Friday, February 19, 2010

Catching help for the Mets

The Mets, as reported by everyone, are desperately in need of catching help. Right now, they go in with the starting competition being between Omir Santos and Henry Blanco. That's kind of like deciding between Mike Parrot and Terry Felton for your staff ace.

They've (supposedly) brought in Josh Thole with a chance to win the starting job, and are in talks with Rod Barajas ( who might help, but isn't signed yet). That's like choosing between Tony Pena, Jr and Yuniesky Betancourt as your starting SS.

They also have 37 year old Chris Coste on the 40-man roster, as well as 2 minor leaguer no one has ever heard of, unless you really like Mets minor league baseball. In other words, the Mets are screwed at the catching position.

But there is an answer - to my mind - because this is what I do:

Mister-Baseball is reporting that the New York Mets have invited German catcher Kai Gronauer to Spring Training:
Yeah, a German getting a chance. The reason I like this, is not just because it's a European player, is because he's a catcher. Catching is one of the hardest positions to play if you've grown up with the game, let alone being an import to it.

It's not just catching the ball and returning it to the pitcher. It's calling the game, keeping the pitcher in his rhythm, controlling the running game, calling defenses, etc. Catching isn't easy, and there is a lot of unseen activity involved in it. The fact that Europeans are getting to the point where they have a chance to catch in the big leagues is an indication of much the game is progressing over here.

Kai is obviously not in pro ball because of his bat:

Gronauer played his first full season of minor league ball last year, batting .242 (OBP .294/SLG .352) with six homeruns, 27 runs and 23 RBI in 67 games for the Savannah Sand Gnats in the South Atlantic League (Single-A).
Although that's not terrible. So he must be fairly good defensively, and have some non-batting skills. Doesn't matter, this is a good thing, and he can't be any worse than any other option the Mets have. He's a non-roster invitee, and probably won't get much of a look.

But he's there. That's what matters.

Link from Planet Hardball

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