Getting to know your new backup catcher

Missing Jorge's toughess
The Declaration of Tabloid Independence

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.

Missing Jorge's toughess
The Declaration of Tabloid Independence
  • Tripp

    Doesn’t Texas have a plethora of young AAA catching? I thought I read last week they may be shopping Laird?

    Any possibility he’s a trade option? Especially if Posada’s shoulder is worse than expected.

    • Tripp

      Wait. I was thinking of another catcher the Rangers had a few years ago as an offensive upgrade, Rod Barajas.

      • Seven Costanza

        and they also got saltalamacchia from the braves…

    • Aaron

      Texas is fortunate to have a number of big-league caliber catchers coming up through the ranks in Saltalamacchia (recalled the other day), Teagarden (in AA I believe), and Max Ramirez (A ball). They might be willing to trade Laird (certainly him over these other players) but I don’t see the Yankees having enough interest/need to make a push for him.

  • Glen L

    considering Posada was/is going to end up a 1B/DH at some point in the relatively near future, maybe the yanks should consider making a big splash

    Laird, Clement, and Weiters all come to mind – and i’m well away none of them will be cheap

    but our best hitting catching prospect (Montero) isn’t likely to remain at catcher

    anyone have any thoughts on the yanks trading some pitching for a young, stud catching prospect?

    • Jon

      You’re nuts if you think we could get Clement or Weiters without selling the farm.

      • Joe

        Well I did read on MLB Trade Rumors the other day that Clement may be shopped for Coco Crisp + some pitching (Delcarmen?) That seems absurd but the M’s don’t really know what they’re doing, if you ask me.

        What about Mike Napoli of the Angels?

        • Mike A.

          That whole Clement for Coco and an arm came from Peter Gammons, so take it with a big grain of salt. I was thinking something along the lines of IPK + Austin Jackson for Clement and a low-level arm. That seems fair.

          • Joe

            If Cash could somehow work in Tabata and one of our pitchers instead of Jackson, I’d be more inclined to go for it. I’d qualify that with a “if Kennedy weren’t going to eat so many innings for us,” but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be doing much of that, either. Honestly, I’d be fine with Rasner up instead.

            I actually might pull the trigger on that if the M’s would go for it. Changed my mind writing this post, even.

          • TurnTwo

            how about IPK and Tabata? you think his slow start might have squandered some of his trade value? from what ive read so far, seems like Jackson is turning out to be the better positional prospect of the two.

      • TurnTwo

        agreed. Clement wont come cheap, but with the Johjima extention, he’s completely expendable. it’s worth a phone call, right?

        • Joe

          Absolutely. It seems like Seattle is thinking of going the Salty route with Clement, which would be a huge waste. Clement/Montero behind the plate in a few years would be sick.

          • steve (different one)

            Clement is apparently (and i admit i am not an expert here) NOT very good defensively.

            if his bat can carry 1B, it might not be the worst move in the world.

            it’s not like they don’t have a long-term opening at 1B starting in 2009.

            • RustyJohn

              The Seattle-Tacoma branch of RAB is checking in here- Clement is very rough- just really learning decent footwork and catching mechanics- his bat is huge, but I imagine the Mariners have plans to platoon he and Johjima as DH/catcher and then move him to first once Sexson’s albatross of a contract is done- however, keep in mind that Bill Bavasi is one of the top 3 DUMBEST gms and the organization is one of the worst at recognizing talent or planning for the future (see Johjima deal, Vidro DH, Ibanez in left field, Wilkerson in right, Miguel Cairo on the team, etc, etc…) so it is quite possible Clement can be had with mid-level prospects- this is the same tool who traded away Freddy Garcia for Jeremy Reed and Miguel Oliva.

              • Glen L

                Great to hear from someone who follow seattle … Even with Clement rough behind the plate, I would still be interested in the yanks acquiring him as long as he still projects to remain behind the plate, because Montero does not

                Maybe the swap could involve Montero who will end up playing 1B and he can take over for Sexson

                just thinking outloud here

                and to the post below, i agree getting Weiters will probably be close to impossible, just threw his name out

                • Ben K.

                  Montero?! No way. He projects to be one of the Yankees best hitting prospects of all time. You don’t trade that for Jeff Clement.

    • Aaron

      Baltimore will not trade Matt Wieters, especially not within the division.

  • question mark

    sounds like a young Chad Moeller to me.

  • playballnyy

    Thanks for this post. There was a guy on the forum giving CS and SB stats, and the 40 AB numbers to support his preference for stewart instead of Moeller. I thought he was nuts.

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  • A.D.

    Let Molina play, see how he does before we worry about a desperation catcher trade, teams will ask for the moon from the Yanks if Posada is out for an extended period, and you don’t want to send away valuable prospects for a catching prospect.

    Real shame for Cervelli thus far, anyone know when he’s suppost to be back in action, It would be great to see what he can do after a decent year in the minors last year