May 19

Dodgers in a race to the upside down

Sure, OK, we can start with the bullpen. It’s hardly the only thing going on with the Dodgers, but it’s something. Oh yes, it’s something.

You need good relief to win, but you can’t plan for good relief. 

This comes up every year, so it’s tedious to point out, but it doesn’t seem to go without saying.

I’m going to ask take my years-old research into this on faith; whether you choose to do so is up to you. But what you find is that there is virtually no consistency year-to-year among relief pitchers. The best might give you two or three consecutive good years. The very best.

The reasons for this should be clear. You don’t become a reliever unless you are flawed in some way that prevents you from being a starter. That obviously doesn’t mean you can’t be a fantastic reliever in a given year, but for the most part, relievers are pitchers who aren’t designed to be great over the long haul. They typically have a limited number of pitches, which leaves them vulnerable to being figured out over time. The good ones end up getting overworked, or maybe they were never that good in the first place, instead merely a triumph of small sample size. We could go on, but let’s sum it up this way: Mariano Rivera is not reality.

The 2003 Dodger bullpen was incredible. It was also, in many significant ways, an accident.

Staffing a bullpen has always, fascinatingly, been Ned Colletti’s simultaneous strength and weakness. Colletti has had a knack for finding capable non-roster talent (Takashi Saito, Ronald Belisario) over the same years that he has invested multiyear deals in such inconsistent arms as Matt Guerrier and Brandon League. There is no correlation in the Colletti tenure between salary and performance, yet the expensive signings continue.

The point is that you can never feel good about your bullpen entering a season – never. I really believe that. You can’t feel anything at all. The best thing you can do is assemble a number of arms before Spring Training, a combination of youth and experience and promise and reclamation, and then hope for the best.

The peril of having someone with a long-term contract is that you feel obligated to keep him past the point of effectiveness. That’s the boat the Dodgers are in with League and Guerrier, even with a new ownership that doesn’t much worry about player salaries these days.

The Dodger bullpen is leaky through and through. Almost nothing is working right now. Just as you were gaining supreme confidence in Paco Rodriguez and Kenley Jansen, they found growing pains that left them struggling like the more experienced J.P Howell, League, Guerrier and, if you will, Belisario and Javy Guerra.

Fans tend to have unreasonable expectations of bullpens – you see outrage anytime any relief pitcher gives up a run, let alone a lead. I’m not sure where fans get the idea that every reliever on their team should have a 0.00 ERA, but there it is. Every Dodger relief pitcher since the heyday of Eric Gagne and Saito has been attacked for his failings, however momentary, however good that pitcher has been overall.  So when a bullpen is collectively struggling as much as the Dodger bullpen is, it’s frogs and locusts time.

Don Mattingly’s instinct has been correct in general to try to play matchups with his relievers. You can debate the specifics of all his choices – I don’t agree with them all – but the bottom line is, there’s little he can do when no one is reliable.

Mattingly’s bullpen Sunday faced 18 batters and got nine outs. When Jansen entered Saturday’s game in relief of Chris Capuano, he had thrown only 21 pitches in his previous 72 hours. Capuano had pitched well that night, but he was past the 90-pitch mark and going on a balky calf.

But when things are bad, things are bad.

Tim Federowicz is not a martyr.

This morning brought the news that Tim Federowicz, and not Luis Cruz or Ramon Hernandez, had been displaced from the active roster to make room for the return of Mark Ellis from the disabled list. Federowicz is more valuable than Cruz or Hernandez, but the hysteria this caused was rather remarkable.

When I called out this freakout on Twitter, several people lectured me, as if I didn’t know, that it wasn’t just about Federowicz, but that it was symptomatic of the Colletti Dodgers’ larger mismanagement in general or obsession with experience over youth in particular. As if I needed to be told that Colletti values experience, sometimes to the franchise’s detriment.

I’ve spent a lot of time on how to phrase this next section, because I don’t want to give the impression that you shouldn’t try to maximize every advantage you can. Federowicz can’t help the Dodgers that much right now, but sure, I’d rather see him get five at-bats a week over Hernandez, because an on-base percentage over .500 in Albuquerque and above-average defense suggest a better skill set than Hernandez currently offers. Scott Van Slyke’s callup was overdue, not because he was guaranteed to hit two homers in a game, but because he was on a hot streak in the minors that made it clear there was no better time to try him out.

