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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Mets catching options after Shawn Riggans signingPosted by Tommy Rancel at 7:00am
After watching former starter, Brian Schnieder leave New York for National League East rival, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets were linked to Bengie Molina and Yorvit Torrealba among other available backstops this winter. With Molina back in San Francisco and Torrealba settling down in San Diego, the Mets are left with a collection of back up catchers and no clear cut option. Apparently they think that four back-up catchers equal two complete ones.
With four catchers already on the 40-man roster, the team added former Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans into the mix on a minor league deal this past weekend. Riggans, 29, has opened the past few seasons as Tampa Bay's primary back-up catcher, but injuries cost him playing time in each season.
This is nothing new to Riggans who is constantly battling the injury bug. His medical history as well as the much maligned Mets training staff should make for an interesting pairing. As a Rays fan, I've witnessed his gritty-ness first hand. In 2008, Riggans took a Fernando Rodney fastball to the chest only to stay in the game and score the winning run minutes later.
When he was on the field, Riggans showed a decent bat with noted "pop." As a minor leaguer, his cumulative OPS is nearly .800 and he owns a career ISO of .154 in the majors. Unfortunately, a knee injury in 2008 and an arm injury in 2009 prevented him for getting any resemblance of consistent playing time. That said, if he does find some good health he could be an offensive sleeper at the position.
As it stands right now Omir Santos figures to get the nod as the Mets catcher most days. Santos saw his first significant playing time in 2009 and finished the season with a slash line of .260/.290/.381. As a right-handed batter, Santos was surprisingly better against pitcher with the same handiness. Against righties he hit .283/.321/.406. Of course, the sample size is rather small and in any case you would like to see him get on-base more. He walked less than 5% of the time this past season.
Behind Santos is a pair of major league veterans. After spending parts of four seasons with the Phillies, Chris Coste was signed to a minor league deal. Coste spent time with the Phillies and Astros last season.
Of all the potential candidates, Coste represents the best offensive potential. A career .272/.329/.416 hitter, his .325 wOBA is the closest to league average among the candidates. Unlike his fellow right-handed colleague, Santos, Coste enjoys platoon split against left-handed pitching. With a slash line against southpaws of .294/.345/.476, Coste would represent a fine platoon partner. Add in his decent .713 OPS against righties and his ability to play first base and I can easily see a spot for him on the Mets bench.
The other veteran in this group is Henry Blanco. A career back-up, Hank White has spent parts of 12 seasons with seven major league teams. Blanco's career slash line of .228/292/.366 is not pretty, but his game calling and defense behind the plate is highly regarded.
The final piece of the puzzle is 23 year-old Josh Thole. Mets fans briefly saw Thole's talents last year when he hit .321/.356/.396 in 59 big league plate appearances. Now that 34% line drive rate is unsustainable, but he has been a fine hitter over the past two seasons in the minors. After hitting .300/.382/.427 in High-A ball in 2008, Thole crushed Double-A pitching to the tune of .328/.395/.422. He skipped Triple-A completely and represents hope for the positions' future.
Due to their relative below average-ness, and questions about playing time, I would avoid all candidates until further notice. Thole represents the best talents, but could use
some minor league seasoning. In the interim, I would keep an eye on Coste as a platoon partner as well as Riggans if he can stay on the diamond long enough.
Tommy Rancel is the Editor-In-Chief of DRaysBay as well as a contributor at Beyond the Box Score
Jacob Rothberg said...
Why wouldn’t this team just sign Rod Barajas to the one-year deal he would obviously accept at this point? He is better than all of these guys, probably better than all of them even if you combined them into some sort of chimeric beast named Shamir Blathole.
Posted 02/16 at 01:21 PM
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