A.J. Ellis has been with the Dodgers for his entire career, until August 25, 2016. He, along with a minor league prospect and a player to be named later, were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Carlos Ruiz and cash. Both catchers had been assigned to the minor leagues, but are now back in the majors. Ellis had played for the Dodgers for his entire career (8 years), and Ruiz had played for the Phillies for his entire career (11 years). It was not easy for either of them to say goodbye to their teams.
Even though Ellis lost his starting job in 2015 after the deal that sent Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Yasmani Grandal, he was thought of as the team leader. It showed every time that a Dodgers batter came back to the dugout. Even if they struck out, he had something encouraging to say to them. Even on days when he didn’t even step onto the on deck circle, he would be mentally in the game. On days when, I’m sure he didn’t think he would play, he would be sitting in the locker room studying the pitchers and batters.
Ellis was better known for his catching, but he could contribute with his bat. In the past couple years, I had noticed that he came through in clutch. He didn’t bat with the “home run” mentality, which means upper cutting and swinging for the fences. He had a lot of squeeze bunts and RBI groundouts.
Although some people would say that Ellis dropped to many strikeouts, I say that it is just because he constantly caught Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw’s 2 favorite pitches are his big curveball, and a slider in the dirt. Ellis would 99.9% of the time block the ball perfectly, he would then pick up that ball and throw the batter out at first base.
My final reason for why I am not happy with this trade came during on August 26. The Dodgers had a 3-4 lead in the 9th inning with 2 outs. Jayson Heyward was on 3rd base and Kenley Jansen was trying for the save. Ruiz was catching him and set high and inside, Jansen’s pitch was high and away. Ruiz reached up and got his glove on the ball but was unable to catch it. The ball went to the backstop and Heyward score, tying the game. The Cubs went on to win it. Ruiz did take responsibility for not catching it, and I understand why he was unable to catch it. He was thrown into the game having never tried to catch Jansen. You can view the video below.
I know that I will miss Ellis, the Dodgers players will miss him, and I am sure that many other Dodgers fans will miss him too.