Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Mark Ellis (Page 2 of 2)

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.

Kemp will be king, but there will be no Prince

Ned Colletti said Tuesday that it’s “unrealistic” that the Dodgers will sign Prince Fielder. Tony Jackson of has more.

Amid reports such as this from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of that Matt Kemp’s soon-to-be-official eight-year contract will pay him just over $10 million next season, it would appear that the Dodgers are in for one more spring of budget tightening as the ownership transition takes place. The contract for new second baseman Mark Ellis pays $2.5 million in 2012 and $5.25 million in 2013, plus incentives, Jackson reports.

The Dodgers’ main mystery right now is starting pitching, considering that the back end of their rotation is made up of Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland and there’s no guarantee yet that Hiroki Kuroda will return.

  • Though as a Dodger fan you might find it moot, David Schoenfeld of explores how much the Kemp deal will affect Fielder’s next contract.
  • New stats-oriented director of contracts, research and operations Alex Tamin influenced the Ellis signing, general manager Ned Colletti told Ken Gurnick of
  • The Ellis signing gets a mixed review from Chad Moriyama.

    … For the money, Ellis should be a passable option considering the alternatives were not exactly appealing, nor were there strong internal candidates. However, while Ellis should be better going forward than he was in 2011, he still figures to be below the league average threshold, making him a fringy or mediocre starter. Additionally, there’s the real risk that he goes through a collapse in skill before the contract is up. So while the finances might pan out okay, this has to rate as an average deal at best.

  • Here’s a January 2008 ode to Ellis from my former Baseball Toaster compadre Ken Arneson.
  • New Dodger trainer Sue Falsone, interviewed by the Huffington Post, says the song that reminds her most of Los Angeles is “Don’t Stop Believin’,” but we’ll hold out hope for her success here anyway (link via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).
  • Former Dodger outfielder Xavier Paul unknowingly got caught up in an Australian Baseball League scam, reports Alexis Brudnicki of Baseball America and Jenifer Langosch of
  • also offered up its choices for top Dodger minor leaguers in 2011 by position. Compare them to the Dodger Thoughts Grain of Salt Midseason Minor-League All-Stars.
  • River Ave. Blues passes along a piece that shows that the value of the batting average statistic was being questioned 96 years ago.
  • In Tuesday’s mail, I received to my surprise (as a Los Angeles-based Hall of Fame non-voter) a 12-page full-color campaign brochure for Juan “Igor” Gonzalez’s Cooperstown candidacy. Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk rebuts the effort.
  • I was a fan of the Baltimore Orioles’ move in the 1990s to an ornithologically correct bird on its caps, in part because of the repeated use by sportswriters of the word “ornithologically.” I also thought it looked cool, so I’m a little disappointed to see them go back to the cartoon bird.
  • For your amusement/slash/horror: Life (the magazine, not the cereal) has chosen its 20 worst ever covers.

Dodgers close to adding second baseman Mark Ellis

Chris Humphreys/US PresswireMark Ellis

It’s natural to compare infielder Mark Ellis, whom the Dodgers are reportedly about to sign to a two-year contract, to Jamey Carroll, who recently completed a successful two-year contract with the Dodgers and just left to start another with the Twins.

The comparison isn’t necessarily a favorable one based on recent performance – Ellis delivered only a .288 on-base percentage and .346 slugging percentage this season despite playing half his year with Colorado, while Carroll was at .359/.347 as a full-season Los Angeles Dodger.

What intrigues me, though, is that if this choice had been offered two years ago, you might have picked Ellis over Carroll, who went .355/.340 with Cleveland in 2009 and was, then as now of course, 3 1/2 years older. Ellis had a .305/.403 mark with Oakland in 2009 – the on-base percentage was weaker, but given the respective ballparks, ages and glove abilities (Ellis has been above average in UZR at second base every year since 2003, according to Fangraphs, and superior to Carroll), you might have predicted that Ellis would have been more productive from 2010-11.

And in fact, as good as Carroll was for the Dodgers in 2010 (.379 OBP, .339 slugging, 100 OPS+, 2.5 WAR), here’s what Ellis delivered that same year: .358 OBP, .381 slugging, 103 OPS+, 3.4 WAR. It wasn’t until 2011 that Ellis came to appear so much worse than Carroll.

I can’t say I paid attention to Ellis this past season, but he’ll be 36 when his new contract ends, while Carroll will be on the downward side of 39. If you’re asking me today who I think will prove more valuable over that period of time, I think I’m going to lean toward Ellis, even if he’s nothing more than an upscale version of Aaron Miles.

Now, we do need to back away and realize that the Dodgers’ only choice wasn’t Carroll or Ellis. It was Carroll, Ellis or do anything else with the reported $8.75 million the team has committed to Ellis over the two-year stretch. The Dodgers, after all, have apparently committed close to a combined $10 million for each of next two seasons to Ellis and Juan Rivera – add in the more than $6 million that James Loney will earn next year if he remains a Dodger and you start to approach a hefty down payment on the first year of a Prince Fielder contract. The Ellis deal strikes me as one issued by a team that has an overflow of money or an underflow of savvy. I’d also offer that it’s another sign that prices this winter are just richer than we expected, period.

For the Dodgers’ sake, we’ll hope the addition of Ellis to a group that includes Juan Uribe, Dee Gordon and Loney means they’ll have one of the rangier defensive infields around. And just for the heck of it, we’ll also hope this: Uribe will bounce back from offensive vacuousness to offensive near-adequacy in 2012.

* * *

If I were making out the 2012 batting order today, here’s the approach I’d be curious to take.

1) A.J. Ellis, C
2) James Loney, 1B
3) Matt Kemp, CF
4) Andre Ethier, RF
5) Juan Rivera/Jerry Sands, LF
6) Juan Uribe, 3B
7) Mark Ellis, 2B
8) Clayton Kershaw, P
9) Dee Gordon, SS

It’s a little ungainly, I admit.

Here’s the approach I expect Don Mattingly might take:

1) Dee Gordon, SS
2) Mark Ellis, 2B
3) Matt Kemp, CF
4) Andre Ethier, RF
5) Juan Rivera, LF
6) James Loney, 1B
7) Juan Uribe, 3B
8) A.J. Ellis, C
9) Clayton Kershaw, P

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