Sorry But Austin Barnes Can’t Be The Dodger’s Starting Catcher in 2019

The Dodgers are without a starting catcher right now after Yasmani Grandal declined the 17.9 million dollar qualifying offer from the Dodgers in order to test the free agent market. That makes Grandal an unrestricted free agent and the Dodgers a restricted team without a primary backstop. This is a story that really intrigues me. With the free agent market razor thin and the Dodgers loaded with undeveloped and inexperienced catching prospects, the Dodgers have options, but no clear path to deciding who their starting catcher will be.

One thing is crystal clear; it can’t be Austin Barnes in 2019. Barnes not only fell off offensively in 2018, he fell off a cliff. The 28-year old was one of the worst hitters in the majors last year. Overall Barnes slashed a pathetic .205/.329/.290 with 4 home runs and 14 runs drive in. Barnes had more strikes outs (67) than hits (41), and his OPS+ of 72 is one of the most punch-less marks in the majors.

It should be obvious to everyone within the organization that Barnes can’t be the starting catcher next season. Automatic outs should never ever be in the starting lineup, I don’t care how good they are defensively. But Andrew Friedman’s recent comments in the Orange County Register concern me. Check this out….

“If you look at 2018 for Barnesy it is very out of whack for the rest of his career,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said last week. “So I feel very confident there is a better version in there offensively. And then defensively he is really good and the way he prepares, the relationships with the pitchers are very strong. So a catcher – it’s not just about what they OPS. It’s also how much they help on the run prevention side and Barnesy is really good on that front.”

I guess you could say that Barnes was so bad last year that he can only improve in 2019. Because I don’t think anyone, including Barnes himself could hit any worse than he did in 2018. However that doesn’t mean we want someone who can barely hit above the Mendoza line as the starting catcher.

But to say that his historically pathetic 2018 was not in line with his career numbers is not paying attention to career numbers. Barnes has had just one….ONE productive season with the bat so far. He’s only played in four MLB seasons. The first two he appeared in only 20 games each. Surely it’s not entirely about what you OPS, but he can’t be an automatic out. And he was absolutely one in 2018.

Look, I like Barnes in general. He’s a strong catcher. He’s got good hands, skilled pitch-framer and works well with the pitching staff. But he can’t hit. He’s never put up good hitting numbers at any level (with exception to his 2017 season where he posted a 138 OPS+). But let’s not pretend like he could be the starting catcher next season. I hope Barnes can regain his stroke in 2018, but if he can’t then it’s time for the Dodgers to either go out and get some upper level talent, like a Realmuto, or let the kids catch.

“I will bet on him this winter to diagnose, fix and get himself in a good position going into spring training,”

Sigh. Wake up Andrew.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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20 thoughts on “Sorry But Austin Barnes Can’t Be The Dodger’s Starting Catcher in 2019

  1. I believe that if Barnes was hitting anywhere near what he did in 2017, he could be an everyday catcher. That being said, reports right now are that the Marlins are asking for the moon for Realmuto. I doubt ol Andy goes for that. The Dodgers have 3 catchers on the roster right now, Barnes, Rocky Gale, and Farmer. For what ever reason they do not like Farmer’s catching skills and he has been used at other positions most of last season. Gale is another good defense no stick guy. The scuttlebutt is that Ruiz and Smith at least a year away. Ruiz is MLB ready defensively right now, but his bat needs a little work, same with Smith, who raked at AA and fell off a cliff at AAA. Most of the free agents are older than Grandal, as a matter of fact, they all are. Ramos is probably the best hitter in the bunch, but doubt he would take a 1 year deal. Lucroy is a plus defender with a decent bat. Not much power though, so I still feel they should go after Cervelli of the Pirates. He won’t embarrass you behind the dish and is a decent hitter, and he also will not break the bank in prospects. Perfect bridge to Smith-Ruiz.

    1. Again, I think Cervelli is a good call. Save some of those prospects to trade with the Mariners if they blow the team up.

