Sunday, February 1, 2009

N.L. East Breakdown Week 1: Catcher

Depth Chart and 2008 #s

Atlanta Braves: AVG HR RBI
Brian McCann .301 23 87
Clint Sammons .148 1 4

Florida Marlins:
John Baker .299 5 32
Mike Rabelo .202 3 10

N.Y. Mets:
Brian Schneider .257 9 38
Robinson Cancel .245 1 5
Ramon Castro .245 7 24

Philadelphia Phillies:
Carlos Ruiz .219 4 31
Chris Coste .263 9 36
Lou Marson .500 1 2

Washington Nationals:
Jesus Flores .256 8 59
Will Nieves .261 1 20

Catcher is a complicated position to judge; the above numbers are secondary in importance. A backstop must be rock-solid behind the plate, and handle the pitching staff well. After that, for most catchers, anything beyond that is considered a bonus.

5. Washington
4. Florida
3. Philadelphia
2. New York
1. Atlanta

Atlanta wins this race hands down. McCann is one of the best catchers in baseball, consistently hitting around or over .300 and hitting about 20 home runs every year. He is a solid defensive catcher, blocks the plate well and has a strong arm. Any franchise would be lucky to have a catcher like McCann; and his pitching staff loves to throw to him. Sammons is difficult to judge, with just 57 career at bats. He is still a prospect and could develop into a nice backup, but McCann has over 500 at bats the last few seasons and leaves little need for a backup.

Schneider is a good catcher for the Mets with a little bit of power, accompanying a solid average and good defensive skills. He throws well from behind the plate; but had some injury problems last year. Castro is good for some power numbers as a backup, but both Castro and Cancel are below average catchers. If Schneider gets hurt, their lack of depth will be a problem.

Philadelphia could just past New York as the second best catching squad in the division, because of their depth and if Ruiz continues his tremendous play from 2008’s postseason. Ruiz is rock-solid behind the plate, blocking a plethora of Brad Lidge’s sliders in the dirt. He handles the staff extremely well, and his offensive numbers received a boost in the playoffs and the second half of the season last year. Coste is a good backup catcher with a strong arm and more power than Ruiz. However, he is aging and his skills have declined over the last few years. Marson shows a tremendous amount of potential, and should be the backup for this team. Either way, the Phillies are set in terms of depth at the position, and only room for improvement is Ruiz needs to prove he can be consistent offensively.
Photo Source: Sports Illustrated
Florida found a nice little surprise in Baker last year, who had a strong season after being promoted in 2008. He is more of an offensive catcher though, his defensive skills are lacking. Rabelo is an average backup, nothing the Marlins would want in their starting lineup every day if Baker went down with an injury. Baker is also unproven over time, and no one knows what to expect from him in 2009. The Marlins have been searching for a catcher, so stay tuned to see if they find someone before next season.

Washington is likely to finish last in a lot of categories, this being one of them. Flores put up solid numbers, but was not impressive handling the pitching staff or working behind the plate. Nieves is also rather average, and really just goes unnoticed. Neither of the catchers are bad, but neither really has a strong point either.

It doesn’t matter that Flores’ .256 average is higher than other catchers’ in the division, because those other players are more skilled catchers. Offense remains a secondary statistic for the men behind the mask.
Please go to FightinPhillies to see Rich's Catcher break-down.


  1. Don't forget Ronny Paulino, as I think he'll actually end up being the Phils backup catcher and he totally kills lefties.

  2. Paulino is certainly an option, and the Phils gave up a solid prospect to bring him in. Still, he hit about .212 I think last season. Marson is not likely to make the team, the Phillies are planning on him being the starting catcher for the Iron Pigs. He seems to be the most talented catcher of the bunch though, and has the most potential. I think some Major League experience could do him better than playing in Lehigh Valley.