A Catcher The Mets Should Sign And One They Should Avoid Like The Plague

The Mets have a lot of holes to fill in 2010.  They need an actual number 2 pitcher in the rotation; they need a set-up guy in the bullpen, a left fielder and a catcher.  Last week I addressed the left field situation and a lot of you readers had a few opinions to say the least on my choices on who should play left field for us in 2010 but I still stand by my belief that Holliday would be the best solution for the Mets.

With Brian Schneider becoming a free agent next year we now need a catcher for the 2010 season.  There are 26 catchers that are facing the prospect of free agency, 7 of which have team options and/or buyouts for their contracts.  There are some good catchers that will be available next year but the Mets find themselves in a somewhat of a dilemma when it comes to acquiring a catcher this off-season, that dilemma is named Josh Thole.

Thole is 22 years old, he had his cup of coffee this year in the majors and he impressed me with his offense at the plate finishing with a .321 batting average in 53 plate appearances.  He had a bit of 1-19 slump but he still showed promise in his major league debut.  Even though he was slumping Thole didn’t look foolish at the plate like outfielder Fernando Martinez.  Thole’s defense left a bit to be desired as he allowed 3 passed balls in only 17 games.  On the plus side he did throw out 2 base runners out of 6 attempted steals on him.  He also caught two really good games at the end of the season.  Having said this Thole does not belong on the team yet.  He needs to start 2010 in AAA Buffalo and work on his defense.  He needs to also learn about the intangibles of being catcher, such as slowing down the pace of a game or going out to talk to a pitcher who is struggling.  That is not a knock on Thole; those instincts will come in time.  It’s important to remember that he was not originally a catcher; the Mets converted him to catcher in the minors.  I believe that in 2011 Thole will be on this team as our starting catcher and there lies the dilemma: signing a veteran catcher to a 1 year deal and not completely overpay for said catcher for the one year he’ll be on the team.

There is one catcher that I would want and that catcher is Bengie Molina, who I think a lot of Met fans including myself would not mind seeing behind the dish for us in 2010.  Molina in his eleven year career is a .276 hitter but more importantly he is one of the best catchers in baseball.  Some could argue that out of his family he might be the best at calling a game and working with a pitching staff.  If you take Santana out of the equation the Mets pitching staff is full of head cases with Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez.  Plus Jon Niese could be in the rotation, Niese is a young pitcher and Bengie works really well with the younger pitchers.  He knows how to slow down a game if the pitcher is moving too fast and he’s also good at defense.  He’s a gamer; he only knows one way of playing: playing hard!  If there is one drawback it’s that he’s a Type A Free Agent, meaning that the Mets would lose a top draft pick as well as a supplemental draft pick.  Ultimately if I’m the General Manager and I’m looking for an experienced catcher who plays good defense and works well with a young pitching staff, Molina is my guy.

The one catcher that I don’t even want to hear about this off season is Jason Varitek.  I have nothing against him on a personal level, he seems like a good baseball guy, a good teammate but his career is coming to an end.  His offensive numbers keep going down year by year and he is 38 years old.  I also believe that he will not come cheap.  A team will over pay him for his name and his past success with the Boston Red Sox.  I believe that it may be time for Varitek to call it a career and I hope Omar or whoever is making these decisions now a days stays far away from Varitek.

Are there any other catchers I’m overlooking readers?   Would Pudge Rodriguez who is a veteran catcher, a little older than Molina who will be a type B Free Agent be better?