  2. Give Farmer a chance, what the hell is the reluctance from the FO to give this guy an honest look. Is there something flawed in him as a catcher, he can’t be worse than Grandmal. Grandmal was horrendous, other players probably avoided playing catch with him in warm-ups, if the FO can put up with him, they surely can give Farmer a shot. Hell, put Kenley back in his original position, LOL.

    1. I agree. I have always liked his approach at the plate. He is a solid hitter. And the times I have seen him catch, he did not look overwhelmed back there. Sad day for me. My dog Red passed away today, complications of diabetes which I only learned he had the other day.

      1. That clears it up and explains a lot of things in blue

        Never a pleasant thing to lose a dog, sorry for your pain Michael. Those little animals just steal your heart.

        1. Thanks True. Yes they do. I had Red from the time he was about 6 1/2 weeks old. He was a chiweeny. He was almost 6 years old.

      1. Thank you Scott. He was a great dog. Had a lot of personality and everyone who lives here in the complex I am in loved him. He was just so friendly to them all. But at least he is not in pain anymore. The worse thing is that a pet cannot tell you what is wrong, so what looked like lethargy and just not being able to be himself, was far more serious. Have a great weekend my friend. Oh by the way, yardbarker has a story that Roberts could move to the Giants after this season, He still wants a contract like Hinch’s and Bochy’s deal is up at the end of next season also.

  3. There is a story on MLB.com that the Astros, instead of targeting free agent catchers are in talks with the Marlins concerning Realmuto. Makes sense. If they were to sign Grandal they would lose a draft pick. And Miami is reluctant to trade Realmuto in the division since one of the teams hot on his trail is the Braves. Also reported is that the Yankees and the Phillies are prepared to spend to fill big holes. You do not see those kinds of stories about our Dodgers. Have to wonder how committed to winning the big dance they are when it is obvious that they are still trying to stay below the tax, even though it has been re-set.

  4. Dodgers will go cheap and pathetic at catcher because that’s what they do. They have a couple prospects so Barnes will split time with some low tier scrap heap bum they pick up. Barnes wasn’t passable as a hitter. Friedman wants to sell us on 2017, but that was the only year he’s ever hit. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.

      1. By who’s standards Bluto? Yours? Come on, everyone is entitled to think what they want. Just because you do not agree does not mean there is not merit in what they are thinking. Look at it this way, since Friedman took over, they have not signed any player to a contract that is 9 figures. The longest in terms of years is Jansen’s 5. Fiscally responsible? Most definitely. Kershaw’s extension is for the most money. They have gone cheap. They pay a lot of money in salaries that they already were committed to, but players they have acquired, not so much. And there are people out there who think they are going to splurge on Harper. With this bunch, I do not see that happening at all, They are what they are. And when I say cheap it is because they go for the Band-Aid fix. Yeah, they traded for Darvish in 17 and Machado this year, and in the end will keep neither. That’s ok, Darvish got a huge deal from the Cubs and spent most of the year on the DL. Machado is going to get huge money. They have depth and a lot of talent. In a city that is used to super star athletes, they are at the bottom of the list in LA since only Kershaw falls into that category. Marquee players who put butts in the seats, not so much. When Fernando pitched, the place was packed. Outside of Puig, they have no really exciting player. Someone who at any moment can bring you out of your seat. They play boring baseball. Now, with Farhan gone, and no GM right at this moment it seems that there will be a GM by committee at the winter meetings. They pack Dodger stadium now because they have been winning. But you cannot point to any one player and say, wow, he is worth paying money to watch. Of course for you it would be Dick Mountain. But keeping fan interest is going to depend on them keeping on winning. To do that, they are going to have to patch the holes they have with competent players, not a bunch of platoon guys. Use analytics, but quit the all or nothing approach at the plate. Right now they need some new coaches and a few solid players at 2nd and Catcher, plus some upgrades in the bullpen. Most everywhere else they have a lot of options. Friedman also said, Maeda is projected to be back in the rotation next year. So my friend, what if silly to you makes sense to others. Respect the right of them to express that.

