Henry Blanco is a Backup
According to Mets GM Omar Minaya, Henry Blanco is a backup catcher.
And you thought Minaya didn’t know things.
Unfortunately, Minaya also announced that the Mets’ starting catching position would be a competition between Omir Santos and Josh Thole, both of whom are also backup catchers. So maybe Omar only knows some things.
If this is really the way the Mets think about the backstop position, it might have made sense to sign veteran free-agent Mike Sweeney and have him platoon with Mike Jacobs behind the plate. Both Mikes started their careers as catchers, both would be at least as good defensively as Santos/Thole, and both would have a better chance of providing offensive production that approaches the best that Jerry Grote ever mustered.
It might be different if either Thole or Santos were remarkable defensively — you could live with substandard offense. But if you’re going to hit like Charlie O’Brien, you darn well better catch like Charlie O’Brien.
My apologies to the Kool-Aid drinking Mets fans who believe Thole will hit better than .240, and/or think Santos is going to duplicate his surprising offensive “prowess” of 2009.
At this point the Mets may as well sign Jose Molina and make him the starter. He’ll at least give them a strength on one side of the ball … and it’ll give the Mets an excuse to apply Tony LaRussa’s strategy of hitting the pitcher eighth.
I think this is another METS front office jamming down our throats a player (thole) in their minor league system (like Murphy). A good but sub-par player who will only be an average (at best) player in the major leagues.
Right now, I think the Mets are playing for 2011, they have no minor league system and the free agent market is suppose to be great at the end of 2010. However, what the Mets don’t realize is that NOBODY wants to play for them. They will have pay alot of money to free agents if they “think” they will sign anyone. Then we’ll be stuck with the contracts. The Mets future is not looking good.
i just hope that the Mets do OK this season since they won’t be under any pressure. This way, free agents may say it could be a winning ballclub. If we have the same season as 2009, we are doomed!
By the way, Kevin Rhomberg was a career .301 hitter in the minors who led the SAL with a .366 AVG in 1981. Remember his MLB All-Star career? Neither does anyone else, because it didn’t happen, because minor league success is not always a precursor to MLB success.
Forgive me for being a bit snarky with the Rhomberg example, as I appreciate you commenting here and regularly stimulating the conversation. The truth is, I do think that Thole has a chance to do something, eventually, in the bigs, but I don’t see it happening this year, in this city, under these circumstances.
BTW have you heard the Mets are “pushing hard” for Barajas now? I thought the Mets were out of money. This just shows how little the media actually knows about the Wilpon’s purse. So I will stop listening.
One doesn’t really need to look very far in the past for a reason to be skeptical of quick success by Thole at the major league level. Dan Murphy was a .290 minor league hitter before his promotion to the big leagues. Like Thole, despite skipping AAA, Murphy made a great first impression by hitting .313 in his first 131 ABs with the Mets as a 23 year old; while as a 22 year old, Thole hit .321 in his first 53 ABs with the Mets. However, in his second season with the Mets, Murphy SIGNIFICANTLY regressed from his minor league averages, hitting mainly in the .240s and .250s all year before getting hot in August and September and finishing the season at .266. So, as you can see, minor league success does not automatically translate into immediate major league success. Seeing that Thole is a year younger than Murphy, playing a far more physically demanding position than 1B/LF, it is a just assessment that Thole will have a HARDER time acclimating himself to the rigors of the major league level, thus resulting in a larger drop-off from his minor league norms. Not to mention Thole isn’t the most adept defensive presence behind the plate at this stage of his career, and though his offensive game may need little adjusting as he matures at AAA, his defensive abilities do need to be improved before he can be considered a viable starter at the major league level. Being a slap-hitter with a .300 average is nice but not very helpful when you’re giving the runs you produce back to the opposition with shoddy defense. See Luis Castillo.
I’m mildly optimistic Thole can become a Jason Kendall type catcher, but it’s doubtful he’s at that level now. Looking for a .300 season out of him in 2010 is a lofty expectation that is more than likely only setting him up for failure.