In today’s edition of “Would you …?” we discuss the fantasy of trading R.A. Dickey to the Boston Red Sox.
As you know, the Mets could use a catcher — preferably one that can catch, throw, and hit a bit. Ideally, such a backstop would also be on the young side.
Enter Ryan Lavarnway.
If you haven’t heard of Lavarnway, here are the basic details: 6’4, 225 lbs., 25 years old, righthanded hitter who hit 32 homeruns with a .390 OBP and 1.002 OPS in the minors in 2011. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise — he led all D-1 hitters in batting and slugging as a college sophomore and set the Ivy League record for career homeruns. Lavarnway is a graduate of Yale, so he might be relatively intelligent. All scouting reports on him boast about his hard work ethic and discipline. Sounds good, right? Would you be willing to trade R.A. Dickey for someone who appears to be the next Johnny Bench — if the Red Sox would be willing to part with him? Not so fast.
There’s always a rub, right? As great as Lavarnway sounds, there’s a catch (pardon the pun). Actually, um, it’s that Lavarnway isn’t much of a catcher — he’s more like a slugger who happens to squat behind the plate. Think Mike Piazza.
Now, if Lavarnway can hit like Piazza, that might not be so bad. But if he doesn’t, then he absolutely, positively, cannot be behind the plate. He has a weak arm, poor agility, and slow feet. He turned himself into a barely acceptable catcher via sheer hard work; he’s one of those guys who gets every last drop out of his athleticism. Hmm … come to think of it, Lavarnway sounds a heckuva lot like Mets current catcher Josh Thole — but with offensive potential. Now this discussion becomes a game of “would you rather …” — in which case, I’d rather have someone who catches like Josh Thole but might hit like Mike Piazza than have someone who catches like Josh Thole and hits like Josh Thole.
Now that would be interesting; the Mets sending Dickey, and, say, Thole up to Boston for two catchers (and perhaps another prospect or two). Considering that the Bosox just signed veteran David Ross to a two-year deal, and have a hotshot game-caller named Blake Swihart in high-A ball (as well as another highly touted catching prospect in AA), they might be open to dealing both backstops in return for knuckleballing 20-game winner and his personal catcher. Personally, I’d need another player or two to sweeten the offer — and it would have to be someone along the lines of an Ellsbury, Bard, or one of their top-5 prospects. According to Baseball America, the Red Sox #1 prospect is Xander Boegarts, a toolsy 21-year-old shortstop from Aruba whose athleticism and raw talent is drawing comparisons to Hanley Ramirez. Maybe the Sox would “throw in” Boegarts if the Mets included, say, Ruben Tejada — who would provide immediate insurance in the event defensive whiz Jose Iglesias doesn’t pan out at the plate.
Remember, this is all fantasy, so we can dream up whatever we want — what are you thinking? Might the Mets do such a deal? Should they? Would you? What about the Red Sox? What about the players mentioned above? Would you add / subtract any names?
Start dreaming in the comments.
About the Author
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.