Monday, March 10, 2008

CRAP: Catchers

So far, we've looked at the outfield and the infield. We'll move on to the backstop, the position that's undergone the most turmoil since last season.

The good news is that treading water on the offensive side of the ball likely won't be that hard. Nats catchers hit .245/ .325/ .354 last season. As bad as that looks, that's really not far below league average, which should tell you everything you need to know about the state of catching in the league.

  • Paul Lo Duca
             HR  RBI  AVE  OBP  SLG
    BJ 8 56 289 338 402
    CHONE 8 51 267 315 370
    Marcel 7 52 281 325 386
    ZIPS 5 47 279 325 374
    CRAP 5 45 270 315 380

    Lo Duca doesn't walk, but he also doesn't strike out. He puts the ball in play, and good things sometimes happen. (and some GIDPs too) He's had a tendency to wear out in the second half over his career, and he's no spring chicken. Last year was near a career low for BABIP as a regular catcher. Either it was just a down season and he'll revert some, or he's hanging by his fingernails off the cliff. If his cellphone weren't TOAST, maybe he'd be able to call someone for help.

  • Johnny Estrada
             HR  RBI  AVE  OBP  SLG
    BJ 4 30 295 339 420
    CHONE 9 54 277 315 403
    Marcel 10 60 276 309 404
    ZIPS 6 48 269 306 368
    CRAP 5 30 270 305 380

    He's another tough one to judge because his performances have been so wacky. One year he's an all-star, the next year a double-A catcher. We know that last year was affected by an arm injury, so there's some hope for a rebound. But we also know that he's still not healthy this season, though that could just be related to the healing process for the surgery instead of something crippling. We just don't know. Still, I'm banking on the low side of the other projections; I think he's nearer the end than the beginning. And, still, even in his death rattles, if you compare him to league average, he's not that far below. Man, this league's catchers suck.

  • Jesus Flores
             HR  RBI  AVE  OBP  SLG
    BJ ----------------------
    CHONE 11 43 227 285 368
    Marcel 7 38 270 340 412
    ZIPS 12 42 243 295 412
    CRAP 4 18 240 315 400

    The team has been pretty adamant in insisting that he's not going to play in the majors this season, going so far as to say that he won't even come north if one of Lo Duca or Estrada aren't ready to go.

    Truthfully, that makes a lot of sense, even as much as I love me some Jesus.

    We all can agree (I hope), that he's not a finished player. He needs a bit more work offensively, and likely defensively. The argument goes that since he has to learn still, why can't he just learn in the majors. I think learning in the majors, especially how to hit when you're facing Smoltz and Hudson and Pedro, is exceedingly difficult, but even if it's not, there's a bigger reason to send him down.

    Teams control players for six seasons of play. If Flores stayed up the entire time, he'd be a free agent after his age 27 season. He'd be a FA right in the prime of his career, and if it goes according to plan, he'll be making a crapload of money from someone (hopefully us!). By sending him down, they're pushing back the time for his FA eligibility. If he goes down this season, he won't be eligible for FA until after his age 28 season.

    Would you rather have a season of Flores learning on the job in a part-time role as a 23-year old, or a developed Flores as a 28-year old wrecking Omar Minaya's Mets 18 games a year (assuming that Omar isn't shitcanned before then!)? It's a pretty easy call. Send him down, let him learn, reap the rewards later. Hell, send him down for part of the seasaon in 2009, too, and you'll get his age 30 season while you're at it!

    I love the guy and I want to see him do well, but I think I'll love him a whole lot more in 6 years. It's best for his career (if not his future salary!), and it's certainly best for the franchise.

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