Thursday, November 3, 2011

More free agent catchers

Pudge Rodriguez, on the downside of a brilliant career,
is looking for a catching job.
The free agent season officially opened Thursday morning. Earlier this week I posted a piece on three free agent catchers I thought looked particularly intriguing as the backup to Joe Mauer -- Jose Morales, Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit.

It wasn't a comprehensive list of free agent catchers, not was it intended to be. It was three guys who weren't all that old who appeared to have different strengths and different flaws (and when you're talking about No. 2 catchers, you're talking about guys with flaws.)

There are some other possibilities out there -- in particular, the over-the-hill gang.

I will skip Ramon Hernandez, who is a Type A free agent and thus would cost the Twins a draft pick if the Reds offer arbitration. Hernandez should be seeking a regular job somewhere, as will A.J. Pierzynski. So might Rod Barajas, who has gotten some mention in the metro media as a possible Twins target.

Kelly Shoppach is just a bit older than Doumit and Snyder. Decent enough defensive catcher, some long ball pop, has been under .200 each of the past two years. Is he an upgrade on Drew Butera? Probably.

Then there are the really old farts -- Pudge Rodriguez and Jason Veritek.

Rodriguez turns 40 later this month. He isn't the great player he used to be, and he's hanging on in hopes of becoming the first catcher to 3,000 hits (he's 156 short). He's still got defensive chops, he hits better than Butera, and his son is an outfielder in the Twins farm system, which may hold a certain appeal for him.

Veritek turns 40 in April. The Boston icon has been a definite part-timer the past two seasons, and the Bosox may decide that it's time to turn the page on his era. Veritek has a sour history with the Twins, who took him in the first round of the 1993 draft (21st overall) but didn't get him signed. He instead went back to Georgia Tech for his senior season.

There are other possibilities, but really: Matt Treanor? Gerald Laird? Might as well stick with the minimum wage Butera and hope Joe Mauer stays healthy.

I like Doumit because he can do the most things. He can hit enough to justify using at DH or first base or right field. But he may also be the most costly, for the very same reasons, and money matters.

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