In a Mets offseason that will be dominated by one huge name—Jose Reyes—other major needs may go overlooked.
That’s partially because the Mets will try hard to keep Reyes and also because the team is still not financially sound.
When we think of the Mets roster, we immediately say we need pitching, pitching and more pitching.
However, a strong catcher is key to a good pitching staff.
If the season started tomorrow, Josh Thole and Ronny Paulino (assuming he’s offered arbitration) would once again split time behind the dish. Mike Nickeas would be the right-handed hitting option if the team moved on from Paulino.
The main factor here is Thole. In his short career, he has garnered a reputation as being an incredibly streaky player.
He goes through stretches at the plate where he just doesn’t make outs, and then he’ll strike out four consecutive times.
Defensively, he’ll call a great game one night, and then drop routine balls the next. One thing he certainly needs to work on is throwing out base stealers.
When looking at the numbers, Thole hit a very respectable .268 on the year. He’s not a power guy or a run producer, but he’s a strong contact hitter.
As for Paulino, it was really a lost season. He missed games due to his suspension for performance enhancing drugs and due to injury. He drove in just 19 runs in 78 games.
Based on the Mets pressing needs in other areas and the lack of any dynamite catchers on the market, the Amazins’ might be best off just letting Thole, who is still only 24, continue to work through his mistakes.
Defensively challenged Ryan Doumit, the aging Ramon Hernandez and Jason Kendall, and the ancient Pudge Rodriguez highlight the catcher’s market. Most of the other free agent catchers are basically all backups.
The thing with Thole is that he’d be a perfectly respectable option for a team with a strong lineup. When Jason Bay is batting fourth for your team, guys like Thole are expected to be offensive forces, which they simply are not.
So while we may not hear too much from the catching front this offseason based on the situation, the position could use an upgrade.
But for now, Thole is our guy.