Image by Keith Allison via Flickr
Now that I’ve written about what the Mets should do at first base next season, I thought it was time to move on to catcher. The 2009 season was filled with dichotomy at catcher, Brian Schneider was a complete bust in his walk year and Omir Santos emerged as a viable everyday player. Then September rolled around and we got a look at a good-looking young player in Josh Thole. There certainly is hope for the future at the catcher position.
I want to start by writing that Schneider has absolutely no shame to be cashing the paychecks that the Wilpons gave him this season. He seems like a good guy but for him to accept $4.9 million for the performance he put up this season is criminal. It goes without saying that there isn’t even the slimmest of chances that he’ll be back next season at 33 years-old and coming off a season in which he hit .218 with 3 HR’s and 24 RBI’s in 170 AB’s. That line is disgusting… It’s even painful to write it! When you talk about the problems with the Mets poor performance this season, you can blame it on injuries but don’t forget to point the finger squarely at Schneider.Enough about Schneider, he’s done here.
Santos really broke out this year in a bigger way than anyone could have imagined for a guy whose minor league contract was purchased from the Orioles during spring training. For a guy making the minimum salary at 28 years-old, he sure put on a show! In 281 AB’s he hit .260 with 7 HR’s and 40 RBI’s. He does have some numbers that I’m not crazy about like hitting .218 against lefties and .220 on the road. But I can get past that. At his age, the Mets should be looking at Santos as part of the solution to their problems.
Josh Thole is only 22 years-old right now but looks like a solid player already. He’s a lefty slap-hitter but that’s okay for a catcher if he can get on base. Although Thole only got 49 AB’s as a September call-up, he hit .286/.327/.347. I’ll take that any day of the week from a young, lefty-hitting catcher. I’m on board with penciling him into the big league roster for 2010.
If Omar Minaya isn’t sold on Thole for next season, the free agent list of catchers looks pretty uninspiring. The list is filled with 30-something players whose best days are behind them including Bengie Molina and Ivan Rodriguez. These days you just can’t count on older catchers to produce. They don’t have the steroids and amphetamines anymore that used to get them through a long season behind the plate. I don’t like any of the free agents out there as anything more than a quadruple-A backup plan.
I’m ready to move forward with Santos and Thole next season. They both look like they can make a positive contribution to the team and, at the same time, save a lot of money that can be best used to fill other holes on the team.