The defensive potential of Mark Ellis

If the Dodgers replaced baseball’s 27th-best second baseman offensively with the ninth-best, a lot of us would be doing cartwheels. At least three cartwheels, maybe seven.

By that token, maybe we should be doing at least two cartwheels – and as many as 11 – over the fact that, according to David Pinto of Baseball Musings, the Dodgers are replacing baseball’s 27th-best second baseman defensively with the ninth best. He’s in the decline phase of his career, but Mark Ellis should still be a considerable improvement over Jamey Carroll (the aforementioned No. 27), and Aaron Miles, who combined to take 75 percent of the Dodgers’ innings at second base last year.

Wrote Ken Arneson, who has watched Ellis play with Oakland, on Twitter: “Good to make note of the numbers, because Ellis’s defense is as invisible as a mistake-free umpire.”

Elsewhere …

  • © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

    Today in Jon SooHoo: Dee Gordon is off to the races.
  • Dylan Hernandez of the Times chronicles the maturation of Matt Kemp.
  • Former Dodger reliever Danys Baez is retiring, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via MLB Trade Rumors). From 2006, the year the Dodgers acquired him and Lance Carter from Tampa Bay for Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany, Baez had a 5.16 ERA (85 ERA+) in 265 1/3 innings with 154 strikeouts and 396 baserunners allowed. And one balk. Jackson in that time has pitched 1,003 2/3 innings with a 4.38 ERA (99 ERA+), 753 strikeouts and 1,495 baserunners allowed. And five balks.
  • Here’s an interesting story from my Variety colleague Stuart Levine about how the move of “Downton Abbey” and “Luther” from the Emmy miniseries to the Emmy drama category could presage the Emmys nominating 10 programs for top drama in 2013.
  • Meanwhile, I bid farewell to the Oscars with a Variety On the Air blog post calling for Academy to understand, once and for all, that they’re making a TV show, rather than filming a stage show. And that starts with the selection of their next host.
  • Mitch Miller

    Just read a blurb on Rotoworld about Yadier Molina and the Cards being close to an 5-year/75m contract extension.  Uh?  $75-million to Yadier Molina, does this seem like a lot?

    • http://twitter.com/Cadtalfryn Kyle MacGregor

      I don’t think so. The market is getting flooded with catchers next off-season and that sounds pricey for what is sure to come down in about 8 months unless he has a stellar year. But that’d keep him locked up til he’s 35 so you’re buying the rest of his prime and not the decline. 

      • http://twitter.com/terryraustin terry austin

        Does the statistical decline for catchers typically begin sooner than for other position players?

        • http://twitter.com/Cadtalfryn Kyle MacGregor

          32 usually, but his arm is pretty key to their defense. Plus he’s at the top of the class so even as he ages he’ll still probably be better than most.

  • Anonymous

    Hope Ellis is a difference maker on defense. Any way you can aid run prevention is welcome. I didn’t see defense as a major flaw on this team (and I’m not sure our pitching staff is that ground ball heavy), but I’m willing to be won over. It’s difficult to make a case for any in-house candidate to man 2b, so it was inevitable we signed one. While 2012 might not hurt that much, Ellis in 2013 is a head-scratcher. I guess we’ll be so rich by then a mere $5m won’t matter. 

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    I think defense will be especially important to  a team that is average at best with the bat (depending on how some unpredictable guys perform outside of Kemp). Our pitching will be solid and will be abetted by having guys who can pick it behind them. So with Loney, Ellis, Dee and Uribe, the infield may not hit that well but will be very handy wit the glove. Catching will be well-defended. And hopefully the outfield defense will be okay. (Never sure with Ethier, and Rivera + Sands won’t be great defensively, but when Gwynn comes in to spell them it will be better.) For a team that may have a lot of close games, relatively low scoring, it’s going to be good to at least have solid D. 

    • Anonymous

      There is no D in Dee Gordon.

  • Anonymous

    Probably good to pair Dee with a guy like Ellis.  Besides providing a good example of a guy dedicated to defense, a sure tosser with experience at 2nd might reduce the chances of Dee having awkward close encounters in the pivot with lumbering, bloodthirsty runners.

