Tag: Rod Barajas

Pittsburgh Pirates: How Contrast Behind the Plate Has Led to Team’s Success

Faced with the the classic dilemma of playing the seasoned veteran or the young up-and-comer, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has done a great job at finding a healthy balance of offensive production and defensive reliability from catchers Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry at a position the team has struggled to find production from in the past.

While there is the criticism that Barajas is not hitting enough to warrant continued regular action behind the plate (he’s only hitting .200), he is far too important to the psyche of the collective Pirates pitching staff to significantly downgrade his playing time.

With a staff ERA of 3.70, the Pirates rank fifth in the National League thanks in part to Barajas‘ game-calling experience.

Being able to manage a game is one of the most underrated attributes of a catcher, and a key ingredient in championship-caliber baseball teams; just ask Tony La Russa and Terry Francona. Both of them had defensive-minded catchers in each of their multiple World Series runs over the last decade, in Yadier Molina and Jason Varitek.

I dare not compare the Pirates catchers’ offensive prowess to Molina or Varitek, but they certainly have similar mindsets.

Having a large enough sample to draw from, Pirates management knew what they were getting when they signed Barajas: a guy who is never going to hit for a high average, but one who will run into a pitch every once in a while and hit it over the fence. And by all accounts, Barajas is having a typical to slightly down year, but what he contributes to the team’s success has been invaluable.

On the other hand, Michael McKenry has finally shown that he can swing the bat a little bit, which has begged the question of whether or not the 27-year-old should get the bulk of the playing time.

In his last 20 games, McKenry is hitting at a .346 clip with six home runs and 17 runs batted in. It is not that McKenry isn’t a good catcher, it is just that Barajas has the “seasoning” that longevity in the league brings. McKenry should still get his starts, and maybe some more, but for now, this team needs the combination of both until Hurdle, and most importantly, the pitching staff feels comfortable having McKenry as their full-time receiver. 

Food For Thought

In 2011, catchers from National League playoff squads compiled an average line of a .270 batting average, 16 home runs and 72 runs batted in.

On top of that, those teams that made the playoffs had a composite ERA of 3.54—a number which is so low because the Phillies put together a mind-boggling 3.02 team ERA in ’11.

To date, Barajas and McKenry have posted just a .227 batting average, but the power numbers have exceeded Bucco Nation’s expectations, the two hitting a total of 19 home runs and driving in 50. If current trends continue, the Pirates might find themselves playing in October.


You can follow me on Twitter at @mcfarlands412.

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Fast and Furious: Grading the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Offseason Moves

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been busy this offseason, locking up several players already and in the hunt for even more.

General manager Ned Colletti has been aggressive following a disappointing fourth-place finish for the Dodgers in the NL West. The team, picked by many to win the division, managed only an 80-82 record and was never really in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Colletti is determined to change that, building a roster around young studs Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

But will the new additions be enough to vault the Dodgers past the defending world champions, the San Francisco Giants?

Here’s an early look at what the Dodgers have done so far and a grade for each of their moves. 

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Hot Stove Rumors: Red Sox Considering Rod Barajas As V-Mart Replacement?

The Red Sox are kicking the proverbial tires on veteran backstop Rod Barajas, according to FoxSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi and MLBTradeRumors.com.

While the Red Sox reportedly made a bid to retain Victor Martinez behind the dish for at least the next couple seasons, they lost him to a more aggressive Detroit Tigers’ organization early last Wednesday.

Although former Toronto Blue Jays All-Star John Buck might have represented a nice replacement, he was inked to a three-year, $18 million deal by the Florida Marlins at free agency’s opening bell.

With the top two free agent catchers snatched up so quickly and Yorvit Torrealba having signed with Texas, the number of quality free-agent backstops is dwindling quickly.

Rod Barajas, who has apparently drawn the Red Sox’ interest, joins Gerald Laird, Miguel Olivo, A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Varitek as the remaining unsigned catchers.

Although the 34-year-ol Pierzynski is rendered less attractive to potential suitors by virtue of his Type-A status, he remains the only truly viable option for a contender such as the Boston Red Sox.

While I try to keep the commentary to a minimum in these pieces, I have to seriously question the Red Sox wisdom in even considering Rod Barajas as a catcher fit for Fenway.

