With all of the talk about upgrading the catcher this offseason clearly behind us, let focus a bit on the here and now.
Much has been said about Brian Schneider starting from the first day he arrived with Ryan Church in exchange for Lastings Milledge. (remember him?)
For some, Schneider failed to deliver on his reputation as defensive force behind the plate. While others sneered at the overall offensive production or should I say, lack of offensive production.
Most of what you heard about Schneider is simply untrue.
The Mets received better than average offense from Schneider as compared the rest of the catchers in the league, and his defense though maybe not in line with his best seasons, was still clearly in the top echelon of National League catchers.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel has bigger things in store for Schneider beginning with even more playing time.
“I’m looking at getting him a lot more at-bats,” Manuel said of the 33-year-old veteran. “As we sit here today, we feel that Schneider in his second year probably should get the bulk of the catching.”
Some may read that and wince or grimace, but I think this is a good thing for the Mets.
Schneider has come to camp ready to improve on last year, and recently David Lennon of Newsday was recently impressed after watching Schneider take 80 rips in the batting cage.
Brian Schneider just completed an exhausting BP session of seven minutes straight with no break. Just him and the machine feeding Schneider pitch after pitch. It’s an unusual drill – usually players take no more than 6 or 7 swings before switching up with someone else.
To Schneider’s credit, he stayed strong to the finish, ripping line drives to the opposite field with regularity. Schneider, who was bothered by numerous injuries last season, got a little pull happy at times. Today’s drill was designed to get his hands going and he appeared to get an A-plus.
Hitting coach Howard Johnson gave him a round of applause and a high-five when he finished. It was an impressive display by Schneider.
Call me overly optimistic, but along with his uncompromising defense, I expect to see some solid offensive numbers from Schneider along the lines of .265 – 15 HR – 60 RBI. Not too shabby for a guy who will mostly be batting 7th or 8th in the order.