Buying opportunity: starting catcher

Matsui opts against surgery, for now
Sign with big Hollywood agency; hit a home run

In 2007, Jorge Posada acted as a savior to the Yankees. A career .271/.376/.473 hitter heading into his walk year, Georgie exploded, hitting .338/.426/.543, all career highs at the age of 35. That earned him a fat four-year, $52.4 million deal. This year, he’s proving to be a difference maker, just in a negative sort of way. Not that we can expect those numbers out of Posada every year. It’s just that his hot bat is sorely missed in this lineup. That Jose Molina, owner of a .240/.277/.340 career line, is replacing him in the lineup is no consolation.

To state the obvious, the Yankees have two choices here. They can either stand pat with Jose Molina and Chad Moeller handling the backstop duties, or they can go out and get someone. Neither is ideal. Molina and Moeller, while fine defensively, will only add to the Yankees bottom-of-the-order woes. This might indicate that the Yankees will explore the trade market. Considering their other needs, combined with the poor catcher’s market, they might not find that the best option, either.

Let’s look at some of MLB Trade Rumors’s list of available backstops:

  • Gerald Laird. He’s been on the DL since June 20 with a hamstring injury. Before that, though, he was hitting well prior to that. The Rangers, just three back of the Yankees in the loss column, might not be sellers at this point. Considering the ineffectiveness of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, they might want to reinstall Laird as their starter upon his return.
  • Bengie Molina. While not quite as bad as his brother, Bengie is having himself a craptastic season. Brian Sabean has said that he’s not looking to deal the eldest Molina.
  • Gregg Zaun or Rod Barajas. I doubt Ricciardi would deal them in-division without the Yanks paying a premium. Which they shouldn’t. Maybe, if on the off-chance that they swing a Burnett deal, they try to get one of them as a throw-in. Other than that, I can’t see this happening.
  • Miguel Olivo. Aside from a half-season in San Diego in 2005, he hasn’t been very impressive at all. A little pop, sure. You could do worse, I’m sure. But what’s the upgrade going to cost? I think that’s what we’re asking with all of these options.
  • Yorvit Torrealba. Don’t know how he got his contract, though he doesn’t seem to deserve it. Hitting like crap in a hitter’s park. Pass, and then pass again.
  • Paul LoDuca. Sorry. Just had to type it here for the laughs.
  • Ronny Paulino. Unless Pittsburgh is giving him away, I don’t think the Yanks would/should give up much. He’s had some good years in the minors, and was tearing the place up upon his demotion this year. But he’s been on the shelf since June 17, so even bringing up his name might be moot.
  • Josh Bard. Let’s talk about him.

You might remember Josh Bard from such trades as Cla Meredith and Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli. It was only fair, really, since Kevin Towers had gotten shafted when trading Mirabelli for Mark Loretta just a few months prior. Bard exploded upon reaching San Diego, hitting .338/.406/.537 over 263 plate appearances. He was good in 2007 as well, turning in a .285/.364/.404 line over 443 plate appearances. Even better, he hit .330/.386/.456 when away from the cavernous Petco Park.

He got off to a horrible start this year, one of Molinian proportions. After carrying a .200/.278/.262 line through May 21, he hit the DL with an ankle injury. He’s currently rehabbing in the minors, though it hasn’t gone all well. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a homer on Sunday, but that’s been his only hit in 12 plate appearances for AAA Portland. Manager Bud Black says Bard should be activated this week.

While it would be nice to go with Bard/Molina, rather than Molina/Moeller, there are still problems with this scenario. While John Perrotto reports that Bard will be on the block, the Yankees might not have what the Padres are after. The Padres have been interested in Kei Igawa in the past, but would that work one-for one? For what it’s worth, Bard has another year of arbitration eligibility.

Anyone else have any ideas? Anyone familiar enough with the Padres to have an idea of what they might be after? I honestly think that if we’re looking outside for help behind the plate, Bard is the one and only guy to consider.

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Matsui opts against surgery, for now
Sign with big Hollywood agency; hit a home run
  • Matt-LI

    Wonder what the asking price for Max Ramirez would be from Texas

    • daneptizl

      He’s the one I would go after.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      The asking price would be AJax, Montero, and an extra testicle to give to Texas native Lance Armstrong.

