The Veteran Catcher

Dave · October 29, 2009 at 11:45 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Since Kenji decided to head back to Japan, one of the things that Jack said to the media afterwards has gained a decent amount of attention, is that this creates a hole where they’re probably going to have to bring in a veteran catcher this winter. To some more traditional writers, the thought of breaking camp next year with a catching tandem of a rookie and a second year guy is unthinkable. However, I’d suggest that the Mariners would love to do just that.

The M’s are going to bring a veteran catcher to spring training next year, certainly. But they don’t want him to make the team, and that’s why it’s far more likely that they’ll sign a guy to a minor league deal late in the winter than that they’ll give guaranteed money and a promise of a job to a free agent backstop. While it’s true that Johnson and Moore don’t have a lot of major league experience, they aren’t kids, either.

Rob Johnson is 27-years-old – older than Franklin Gutierrez. Adam Moore will turn 26 next May, so in baseball terms, he’s basically the same age as Jose Lopez. For young players, these two are really old. Describing them in terms of their major league experience doesn’t paint an accurate portrait of the amount of time they’ve spent learning the game and developing in the minor leagues.

If you’ve been around the M’s front office at all, you know how much they think of Moore. If you listened to the M’s coaching staff or the pitchers on the team this year, you know how much they all think of of Johnson. The M’s would love to be able to break camp with the pair as their catching combo next year, and they wouldn’t give a second thought to the lack of an experienced veteran. Johnson’s off-season surgeries and just general wisdom mean that the team won’t come to camp without an option in case either of them prove not to be ready for opening day, but the Mariners aren’t going to expend resources to put themselves back into a position where they can’t go with a Moore/Johnson combo if they want to.

Losing Johjima was a gift, and they know it, even if they won’t say so publicly. They’re not going to put themselves back in a similar spot where their catcher of the future or Felix’s personal caddy has to head back to Tacoma because they gave an older guy guaranteed money. Zduriencik saying that he’s going to have to “bring in a veteran” is not the same thing as bringing in someone to take one of their jobs.

So, don’t expect the M’s to make a run at any of the catchers that most fans have ever heard of. They’re not going to be in on Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Kendall, or Jason Varitek. They’re probably not even going to talk to guys like Gregg Zaun or Mike Redmond. Instead, expect the M’s to bring a Jamie Burke type (though probably not Burke himself) to spring training on a non-roster invite. They’ll have a veteran catcher in camp, but in the best case scenario, they’ll be cutting that guy in March. They don’t want him to make the team.

Comments

45 Responses to “The Veteran Catcher”

  1. Tek Jansen on October 29th, 2009 12:02 pm

    they’ll be cutting that guy in March. They don’t want him to make the team.

    Sounds like job for Guillermo Quiroz.

  2. lailaihei on October 29th, 2009 12:07 pm

    How about Michael Barrett on a minor league deal? He probably will look awful in spring training but he is only a few years removed from good offensive seasons. He’s not that much less likely than Bill Hall to catch fire again.

  3. ccbrown51 on October 29th, 2009 12:08 pm

    Great article! bringing in a catcher that would make the team out the spring would be pointless. Hopefully Moore can prove himself early and earn the starting job.

  4. natebracy on October 29th, 2009 12:29 pm

    Pat Borders!

  5. Mike Snow on October 29th, 2009 12:52 pm

    He’s not that much less likely than Bill Hall to catch fire again.

    It would be hard to get much less likely, since probabilities don’t get lower than zero. Although as Wikipedia informs us, “Negative probabilities have…been suggested to solve several problems and paradoxes.” Paradoxes like Hall’s 2006 season.

  6. lailaihei on October 29th, 2009 1:07 pm

    It would be hard to get much less likely, since probabilities don’t get lower than zero. Although as Wikipedia informs us, “Negative probabilities have…been suggested to solve several problems and paradoxes.” Paradoxes like Hall’s 2006 season.

    I wasn’t saying that it’s likely at all, just that there is a chance. I think he’s as good of a bet as any vet catcher who would sign a minor league deal to (relatively) freak out and wOBA over .320.

  7. georgmi on October 29th, 2009 1:15 pm

    Jason Varitek!

  8. Adam B. on October 29th, 2009 1:17 pm

    I honestly hope this is the case; The last thing this team needs to do is invest money in players who wont be around in a year.

    On a similar note, I’d like to point out that Jim Street is already stumping for the Mariners to acquire a certain “power hitting left fielder” because Saunders obviously prooved unworthy of starting and should be shelved.

    If only we had a quality power-hitter like Raul Ibanez; Now that’s what a left-fielder looks like.