        1. This is just silly.

          People on this board take the front office to task for over-spending on McCarthy, Koehler, Anderson.

          People on this board love to lament the expensive spending on International 16 years olds.

          Yet, to either post silly stuff or defend silly stuff, people on this board call them cheap.

          People on this board take the front office to task for not signing high-value players, then call the front office lucky when they wisely sign players like Morrow, Muncy and Taylor.

          You can’t have it both ways.

          I would pay money to watch:
          Muncy, Bellinger, Seager, Kershaw, Buehler, Jansen, Hill, Turner.

          I can’t be the only one.

          Everyone plays “boring” baseball. It’s not just the Dodgers.

          1. They did not sign Taylor, they traded for him. Those signings you mentioned were astute to be sure, and Muncy came from no where. Morrow on the other hand had a history. But even with that history he only got a minor league deal that had a opt out if he was not called up by a certain date. Luckily, they had injuries and called him up, but they got way more than they expected. So both of those guys benefitted from injuries to players who were already on the roster and ahead of them on the depth chart. So getting what they got out of them was lucky. Taylor in his first short stint after he was traded for showed no signs of being the player he was in 2017. Even at that, he started 2017 in the minors and had to work his butt off on his new swing to be ready when he was finally called up, again because of injury. Before he was traded for he had never showed the skills he exhibited in 2017. So yeah Bluto, they got lucky there too. They should be taken to task when they make a decision and it does not pan out and given credit when something works. You are not the end all know all of Dodger baseball. Your opinions are yours, and other people have theirs. Just because you do not agree with them does not make them any less relevant. And yes, the level of play in the major leagues as a whole is very boring. And it is that way because the players today are taught a whole lot different game than I played. You named 8 guys you would pay to see play. That’s your opinion. Bellinger and Taylor have become strikeout machines. I do not like paying to see guys strikeout so much in critical situations. Yeah, Cody can blast one now and then and so can Muncy. But I am not paying to see them play. Turner and Kershaw, Buehler and Puig. Those guys can dominate a game and turn it around all on their own. Jansen pitches maybe one inning. I am not plopping down what it costs to go to a game at Dodger Stadium just to see Jansen. We will see if Seager regains his place as one of the better players. But until he proves he is healthy, I will reserve judgment. As for Hill, I think he is a decent guy, and sometimes entertaining with his antics, especially when he runs or bats, but just because he is pitching, I am not going to go to the game. I did that for guys like Koufax, and Drysdale. Hershiser and Fernando, Garvey Cey and that bunch. Spending millions on 16 year olds is very much a hit or miss proposition. And so far, this ownership and leadership has a very shaky record in that department. One of their biggest flops is eligible to be a rule 5 guy this year. So yeah, fans on this site complain about the FO and the ownership a lot. But those here are not the only ones raising hell about the state of the team. Twitter, the Dodgers own website, and a few others have plenty of dissenters on board. You are not the content police. And the reason people complain is simple. They want the big win. Not the consolation prize. Most have invested a lot of their lives in the team and feel that it is their team. When it is abused, or does not live up to what is expected, since they have both a monetary, and emotional investment in the team, they have that right. You on the other hand have no right to sit in judgment of anyone’s point of view, and neither do I . I respect your opinions, and sometimes I even agree with you. But on this, you are way off base. 64 million dollars on a player who never spent a day on the active roster……..I rest my case.

          2. I love it when Michael calls Taylor, Morrow and Muncy lucky, not astute. It’s so indicative of his perspective.

            I also love when he calls out and then expands on the 8 players I’d like to see play as my opinion. What else could it be?

            My fundamental point is made, thank you again Michael, by your last point. You cannot call this front office cheap and then call them out for over-spending on International Players, or on McCarthy.

            I still maintain Saber Fail’s post is inane and silly, but at least he’s continuing with his nonsense with later posts that are just as moronic.

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