  • whozat

    Check out Paul DePodesta’s blog, maybe? That might have some insights on what the Padres are looking to do :-)

    I think it might have to do with controllable offensive talent, though…and it’s not like we have a plethora of that to offer. Unless we can hoodwink them into thinking that Brett Garder’s speed and slap-hitting grittiness (that he has yet to show in MLB) fits in their OF.

    • Charlie (in SD)

      I’m a lifelong (28 yrs) Yankees fan living in San Diego, and as much as I like Gardner and his speed, this might actually be a realistic trade.

      After a year where they lost a one game playoff to the miracle Rockies, the Pads are having a terrible season. Not unlike the Yanks, there are quite a few guys who have seen time on the DL, including two of their top pitchers (sound familiar?) This is a team that’s beat down, but they also have a youth movement going on with Chase Headley, and Nick Hundley. (I recently saw Headley absolutely powder a ball off the Western Metal building in left field.)

      Anyway, long-windedness aside, if Gardner can pump up his OBA, he would be a valuable guy to have on base in front of guys like Giles, Gonzalez, and Kouzmanoff. Then again, if he could do that, he’d be great to have on base in front of Jeter, A-Rod, Abreu, Giambi, Cano, etc. etc. So, my question is – Why can’t The Yankees keep on truckin’ with what we have? So, we lose Jorge’s bat, but now we’ve gained Cano’s. I think there is enough already there for a run at the Pennant.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Unfortunately for Brett Gardner, he’s a Yankee, so he’ll never be gritty, gutty, scrappy, plucky, pesky, a grinder, a gamer, a battler, a throwback, old-school, nails, clutch, money, tenacious, or show moxie.

      If he played for the Sox, the Padres would have already dealt Bard, Adrian Gonzalez, and Chris Young for him and Mike Timlin.

      • SoxSux

        You’re a typical Yankees hating idiot with nothing intelligent to say. A dime a dozen.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

          newbies… what can you do?

  • Neil

    I completely agree with everything u said. I would imagine Igawa would be enough. Althought, I wouldn’t mind sending a package over with Igawa, for bard and Maddux. I believe maddux is shart enough to pitch in the A.L. east, and even if he strugles, we know he’ll have a great effect on the young pitchers.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Maddux has a no-trade and would likely gouge his eyes out before he accepted a trade to the Yanks.

      • A.D.

        No-trade is true, but I dunno about the gouge, he almost signed when he originally became a FA.

        I don’t think Maddux would be very productive out of the NL and out of Petco, given that he has a 6.27 ERA on the road this year, and a 2.51 in Petco.

        • cult of basebaal

          NO. CHANCE.

          maddux has made it utterly clear that we won’t move from the west coast.

          ZERO. ZIP. NADA.

          • cult of basebaal

            grrr. HE won’t move.

  • Matt

    Although I’m not to familiar with the padres interests I know they have a bare farm system and will probably trade anybody so long as they get almost similar value, so I would try to swap Igawa plus a couple of lower tier prospects already on the 40 man like Patterson, Wright, or Cervelli. b/c at the end of the season were gonna be in one heck of a bind once everyone comes off the 60day DL and needs to be on the roster plus if they want to protect people from the rule 5 they need to free up the roster some.

  • Shawbler

    How are Bengie Molina’s numbers craptastic? I would pick him up in a heart beat as long as no top prospects had to go to SF in return.

    • Matt

      but would you want to be on the hook for his contract next year?

  • Drew

    What bout salty? I know he’s been having a poor year so far, but he’s real young and its always good to buy low. He might really turn it around in a different environment. I understand the caveats around trading with texas who are not that far out of the wild card, but just a thought.

  • jsbrendog

    kei igawa for bard? y not, doesnt igawa have 2 yrs left at an extremely reasonable 4 mill? or 5 mill? and how much does barry zitop get to be an americna version of igawa? and bard has one arbitration yr left?

    sure, throw in a pitching prospect, one that we think is horrible or a go nowhere who will end up being lights out for san diegos bullpen only to sign a big bucks deal somewhere else and falter . works for me…and i think it actually would work for sna diego too….what a rotation, young, peavy, igawa, maddux and wolf….im trembling

  • neil

    I completely agree with everything u said. I would imagine Igawa would be enough. Althought, I wouldn’t mind sending a package over with Igawa, for bard and Maddux. I believe maddux is shart enough to pitch in the A.L. east, and even if he strugles, we know he’ll have a great effect on the young pitchers.

