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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Dioner Demotion Delayed
2006-05-19 07:15
by Jon Weisman

The announcement on whether Dodger catcher Dioner Navarro will stay in the majors won't come for a few days, the Dodger beat writers report this morning. Navarro is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday but needs more time - mais oui - for his bone bruise to heal.

Not that the Dodgers seem bothered, as Bill Plunkett of the Register writes.

The Dodgers are 9-2 when Martin starts at catcher, 11-12 when Navarro starts. Unable to win more than two games in a row and mired at a season-low five games below .500 (12-17) when Navarro was injured by a foul tip May 4, the Dodgers have since won 9 of 12.

The difference has been just as dramatic in other ways. Dodgers pitchers have an ERA of 3.28 when Martin is behind the plate, more than a run lower (4.31) than for any other catcher.

Martin has yet to be charged with his first error or passed ball. Dodgers pitchers have thrown two wild pitches in the past 12 games after throwing 10 in the first 29.

Martin (1 of 4) hasn't had much more luck throwing out base runners than Navarro (0 of 16). But the opponents' running game has slowed down lately. After giving up 25 stolen bases in the first 29 games this season, the Dodgers have allowed four in the past 12 games - a slowdown that coincides with Martin's arrival.

Some of those statistics are of misleading value - it's always nervewracking when you start attributing win-loss records to a single player. Tony Jackson of the Daily News looks closer at the catcher ERA numbers and finds that the difference between Martin's and Navarro's (3.56) is pretty negligible - the non-Martin figure above was jacked up by Sandy Alomar, Jr. (5.33). In any case, I seem to recall that the theory that catchers have a significant impact on ERA was debunked by Baseball Prospectus. Maybe someone can help me find that link.

Overall, though, Martin has certainly earned the praise he's been given, and is in Los Angeles to stay for now. Plunkett gathers that the Dodgers will send Navarro to AAA Las Vegas, rather than stash Alomar on the disabled list:

When asked if Martin and Navarro could share the Dodgers' catching duties without hindering the development of one or both, (Dodger general manager Ned) Colletti's response - "I don't know about that" - is delivered slowly enough to read between the lines.

2006-05-19 08:18:32
1.   3upn3down
Give this link link a look. I don't have time to read it myself. Busy at work and all.

2006-05-19 08:46:02
2.   Gold Star for Robot Boy
Isn't this chain of events what was expected? I recall that when th Dodgers acquired Navarro, the thinking was "He's a stop-gap until Martin, the better prospect, is ready." Well, Martin is ready.
2006-05-19 08:46:03
3.   bluegold
Who knows if Martin's presence is responsible for the recent Dodgers success. All I know is, there is currently no reason to put back Navarro.
2006-05-19 08:46:24
4.   scareduck
... or this ...

2006-05-19 08:49:53
5.   PHilldodger
If the numbers reference by the writer is correct (Martin 9-2) (Navarro 11-12), that means the Dodgers are 1-6 in games Alomar starts. Seems that the Dodgers would be better served having Alomar retire or stashed on the DL.
2006-05-19 09:17:31
6.   underdog
Cool - this post has already been referenced by the Yankees blog (comments), Jon. I don't know if I personally am ready to give up on Navarro; I think I'd prefer to have he and Martin share time and drop Alomar (sorry Sandy!) I think sending him down to AAA could help in a full-time playing sense, but he could get enough up in the bigs to work on the things he needs to work on - which is his defense. He was certainly hitting better before he was DL'd, and it never seems quite fair to me to lose a job outright because you got hurt. On the other hand, it's hard to argue with Martin's success and his superior defense. He's certainly earned the right to be the first catcher.
2006-05-19 09:23:36
7.   Midwest Blue
6 never seems quite fair to me to lose a job outright because you got hurt.

Tell that to Wally Pipp. Oh, you can't...he's dead.

2006-05-19 10:02:20
8.   blue22
Sending Navarro down puts the stink of failure on him, which I don't like. Even if it isn't your intent to trade him, you would still like to maintain his value.

I'd like to see what Navarro can do catching 75% of the time, at the same time seeing what Martin can do in AAA with the same amount of playing time. This offseason, you have a pretty good idea of what you have and make a better decision of which direction to head.

2006-05-19 10:19:31
9.   3 tacos de asada por favor

great article.

2006-05-19 10:23:12
10.   3 tacos de asada por favor

from what I remember, DePodesta wasn't "confinced" about Russell Martin so he went out & got an insurance back stop.

