Before rolling out of my house late yesterday afternoon, I looked up stats for a Sunday morning blog entry on backup catching candidates for the Orioles. I also was prepared to issue a warning against any snarky “slow news day” remarks.
You know the rest.
The Orioles acquired catcher Johnny Monell from the Giants for cash considerations and tossed him into the mix.
Coincidence? Or did I make it happen?
If it’s the latter, I’ll try to get you a frontline starting pitcher and a left-handed hitter.
Taylor Teagarden played in 23 games this season, going 10-for-60 and posting a .167/.180/.300 line with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs. Chris Snyder went 2-for-20 in nine games, posting a .100/.250/.100 line with one RBI and seven strikeouts. Steve Clevenger was 4-for-15 in four games, posting a .267/.267/.333 line with a double and two RBIs.
In this group, Clevenger looked like Mike Piazza.
Matt Wieters caught 140 games and played in 148 this season. His backups don’t stay busy, which is why free-agent catchers don’t flock to Baltimore. They actually prefer to get on the field.
The 40-man roster includes Wieters, Clevenger, Monell and Michael Ohlman, whose contract was purchased from Single-A Frederick to protect him in the Rule 5 draft. He isn’t a candidate to break camp with the Orioles next spring, not with his 2013 season confined to the Carolina League.
Clevenger was a shortstop in high school. He caught and played first and third base with the Cubs. Such versatility could give him an edge in the spring training competition, depending on whether the Orioles acquire anyone else.
Monell has minor league options and could eventually settle at Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles made improving their catching depth a priority. I heard lots of complaining about it this year.
Teagarden and Snyder are free agents. Teagarden is a big favorite of manager Buck Showalter, who wasn’t pleased when the Orioles designated the veteran for assignment late in the season.
The roll call of Norfolk catchers this year is longer than “Stairway to Heaven.” The Tides used nine of them. How many can you name?
(Don’t read the next graph if you’re really going to guess.)
Here they are: Luis Exposito (64 games), Snyder (52), Chris Robinson (29), Ronny Paulino (21), Clevenger (20), Jose Gil (seven), Teagarden (three), Luis Martinez (two) and Brian Ward (one).
Exposito is a free agent, and he’s not coming back to Baltimore. His deficiencies behind the plate were glaring. Paulino signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. Martinez signed a minor league deal with the Angels. No tears were shed.
My fondest (and only) memory of Martinez came in spring training, when he informed reporters that he left a February workout with a strained oblique, but would return “tomorrow.”
“Very minimal,” he said.
Nobody comes back that quickly from an oblique injury, and that includes Martinez, who didn’t play for about a month. But I respected his optimism. I also found it quite amusing.
The Padres purchased Robinson from the Orioles on June 20. He will be remembered for igniting a brawl in the World Baseball Classic, which kept us entertained in spring training, and for not being the lead singer of “The Black Crowes.”
That’s a different Chris Robinson. #analysis
Anyway, I’m fine with Clevenger playing behind Wieters and I’m curious about Monell and his minor league power numbers. There’s no law against a backup catcher being able to swing the bat. Enough of the “catch-and-throw” guys who can’t hit their weight.
I’ve often found that they aren’t all that great at catching and throwing, either.
Caleb Joseph was omitted again from the 40-man roster after batting .299/.346/.494 with 31 doubles, two triples, 22 homers and 97 RBIs at Double-A Bowie, and some folks in the organization are concerned that he’ll be lost in the Rule 5 draft. If he’s bypassed, the Orioles will bring him to spring training.
The Orioles liked catcher George Kottaras, according to a source, but the Royals traded him to the Cubs last week for cash considerations after designating him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for left-hander Jason Vargas.
The Orioles also liked Vargas, but not the four-year deal that he signed with the Royals.
The Orioles used four of their first 11 draft picks this year on catchers, and second-rounder Chance Sisco looks like the real deal. But he doesn’t provide a solution in 2014.