Tag: josh thole

The Mets: Seven Reasons to Stay Tuned in 2012

Happy New Year everyone! With the holidays now in the rear view mirror and me now settling down into my new job, it’s time to take look ahead to what 2012 might hold in store for the New York Mets.

Like most of us, I have very low expectations for the team this year. Team finances aside, the starting rotation is mediocre at best, there are several defensive liabilities in the projected starting eight, the bench is horrible, there is little speed on the current roster and they play in a tough division. Still, I will watch as many Mets games as I can this year. Now that I have a steady income again, I may even make the pilgrimage from my home in Bethlehem to Citi Field to take in a game or two. I know that there is no postseason in store for the Mets in 2012, but I can think of at least seven reasons to pay attention to the team this year:


2011 Evaluation: Josh Thole

OK, here’s the post where at least half of Mets fans decide they hate me, because they think I hate Josh Thole.

Let’s get one thing straight: I like all catchers, therefore I like Josh Thole. Second, I like Josh Thole as a ballplayer because he works very hard, hustles, and gets as much out of his talent as he possibly can. Despite the fact I like Josh Thole, I can’t let that cloud my evaluation of him as a Major League catcher. That said, in 2011 Josh Thole did not make me believe that he is, or could become, a starting catcher on a championship club.


2011 Analysis: Ronny Paulino

For a while, it was questionable whether Ronny Paulino would ever get going in a Mets uniform, and what kind of contribution he’d make. Visa issues kept him out of Port St. Lucie until Mid-March, and when he finally arrived, manager Terry Collins announced he’d be Josh Thole‘s backup. Not long after he arrived in spring training, Paulino was diagnosed with anemia, further setting him back — and then there was the remainder of his PEDs suspension to serve.

Despite these multiple issues that prevented Paulino from properly preparing for the 2011 season, things turned out OK.


2011 Evaluation: Mike Nickeas

It took Mike Nickeas a long time to reach MLB, but when he finally did, he proved capable if unspectacular.

The Canadian-born catcher spent seven years in the minors before grabbing a cup of coffee with the Mets in September 2010. Thanks to visa problems, injuries, and the end of a drug suspension for Ronny Paulino, Nickeas was able to parlay that coffee klatch into a spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster in 2011.

But it wasn’t all because of Paulino’s problems that Nickeas made the big club; the career minor leaguer proved to be a reliable and solid “catch and throw guy” who seemed to have a strong rapport with the Mets pitching staff.

Nickeas was sent to AAA after Paulino finally joined the Mets, and didn’t return until August. While serving as a backup in both Buffalo and Flushing, Nickeas showed very little offensively, but definitely established himself as a fine handler of pitchers and displayed above-average defensive skills. From the perspective of a professional catching instructor, I don’t love his technique, but he gets the job done better than most and he appears to be the catcher that every Mets pitcher wants to throw to — a factor difficult to quantify, but trust me, is a huge asset. Nickeas was no Charlie O’Brien back there, but he was a huge upgrade over Josh Thole and a few ticks better than Paulino. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough defense to overcome his meager offense; his dramatic homer in game 19 was the highlight and peak of his season.

2012 Projection

As much as I like Mike Nickeas, I was completely stunned that the Mets included him on the offseason 40-man roster; did they really think that another team would jump at the chance to pick a 29-year-old, .180-hitting, third-string catcher in the Rule 5 Draft? Seems to me to be a waste of a roster spot, since there are at least two dozen catchers exactly like him throughout AAA. That’s not to say I’m upset; in fact, I’m pleased to know that Nickeas is likely to be in Port St. Lucie come February, and presumably part of the organization’s catching depth in 2012. My guess is he’ll be exactly what he was in ’11: a defensive-minded, backup backstop who can be shuffled between AAA and the bigs as necessary. And within the next 3-5 years, we may see Nickeas move into a minor-league managing post — perhaps in preparation toward a more successful MLB career.


Mets Game 151: Win Over Braves

Mets 12 Braves 2

In four innings against the Wild Card leading Braves, the Mets score double the amount of runs they mustered in four games against the previously fourth-place Nationals. Go figure.

A nice outburst, but it doesn’t really take the sting out of that four-game fold-up in Flushing.


Mets Game 124: Loss to Brewers

Brewers 6 Mets 1

This was a difficult game to watch, particularly after waiting through almost three hours of a rain delay. There was a point — after four innings — when I thought the Mets had a chance, but after the fifth, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for the game to end.


Who Will Pitch and Catch On Sunday?

Going by the regular order of the Mets’ 5-man starting rotation, it will be knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s turn to take the mound for Sunday’s ballgame against the Dodgers. Generally speaking, Josh Thole has been R.A.’s unofficial personal catcher — so the battery would tentatively be Dickey and Thole. However, there is some discussion that could change before tomorrow.