2010 Analysis: Henry Blanco

When Henry Blanco was signed in early December of 2009, it was the biggest signing of the offseason to that point. I made some fun of the signing, since it seemed silly to sign a backup catcher before a starting catcher – particularly since the Mets seemed intent on either keeping Topps Rookie Omir Santos as a backup and/or slowly transitioning Josh Thole into the starting spot. Though, picking up Blanco is the type of “veteran depth” pickup that a pennant-contending club makes, and at that point, Omar Minaya believed the Mets would be pennant contenders.

As it turned out, Blanco exceeded expectations with the bat – in the first half, anyway. He hit a surprising .370 in May, popping some dramatic late-inning extra-base hits during the season’s first few months. By the end of the year, however, “regression to the mean” got the best of Blanco, as he finished with a .215 average and putrid .571 OPS.

Defensively, he did a good job of throwing out runners, catching 11 of 22 (50%), and pitchers had a 3.27 ERA when pitching to him. Of course, that number was helped by the fact that Blanco caught 13 of Johan Santana’s starts – which amounted to almost one-third of the times he was written into the starting lineup.

All in all, Blanco did about as well as expected. He provided very little in the way of offense, threw out runners, called a decent game, and was awful at framing and blocking pitches.

2011 Projection

Henry Blanco will not return to the Mets as a player in 2011, mainly because he is old and has nothing to offer offensively, but also because fellow Venezuelan Johan Santana is unlikely to throw a pitch. However, he is by all accounts a “good guy” with baseball acumen, so maybe he’ll latch on as a coach in the organization. Personally, I hope he doesn’t attain a role as an instructor, because his catching mechanics are atrocious, but I could see him evolving into a pitching coach or manager at some point.

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. Walnutz15 November 10, 2010 at 11:39 am
    With Hank White, you more or less knew what to expect – in terms of “production”.

    As was the case with Barajas, having him behind the plate definitely paid-off in the early goings of the season……and I liked Blanco alot, from a “curbing the running game” standpoint.

    His arm is certainly nuthin’ to (mess) with…..while the rest of his mechanics leave a bit to be desired.

    The cool thing about his presence was that Pelfrey seemed to work well with Blanco, when he was behind the plate — I remember hearing how for a stretch there, Pelf was throwing 100% what Blanco called — without shaking him off.

    Additionally, on his off days, Blanco would go down to the ‘pen to catch various guys’ BP sessions. [Which Pelfrey remarked, and said he never saw a regular catcher do that before.]

    Say what we will about him as a “mechanical” catcher, the guy definitely put in alot of extra work to get more comfortable/familiar with his pitchers; and vice versa.

    His signing seemed more like a favor to Santana….but turned out about as well as could have been expected by the end of the season. A 1st half of production, not much else by October…..decent defense/staff handling along the way.

    Whether or not he’s back in 2011 depends on who they think they can bring in to back-up Thole next season. We’ll see how this develops.

  2. hernandezhofer November 10, 2010 at 11:50 am
    Since when is Johan out all year? No one that I have read has said that is ‘likely’. Everything I read and heard makes it seem like the Beltran situation – the team has high hopes he will miss minimal time at the beginning of the year, but more than likely it will be June or July.

    Likely to miss all year? Does Dr. Janish have a diagnosis no else does?

  3. Walnutz15 November 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm
    I’d hope to hear Santana’s name start to surface as we get closer to the ASB — though, no one could definitively state anything until we start to hear some reports from the club (we’ll be hearing plenty about his status/when he thinks he might be able to start throwing again, come Pitchers and Catchers).

    I’m thinking that guys like Alderson and Co. will want to be as accurate as they possibly could be about the reports they issue on the health of their players this year……especially coming off the flat-out disgraceful “assessments” the Mets have put out the past few years.

    Back on topic to catchers, I was just looking at some of the guys on the market this off-season:

    – Ramon Hernandez (Type A)
    – John Buck
    – Josh Bard
    – A.J. Pierzynski
    Jason Varitek
    – Gregg Zaun

    If Hernandez weren’t offered Arbitration – then I wouldn’t mind pursuing his services in a veteran back-up role with Thole.

    (He did play for Oakland under Alderson’s regime….not sure how likely that would be at this stage of the game, though. Not much production, not on the field very much the last 2 seasons.)

    $3.8MM in 2010, and I doubt the Reds would want to risk giving him a raise — maybe they don’t offer him Arbitration, and he’d be open to playing here.

    Doubt it, if he’s going to be relied upon to be a strict “mentor” on a club building for the future.

    Miguel Olivo might be out there (provided his option isn’t picked up) — good pop.

    All really depends on who’s out there, how much they’re looking for; and their willingness come to NY to get less than half of the starts behind a kid who really needs to continue learning the staff he’s going to handle going forward.