But just as there is with the bullpen, there’s a level of knee-jerk fan reaction with the bench that is out of proportion. When a player is a single game away from having better stats than his competition, as Hernandez is compared with Federowicz (3 for 17 with one walk and no extra-base hits as a major-leaguer in 2013), and neither is projected to be a starter, and the alternatives to Hernandez as backup if A.J. Ellis gets hurt are Jesus Flores, Matt Wallach and Gorman Erickson, the uproar should not be Defcon Anything.

Yeah, Cruz stinks right now, and no one in their right mind would keep him over Juan Uribe – just like no one in their right mind would have argued to keep Uribe over Cruz last summer.

See what I’m getting at?

If you’re not frustrated with the Dodgers right now, you’re either not a Dodger fan or very zen. You’re not wrong if you’re unhappy with Federowicz’s demotion. But if you’re angry over Federowicz being sent down, you’re overreacting. It’s not symptomatic of the Dodgers’ larger problems. You’re not going to plug in Federowicz, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Alex Castellanos into the Dodger bench and as a result see things turn around.

And May 19 is too soon to give up, if only because of one person.

Matt Kemp.

Until Kemp starts hitting, nothing is going to happen with this team. Nothing. The Dodgers cannot win without his bat. And again, it’s not something anger will solve. The effort is there – if anything, he’s trying too hard to get things going. But it is up to Kemp.

It would help if Andre Ethier hit more, but the difference between what Ethier is doing compared to what is expected of him is not what it is with Kemp.

I’m sure Kemp has had all the advice in the world, from Mattingly, Mark McGwire and any number of coaches or people he meets on the street. But no one else can synthesize the good from the bad and put it into action.

You can start firing managers or coaches or trainers. Kemp still needs to hit.

The bullpen can start putting out fires. Kemp still needs to hit.

The defense can stop making two errors a game. Kemp still needs to hit.

But what if he does?

Let me tell you one more thing.  I would love to give up on the 2013 Dodgers. It will be a relief if and when I can. I spent part of my Sunday writing this 1,500-word piece that probably isn’t worth a damn, especially for a team barely winning 40 percent of its games.

And the season might be over, except for this. For all their problems, Los Angeles is still somehow only seven games out of first place. The Giants, in case you haven’t noticed, have their own cauldron of concerns. And Arizona and Colorado … I just don’t know. I can’t see them not hitting their own skid. I can’t see it.

The National League West looks like an 85-win division. That’s still within the Dodgers’ abilities.

The team gets healthier. The bullpen stops being a disaster. Matt Kemp starts to hit. And then …

Honestly, that’s as far as I can go. The team does look awful right now. It looks nothing like a winning team. It’s creaky and crumbly. Race to the bottom or race to the top – I truly can’t decide.

May 19

Mark Ellis returns, Federowicz sent down

Tim Federowicz has been sent down to Albuquerque to make room for the return from the disabled list of Mark Ellis.

The Dodgers are 6-13 since Ellis’ last start for the team.

Ted Lilly is expected to come off the disabled list this week. He will either take the spot in the starting rotation of today’s starter, Matt Magill, or will go to the bullpen. Javy Guerra is probably heading back to Albuquerque soon, if not to make room for Lilly then for Scott Elbert, whose return is also fairly imminent.

Things look bleak again for the Dodgers after a short respite, but Chris Capuano’s appearance Saturday was briefly encouraging, even if there’s a hint of health concern again for the lefty, according to The Associated Press.

… Capuano said he told Mattingly after his last at-bat in the eighth inning to be prepared to pull him out of the game because he had lingering problems with a strained calf.

“It wasn’t affecting pitch execution out there,” Capuano said. “It just feels a little tired. I’ve got an extra day before the next start. With treatment and stuff we should be able to get that ready.” …

Dodgers at Braves, 10:30 a.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
A.J. Ellis, C
Scott Van Slyke, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Nick Punto, SS
Matt Magill, P


Apr 06

Dodgers trade Aaron Harang for neither Ramon Martinez nor Carlos Hernandez



The Dodgers have traded Aaron Harang to the Colorado Rockies for, broadly speaking, the second coming of Rod Barajas – an old, slow catcher with perhaps some vestiges of power.