The 35-year-old Barajas hit .240 in 2010 and posted a 731 OPS on the back of 17 long balls. Although he’s averaged throwing out 32% of potential base stealers over his career, Barajas managed to catch only 15% in 2010.

As such, Barajas represents neither a significant upgrade offensively nor a more reliable arm defensively compared to Jason Varitek, the obvious low-cost veteran option.

Rod Barajas is not the answer. But now that Martinez is gone to Motor City, there may be no clear answer.

However, the whole situation begs the question: what is Boston’s true philosophy regarding their own free agents?

Considering Martinez’ willingness to catch, platoon at first, and serve as designated hitter in Detroit, one has to ask why the Red Sox didn’t retain him to do just that in Boston?

If Boston truly believes Martinez’ catching time to be limited, surely they couldn’t have done better than to replace David Ortiz with Victor Martinez as designated hitter after the 2011 season.

Draft picks are quite valuable, particularly in such a strong draft as looks to come along next June, but the Red Sox are now in a tenuous position regarding the catching position, and the process that’s landed them there should concern the Red Sox faithful.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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MLB Offseason: 5 Potential Catching Scenarios for the 2011 Boston Red Sox

Now that catcher Victor Martinez is gone, where do Red Sox fans turn?

Who is going to be behind the plate next season. Will it be Varitek, Saltalamacchia….Kevin Cash?

These (okay, so hopefully not Kevin Cash) are all possible choices for the Red Sox in 2011. One thing has to be said, though: the market is incredibly short for catchers. If you want a grade A catcher, he’s got to come up through the farm system, plain and simple.

I humbly present five possible catching scenarios that could happen for the ’11 Sox.

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Padilla and Barajas May Still Be Dodgers in 2011 Despite Arbitration Snub

According to the team website, the Dodgers declined to offer arbitration to veterans Vicente Padilla, Rod Barajas and Scott Podsednik, making them unrestricted free agents.

However, declining to offer a player arbitration is not a signal that the team is ready to move on. Multiple media outlets have reported the Dodgers remain in talks with all three players. General Manager Ned Colletti has mentioned several times that he is still very interested in resigning Padilla to fill out the remainder of the rotation.

Tops on the Dodgers’ agenda is finding a consistent backup for Russell Martin, should the young, workhorse catcher need additional breaks in the upcoming season. 

Another area of concern is the outfield, and it seems Podsednik may not be the answer in Los Angeles. It is possible that the team and the speedy outfielder are on different pages concerning length of contract and yearly salary.

The Dodgers believed the $2 million was a decent figure to offer, but Podsednik may see this off-season as a chance to find a contending team. The outfielder is no stranger to the free agent market, and has played for six teams in his ten-year Major League career.

Rumors from the Hot Stove says Padilla is seeking a multi-year deal in the range of $5-7M a season. That estimated figure is slightly higher than the Dodgers’ estimated price range. Typically, during the free agent period looks similar to a pawn shop in several ways: Both sides are offering amounts higher than they expect to get, the media attempts to ballpark the information for the public.

When both sides exchange numbers, both sides typically attempt to meet in the middle if common interest remains in the venture. As negotiations continue, Padilla will test the market to see if another team has more to offer before deciding where to play next season.

Padilla still has a decent chance of playing in Dodger Blue next season, as he is not viewed as a Type A free agent. Due to nagging injuries, Padilla may be seen as a risk to other teams.

For Barajas, a late-season spark of offense may be attractive to other teams, and he most likely fares a slightly better chance on the free agent market. He will likely find a back-up role in the National League, and talks will certainly heat up between the Dodgers and the veteran.

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MLB Hot Stove: Milwaukee Brewers’ Possible Free-Agent Pickups

Welcome to the 2010 MLB off-season: the time of year where even the most atrocious of organizations shine in the limelight.

Now, let’s get down to business as usual.

The 2010 free-agent market is bustling with great potential talent; talent that could indeed contribute to a gifted, capable Milwaukee ball-club.

With that being said, GM Doug Melvin has shockingly elected not to look into the free-agent market for possible starting pitching.  

Despite there being a few too many big-name free agents out there to possibly ignore, the Brewers are still looking into improving the rather disappointing ball-club of 2010.

In a season that seemed to be a slight downturn for nearly the entire franchise, there still were a few shining moments that only added to our anticipation for the 2011 season.