  9. Adam B. on October 29th, 2009 1:23 pm

    Jason Varitek!

    A good idea except for the fact that he’ll want way more money and playing time then the Mariners should be willing to offer.

    You did read Dave’s post, right?

  10. joser on October 29th, 2009 1:31 pm

    Yeah, I was kind of puzzled by Zduriencik’s comment at the time, because I was interpreting it the same way the media apparently did. If you’re bringing in another catcher, you’re either doing so because of his bat (in which case he won’t be cheap, and he’ll be blocking Moore) or because he’s a defensive whiz (in which case you’re probably making the team weaker offensively, and also blocking Moore). “Veteraness” is not an asset in itself, and I thought we were past that Bavasism. But if it’s just a 3rd guy as insurance/backup who will probably be cut loose or stashed in Tacoma, it makes sense. And I’m sure Zduriencik was also trying to be diplomatic about Johjima, making it sound like he will be missed by suggesting they might have to go out and look for someone to replace him.

    Jason Varitek!

    Was that meant to be a joke of some kind (if so I don’t get it) or did you just not read the article (particularly the last paragraph)?

  11. Daniel Carroll on October 29th, 2009 1:39 pm

    You would know more than I do on this, but when I read that the Mariners may look for veteran catching help, I would begin to think that maybe Rob Johnson and someone else is going to be traded for a potential 2011 piece and a somewhat rusty but serviceable catcher to take the clubhouse role that a Griffey and/or a Sweeney held in 2009.

    Is this conceivable or am I simply blowing smoke?

  12. Adam B. on October 29th, 2009 1:40 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Jason Varitek (and other veteran catchers of his ilk) would be great to have doning the ignorance suit in Tacoma, or backing up Moore if Johnson’s rehab doesn’t go as planned, but he’s not going to accept that kind of role until no other team is willing to give him starting time and money, and at that point he’s more likely to just call it quits.

  13. Dave on October 29th, 2009 1:53 pm

    The M’s aren’t going to trade Rob Johnson in the same winter that they’re trying to convince Felix to sign long term. If they traded Felix, I could potentially see Johnson being shopped, but it’s unlikely that other teams value his personality as much as the M’s do.

  14. Liam on October 29th, 2009 1:54 pm

    Hopefully the veteran catcher doesn’t impress them too much ala Sweeney.

  15. Typical Idiot Fan on October 29th, 2009 2:01 pm

    Jason Varitek!

    *BARF!*

  16. georgmi on October 29th, 2009 2:05 pm

    Actually, I think Jason Varitek at this stage of his career would–salary demands aside–exactly fit the role described by Dave, right down to the PR boost when the front office said on March 30, “Adam Moore is so awesome that he even beat out Jason Varitek to win a place on this team.”

    Which is to say, 10% rosterbation, 5% “here’s a semi-plausible suggestion”, 85% snark.

  17. scott19 on October 29th, 2009 2:07 pm

    Well, Corky Miller might be available. Not only would he fit the description of “veteran catcher,” but is also so light-hitting that he’d almost be guaranteed not to make the roster out of spring training.

  18. Liam on October 29th, 2009 2:27 pm

    I don’t think Jason Varitek is quite at the stage in his career where a minor league contract is the best offer made to him.

  19. georgmi on October 29th, 2009 2:30 pm

    I wasn’t suggesting he’d take it, or that there wouldn’t be better offers out there for him. Just that he’s the skillset we’re looking for.

  20. Grizz on October 29th, 2009 2:49 pm

    Josh Bard has experience with this sort of thing. Plus, he switch hits (just in case he makes the team).

  21. Broadcast James on October 29th, 2009 3:03 pm

    Can we bring back Dan Wilson for spring training?? :)

  22. mark s on October 29th, 2009 3:24 pm

    Can we bring back Dan Wilson for spring training?

    You will see Dan Wilson at Spring Training. He will be down for a few days to help with the coaching. He has done it for the last year or two.

  23. horatiosanzserif on October 29th, 2009 4:02 pm

    A veteran catcher who doesn’t mind being cut? Sounds like Wakamatsu’s career path prior to coaching. I say player/manager him for the PR boost.

    Or: Colt Morton.

  24. Typical Idiot Fan on October 29th, 2009 4:09 pm

    Considering Wakamatsu, are we sure they’ll take two inexperienced catchers? Wak kind of showed he was a bit of a hardass when it came to evaluating his catchers in 09.

  25. cpu on October 29th, 2009 4:27 pm

    Why not Jamie Burke? The Crash Davis players are my favorites.