The acquisition of catcher Ramon Hernandez is much more like an NBA salary-cap maneuver than a traditional baseball trade, especially considering the Rockies immediately designated Harang for assignment. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. parses the details.

… Hernandez has a salary of $3.2 million this season, and was designated for assignment on Mar. 29. Harang is due $7 million this season, and has an option for 2014 that could vest with at least 180⅓ innings pitched in 2013, or a buyout of $2 million.

The Rockies designated Harang for assignment immediately upon making the trade.

Counting Sunday, Mar. 31, six days of the 183-day season have lapsed. That means the Dodgers are on the hook for $3,095,082 of Hernandez’s salary, and the Rockies responsible for $6,770,492 for Harang, plus the $2 million buyout in 2014, though Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the Dodgers would send $4.25 million to Colorado.

So, instead of having $9 million guaranteed to Harang, the Dodgers will instead pay approximately $7,574,590 ($3,095,082 for Hernandez, $229,508 for Harang, and $4.25 million to Colorado). Subtract the major league salary that would have been paid to Tim Federowicz and the Dodgers save approximately $2 million and upgraded their catching depth. …

Major League Baseball’s first Ramon Hernandez had a 3.03 ERA in 403 1/3 innings from 1967-77 (including 2.36 from 1971-75), peaking with a 1.67 ERA in 70 innings for the 1972 National League East champion Pirates.

This Ramon Hernandez has 166 home runs and a .744 OPS in 14 seasons, dipping sharply in 2012 when he had a .601 OPS in 196 plate appearances for Colorado (though he did go 3 for 4 against the Dodgers in a game last May). He turns 37 next month. Lucille IV, anyone?

Federowicz will probably remain on the Dodger roster until the team activates Chad Billingsley for his Wednesday start. It’s a sad but not altogether surprising turn for Federowicz, who essentially is enduring what current Dodger starter A.J. Ellis did in previous years – watching a veteran take the backup spot. The upside is that Federowicz, still only 25 and unlike Fernandez, the first of his name in the majors, can play regularly for Albuquerque.

I didn’t have the highest hopes for what the Dodgers would get for Harang, but I did dream that he might bring an actual bat off the bench instead of more filler. In a sense, that’s what Harang himself had become, despite the $12 million, two-year deal he signed in December 2011.

Harang leaves with two great Dodger Stadium memories – throwing six no-hit innings on July 9, 2011 and setting a team record with nine consecutive strikeouts 51 weeks ago today, on April 13, 2012.

Pirates at Dodgers, 6:10 p.m.
Kershaw CLI: Kershawrgo

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Justin Sellers, SS
Clayton Kershaw, P

Oct 17

Remembering 2011: Tim Federowicz


Mark J. Terrill/APTim Federowicz (21)

The setup: A 24-year-old catcher who had a .745 OPS with Boston’s Double-A affiliate Portland in the Eastern League, Federowicz came to the Dodger organization on July 31 with Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife in the three-team deal that sent Trayvon Robinson to Seattle. Despite praise for his defensive skills, almost every fan who cared was annoyed – a tidbit Federowicz quickly became aware of. Federowicz adapted to Triple-A Albuquerque easily enough, with a .431 on-base percentage and .627 slugging percentage in 102 plate appearances before getting a September promotion to Los Angeles.

The closeup: After making his debut in the eighth inning of a September 11 game against the Giants and striking out in the ninth, Federowicz reached base three times in his first career start September 15, on a hit-by-pitch, a single to center and a walk. He singled and walked in his next start two days later, then went 0 for 7 for the remainder of the season to finish 2 for 13 with a .313 on-base percentage and no extra-base hits. He threw out two of five runners attempting to steal.

Coming attractions: Federowicz has a big ally in Dodger general manager Ned Colletti, who moved Trayvon and earth to acquire him. The signing of a veteran catcher would probably mean that Federowicz starts the next season with more seasoning in the minors, because A.J. Ellis is finally out of options. Either way, Right Said Fed figures to be sexy enough to play in 50 to 100 games for Los Angeles in 2012.