But, as expected, it is not enough to openly criticize.  So today is dedicated to a fresh start 2011 Milwaukee baseball year.  Let’s take a look at some possible free-agent signings worth the risk; beginning with the positions most needed to be filled.


Although the last few catchers for Milwaukee have been less than impressive, there certainly is hope for an offseason signing.

With the addition of a power-hitting Catcher, you could make the argument that Milwaukee contains the league’s best pure hitting ball-club.

The offensive production between both Jonathon Lucroy and George Kottaras (not including Greg Zaun) only amounted to 142 total hits, with a BA of .290.  Along with a combined total of 13 HR, and 52 RBI, there is much work yet to be done for this catching unit this off-season.

Possible Free Agents: Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Josh Bard, Yorvit Torrealba.

The most likely of candidates would have to be Barajas, coming off a 2010 season that included appearances with both the Mets, and finally the Dodgers.  

Barajas’ 2010 statistics: .240 BA, 17 HR, 47 RBI

Although the possible signing of Barajas is not yet favored in Milwaukee, I do believe this acquisition would make complete sense.

The addition of Barajas would bring in veteran, timely hitting at a cost no more than $500,000 per year.  Whether or not Milwaukee signs him as a one-year rental player or a three-plus year addition remains to be seen.

The Brewers are long overdue for an above-average hitting catcher.  This could be the answer Doug Melvin and company are looking for.


Most Milwaukee fans wouldn’t consider this to be a first order necessity this offseason; however, the lack of an official day-to-day center-fielder is a must.

Despite the fact that All-Stars Ryan Braun and Corey Hart inhabit a majority of the outfield, there is nothing quite like a power-hitting, defensively-skilled center-fielder.

Since the departure of Mike Cameron, the center-field position has been inhabited by the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gomez, and Joe Inglett.

Despite fair production from a multitude of players, the Brewers need to step up and sign a worthy free agent.  Consistent production from every outfielder is what this team needs.

Possible Free Agents: Jermaine Dye, Jason Werth, Xavier Nady, Marlon Byrd, Coco Crisp.

Werth seems to be a bit of a stretch, but Xavier Nady and Coco Crisp are two consistent proven veterans that are obviously more than qualified to manage the outfield in center for 162 games.  However the addition of Crisp would benefit the Brewers most, adding speed and base-running skills only few posses.

Crisp’s 2010 statistics: .279 BA, 8 HR, 51 R, 38 RBI.

Crisp may be a bit too pricey for Melvin to pull the trigger, with a 2010 salary of $5,000,000.  However, health and age may be finally catching up to him, and the Brewers would be (at best) willing to gift Crisp with a three-year deal worth $5.5 million.

All in all, Crisp’s addition is not likely, but his talents remain unquestioned even at the ripe age of 31.

Relief Pitchers

A handful of games were lost in 2010 due to the lack of talent in the bullpen, and while the Brewers have now declined the option on Trevor Hoffman, there are big shoes yet to be filled this winter.

As for the entire pitching staff last season: 4.58 ERA (26th), 733 ER (25th), 35 SV (24th), .267 opponent’s batting average (25th), and only 7 shutouts (24th).

Improvement is needed and the demand is nothing less than a priority looking ahead to 2011.  If the Brewers want to contend in 2011, a handful of free-agent relief pitchers will need to be signed (no matter how much Doug Melvin contradicts the fact).

Of course, fresh, young arms will be brought up from Nashville to replace a select few that may have been let go since the end of the regular season.

Possible Free Agents: J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Mike Gonzalez, Ryan Madson

Contract issues

Free agents: RHP Bush, LHP Chris Capuano, INF Craig Counsell, LHP Davis, RHP Hoffman and C Zaun

Eligible for arbitration: RHP Todd Coffey, 1B Fielder, OF Carlos Gomez, INF/OF Joe Inglett, RHP Kameron Loe, LHP Manny Parra, RHP Carlos Villanueva and 2B Weeks

Player options: None

Club options: Hoffman ($750,000 buyout), Davis ($1 million buyout), Zaun ($250,000 buyout)

Non-Tender possibilities: Coffey, Inglett, Parra, Villanueva

Tough spot for the Brewers.  However, I do think Doug Melvin and company will get the job done.

