because the Isotopes need the left-handed bat. Just missed: Alfredo Amezaga UTIL, Brian Barden 3B, Ozzie Martinez SS

Outfielders: LF–Scott Van Slyke, CF–Tony Gwynn Jr., RF–Alex Castellanos, OF–Jeremy Moore

Unless Castellanos returns to the infield, this outfield is tough to figure out. Both he, Moore and Van Slyke are all right-handed hitters, so it would make a lot of sense for someone like Smith (who hits left-handed) to move up from Chattanooga. Unless the Isotopes only carry seven relievers (which, fat chance), it won’t happen unless the Dodgers move Van Slyke in a trade. Moore gets that backup spot because he can play all three positions and because the Dodgers obviously think very highly of him as he was the only free agent to participate in their prospect minicamp last month. Just missed: Matt Angle, Brian Cavazos-Galvez

Final analysis: This team does not look as talented as last year’s playoff squad, at least on paper. The rotation looks awfully suspect behind Fife and Magill. The bullpen could be good, at least. The lineup lacks left-handed bats, but should be able to score enough runs to keep games interesting. If the Dodgers can’t find any additional starting pitchers, however, it could be a long summer of 12-10 scores in Albuquerque, which this reporter is not very interested in watching anymore.

2012 Dodgers in Review #3: C Tim Federowicz

.333/.500/.333 4pa 0hr 0.1 fWAR (inc.)

2012 in brief: Four mere September plate appearances make me regret doing a post on each player just three reviews in.

2013 status: Under team control and is expected to get the chance to fight his way onto the big league roster in spring training.

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I suppose if there’s a surprise about Tim Federowicz‘ season, it’s that we didn’t see him until September. That’s less about him and more about the shocking fact that despite all of the debilitating injuries we saw in 2012, the untested A.J. Ellis and the old-and-busted Matt Treanor happened to be the only two hitters who managed to make it through the season unscathed. (Though Treanor did hurt himself on the next-to-last day of the season, which may be the only reason why Federowicz even got that lone start.)

Really, Federowicz’ year, his first full season in Triple-A, was largely meant to be a test of whether he could handle the expectations that were suddenly placed upon him when Ned Colletti dealt Trayvon Robinson for Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and a low-level pitcher. In that, I’d say the results were mixed. He did hit .294/.371/.461 with 11 homers while making the PCL All-Star team, and his defensive reputation remains solid, as Chris Jackson asked De Jon Watson about in July:

Q: Where do you see catcher Tim Federowicz standing right now in his development?

DJW: “Defensively he’s definitely made some major strides especially as far as blocking the ball and managing the running game. Offensively the approach is still evolving. He has to get more consistent, trust in the fact that he can go into that right-center field gap. Once he gets that, he’s so quick on the inside it’ll be a reactionary thing for him.”

Ned Colletti followed up with a few somewhat cryptic quotes to Steve Dilbeck earlier this week:

“We have much more confidence in him than we did a year ago,” Colletti said. “Not that we didn’t a year ago, but his experience is vastly greater.

“When we acquired him, he had not played triple-A baseball. He’s farther along in his career and we’ve noticed a change. Even though he didn’t play much this month, we noticed a change.”

Yet it’s hard to analyze any Albuquerque player without checking into his home/road splits, and for Federowicz, they were more than a little troublesome:

Home: 230 PA .350/.415/.569
Road: 236 PA .245/.331/.370

Considering that all of the reviews of Federowicz after the trade and prior to the season painted him as a good-glove, very-questionable-bat type, I don’t see a whole lot here that’s changed. I don’t doubt that he can play in the bigs defensively, yet he seems to be a backup or a second-division starter at best with the bat. That’s still a player with a little bit of value, I suppose, though not really someone worth getting excited about.