Oct 07

Ned Colletti talks about 2012

Dodger general manager Ned Colletti gave a long interview to Jim Bowden for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Some highlights:

…Matt Kemp is a priority, and I plan on getting with his agent, Dave Stewart, and will work diligently in trying to work out a long-term deal with Matt. There is some urgency because he’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season if they don’t sign him long term now. Clayton Kershaw’s situation is not as urgent because he’s only first-time arbitration eligible and won’t be a free agent until after the 2014 season. That doesn’t mean we won’t have conversations and listen, and if we can make a deal that makes sense, we will be open to it — but not with the same urgency as Kemp.

… We will entertain signing (Andre Ethier) as well, but he’s coming off an injury and a subpar season. … I am not inclined to trade any player that is a key player to our major league club right now, and he fits that category.

… We really need a middle-of-the-lineup impact bat, which would be a very key component to us winning next year. We need to figure out second base. Carroll and Miles are free agents. Right now we have the two young players in Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year. We need to figure out left field as well, but we’re leaning towards Jerry Sands, especially after the way he finished this season with us. Behind the plate, we’ll probably let Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis handle the duties. They are both good catch-and-throw receivers. If Federowicz can hit .240 with some power, he can be an everyday catcher.

… And finally, although we’re pleased with our deep young bullpen, we’d still be open to signing another veteran reliever, but that would be a low priority based on our other team needs.

… We have a need in the middle of our lineup, and if we could do the right deal with a player in terms of duration and money, we would be willing to do it. We have flexibility if we keep catcher, second base, shortstop and left field as non-arbitration eligible players like we have now, then it is definitely possible that we could afford to spend the money on a significant middle-of-the-order bat.

… Kuroda has bought a house in Los Angeles and both of his daughters go to school here. He is an extremely loyal person to both the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles and really doesn’t want to play anywhere else. We hope he decides to stay here because he’s a very important part of our rotation and clubhouse.

… Our best prospects in our system right now are mostly pitching prospects, led by Zach Lee, who pitched at the Midwest league this past season but has a chance to be special. Allen Webster and Shawn Tolleson are two other top pitching prospects. Tolleson was our minor league pitcher of the year and a close friend of Clayton Kershaw. Steve Ames is another bullpen arm that we could see as early as next season. Chris Lee, our first round pick from Stanford, of course, is also special, and we’re going to try to develop him as a starter.

… We’re a lot closer to winning than people realize. If we had gotten just the typical offensive contributions this year from James Loney, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe, who knows how many games we could have won. But injuries and subpar seasons are just part of the game. If we can make a few key moves this offseason and solve some of the question marks on this team that we’ve just been talking about, I really believe this club can finish in first in 2012.

There’s more, so be sure to read the whole interview, as well as Tony Jackson’s five key offseason questions and Ramona Shelburne’s own interview with Colletti.

Also, don’t miss the Kamenetzky Brothers’ podcast with “Breaking Bad” star and longtime Dodger fan Bryan Cranston.

Sep 16

Kershaw expected to avoid suspension

Clayton Kershaw is not expected to draw a suspension for hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch Wednesday, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Sep 05

In short term, Ellis has proven himself

A.J. Ellis has a .405 on-base percentage this season and, in 216 plate appearances, a .360 OBP in his career.

On a ballclub that has struggled with on-base skills (even considering the recent offensive surge), we’re past the point of considering whether Ellis belongs. He deserves a spot on the team until he proves otherwise, not the other way around.

Ellis has thrown out 27 percent of opposing basestealers in his career (13 of 48) with one career error and two career passed balls in 511 1/3 innings behind the plate.

* * *

Meanwhile, a comparison:

Martin has played more and been more effective defensively, but offensively, Barajas’ power has been an asset this year. Barajas would have to be willing to take a paycut to return to the Dodgers in 2012 – perhaps he will.

* * *

Tim Federowicz has a .431 on-base percentage and .627 slugging percentage with six homers in 83 at-bats since coming to Albuquerque in the Trayvon Robinson trade. Expect the Dodgers to call up the 24-year-old in the next couple of days.

Aug 22

Andre Ethier, off (and on) the charts

Below, you can see in graphic form the ongoing power decline for Andre Ethier, discussed here last week. Charts come courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information. Note not only the reduction in balls hit over the fence but also hits to the warning track, compared with 2009.