Craig Counsel is (without question) the MVP coming off the bench for the Brewers in 2009. With a .289 BA, 38 RBI, along with 22 2B in the 2009 season, there is no debating how important Counsel is coming off the bench.


With the recent hire of new manager Ron Roenicke, the Brewers have elected to put forth direction to the franchise.  Whether or not that is a good direction remains to be seen.

You have to feel extremely confident in how Doug Melvin has already put forth the effort in hiring a new manager, only a day after the official season ended.  Hopefully this trend continues until spring training rolls around.

This team has been widely known for its extreme potential over the past few seasons, and until progress has been made, the criticism will continue.

But, honestly, I love the Milwaukee’s chances heading into next season.  St. Louis continues to underachieve, Cincinnati will lose some key starters, Pittsburgh is still Pittsburgh, and Chicago is just plain bad.

The changes will be there, however the possibilities are endless for the Brewers leading up to 2011.

Dealing Prince Fielder away for pitching seems to become more and more apparent by the hour.  But there seems to be a shining light at the end of the tunnel.  How Doug Melvin and the Brewers reach that light will determine how this franchise operates for years to come.


Make sure to follow Alec Dopp on twitter: http://twitter.com/doppler9000 

As well as getting all your up-to-the-minute Brewers news, scores, and alerts from Brewers Daily:http://brewersbulletin.blogspot.com/

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Los Angeles Dodgers: The 10 Brightest Spots of an Otherwise Disappointing Season

Many words may be used to characterize the ups and downs of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2010 season, but from the standpoint of the fans, the best fitting description would be nothing short of “disappointing.”

Normally, most teams who don’t achieve the goals and ambitions that were set in spring training have the entire offseason to rebuild and regain focus, but in the case of the Dodgers, there are numerous off-field situations that seemingly need resolving before the team can move forward.

The decision regarding current manager Joe Torre’s future in Dodger Blue may be coming in the next week or two once Los Angeles is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs; however, all signs are pointing to the fact that the organization is still undecided on Joe’s replacement if he does indeed decide to pack his bags.

Unless Frank and Jamie McCourt reach a settlement before their divorce trial resumes on September 20, the court’s ruling regarding future ownership of the club may not be arriving until sometime in December.

Also, with the uncertainty as to whom will be controlling the team in 2011 comes the question marks of the payroll parameters heading into next season.

More than a handful of current Los Angeles players are facing possible arbitration with the team, yet with next year’s budget still unpredictable, the Dodgers may even decide not to negotiate with these players at all.

Regardless what happens in the winter, the Boys in Blue hope to develop a new, sharper focus, and build on the positives that were displayed in 2010.

The following slides illustrate 10 of those bright spots and offer a few words of commentary as to how the Dodgers’ organization will benefit from them moving forward.

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For New York Mets, Change of Seasons Means Change in Front Office

Every spring, it is the same scenario. As the leaves bud into a beautiful, green bloom and thoughts of spring renew hopes of glory, there comes a revitalization of interest from each fan.

If hope springs eternal, then for the New York Mets, autumn is where those hopes die.

Throughout the scorching summer months that follow the resurgence of life in spring, the team keeps their chances alive and their fans’ interest piqued. However, as the leaves wither away into a cold, shriveled shell of their former selves, they begin to gracefully fall to the ground.

So with the change of the season, the visions of grandeur change into delusions as the team also withers away into irrelevancy.

As players begin to fall one by one, some in not-so-elegant fashion and others float into another team’s backyard, one thing is clear: The chances grow more dim by the hour. As the seasons begin to change, so the baseball season has already done so; both have changed into an icy, cold and still demise. The eerie quiet of winter will be upon us much sooner than we anticipate.

Just as the change in seasons is inevitable, it is equally so for the Mets.

There will be change. This current management cannot withstand the awesome weight of multiple collapses and multimillion dollar busts much longer before it buckles under the enormous pressure. The one carrying the brunt of the weight is GM Omar Minaya.

How much longer can he sustain the scrutiny and weight of the future on his shoulders?

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Who is the Most Responsible?

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On the New York Daily News‘ website, they had a poll asking whose fault it was that Mets’ season has spiraled out of control. They gave you four options:

  • The Wilpons have steered the team into the iceberg.
  • Omar Minaya’s personnel moves have been dreadful.
  • Jerry Manuel’s in-game decisions make him seem clueless.
  • The players that haven’t been able to win.

