Dodgers lock up 41-year-old catcher

A couple of hours ago, from the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez: "The Dodgers have agreed to a new deal with backup catcher Brad Ausmus, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

Next, our own Buster Olney: "Heard this: Brad Ausmus got $1 million on a 1-year deal from the Dodgers."

And finally, Hernandez chimed in again: "Ausmus' deal with the Dodgers includes a mutual option for 2011. He will earn a base salary of $850k this year."

Supposedly it's $850,000 this year, plus another $150,000 if anyone doesn't want to continue the relationship next year or another $1 million if everyone does.

Obviously, a million bucks to the Dodgers is almost the same as nothing. Jamie McCourt used to spend that much on shoes every month (and probably still does, though it's no longer in the budget under the heading of "whatnot"). What's more precious than the dollars are the (granted, probably negligible) plate appearances.

Ausmus turns 41 shortly into the new season. Over the last four years he's got a .235/.313/.307 line; essentially he's an automatic out by the standards of his competition. You can't use him as a pinch-hitter, and if you're suddenly forced to use him every day -- one of these years, Russell Martin might actually get hurt -- you're giving away runs with alarming regularity. And because he and Martin both bat right-handed, there's never even a logical time to use him.

I know, I know. Everybody needs a backup catcher, otherwise a lot of balls bounce back to the screen. I'd rather take my chances with A.J. Ellis, who also bats right-handed but has a .437 on-base percentage in nearly 700 Triple-A plate appearances.

Yeah: .437.

I suppose Ellis returns to Albuquerque and waits for someone to pull a muscle. Whatever. It's not like this is going to make or break the Dodgers either way. I just keep thinking about Earl Weaver ...