Andre Ethier 2009 hit chart
Andre Ethier 2010 hit chart

ESPN Stats and InformationAndre Ethier 2011 hit chart

* * *

Albuquerque baseball expert Chris Jackson freelanced a feature for MiLB.com on new Dodger catching prospect Tim Federowicz.

Fair or not, catcher Tim Federowicz finds himself under some extra pressure after being traded.

Los Angeles Dodgers fans were almost uniform in their dislike of the three-team trade that sent outfield prospect Trayvon Robinson to Seattle and brought Federowicz and two pitchers to the Dodgers organization.

The stated intent by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was to acquire a catching prospect, something Los Angeles lacked in its farm system. Federowicz said he understands the frustration of Dodgers fans.

“Yeah, they gave up Trayvon — he’s a great player and now he’s in the big leagues, doing his thing up there,” Federowicz said. “That’s tough to lose.

“I guess there is a little bit of pressure to show fans what I’ve got. But I think it’ll eventually work out the way the Dodgers want it to.” …

* * *

Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles was kind enough to show sympathy for Dodger fans when Rubby De La Rosa went down for the count. Now, with the Giants verging toward tailspin, having lost 16 of 23, he might need some for himself. Or maybe time was ripe for a humbling, if you ask Brisbee. From the New York Times:

… Such minor hysteria — sarcastic or not — highlights the uncomfortable fact that, for some, the team’s faithful have come to resemble the type of smug, and yet strangely neurotic, supporters of certain big-money East Coast franchises.

“People get on me when I say this, but it’s kind of that first step toward the path of the Red Sox fan,” said Grant Brisbee, 33, the editor of The McCovey Chronicles, a Web site for Giants fans. “You get a little cocky, a little arrogant. And they say, ‘No, no, no, Giants fans aren’t like that.’ But they’re not that far away from getting that really obnoxious national fan base.” (Just like Yankees fans, Mr. Brisbee added.) …

* * *

Finally, here’s a cool video feature from ESPN Sport Science on last week’s triple play by Milwaukee against the Dodgers:

Jul 31

More reviews of Dodgers’ new prospects

Alex Castellanos

“… A 25-year-old right-handed hitter, he has mediocre tools but has put up big numbers this year. His plate discipline needs work, and despite the line at Springfield I’d rate him a Grade C prospect at this point, with a chance to be a bench asset.”
– John Sickels, Minor League Ball

Tim Federowicz

“… Federowicz is a catch-and-throw specialist who isn’t likely to produce enough at the plate to be an average regular, but is plus across the board behind the plate (including a career 34 percent caught-stealing rate) and is no worse than a good backup in the majors.”
– Keith Law, ESPN.com

“… The best defensive catcher in the Red Sox system, with the catch-and-throw skills to be a big league regular. His pure arm strength is average, but it plays up because he has smooth footwork and a quick release. He has thrown out 36 percent of basestealers this year in Double-A, and also has shown off his receiving ability by committing just one passed ball. Federowicz’s bat will determine how much he plays when he gets to the majors. He ability to hit for average and control the strike zone is decent, and he has some gap power. He runs well for a catcher and has more athleticism than most backstops.”
Baseball America

“… A top-flight defensive catcher, he has a strong throwing arm, plenty of mobility, and excellent leadership skills behind the plate. A weak stick has kept him off prospect lists. … He probably won’t hit enough to be a major league regular, but he could last a long time as a defense-oriented reserve. He turns 24 this week. Grade C.”
– John Sickels, Minor League Ball

“… He’s a very good catch-and-throw guy, with a quick release and strong arm. He’s also worked very hard to improve his blocking. At the plate, he uses a middle-of-the-field approach and has average pull power. Most see him as a defensive-oriented backup at the big league level, but he could become an everyday guy if he hits a bit more than expected.”
– Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com

Stephen Fife

“… Fife probably profiles as a right-handed reliever rather than a starter because he lacks the out pitch to start; he’ll touch 95 as a starter with a fringe-average curveball.”
– Law

“… Didn’t start pitching regularly until he was a high school senior, but after three years of college ball at Utah he worked himself into the third round of the 2008 draft. His best pitch is an 88-93 mph fastball that features good sink. He lacks an above-average secondary pitch, with his changeup (which has some splitter action) ranking ahead of his curveball. His control and command are average, and it’s more likely that he develops into a middle reliever than a starter.”
– Baseball America