    Sorry if this is a repeat

  • TurnTwo

    the only way i see the Yankees going in on a catcher is if Molina goes down next.

    otherwise, i dont see an offensive upgrade Cashman is going to be willing to make.

    combine that with the lack of options for an upgrade on the pitching rubber, and you’re basically looking at the team thats going to sink or swin down the stretch right now.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      But even Brian Cashman would have to do a Bard-Igawa swap. I mean, Igawa is practically an mismatched ottoman at this point, he’s only in the way and you’ve got to be tired of constantly tripping over him in the living room.

  • r.w.g.

    The group of catchers in Texas looks like a nice one to choose from. Ramirez is going to cost a bit, so would Teagarden. And I can’t remember the last time the Yankees traded for a legit young player, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Plus Jorge will be back next year, and if he can play D like he did prior to this year, we can live with it. Some of those Texas catchers (Ramirez, Salty) have their own questions about whether they stay behind the plate. So if you grabbed one, between them and Posada/Montero, you’d have 3 catchers who probably won’t be playing too much catcher.

    I think Laird or Bard were good ideas. Toronto might be a good partner. I know it’s division rivals, but they are done this year and they got a hot-shot catching prospect of their own. I’m not sure what Barajas and Zaun are hitting this year, but I remember Zaun having some okay years with some pop (and he switch hits, right?).

    Of course, this could be wasted breath if the Yankees decide this injury is the one that makes them sellers. I hope not, though, because they’ve gotten themselves right back in this.

  • jsbrendog

    good point, we have to realize, that get someone like bard and all of a sudden we have jorge back next eyar and moina under contract for next yr as well….so what then…..another year f all of us whining about carrying three cathers? lol

  • monkeypants

    I really, really like Zaun–as I have posted before. He’s a switch hitter, can play some first base, and he’s old with somewhat expensive contract (for a team like Toronto). He has a career .700 OPS and he’s hitting around his career average this season. He would be the ideal candidate for a one year or one-plus year stop gap, if he were actually available for the right price.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      FWIW, remember when they pointed out how awful Richie Sexson’s career BA was at Yankee Stadium?

      Zaun was on that list too… his is worse.

  • Matt

    Really Id like to see cash try and trade for Kelly Shoppach and use him as a backup next year and DFA molina

    • whozat

      Given how hideous Martinez is behind the plate, I really don’t see the Indians trading Shoppach. And why are people so quick to DFA players? It’s like, if a guy isn’t hitting at least .280 and isn’t 25 or younger, people immediately want to DFA him and grab the current flavor of the month.

      • Matt

        the only reason i would DFA him in this case is he hits .220 with no power or plate discipline and shoppach would be going into his first year of arb, and he is just as good of a catcher as molina minus the arm. Plus when posada makes his inevitable transition to 1B in 2010 shoppach could start and be the stop gap for one of Montero/Romine, and I do think the indians would move him considering they delt sabathia for one decent prospect and junk

        • whozat

          “the only reason i would DFA him in this case is he hits .220 with no power or plate discipline and shoppach would be going into his first year of arb, and he is just as good of a catcher as molina minus the arm.”

          Except you’re not going to GET Shoppach because he’s cleveland’s starting catcher right now, no?

          As for DFAing Molina…he’s an excellent defensive backup catcher that’s still due about 3 mil over the next year-plus. Not only is he actually good at his job, that’s a bunch of money to just flush for someone that’s got a role on the team.

    • r.w.g.

      I really like Molina as our back up. He’s terrific defensively, doesn’t whine about getting ABs, handles the pitching staff very well.

      His contract is very reasonable, too. Jose Molina is a good fit for this team going forward.

      • Elle

        He’s an excellent back-up. He leads the league in catching runners trying to steal. I get tired of seeing all the negative stuff said about him.

        That said, he’s not much of an offensive player. He is at least smart enough about his abilities not to be a liability when he does get on base, but that doesn’t make up for not being able to get the bat on the ball.

        If they bring someone else in to start, though, they should definitely keep him on as backup. I’d hate to see him go.

        • r.w.g.

          Yeah, I agree on all points. I was just a little surprised when the previous poster wanted to DFA the guy.