2006-05-19 10:23:54
11.   3 tacos de asada por favor

from what I remember, DePodesta wasn't "confinced" about Russell Martin so he went out & got Navarro for insurance, thus the log jam.

2006-05-19 10:25:56
12.   3 tacos de asada por favor

Navarro tends to fall asleep back there IMO underdog, thus all the passed ball's.

2006-05-19 10:41:14
13.   regfairfield
Martin has played 11 big league games. He could very well be better now, but there is no way we could know.
2006-05-19 10:48:36
14.   Jon Weisman
12 - That's a correctible condition, in my opinion. Presumably, that's Alomar's job - though I think the ascendance of Martin will have more of an effect.
2006-05-19 11:17:32
15.   blue22
13 - Martin has played 11 big league games.

Exactly. Give Martin a full season as the primary catcher in Vegas, with Navarro getting the same in LA.

Assuming both play to their abilities, LA would have a switch-hitting major-league-ready catcher, and a stud in the minors coming off a successful season in AAA.

2006-05-19 11:17:59
16.   3 tacos de asada por favor

I liked what you said on the NY blog about having both JUST IN CASE one of them gets hurt. But the part of correctible condition I kinda don't agree with.

2006-05-19 11:25:55
17.   Jon Weisman
16 - Are you saying that a 22-year-old who doesn't pay attention in his first full season in the majors is incapable of paying attention as he matures? That seems unreasonable.
2006-05-19 11:27:04
18.   blue22
16 - I see the point of keeping both, just in case, I just don't know how to split the playing time. I don't like the idea of a platoon, because Dioner is a switch-hitter and he shouldn't be forced to sit against lefties. You could line them up as "personal catchers" for 2 pitchers each, but then you are choosing playing time based on OUR pitcher, not the opponents. Of course, you could always just pick a name out of a hat each day, but that doesn't seem to be right either.
2006-05-19 11:31:43
19.   3 tacos de asada por favor

send of of them down, It's gonna be tuff though because i'm sure they wanna shop Navarro but if he get's send down does his value decrease? I say yes. it will be interesting what develops.

2006-05-19 11:33:29
20.   3 tacos de asada por favor

I don't wanna sound like a jerk but he's kinda lazy. It's kinda like that lazy guy at work (there just wired that way)

2006-05-19 11:40:47
21.   underdog
Maybe having two infants and a wife who was ailing made him exhausted. Who knows. I don't see him as lazy, but I do see him as occasionally needing a fire lit under his... uh, crouch. At any rate I think he picked up some bad habits that are very correctable. As Jon points out, he's still very young and there's plenty of room for maturation. I'm happier having two capable catchers then one-and-pray-he-doesn't-get-hurt.
2006-05-19 11:42:54
22.   Jon Weisman
20 - People never change. Okay.
2006-05-19 11:49:32
23.   Sushirabbit
22 can that apply to Tomko, too? (I hope so!)
2006-05-19 11:57:34
24.   Jon Weisman
22 - That was rudely sarcastic, too. I'm having a bad week. Sorry.
2006-05-19 12:04:24
25.   Sushirabbit
Well, I knew what you meant, and agree with you, sometimes though, it's like we want it to be true on the personal level and not on the performance level. I'd like to think that people can change on both levels... Though hard luck wants to teach us otherwise.
2006-05-19 12:06:28
26.   CanuckDodger
13 -- There is no way we could know if Martin is better than Navarro right now? That is the position of a stathead who thinks that we can't know anything about baseball that isn't vouchsafed to us by statistics not vulnerable to small sample size problems. The part of the world that learns about baseball players by actually WATCHING THEM PLAY (benighted troglodytes to the sabermetricians, the people who actually run baseball teams to the rest of us) have known for quite some time that Martin is better than Navarro, and by a considerable margin. Scouts have been saying since last year that Martin will be spending his MLB career making yearly trips to the All-Star game, and that Navarro is nothing more than back-up catcher material. That is a significant disparity in career outlooks.
2006-05-19 12:17:12
27.   3 tacos de asada por favor

see I didn't know that, or atleast I didn't remember, I see you're point I kinda remember something about that now. (Navarro)

2006-05-19 12:18:20
28.   3 tacos de asada por favor

how about J.D. Drew?

2006-05-19 12:19:18
29.   3 tacos de asada por favor

it was actually pretty funny.