“… His stuff is average across the board: 88-92 MPH sinking fastball, average changeup and curveball, but he throws strikes and keeps the ball low in the zone. … In the majors, he projects as a fifth starter or more probably a long/middle reliever. I’ve see him as a sleeper in the past but he’s never quite woken up. Grade C.
– Sickels

“… Fife is a solid right-handed starter with a three-pitch mix. An Eastern League All-Star this season, Fife can run his fastball up to 93 mph with some sink. His curveball can be an out pitch, and he’s also got a pretty good feel for a changeup. He mixes his pitches well and can change speeds, but he also has enough velocity to put hitters away at times.”
– Mayo

Juan Rodriguez

“… Rodriguez has a plus fastball, no average second pitch and below-average command and control – a nice arm to add to your system but a reliever at best and not a high-probability guy, either. Unless Robinson was somehow burning a hole in the Dodgers’ pockets, this (trade) doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, as they didn’t get any prospect as good as he is in the exchange.”
– Law

“… He still has room for projection in his 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame, and he already throws 93-95 mph coming out of the bullpen, enabling him to rank second among South Atlantic League relievers with 13.42 strikeouts per nine innings. There’s a good deal of effort in Rodriguez’s delivery, which hampers his control and command. His slider and changeup are fringy pitches, so his ceiling is as a late-inning reliever rather than as a starter.”
– Baseball America

… His command is spotty and his slider is mediocre, but his 92-95 MPH fastball has movement and his K/IP ratio is excellent. He needs to sharpen up his command and add polish, but he’s an interesting arm at least. Grade C, but has some upside.”
– Sickels

“… Rodriguez is a raw, tall and lanky right-hander with plenty of arm strength. Pitching out of the bullpen for Greenville in the South Atlantic League, he’s shown plus velocity, up to 98-99 mph at times. He’s got a slider that’s below average, and he’s working to develop a better feel for an offspeed pitch. He generally throws strikes, but he needs to find more consistency with his fastball command. That, and development of his offspeed stuff, will be key. But the power and arm strength that many teams covet are definitely there.”
– Mayo

Jul 31

Dodgers trade Trayvon Robinson for trio

Potential 2012 starting outfielder Trayvon Robinson, 23, has been sent by the Dodgers to Seattle as part of a three-team trade that brought Boston minor-leaguers Tim Federowicz, Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife to the Dodgers. Erik Bedard was the main prize of the deal, going from the Mariners to the Red Sox.

For the Dodgers, the key to the deal appears to be Federowicz, a catcher who will contend for playing time in Los Angeles next year. I think I might have been happier with Mark Brendanowicz. Turning 24 on Friday, Federowicz only has a .337 on-base percentage and .397 slugging percentage, however, with Double-A Portland in the Eastern League. SoxProspects.com praises his defense.

Rodriguez, a 22-year-old righthander, has pitched out of the bullpen this year and has 88 strikeouts in 59 innings (13.4 per nine), but with 32 walks and a 5.19 ERA. In Rookie ball last year, he pitched in 12 games, starting nine, with a 3.51 ERA and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Fife, a 24-year-old righty, has a 3.66 ERA and 6.1 K/9 in 19 games (18 starts) for Portland. That’s a bit below what John Ely could brag about after pitching in Double-A in 2009 at age 23.

For those three, the Dodgers gave up Robinson (24 in September), who has a .375 on-base percentage and .563 slugging percentage (26 homers) this year for Triple-A Albuquerque.  Robinson, who has hit well on the road as well as at home this season, has had his fine year marred by striking out 122 times in 100 games. But it’s stunning to see him traded for such an offensively challenged catcher and two sketchy pitching prospects.

In 2007, A.J. Ellis had a .382 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage in Double-A – better than what Federowicz has – and Ned Colletti does all he can to keep Ellis from getting regular playing time.

The only rationale I can think of is that the Dodgers think they’ll do better in the offseason trying to find a proper left fielder than they would trying to find a proper catcher. Essentially, Robinson was not in their plans, and they decided to unload him to fill a positional need. But it’s still puzzling, because the trade feels less like a step forward behind the plate and more like a step backward in outfield depth.