I’m a little late to the party here as David Ross AKA “the best backup catcher in baseball” already signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox. This further thins a weak catcher free agent pool. Let’s see who’s available at backstop.
The Big Catch
No one probably wishes their free agency had come after the 2011 season rather than the 2012 season more than Mike Napoli. The power was still there with 24 homers, but the near 100 point drop in batting average cost him millions. He’s still the only catcher on the market with 30-homer potential. He would need to stay in the American League though, where he can DH and play some 1st base as he’s not the strongest defensive backstop. The Red Sox have shown some interest and he’d be an interesting tandem with the already signed David Ross. I do believe he’s moving on from Texas, where they traded for Geovany Soto at the deadline last season.
Is the Power Real? Tier
Two catchers where teams need to decide how real the numbers are. A.J. Pierzynski had arguably his best offensive season at age 36, taking home his first Silver Slugger award. I doubt that teams will trust his career-high 27 home runs, when he had 30 combined from 2009-11. He will be able to provide veteran leadership and calls a good game, just ask the great years from Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. On the other hand, how much are Russell Martin’s power numbers skewed by playing in the Bronx. He wasn’t hitting hit to the short, right field porch, but it’s still a hitter’s park. If he drops to 15 homers, is it worth it for a guy that hits .220-.230? I think he takes a pay cut from the $7.5 million he made in 2011.
The rest of the catching free agent class is full of backups. Kelly Shoppach is probably the best of the bunch of backups. Rod Barajas has some pop, Miguel Olivo’s batting average plummeted after leaving Colorado for Safeco Field. The less said about Dioner Navarro the better. That said, they’ll all find landing spots.
What catcher would you want your team to sign? If you root for an AL team, would you want Mike Napoli in the heart of the lineup? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes ( @IAmMapes)
It’s safe to say that I will never experience a game with ranging emotions like the 2012 Wild Card game between the Cardinals and the Braves. I was so excited and ready to exorcise the demons from the Braves collapse from 2011. I was so excited to watch Chipper Jones playing another game at Turner Field. I was so excited to see a sold out ballpark chopping and chanting to my hearts delight. Instead, I ended up heartbroken.
Heartbroken that the Braves couldn’t get past the Cardinals again.
Heartbroken that the Braves record winning streak when Kris Medlen starts came to an end at twenty-three.
Heartbroken that the team that prided itself on defense (with the fewest errors in the National League) ended up committing three crucial throwing errors.
Heartbroken every time the Braves put runners on base and couldn’t get them home, twelve in all.
Heartbroken when the excitement from the Andrelton Simmons bunt got reversed to an out, but it was the right call.
Heartbroken that an infield fly call gone wrong is what we’ll remember this game for.
Heartbroken that Braves fans did the wrong thing in protesting the call by throwing debris on to the field and making us all look bad.
Heartbroken that it might actually be the right call, but called wrong.
Heartbroken that the Braves still had a chance with the bases loaded in the 8th and Michael Bourn just couldn’t come through.
Heartbroken that if the playoff system wasn’t in place, they would still be playing a game two in the NLDS.
Heartbroken that a 94-win season came down to one game where anything could happen (and did) and not a three-game series.
Heartbroken that the Braves have now lost four straight winner-take-all games at Turner Field.
Heartbroken that the Cardinals were chanting “Infield fly” in the clubhouse, after the game.
Heartbroken that the protest I believed might work, but deep down knew wouldn’t. Didn’t actually come to fruition to save the Braves.
Most of all, I’m heartbroken that I’ll never see my favorite player of all-time, Chipper Jones, play the game we both love so much.
Thank you for everything Chipper. Thank you for being a role model, the 1999 NL MVP, a World Series champion, an All-Star, and even the greatest tweeter of all-time, while doing it all with a smile on your face. You’ve made Braves Country so proud these past 19 seasons. Thank you for never leaving. Thank you for never quitting not from a torn ACL in 2010 and especially not from making the last out in your final game. I look forward to making the trip to Cooperstown in five years to see you be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. #10 is forever in my heart. You deserved better than going out in a game like this.
Now to just put my heart back together again for April 1st against the Phillies. This is why we chop, Braves fans. Nothing can ever keep us down.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)