2006-05-19 12:23:04
30.   Jon Weisman
26 - Stats may not have the last word, but neither do scouts. We don't need to reignite this debate - scouts have promised yearly trips to the All-Star game for many players who never panned out.
2006-05-19 12:38:02
31.   CanuckDodger
30 -- I am not taking talk about All-Star games as promises. That can be hyperbole, sure. What I am more interested in, and what IS relevent to this discussion, is the absolute gulf separating scouts' opinions of Martin and Navarro. Scouts do not think alike. Their opinions often vary, sometimes quite widely. Which is all the more reason why it is a big deal when there is an overwhelming consensus of scouting opinion that borders on carnal love for one player and an equally formidable consensus disparaging another player. The differences in Navarro and Martin's abilities, especially on defense, have been obvious to even casual Dodger fans sitting in front of the TV, so how much more to you think the professional scouts have seen of the two players, entitling them to make comparions and form opinions that carry more weight than those of Joe Dodger Fan?
2006-05-19 12:47:45
32.   Jon Weisman
31 - More. Unanimity of interpretation from different people doesn't mean they'll be right, though.

I'm not denying the odds are in Martin's favor - I don't think even Regfairfield is. But obviously, scouts and statisticians alike have been wrong about projecting the futures of 22-year-olds.

2006-05-19 12:58:09
33.   ToyCannon
Consensus scouts have been wrong on many players just as consensus statheads have been, so while I like the consensus on Martin I'm still not sold that they couldn't be wrong on Navarro's upside.

I find it silly that anyone can call a catcher "lazy". Bad technique I can go with but lazy is just a lazy critique.

Martin has earned the number one job. I'd rather see them both catching with Sandy getting retired. Sandy has proven to be to bittle to be a backup catcher. We can't count on him to catch several games in a row if Martin took a foul tip and needed a few days off without doing on the DL. We still have Borders diddling away at Vero Beach if were ever desperate for a veteran catcher due to another injury.

2006-05-19 12:58:48
34.   Sushirabbit
Oh yeah, I hope so. And at the same time I'm hoping Kent and Furcal haven't fallen off the cliff.
2006-05-19 13:06:54
35.   blue22
33 - Martin has earned the number one job.

I'm not sure how you can say this so unequivocally. Martin has looked good, but Navarro was off to a good start too. And I also don't think it helps Navarro's development to be backing up Martin.

2006-05-19 13:09:15
36.   CanuckDodger
32 -- Jon, your point seems to be that the scouts could be over-estimating Martin. Okay, I will concede that. But how good Martin will be, over his career, is a far more speculative question, and hence one more difficult to answer, than the relatively simple question, "Who's better right now, Martin or Navarro?" Very straightforward comparisons can be made. Regfairfield's position, which I find epistemologically untenable, is that we cannot KNOW who is better right now. In fact, observation can and does tell us that there is a qualitative difference in Martin and Navarro's overall ability and performance. Scouts see it, fans see it. Regfairfield, in accordance with a particular philosophy, does not believe that his eyes or anybody else's eyes can determine who is better, and he thinks it is necessary to wait until the stats answer the question, stats derived from a lot more than 11 big league games for Martin.
2006-05-19 13:23:02
37.   blue22
Martin has played in a total of 34 games above AA. Why the rush to make him the starting catcher when you have someone like Navarro playing well at the ML-level?

And a "good" Martin isn't likely to be more than an incremental improvement over what Navarro has shown he can do in a much larger sample size in the bigs.

2006-05-19 13:34:25
38.   JoeyP
Navarro's MLB line this year: .280/.372/.387
Navarro is younger than Russell Martin.
Its entirely possible Navarro is better than Martin. It doesnt really matter what the scouts project or say, all that matters is what either does on the baseball field.

If Martin gets 200AB's and puts up a line better than the above, then he might be able to be considered better.

But Navarro's actually shown he can play at the MLB level over a longer period of time. Martin needs to do the same thing in order to compare the two.

2006-05-19 13:36:42
39.   JoeyP
Who's better right now, Martin or Navarro?"

Wasnt Navarro on a hot streak right up until he got injured? If thats the question, the answer is probably Navarro. IF you are wanting to know "Right Now", as in who's playing the best.

2006-05-19 13:39:15
40.   Andrew Shimmin
If it were possible to know, before a season started, which of any two players would be better that year, then only the 750 best players in the world would ever play (plus their injury-replacements, who would also be of unimpeachable quality). That doesn't happen, right? Also, all trades would have to be good (accounting for everything but injury).

