A.J. Ellis Could Become Kershaw’s Personal Catcher in 2015
By Scott Andes
You could never tear these two apart……..
So Clayton Kershaw wants his buddy A.J. Ellis to return in 2014. That comes as no surprise to us, as the two are known to be close friends. But the Dodgers haven’t decided on whether or not to tender A.J. a contract for the 2015 season.
A.J. is a second year arbitration eligible player, and is turning 34 at the start of next season. Last season A.J. made 3.5 million dollars, and could get even more through arbitration if he is tendered a contract.
Jon Heyman is reporting that the Dodgers could bring back A.J. in a backup role as a personal catcher for Kershaw. We know that Kershaw would love that. Here’s the problem with that. A.J. hit just .191 in 2014, and although he did bat .538 (7 for 13) in the NLDS, showing some life, the likeable catcher still had a poor season all around.
A.J. is known as a below average pitch framer, and according to the numbers his rate of throwing out runners dropped significantly as well. A.J. threw out runners at a 44% clip in 2013, while last year that fell off to just 25%. Defensively A.J. was ranked as merely average in 92 games.
I do hate this personal catching thing. I think it’s ridiculous, but I could live with it if it’s what Kershaw really wants. Heyman reports that the Dodgers are looking to upgrade at catcher, (Of course), but may not tender A.J. a contract despite his knowledge of the pitching staff.
we still love A.J., despite his .191 BA-Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
I never understood the whole personal catcher thing. I do understand that A.J. knows what Kershaw throws better than any other catcher. As a matter of fact, nobody knows the Dodger pitching staff better than A.J.
However I have always believed that any pitcher should be able to pitch to any Major League catcher, regardless of his experience with that pitching staff. I can still remember when the Dodgers would never let Mike Piazza catch knuckleballer Tom Candiotti. They felt that backup catcher Carlos Hernandez. Who could barely hit his weight, was able to catch those floaters better than Piazza. I have no idea why.
There was no proof that Hernandez was any better at catching Candiotti’s knucklers than Piazza was. Yet still every fifth day Piazza was benched and Hernandez caught Candiotti. I guess I should get over it by now, but it was quite annoying being denied Piazza’s MVP bat in favor of a catcher who couldn’t hit above the Mendoza line. Having to watch Hernandez ground into double play after double play is what soured me on this whole “personal catcher” thing.
Regardless, this is Clayton Kershaw, and if this is what he wants, then so be it. The two are inseparable, and it would be hard to imagine separating the two. As long as the Dodgers can bring in somebody good to pair with A.J. next season then I won’t complain.