5-10-2010: Brief thoughts about catchers
May 10, 2010 1 Comment
Victor Martinez is doing a better job holding runners, with only(!) 13 successful steals in the 18 games since that 9 steal debacle on April 20th against Texas. In those 18 games, we’ve caught 8 runners overall using a variety of pitchouts and pick-offs. But my feeling is that something still needs to be done to address the catching issue late in games. The last thing we want to be worrying about in the late innings of a close playoff game is one of our relievers walking a leadoff man, only to have him steal second and reach scoring position. With that in mind, I’ve been musing on possible solutions:
It’s well known that Arizona would like to unload catcher Chris Snyder. Once Miguel Montero returns from the DL, they would readily send him, his bad back and his contract (he’s signed through 2011 for a total of $10.5M this year and next) to any suitor for a minimal return. The Diamondbacks have been suffering from a terrible bullpen, so they might be happy with even a minor league reliever for Snyder. Not an inspiring option, I know. Other veterans who might become available include A.J. Pierzynski and Bengie Molina. Again, I’m waiting for inspiration here.
The Los Angeles Angels could be willing to deal Jeff Mathis or Bobby Wilson once Mathis is healthy again. They need a third baseman, and perhaps Hispanic-friendly Mike Lowell could fit there. But if we’re talking playoffs, I’m not sure I’d entrust Wilson in that defensive role. Maybe Mathis.
Any of you been watching 22-year old Wilson Ramos of the Twins? With Joe Mauer out with a bad heel, Ramos stepped in and hit in 7 of his first 9 at-bats, stroking three doubles in that time. He’s cooled off since, but the point is that the potential is there. If there’s any positive to Mauer’s big extension with Minnesota, it’s that it makes Ramos available. He’s seen as a legitimate big-league catcher with some offensive potential (.288/.336/.441 in the minors). The Twins would want something pretty significant in return for Ramos, like a high-level starting prospect or a legitimate regular. Right now they’ve got superior defense on the left side of their infield in J.J. Hardy and Nick Punto, but Punto is a poor hitter. Would they bite on Lowell at third base plus another minor leaguer?
The Texas Rangers may still be interested in Lowell, and given the fallen stock of several of their catching prospects, they might be willing to let one of them go for less. Justin Smoak has done slightly better than Chris Davis at first base, but neither of them has given the level of offense the Rangers are looking for (Texas first basemen have hit .179/.273/.330 on the season). It looks like they’ve committed to Taylor Teagarden as their future catcher, but there are questions about Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s defense (and health) and Max Ramirez is a bat-first kind of prospect.
The Cleveland Indians have a logjam of young catchers. Lou Marson, formerly a strong prospect with the Phillies, was handed the starting job, only to struggle to a .203/.261/.266 start (that’s a lot of pressure to put on a 24-year old catcher, so he’s probably going to hit a lot better than that once he settles in). Cleveland has uber-prospect Carlos Santana, who is demolishing Triple-A with a , so that likely makes Marson available. He’s not considered a strong defensive guy, and was considered more of a decent bat (.274/.369/.386 in the minors), so I’m not sure he’s the best target for us. Also, the Indians are in rebuilding mode and would want a real prospect back for Marson.
So there are options out there. We’ll see what the Sox do. The playoffs sure do seem a long way away, but I think the Rays will cool off and our run prevention strategy will kick in at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later.