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Thread: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

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    "Let's Roll" TeamBoone's Avatar
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    Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    01/03/2007

    Around the Horn: Catchers
    Ross tries to repeat big year; Valentin, Moeller capable reserves
    By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

    The following is the first in a series of weekly stories on MLB.com examining each Major League club, position by position. Each Wednesday until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: Catchers.
    CINCINNATI -- At the time, the trade seemed kind of perplexing.

    After all, Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky's March acquisition of catcher David Ross from the Padres for Minor League pitcher Bobby Basham came near the end of Spring Training. Cincinnati already had two capable catchers in Jason LaRue and Javier Valentin -- both were coming off career seasons. And Ross was out of options and had to make the camp's final cut or be exposed to waivers if he got sent down to Triple-A.

    Shortly after Ross arrived, LaRue went down with a knee injury and missed the start of the season. That opened the door for Ross, and it never shut. Along with Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips, the 29-year-old proved to be one of Krivsky's shrewdest trades of the season.

    Ross, who came in with a reputation as mainly a defensive-minded catcher, established career highs with 21 home runs (ranked third among National League catchers) and 52 RBIs and played a career-high 90 games (73 starts) while batting .255. Before 2006, he had never played more than 70 games or hit more than 10 homers.

    Funny how that perplexing deal worked out.

    "We were very pleasantly surprised," Krivsky said. "Of all the players we acquired, from a production standpoint, he may have been the single nicest surprise, especially with his offensive production and power."

    Ross began the year mainly as Arroyo's personal catcher, catching 32 of the All-Star pitcher's 35 starts. But as LaRue struggled to get going after returning from the disabled list, Ross emerged as the primary catcher by early June and batted .311 before the All-Star break.

    LaRue and his $5.2 million salary were traded to Kansas City in November. For 2007, Ross now has an unabated shot at trying to follow up on his breakout season. To be successful, he'll need to be more consistent. He batted only .203 in the second half, with a sore left foot partially to blame.

    "He tailed off at the end, but our whole team did," Krivsky said. "I was very pleased with David Ross, and we're glad we have him."

    Defensively, Ross threw out a respectable 45 percent of runners attempting to steal, and the Reds pitching staff had a team-best 4.28 ERA when he was behind the plate. He also caught five of the club's 10 shutouts. But he also had a .985 fielding percentage and committed eight errors. Those are not bad numbers, but for a defensive-minded catcher, there's some room for improvement.

    Valentin's intangible value to the Reds was emphasized in August when the club re-signed him to a one-year, $1.25 million contract extension for 2007 with a $1.3 million club option for 2008 instead of waiting for the offseason.

    The switch-hitting Valentin's time behind the plate was limited the most during the Reds' three-catcher tango last season. But he emerged as an important lefty pinch-hitter and game-changer off the bench with four pinch-hit homers. He had no homers as a pinch-hitter before 2006.

    In his 46 games as catcher, including 32 starts, Valentin threw out 44 percent of runners attempting to steal. Overall, the 31-year-old batted .269 with eight homers and 27 RBIs.

    "He's a good receiver and did nice job throwing out runners," Krivsky said. "He brings offense, particularly from the left side, and he's quite versatile. He can play first base in a pinch. He's a positive influence on our younger players. He knows his role and is good in the clubhouse."

    It's possible that the Reds could use some sort of a platoon between Ross and Valentin, depending on how manager Jerry Narron decides to go as he constantly tinkers with his lineups. Ross batted .316 vs. lefties and .228 against right-handers last season. Valentin batted .286 against righties and .111 vs. lefties.

    LaRue is gone, but three remains the magic number for the Reds at catcher. Only one week after he dealt LaRue, Krivsky signed free agent Chad Moeller to a one-year deal because he wanted to maintain depth at the position. Moeller batted .184 in 29 games for the Brewers in 2006. Before he spent three seasons in Milwaukee, the 31-year-old was with the Diamondbacks (2001-03) and Twins (2000). He is a career .227 hitter over 384 big-league games, but like Ross a season ago, he comes to town with a reputation for defense.

    "I've always been a Chad Moeller fan," said Krivsky, who knew Moeller while he worked in Minnesota's front office and later watched as a scout of NL clubs. "He knows how to call a game and handle a pitching staff. Offensively, I think he's capable of doing better. He knows his role and really studies the inside game stuff. He's going to help get the most out of the pitchers."
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    Brett William Moore Will M's Avatar
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    IMO the Reds catching will be a strength of the team.

    The pseudo platoon of Ross & Valentin will produce somewhere between 20-30 home runs which will be tops in the division.
    .

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    And Moeller will eat up a roster spot and burn some ABs.
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    While I know people think Ross will come crashing back to earth and be dreadfull I think he will be fine. I think knowing he's part of the team and doesn't have to prove himself will help him relax. A platoon with Javy helps them focus on their strengths and (hopefully) minimize the weaknesses.