  • Anonymous

    Found this must read link at Blue Heaven:
    “Here is a great editorial by Chris Lamb at the LA Times about Jackie Robinson and his trip to his very first Spring Training in Florida.” (1946)
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lamb-jackie-robinson-20120227,0,7471121.story

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Pruett/1707390003 Terry Pruett

    I’m sure the Dodgers defense will be improved. However, it would have to improve by massive amounts to make up for the sacrifice of quality in the starting pitching ranks combined with the continued mediocrity of the every day lineup. This team has below average production at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Catcher, and LF. In addition we have one absolute starting gem (Kershaw), surrounded by average to below average pitchers. Our bullpen is seemingly strong…but that’s closing the barn door after the cows are gone. Please…someone tell me where the cause for optimism is here?

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      A farm system full of potentially good-to-great pitchers (plus Rubby coming back halfway into the season), with a few intriguing hitters tossed in, makes me slightly more optimistic. At least for 2013 if not this year. As does new ownership, and eventually a new GM. ;)  But yeah many things will have to go right or better than expected for Dodgers to be playoff team. Being in a division where all the other teams have both talent and question marks makes it a little easier to believe there’s a chance at least…  And if they’re close n July could also see a trade changing things.

      • Anonymous

        There’s a psychological hurdle there for Rubby, this is where management earns their money. They need to place him in positions were he will succeed.

    • Anonymous

      And SS.

    • Anonymous

      And SS, where we’d be lucky to get .280/ .320 with additional 20 outs on steal attempts.

      My only hope for the season is that Loney, Ethier, Harang, and Capuano play well enough to bring some prospects back.

  • http://twitter.com/Derek_TC Derek TC

    It’s hard to argue with your points, although I think overall the pitching staff will be above average, but I would have taken Kuroda for 1 year and Eovaldi/other youngsters over Capuano and Harang and their contracts…

    • Anonymous

      Kuroda for a year at $10M with at least an opportunity to extend him another year makes more sense to me than Capuno and Harang for 2 years at an average of $11M per year.  Time will tell but I’d rather have Kuroda.  I suspect the way the Capuno/Harang deals were structured (only $6 M in cash out this year) was the difference.  We need someone with way too much money to buy this team.

  • Anonymous

    man, it’s so weird, I feel like we’re all in collective limbo as to what direction the Dodgers are heading, I wish the process was over so we can at least forcast what direction the club is taking…

  • Anonymous

    Ellis’ excellent defense will help to hide the youthful mistakes of Gordon, but that’s about it.  I’m still not sure what Adam Kennedy brings to the lineup.  Or my buddy Hairston. 

    Good thing Joe Torre isn’t managing this team any longer.  If he were, I’d foresee a spike in calls to crisis hotlines on the Sundays when the infield is Hairston at 3b, Ellis at short, Kennedy at 2B, and Russ MItchell at 1B.  A lot of Judy hitters in search of a Punch. 

    • Anonymous

      SaMo, man you hit that one out of the park!

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Wisconsin man who collected Ryan Braun’s urine sample issues statement “to set the record straight” bit.ly/zqD2Sw

    • Anonymous

      Let’s see?  Who to believe?  A guy who has nothing to lose and nothing to gain or a guy who has everything to gain and everything to lose?  I do not think the samples were tampered with.

      • Anonymous

        Even before the statement by Mr. Laurenzi, Jr., you would have to have believed that the collector has a personal vendetta against Braun to think he was clean.  The street is full of people who committed the crime but could not be found legally guilty.  That’s all that happened here.
         
        Barry Bonds anyone?

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    “The Wire” character wind-up toys bit.ly/w3HWK1

  • http://twitter.com/nrmnbates Eric Enders

    I had no idea Danys Baez was even active.

    And I’ve gotta get that Omar wind-up.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • Anonymous

    Good points on the Oscar telecast.  Letterman’s hosting gig was one of the best ever, but the Academy just did not get it, and the hamstrung what he did (the show, as you might remember, opened with some rambling monolougue by the then-President of the Academy, who no one outside of the Academy knows, and left people thinking, at first, that it was a Letterman gag that did not pay off.