          I don’t want him having 400-500 plate appearances, either, but this year is more the aberration than the norm. If Jorge can come back next year and be his usual below-average but not absolutely dreadful self, we have a really good tandem that makes sense.

          • Elle

            Agreed all around. It makes sense to have Molina’s fantastic arm around to bring in during close situations to prevent base stealing, even when we have a better-hitting primary catcher. It’s getting so baserunners don’t even try to steal off him, and that is a wonderful thing to see.

            The only catchers with CS% better than or close to his have seen 10% of the innings he has this year.

  • RCK

    Wouldn’t we be thrilled to trade Igawa for pretty much anyone half-way decent? I understand they might not actually want him, or they might not do it one-for-one, but if they would, isn’t it an obvious yes?

    I’m sincerely asking. If someone can explain to me the downside there, I’d like to hear it.

    • cult of basebaal

      I agree, I’d even throw in the Make A Wish Kid to sweeten the deal:

      Britton
      Igawa

      for

      Bard

  • Bill

    If we’re looking to upgrade the offense wouldn’t it make sense to add another OF instead of a C? Having Molina in the lineup isn’t the problem. The problem is having a bottom 3 of Melky, Molina, and Gardner.

    We’ll also have room in the OF next year with Abreu a FA. Whereas Posada will be back next year (hopefully).

    If we can get a guy like Bard for next to nothing (Igawa and money), why not? However if we’re seriously trying to upgrade the offense it makes more sense to get it from a position other than C. Especially when Molina is so good defensively there.

    • Glen L

      I agree with this line of thinking, except it really needs to be an OF who can play right field, if he’s going to take Abreu’s spot next year as we currently do not have a viable RF other than bobby

    • Count Zero

      I would have to agree…

      I’m actually willing to suck up Molina in the lineup because he brings so much D and the ability to handle pitchers better than Po.

      What I don’t want to suck up for the rest of the season is Gardner and Melky.

  • r.w.g.

    The one other thing I will say on the young Texas catcher front…

    With the emergence of Chris Davis and the drafting of Justin Smoak.. 1B is all kinds of probably occupied for a while. If the Yankees were willing to do a big-time prospect for big-time prospect trade (hopefully no AJack of Montero or Hughes), they could probably land Ramirez.

    And unlike Texas.. we have spots open at 1B and DH. Baseless speculation at it’s best, I know.

    • cult of basebaal

      what other “big time” prospects do we have?

  • A.D.

    Well since Molina is a .240 career hitter, he should have a better 2nd half to get back to the career numbers!

  • dan

    Bard is worse at throwing out runners than Posada is with a bad shoulder. Last year he threw out something like 9%. It probably has something to do with the Padres’ staff, but he’s still pretty bad.

    • A.D.

      He threw out 35% in 87 games in 2003 with the Indians. But the numbers last year in SD are scary

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I love me some Josh Bard, he’s a personal favorite. Problem is that the Yanks and Padres don’t match up well for a trade. The Padres need outfielders that can slug more than like, .350, and the Yanks don’t really have any of those available to move.

    Bard’s a great clubhouse guy too, for what it’s worth.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Shelly Duncan!!!

  • Ed

    Why trade for a catcher? The outfield/dh situation is terrible. An average OF will produce similarly to a good catcher. Replacing Melky or Gardner would most likely give a much larger improvement than replacing Molina and would probably be easier to do. Plus, whatever improvement is done there can be long term, whereas bringing in a catcher would create a backlog next year.

    • cult of basebaal

      this is very true and what i would rather do, even though it would likely cost more … the return will be useful next year, too …

  • Pete Law

    Anyway to get rid of Igawa is a good thing. Bard is a definite improvement over Chad Moeller at the plate and a platoon of Bard and Molina won’t be bad at the bottom of the order.

    Molina is a great backup catcher, the best we’ve had since Flash Flaherty and next year if Jorge’s healthy we can attempt to move either Molina or Bard for a useful bullpen piece.

    Finally, why is noone remembering the Elliott Johnson fiasco in Spring Training. He took out Frankie who would’ve doen a fine job behind the dish and prevented this mess we’re in now. I’d take a young promising player like Cervelli over a no-hit vet like Moeller or lose a piece to get Bard anyday.