    Please be gentle, I’m just a fan.

    cpu

  26. Kazinski on October 29th, 2009 4:31 pm

    Hardassed? I don’t know, lets just say Wak thought that defense in a catcher was more important than offense. Considering all the complaints there were about Johnson’s defense, and by all accounts Clement was much worse, its hard to make a case for downgrading the most important defensive position in order to make a place for unproven offensive talent.

  27. casualfn on October 29th, 2009 4:40 pm

    Why not Jamie Burke? (no, I’m seriously asking-where is he now?)

  28. Ike Clanton on October 29th, 2009 4:45 pm

    I’m among those whose first thought was Pat Borders. No risk of a 40-something year old coming out of Spring Training. Ha!

    No, seriously, if I was putting money on it, I’d put it on Quiroz.

  29. eastcoastmariner on October 29th, 2009 5:05 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with you Dave.

    And the Mariners are not signing Varitek. Get that out of your head everybody it’s not going to happen

  30. Liam on October 29th, 2009 6:12 pm

    Why not Jamie Burke? (no, I’m seriously asking-where is he now?)

    He was traded to the Washington Nationals.

  31. G-Man on October 29th, 2009 8:42 pm

    I see the possibility that they decide to send Moore to Tacoma to get more seasoning, play full time, etc., etc. It makes sense, and jives with adding a vet, who can either back up Johnson in Seattle or play in Tacoma.

  32. cpu on October 29th, 2009 8:57 pm

    I know Burke was traded to the Nats. Does he have a job there next spring? I’m sure there are trainloads of similar players and Z probably knows half of them personally.

  33. TranquilPsychosis on October 29th, 2009 9:54 pm

    Considering Wakamatsu, are we sure they’ll take two inexperienced catchers? Wak kind of showed he was a bit of a hardass when it came to evaluating his catchers in 09.

    I’m missing this one. I saw Rob (PB) Johnson many times when Joh could have played. Not looking like much of a hardass to me. Am I confused?

  34. TranquilPsychosis on October 29th, 2009 9:57 pm

    I know Burke was traded to the Nats. Does he have a job there next spring?

    Who cares? At this point he needs to either become a coach or retire. He doesn’t even belong in ST as a position player. Sort of like Griffey, but with less credentials.

  35. laloffice on October 29th, 2009 10:56 pm

    Brad Ausmus sounds like a perfect fit.

  36. SonOfZavaras on October 30th, 2009 12:14 am

    Hot news! Zduriencik gets Manny Sanguillen and Mike LaValliere on the phone, invites them to try and re-kindle their careers in Seattle.

  37. SonOfZavaras on October 30th, 2009 12:18 am

    On a similar note, I’d like to point out that Jim Street is already stumping for the Mariners to acquire a certain “power hitting left fielder” because Saunders obviously proved unworthy of starting and should be shelved.

    Jim Street is stumped. Perpetually.

  38. heyoka on October 30th, 2009 4:21 am

    I’d say if anything, the M’s should seek the opposite: find a kid with some upside to put into the farm to eventually push Johnson (or Moore) out of his roster spot. At this stage of the game that would have to be part of a trade…(perhaps Salome in Milwaukee as part of that proposed Morrow trade?)

  39. scott19 on October 30th, 2009 9:42 am

    Hot news! Zduriencik gets Manny Sanguillen and Mike LaValliere on the phone, invites them to try and re-kindle their careers in Seattle.

    Just as long as he didn’t trade Wak to get Sanguillen. :)

  40. Evan on October 30th, 2009 11:02 am

    Sal Fasano

    Baseball needs more handlebar moustaches.

  41. scott19 on October 30th, 2009 11:29 am

    Speaking of handlebar ‘staches, I wonder if they could recruit Ray Fosse from the Oakland A’s broadcast booth?

  42. msb on October 30th, 2009 12:35 pm

    awwwwwwwww, Manny.

  43. NBarnes on October 30th, 2009 8:00 pm

    I think Varitek is a fantastic idea and I would love to see him with our organization where he can do the most good.

    But do you really think he’d sign with us just to catch in AAA and work with the pitchers there?

  44. georgmi on October 30th, 2009 9:53 pm

    Maybe if we told him he could be the Rainiers’ team captain?

  45. TranquilPsychosis on October 30th, 2009 10:24 pm

    I think Varitek is a fantastic idea and I would love to see him with our organization where he can do the most good.

    Wow! I almost thought you were serious for a second there.

    Maybe if we told him he could be the Rainiers’ team captain?

    As long as he’s not trained in proper big league ice cream pie methodology. Can’t risk him being called up you know.

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