I was going to tweak Canuck about Loney, but I see his line, over 73ABs is: .370/.434/.479. So, he's started hitting.

2006-05-19 13:41:48
41.   blue22
I'd feel more comfortable about giving 200 ab's in the majors if he had spent a decent amount of time at AAA first (assuming Navarro is healthy).

Martin isn't such a once-in-a-lifetime talent that you are compelled to get him in the lineup.

2006-05-19 14:31:12
42.   regfairfield
36 There's almost no question in my mind that Russel Martin will eventually be the Dodger's catcher.

However, we're worried about now. And while scouting reports point to Martin as the future, the one's I've read have said he's a year behind in development. Martin has yet to even get to the point where the league adjusts to him, and I'm not entirely confident that he can keep up his offensive performance.

Let Navarro have the job this year, or at least until he goes into some kind of huge slump (going 8 for 40, for example, does not count). After seeing what he can do this year, we can reevaluate.

2006-05-19 14:53:48
43.   CanuckDodger
From the posts since my last post I gather that what people here are really interested in is offensive production. Obviously stats measure that, and people here seem to believe that offensive production determines who is the better catcher. I will grant that we don't know if Martin or Navarro would out-hit the other if they shared equal time in the majors this year. Offensive production is only one part of a catcher's duties, and Grady Little made it clear before the season started, in so many words, that he doesn't care about his catcher's offense as much as he cares about his defense. (To which most people here will say that that is the problem with Grady Little.) Defensively, we don't need stats to tell us that Martin is better than Navarro. Our eyes tell us that Martin moves better behind the plate, blocks pitches in the dirt better, frames pitches better, blocks the plate against on-coming runners better, throws more quickly and more acccurately. These are the things that really stand out to scouts, to fans, and to Grady Little, the latter of whose opinion is ultimately the only one that matters.
2006-05-19 15:13:47
44.   Andrew Shimmin
43- whose opinion is ultimately the only one that matters.

That's just not true. His opinion is, ultimately, the only one that will determine the range of what is permitted to happen, but it is NOT the only one that matters. If it were, you'd keep yours to yourself. Beyond that, you wouldn't bother to form one, since, ultimately, it wouldn't matter.

You wouldn't say that the only opinion on economic matters/war/environmental policy that matters (to keep the paralel of absolute authority, I have to put my thumb on the scale here) in Zimbabwe is the Mugabe's, would you?

It's supremely irritating when someone tries to short circuit the conversation in this way.

2006-05-19 15:43:39
45.   Andrew Shimmin
Even more irritating than misspelling parallel. But not by as much as one might hope.
2006-05-19 15:48:44
46.   CanuckDodger
44 -- The expression "...his opinion is the only one that matters" is commonly understood to refer to the power to turn an opinion into reality. It doesn't mean that that person's opinion is inherently correct, or wise. When the Dodgers traded Jackson and Tiffany for Baez and Carter, my opinion that it was a bad idea may have had merit, but to the Dodgers it really DIDN'T MATTER, as a matter of fact.
2006-05-19 16:01:12
47.   Andrew Shimmin
46- It's not a retort, it's a negation of the argument. And not nearly so silky a one as you must think, commonly understood or not.
2006-05-19 17:35:38
48.   CanuckDodger
Yes, it is a negation of the argument. Arguments at a certain point have to end, even if the people who didn't get their way are unsatisfied. That Russell Martin will be the Dodgers' regular catcher after Dioner Navarro is ready to come off the disabled list is not an open question -- not anymore. The whole raison d'etre of this thread, started by Jon, is that the Dodgers have made their decision and that decison is to keep playing Martin as the regular starting catcher. If we did not already know what the Dodgers are planning to do, or if we were in doubt about their opinions on the relative merits of Martin and Navarro, then the argument's continuing would make sense.
2006-05-19 17:41:04
49.   Andrew Shimmin
So you've decided to cop to my accusation? Could have saved us a step if you did that the first time.

If you don't like the argument, don't participate in it/read it. Or shall we each run our topics past you before posting?

2006-05-19 17:52:25
50.   Andrew Shimmin
That was too snarky, clearly. I'm sorry. But I'm not backing down on finding it irritating and without any merit to play at being in charge of what may be discussed. It's not like there were two hundered comments about this. It was on topic, and not at all pointless. And even if you found it to be, where you could have without any effort sat it out, I don't see why you didn't.

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