Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Rangers' Catching Situation Takes a Nose Dive

Just a year ago, the Rangers were flush with catchers (four, yes four!) and the baseball world pondered who the Rangers would look to move in return for pitchers:
"Most of what's going on right now involves the Rangers' catching. They have four catchers that are of interest to other teams: Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez.

Indications are most teams are interested in Saltalamacchia and Teagarden, while the Rangers would rather do something with Laird. That would create financial flexibility in other areas.


"We're OK bringing back all four guys if it comes down to that and the right deal is not out there," Daniels said. "There are clubs that like all four guys. They all bring something different to the club. You don't want to trade good players, but you've got to trade something good to get something back."
Now just a year later, the Rangers' catching situation is a mess. So much so that they are looking into signing Jason Kendall!
A starting catcher seems to have surpassed that as the Rangers' focus here at the Winter Meetings. The Rangers have enough concern about Jarrod Saltalamacchia's health that they are seriously looking for catching help either through free agency or trade.

"We had a chance to meet here as a group, and it's one spot that you can't get short at," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.

Jason Kendall is one free-agent possibility. Rod Barajas is another. Barajas was the Rangers' starting catcher from 2004-06 before leaving as a free agent. He spent the past three years with the Phillies and Blue Jays.
So what happened here? How did the Rangers' surplus turn into a drought? Let's take a look:

Catcher #1- Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Injured himself playing winter ball and was a liability offensively in 2009

Catcher #2- Gerald Larid: Traded to the Tigers last winter

Catcher #3-Taylor Teagarden: Solid defensive player, but his offensive ability is very suspect.

Catcher #4-Max Ramirez: After a fantastic 2008 season in the minor leagues, Ramirez followed that up with a stinker in 2009. Was 2008 a fluke year?

Even though it's easy for the Rangers to be down about their catching situation, there's still a lot of promise and ability here. Sure none of those guys might ever become stars, but at the same time, I don't think the Rangers need to go out and sign a guy like Kendall or Olivo, who will take away playing time from the younger catchers and not offer much production at the plate in return. If anything, the Rangers should sign a lower cost option like Ramon Castro, who can be an cheap asset if he makes the team, but will not require the playing time or salary of a Kendall or Olivo.

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