So, they are telling us we can only pick one?

The biggest problem for the Mets is that it isn’t one thing. There is no quick fix for the Mets. They need a complete overhaul.

First off, the Wilpons are in no position to be running a major league ball team. Their finical and legal problems are holding the team back from completing deals that they need to do. It’s hard to judge whether it’s Minaya’s fault, or that of the front office. He can’t make a deal without first getting the approval by the owners. So, who knows what happens behind closed doors? I don’t think the Wilpons will sell the team, but they could hand ownership responsibilities over to a different person until they are able to collect themselves.

Minaya gets the brunt of the ridicule because he is the one who assembled this team. Like any GM, he has made some bad moves. Difference is in New York they are under the microscope more and usually for a lot more money than other teams, i.e., Oliver Perez. I’m actually not even that mad at Minaya. He did make some good moves in the offseason. R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi, Rod Barajas, and he still deserves credit for trading for Johan Santana and Angel Pagan back in 2008. Though he is not the team’s biggest problem, I think it’s just time to move in a different direction and let him go at the end of the year.

The Mets have a ton of talent on this team, but they can’t take what is on paper to on the field. To me, that shows that the problem is with the coaching staff. I’m not one for blaming managers for the team’s problems, but in this case I will. There has to be something that Manuel is doing wrong. Of course, none of us know because we are not there in the Mets clubhouse playing with them, but you get the feeling something isn’t right. Manuel, as well as Howard Johnson, need to be gone in 2011. The only coach I would keep is Dan Warthen because the Mets pitching has been outstanding this year.

Now, onto the guys who actually make it happen on the field. It’s been painful to watch the Mets’ offense go up to the plate and back to the dugout like clockwork. We’ve been watching games that are routinely 1-0 in the seventh inning, with no sign of life in the batting order. You can do whatever you want with the front office and coaching staff, but when it comes down to it, the players need to perform, and they aren’t doing that. It may just be time for a complete overhaul of this team, keeping only the cornerstones of the franchise.

So, what to do in 2011? Well, first off, if the ownership wants to show anything to the fans of this team, they need to fire Minaya, Manuel, and all other coaches not named Dan Warthen. The replacement manager comes down to the three people; Joe Torre, Bobby Valentine, and Wally Backman. I’m a big fan of Backman, but the other two have much more experience than him, which would be important for this team. However, Torre will always be a Yankee to me, and I feel like Bobby V had his time here and they shouldn’t go back to him. So, I would go with Backman as the Mets’ manager in 2011.

Next comes down to the players. Big contracts like Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Francisco Rodriguez will try to be moved in the offseason. Beltran will have the most value, but like Perez and Castillo, and if they were to move Beltran, they would have to eat a large portion of his salary.

He’s due to make $18.5M next season, and though it looks like he is starting to get back to his old form, many teams would not want to take that risk. They would probably have to eat $10M or even $15M of the last year on his contract to get back anything good in return.

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New York Mets: The Sad Realization

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I was watching this team play baseball yesterday in what was a must-win game for the Mets. They knew how big these next six games were going to be. They needed to show in last night’s game that they were ready to do anything to win and that they would not go down without a fight. But they didn’t do that.

At times this season the Mets have looked like a team that battles back or fights to stay in the game. But something has happened to that team, and whatever they had at the beginning of the year is gone. It happened around the time Mike Pelfrey started to fall apart, and around the time Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo came back.

I don’t think Beltran and Castillo are clubhouse poisons who made this team go into a tail spin. They haven’t played great, but still that’s no excuse for why the rest of the team has struggled so much. It could have been that when these two guys came back, the team just shifted into a different gear. The players figured, now that we have them back, they can take some of the load off of us. It doesn’t really make sense, but a lot of things the Mets have done this year haven’t made sense.

I came to the sad realization a couple days ago that this team isn’t going anywhere. The Mets don’t have what it take to make the playoffs with the type of attitude they have right now. I’m not the only one who thinks this either. In a recent poll on Mets Paradise, 85 percent of the voters believed the Mets will not make the playoffs.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop watching them or stop attending games. This is my team, and if it is going down, I’m going down with it. I love the Mets, and that wouldn’t change whether they were in the World Series or in last place.

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