Getting to know your new backup catcherBy
When Jorge Posada went on the DL yesterday, the Yankees had to resort to recalling their fourth-string backup catcher up from the Minors. The team had to DFA third-string backup catcher Chad Moeller on Friday to clear some roster space, and as the Yanks await the ten-day waiver period for Moeller, they had to call up some guy named Chris Stewart.
For even the most avid of Yankee fans, the name Chris Stewart is sure to raise a few eyebrows. “Who is this guy?” I wondered to myself yesterday when word of his call up came down. So I went looking.
Chris Stewart is a 26-year-old catcher out of Riverside Community College in California. He was drafted in the 12th round and 373rd overall by the Chicago White Sox in 2001. He toiled through the White Sox’s system and made his Major League debut on Sept. 6, 2006. As a September call-up for the Sox, he went 0 for 8 in six games. He did throw out two of the three runners who tried to steal off of him.
The White Sox shipped him to the Rangers in January of 2007, but Stewart didn’t fare much better in Texas. He started the season as Gerald Laird’s backup and made it all the way to June 9 before getting his ticket punched to AAA Oklahoma City. With the Rangers, Stewart went 9 for 37 over 17 games. Two of his hits went for doubles; the rest were singles. He also walked three times. Behind the plate, he threw out four of the 12 runners attempting to steal off of him but was charged with three passed balls as well.
As a Minor Leaguer, Stewart’s offense has been less than stellar. This season with Scranton, he’s 12 for 40 (an even .300) with a .404 OBP but only a .375 slugging. For his career, he’s hit .253/.314/.361 with just 21 home runs over 1583 plate appearances. Behind the dish, he’s had his problems too. Despite being tagged as the White Sox’s best defensive catcher in 2005, he’s been charged with 61 passed balls over the 361 games he’s caught. On the plus side, as Baseball America reported last year, he led the Southern League in throwing out 52 percent of would-be basestealers in 2005 and ranked second in the International League in 2006 with 49 percent.
While Darrell Rasner seems to like throwing to Chris Stewart, he is very much a back-up back-up back-up catcher. He’s a no-hit catcher with a decent arm who’s improved behind the plate a bit but doesn’t seem like a future Gold Glover. He won’t get much playing time in New York, if any, and I’m guessing we’ll see Chad Moeller return once he is eligible to do so. The list of available catchers is slim, and the Yanks are a bit stuck for now. Here’s hoping Jose Molina doesn’t go down anytime soon.