His arm is very good and he's a good blocker. But his receiving skills are terrible. And pitchers do not like throwing to him. The Indians have acknowledged these weaknesses.
"He has above average skills when it comes to catching and throwing," Ross Atkins, Indians Director of Player Development, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer prior to the 2009 season. "He still needs to refine his receiving skills, his game calling ability and his ability to lead a pitching staff."
A good receiver will catch the ball where it's thrown and hold it there. Poor receivers drop balls and move the ball after they catch it, taking away from the odds of the pitch being called a strike. Elite receivers have soft hands and are smooth and balanced behind the dish. Receiving is basically catching the ball. Guys who don't catch the ball well typically aren't above-average defensive catchers -- basic enough, right?
I believe that just about anyone can learn to call a good game. Some guys have a knack for it and others take time to learn. If I'm a pitcher and I'm having trouble communicating with my catcher, I'm frustrated. He's supposed to make me look good.
So are Santana's current defensive weaknesses going to force him to move off the position? I Doubt it.
But I wouldn't be shocked if he moves back to third base. And he may be a below-average catcher in the bigs. That said, you can't teach someone to throw as well as he does. His arm is definitely above-average. He's pretty coordinated, too. So all-in-all, Santana has a solid chance of becoming an average defensive catcher -- he is still new to the position.