I still think he’s likely to take Treanor’s job next year, and that’ll be fine if so. Yet it’s also not too hard to see the Dodgers getting another veteran alternative to take some of the load off of Ellis and leave Federowicz as a depth option in Triple-A. It’s hard to say that Federowicz has forced his way to the bigs just yet, and it’s not like the disappointing seasons from Chattanooga catchers Gorman Erickson & Matt Wallach demand that they be moved up a level right now either.

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Next up! Hopefully the last time we ever have to talk about James Loney!

Roster Expansion Likely to Bring Back Some Familiar Faces

This Tim Federowicz picture, by Ron on Flickr, is cool enough that I’m putting up with the annoying watermark.

Tomorrow is September 1, which means that rosters expand, and I’d much rather indulge in some good old-fashioned rosterbation than think about another listless performance which spoiled an otherwise perfect Vin Scully day. So let’s get to it – who are we likely to see come up to bolster the corps?

First, a clarification. Yes, you need to be on the 40-man roster to be called up, and the Dodgers already have issues where that’s concerned, with four “dead” spots already. I say that because we’re not going to see Yasiel Puig (not ready), Alfredo Silverio (injured), or Jerry Sands & Rubby De La Rosa (in that weird “player to be named” trade stasis), yet they all take up spots on the 40-man. With the 40-man otherwise full and spots that will need to be cleared for Dee Gordon at the least and potentially Ted Lilly, Tony Gwynn, or Bobby Abreu as well, it’s incredibly unlikely that everyone’s favorite PCL Pitcher of the Year, John Ely, makes a return to Los Angeles this year.

Second, even though a team can in theory activate their entire 40-man roster if they choose, teams never do. The Dodgers usually call up between 5-7 additional players every year, and there’s little reason to think that will change. In fact, because of the unending run of injuries we’ve seen this year, we’re not likely to see many new faces at all. Of the entire 40-man roster, the only guys who have been healthy and with the organization all season who didn’t make it to Los Angeles at some point were Tim Federowicz, Matt Angle, & Chris Withrow. So these are mostly guys that we’ve seen already in 2012.

The only exception to that is Federowicz, who we saw in 2011 anyway. He’s a given, because every team carries a third catcher in September, but it’s unlikely to happen immediately, since the Isotopes are currently in first place with their season ending on Monday. It doesn’t make for good organization relations for the parent club to ruin the playoff push of an affiliate unless it’s an emergency, so Federowicz and friends probably stay down for another week or so. Federowicz is having a good season in ABQ (though with the typical massive home/road OPS split of .984/.701) and is all but certain to join A.J. Ellis with the big club in 2013.

In addition, expect to see some righty power added in Alex Castellanos & Scott Van Slyke, who will mainly serve to make us groan when Nick Punto is used as a pinch-hitter instead or when they sit idly by while Andre Ethier flails at a low-and-away breaking ball from a lefty. Dee Gordon will add some speed off the bench, as will Elian Herrera, who can also provide positional flexibility, though I’d be shocked if he ever got another start.

On the pitching side, up-and-down Javy Guerra (who just allowed four runs in 1/3 of an inning to Triple-A Round Rock) and Josh Wall are almost certain adds, and probably Stephen Fife as well – but only as a long man out of the bullpen.

So there’s your eight potential call-ups: Federowicz, Van Slyke, Gordon, Castellanos, Herrera, Wall, Guerra, and Fife. That actually feels like one too many, so it wouldn’t surprise me if either Van Slyke or Herrera didn’t get the invitation after all, and – while I am unaware of any potential handshake deals struck when they agreed to go to Albuquerque – I just don’t see a role for Gwynn or Abreu right now.

The issue we haven’t yet solved is that by activating Gordon, the Dodgers would be one over on the 40-man roster. While it may tempting to fire up the “DFA Juan Uribe!” chant again, it’s not going to happen right now. You could DFA Angle, or promote & disable Silverio, but I have a feeling this is all going to work itself out – either Chad Billingsley or Scott Elbert or both is going to end up having arm surgery and miss the remainder of the year.

Now, can someone, anyone, please start to hit while the season still matters?