Starting with catcher Hal King getting the Texas Ranger first hit in 1972, the Rangers have had a love-hate relationship with the position. There were two long relationships that ended in heartbreak. Jim Sundberg and Pudge Rodriguez. Both were victims of the business side of things and neither departure went over well with Ranger fans. But scouring through the years there were so many other names.
Our catchers this season, Torrealba, Napoli, Martinez and yes Brandon Snyder caught one game, were middle to bottom in every defensive category. Conventional wisdom at the start of the year was that we weren’t counting on a lot of offense form these guys, but they would be an asset behind the plate. Especially handling our pitching staff. By the end of the season, our ERA was soaring and it appeared bases were being stolen with wild abandon. Two side notes. One, Napoli gets a pass because of injury and the games he did play being mostly at first base and DH. The second, Geovany Soto actually helped the Ranger numbers (not much) down the stretch.
On the farm Tomas Tellis is coming off Tommy John surgery and worked as a DH in 2012. Third round selection Pat Cantwell from this year’s draft got off to a good start in Spokane. Let’s face it, they are each a ways off.
There isn’t a lot out there on the free agent market. Even before the injury, Napoli regressed this season. He’s available but will be looking for money based on his 2011 numbers. I see the name Kelly Shopach a lot, but he is a backup at best. A.J. Pierzynski is out there but he reportedly is a polarizing force in the clubhouse. Not good.
On the trade front the name J.P. Arencibia comes up. He’s a former first round pick of the Blue Jays who hasn’t lived up to expectations with the bat, but has been strong behind the plate. To me, go big or go home. Let’s talk Carlos Santana from Cleveland. Or Ryan Doumit from Minnesota.
There’s a grittiness that is missing at that position for us. Napoli provided that in 2011. In a sport that has become so specialized, the catcher position has become one of brains and not brawn. In all of the stats I went through, there is no way to note the X-Factor we are looking for. Back in the 90’s there were some team leaders whose pep talks provided sparks at a crucial time. Who could have stepped up in 2012? There was no way it was coming from that position. Catcher is a natural place for that to start.
When you see a Buster Posey or Matt Wieters, they are in the Pudge and Sunny mold. There’s nobody out there like that now. They don’t come along very often. But we’d take another Mike Stanley, John Russell , Rich Billings or Geno Petralli. Or two.
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