    It's Moeller I just don't understand. I guess it's Narron's wacky 3 catcher deal that he's used since Texas. If they just couldn't live without three catchers I suppose we could make it work, but why bring in Moeller who hasn't done squat? Maybe trying to lure in a "decent" 3rd catcher is harder than I imagine? Either way, Moeller, it seems to me is a wasted roster spot and a move I'd rather Krivsky didn't make.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Had Krivsky waited until late ST to deal LaRue (when injuries often require someone to make a deal ironically) then he might have gotten more for Jason rather than paying the Royals to take him off our hands. It would have also given the Reds the chance to see which was the 'real' David Ross---first half or second half.

    As for a third catcher, if you need one suit up Narron. Couldn't be any worse than Moeller.

    Rem

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    LaRue and his $5.2 million salary were traded to Kansas City in November.
    Well, not quite. The Reds only traded about $2M of that salary to KC, not his entire salary. I agree with Johnny, the addition of Moeller is a big negative for the three-headed catching monster.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    The only reason to have Moeller, to give him any kind of contract, is to be able to use the other catcher as a PH and still have a C on the bench if the starter gets hurt. I don't think either of the other Cs are that valuable as a PH to take the roster spot Moeller is taking and besides that you could have claim a Moeller type player in the spring if they had that need then.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ltlabner View Post
    It's Moeller I just don't understand. I guess it's Narron's wacky 3 catcher deal that he's used since Texas. If they just couldn't live without three catchers I suppose we could make it work, but why bring in Moeller who hasn't done squat? Maybe trying to lure in a "decent" 3rd catcher is harder than I imagine? Either way, Moeller, it seems to me is a wasted roster spot and a move I'd rather Krivsky didn't make.

    Did he do that in TEX too?
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    Did he do that in TEX too?
    I'm pretty sure someone here at RZ made that claim and had a story or something to back it up that Narron has used 3 catchers for a while.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    I am not sure that the reds view Valentine as solely a catcher. I think they see him as a pinch hitter and back up 1B as well. He ads versitility coming off the bench because he is a switch hitter. In the past he has also played a little 1b. Take into consideration of two 1b aren't exactly spring chicken.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    I am not sure that the reds view Valentine as solely a catcher. I think they see him as a pinch hitter and back up 1B as well. He ads versitility coming off the bench because he is a switch hitter. In the past he has also played a little 1b. Take into consideration of two 1b aren't exactly spring chicken.
    My reply to that is, there no one in the minors that could come up and do just as good? That way you could bring them up and send them down as needed?

    Or did CM sign a minor league contract?
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    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    I am not sure that the reds view Valentine as solely a catcher. I think they see him as a pinch hitter and back up 1B as well. He ads versitility coming off the bench because he is a switch hitter. In the past he has also played a little 1b. Take into consideration of two 1b aren't exactly spring chicken.
    I get that logic and don't really mind 3 catchers if they are 3 of the best 13 position guys. The problem is there is really no room for Moeller under those conditions. I count Dunn, Griffey, Freel, Deno, EE, Gonzo, Phillips, Hatte, Conine, Castro, Ross, Javy as 12 locks. That means Moeller would be kept over Hamilton, Gil, Olmedo, Crosby, and Hopper. No one in that group is a world beater, but all are better options than Moeller.

    I'm guessing 3 catchers won't happen.

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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Quote Originally Posted by mth123 View Post
    I'm guessing 3 catchers won't happen.

    I'm praying 3 catchers won't happen!

    As a right-hand hitter Javy is pretty much non-exsistant which means that if Ross goes down we'll see a lot (too much, really) of Moeller against lefties. It also means there is very little chance he will fill in at 1st since you'd be taking Hatteberg out usually. (Javy played two games at 1st in '06 for a total of one inning.)

    Rem

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    Party like it's 1990 Blitz Dorsey's Avatar
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    I agree, I don't think they will carry 3 catchers on the 25-man roster this year. Last year it was done out of necessity because Wayne obviously preferred Ross and Valentin, but couldn't get rid of LaRue (and couldn't release him with his giant salary). I just looked at the Moeller signing as insurance in case Ross or Javy gets injured in spring training or the early part of the season. We needed another Major League-ready catcher (and yes you could argue that Moeller doesn't qualify) because there is almost nothing in the minor leagues. Perez was supposed to be good, and maybe there's still time, but he has been awful offensively. Therefore, they needed to sign someone like Moeller who can start the year off in AAA and come up if there is an injury.

    I don't think they will put themselves (and us) through the misery of the 3-catcher situation again this year.

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    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Around the Horn: Catchers (1/03/07)

    Quote Originally Posted by Blitz Dorsey View Post
    I agree, I don't think they will carry 3 catchers on the 25-man roster this year. Last year it was done out of necessity because Wayne obviously preferred Ross and Valentin, but couldn't get rid of LaRue (and couldn't release him with his giant salary). I just looked at the Moeller signing as insurance in case Ross or Javy gets injured in spring training or the early part of the season. We needed another Major League-ready catcher (and yes you could argue that Moeller doesn't qualify) because there is almost nothing in the minor leagues. Perez was supposed to be good, and maybe there's still time, but he has been awful offensively. Therefore, they needed to sign someone like Moeller who can start the year off in AAA and come up if there is an injury.

    I don't think they will put themselves (and us) through the misery of the 3-catcher situation again this year.
    Wayne signed Moeller to a Major League contract.

    Moeller is 31 years old with a carrer .227 BA. Narron will love him.


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