Many reporters, bloggers, pundits — including myself — keep saying that Omar’s top catching target is Ramon Hernandez, and that the Orioles are only too happy to be shopping him to anyone who will take him off their hands.
However, one of our loyal MetsToday readers has pointed out a significant issue: why would the Orioles do that when they have no one behind him?
Looking at their present 40-man roster, the O’s have one catcher — Ramon Hernandez. The others who played the position in 2007 were J.R. House, Paul Bako, and Alberto Castillo — all of whom are now free agents. House and Castillo played most of the season for AAA Norfolk, with a few games played by non-prospect Ryan Hubele. There was a catcher on their Baseball American “Top Ten Prospects” list — Brandon Snyder at #7 — but he projects as a corner infielder or outfielder and is only 20 years old (in fact, he played 118 games at 1B in A ball in 2007).
So if in fact the Orioles deal Ramon Hernandez, who will catch for them in 2008?
In other words, they’d be in the same situation the Mets were two days ago, except worse — since the Mets did re-sign their fine backup Ramon Castro. Baltimore doesn’t even have a legitimate second stringer at this point, so they’d need to acquire both a starter and a secondary option. As we’ve already seen, there aren’t many good catchers available on the trade market — Gerald Laird and Kelly Shoppach are the best among the “buzz” — and the free agent route looks dim as well. Assuming Jason Kendall signs with the Brewers, the pick of the litter is between Paul LoDuca, Michael Barrett, and Yorvit Torrealba. Barrett requires a compensatory #1 pick — something the perennially rebuilding Orioles likely are not looking to give up. Unless they do something very strange, or land a Laird / Shoppach type youngster, it would appear they have no option but to hold on to Hernandez for now.
Or am I missing something?