Who’s the Third Catcher?

Robinson Cancel catching for the New York MetsSo far this spring, both new backstop Brian Schneider and backup Ramon Castro have been hampered by hamstring issues. I can tell you from first-hand experience (25+ years in fact) that this is a big problem for a catcher.

By the nature of their squatting position, catchers tend to build up extremely large, strong, powerful front thigh (quadriceps) muscles — ask my wife how hard it is for me to find pants that fit properly. As a result, it’s common for a catcher’s legs to develop an imbalance between their front and back muscles; hence, the back thighs or hamstring muscles are susceptible to injury. And as we all know, hamstring injuries have a habit of becoming chronic.

This doesn’t bode well for the Mets, who have effectively no one behind Schneider and Castro — other than Raul Casanova and Robinson Cancel. Casanova had one fabulous year (2001) as a part-timer, banging 11 homers in 191 ABs, but otherwise has been a third-stringer in a game that rarely carries such luxuries. Cancel is OK, not great, as is Gustavo Molina. All three are acceptable, but I don’t see any starting for the Mets on a regular basis.

The catching situation could cause the Mets to re-investigate a deal for Gerald Laird of the Rangers — though he’s likely unavailable — or pick up a “name” veteran. Doug Mirabelli was recently released by the Red Sox, and Javy Lopez might be considered if he doesn’t break camp with the Braves. But no, I don’t see Mike Piazza returning.

Once again, how nice would it have been to see Mike Sweeney — who is open to catching again — in a Mets uniform right about now?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude March 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm
    should we just insert the obligatory “why not pick up craig wilson?” line, as well?
  2. Walnutz15 March 17, 2008 at 1:21 pm
    Casanova and Cancel are fine, as back-ups — under the premise of “Schneider and Castro will be healthy and functioning at the same point” soon.

    However…..it’s clear that the Mets are going to need RH pop in the middle of the order, and that Omar’s going to have work to do during the season. The Mets are clearly riddled with injuries….and if they’re of the nagging variety, then 2008 will be a re-hash of 2007.

    This team absolutely MUST stay healthy.

  3. Micalpalyn March 17, 2008 at 1:46 pm
    The essential point to me is that the Mets have offense. Reyes, wright, beltran, Castillo (gotay/Valentin) and Del are strong enough. The catching issue is its own nightmare. Schneider was worth Lastings (oh by the way see rotoworlds latest entry on him), because a good catcher accentuates the pitching quality. Hence the cliches on good defensive catchers. If Ramon is hurt (15-60DL), I’m fine with Casanova or even Mirabelli.

    To me the status of Valentin bears watching too. He could well be in the dug out for 60 days too only to retire late in the yr or after the season if his injuries do not resolve.

  4. joe March 17, 2008 at 3:01 pm
    I’m worried about the offense because I’m worried about Delgado. I’ve said it before, and it’s becoming a broken record — the key to the Mets’ success this season lies with Delgado.
  5. sincekindergarten March 17, 2008 at 4:07 pm
    Joe, I think that Delgado will actually be good for us this year. I’m thinking .265, 31 HRs, 95 RBIs. The fact that he will be somewhat consistent will cause fastballs to be thrown to the others–Wright and Beltran, and when he’s healthy, Alou (Pagan/Clark to a lesser extent).

    ‘Course, I’m also on paper (where I work) predicting Johan has 22 wins, Pedro and Maine have 17 wins each, and Ollie has 18 wins. I could be expletive-deleted crazy, but God Himself only knows.

  6. Micalpalyn March 17, 2008 at 4:25 pm
    Joe: spoken like Steve Phillips before the jeromy Burnitz trade.

    my point is that this is THE best Mets pitching staff ever. I never saw Seaver, Malacl, McGraw et al. But I did see Gooden, Viola and Cone. This offering of Maine, Santana, Pedro and Ollie is I think the Best ever Mets staff and probably the best in baseball.

    backed by Heilman, Wagner, Dirty and Register I have NO doubt we will see and win our share of low scoring games. BUT we need a catcher!!!!!!!! Frankly Gus Molina suits me fine. The pitchers belief in their receiver.

    yes I like Del. And I believe in his abilities as a #5, #6 hitter. But again with Schneider catching this staff, Reyes and wright cherry picking the infield, and Pagan, Endy, Church, Fernando and Beltran running down every flyball, I would be ecstatic with DOUG MINKEVEIC at 1st base (see Rsoxx circa 2005).

  7. joe March 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm
    I like the pitching, but I really believe the hitting has to be there … and if Delgado isn’t up to snuff, everything falls apart.

    Four starters with 17+ wins each? Gosh I hope so … but it took the ENTIRE NL (not one team) to see that happen last year !!!

    As mentioned before, I sincerely like Delgado and hope he does well. Right now, however, my glass is half-empty.

  8. Micalpalyn March 17, 2008 at 5:48 pm
    Change subject: How about those fringe players eh………

    F-Mart is supposed to be at high A but at 19 is ready to crack the majors at an age of most college freshmen/sophmores.

    Argenis Reyes: talk about possible double play combos

    Ahern: Is this his year?

    Robinson Cancel: bidding for a realistic chance for the Show

    Nelson Figueroa: Talk about a gamble…he was a long shot to make the roster but the odds are alot shorter lately.

    Steven Register: I think he has earned his improbable roster spot already. Sorry Joe Smith.

    Raul Casanova: We will need this guy if not soon later.

    horable mentions to Ruben Tejada and Jon Niese

  9. Micalpalyn March 18, 2008 at 10:06 am
    Well I guess Paulie doesn’t want this message string to stop..not according to Newsday.