    Anyone got an update on when/if Cervelli gets back in a game this year?

    • whozat

      “Anyone got an update on when/if Cervelli gets back in a game this year?”

      He played three games for tampa in mid june and is back on the DL. No idea what happened.

  • http://Anotherlefty Peedlum

    I agree with the line of thinking that a catcher is not a solution to the offense. the lineup can carry 2 guys that cannot hit, but 3 guys that cannot hit is too much, particularly since there’s no good way to split them up in the lineup unless you bat melky or gardener leadoff. Offense is more available from the OF position, so while Molina is half excellent and half pretty crummy, he’s at least serviceable with moeller as a backup. Gardener may have a future but so far he looks overmatched and Melky is starting to look more and more like a rich man’s Oscar Azocar. The need for an outfielder is also still there in the long run, as Abreu is a free agent next year, Damon is a year older and A-Jax/Tabata are still not ready while Posada should (presumably) be back behind the plate next year. Even if Matsui returns this year he is likely to DH and in coming seasons will need to do so more often. The best options I can find on rosters are Jason Bay, who’s 29 and Raul Ibanez, who’s 36. There’s a few gambles one can take that might not cost much, like andruw jones or the corpse of griffey junior, but you might as well stick sexson in left field where I think he played a little for the Indians. Anyone think the pads might let brian giles go in a trade? he’s in the final year of his contract and he’s got a $9M option or a $3M buy out next year. he’s 37 but he’s putting up an over .800 OPS which gets over .850 territory outside of petco.

    • whozat

      “Anyone think the pads might let brian giles go in a trade?”

      No. Paul DePodesta said explicitly on his blog that the Padres are not interested in trading Giles. Not only is he playing well for not that much money, but they love the way he approaches the game and want him to help mold their young players.

      • Glen L

        devils advocate – could it just be a smart making using “intangibles” to increase a player’s value?

        depo never struck me as one to particularly value intagibles

        just throwing it out there

    • A.D.

      You don’t want to see Sexson in LF, he played there 8 years ago, and would have 0 range….with his current batting numbers, he’d probably be a net loss over Gardner, who can cover a lot of ground.

    • cult of basebaal

      no thank you on ibanez. he plays left like the DH he ought to be … pass.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Do you put the extra E in gardner for “excitement”?

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Call the lawfirm of Greene and Fazio at 1-800-HARASSS. The extra S is for the extra harrassment.

  • george kaplan

    I would like to stick with Molina. I know he sucks in teh lineup…and he DOES suck, but he is a game changer on defense. “fine” doesn’t begin to describe it. We currently have one of the strongest and quickest arms in baseball behind the plate, not to mention how important it is to keep a vet catching young pitchers. I don’t think it is worth the offensive bump one of the above options presents.
    Plus he is so loveable, I don’t think I could handle missing out on the Molina post game interviews..too funny.

    • Elle

      Plus he is so loveable, I don’t think I could handle missing out on the Molina post game interviews..too funny.

      Couldn’t agree more. I’m glad he has the arm to go with it, but a lot of my cheering for having him around is just enjoying his presence on the team.

  • phil26687

    Don’t think I’ve posted here before, but I’ve done LOTS of lurking… Great site, I make it several parts of my daily routine.

    Anyway, I’m a New Yorker relocated to Seattle for the past 8 years – Can’t stand the Mariners, but I pay attention to what’s going on with them.

    They signed crappy catcher Kenji Johjima to a 3-year/$24m extension earlier this year (likely at the insistence of the Japanese ownership group) – This means no place for Jeff Clement to play every day – It’s really too bad Matsui is hurt, I really think the ownership would strong arm the (terrible) front office into giving up a big package for another Japanese ‘star’ player.

  • http://Anotherlefty Peedlum

    I think the only path is clear. Bring back Bernie!

  • Anthony

    How about the other Padre catcher? Michael Barrett? He has to be on the trading block too.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      I thought he was done for the year with an injury?

  • RobertGKramer

    The only C on my wish list is the Pirate’s Ryan Doumit. And if Posada is able to catch next year, I’d like Doumit at 1B even over Teixeira. Doumit has played 1B and RF though I have no clue of what caliber of a glove he would be. Otherwise Posada goes to 1B for the rest of his contract. The Pirates would probably require the entire SWB and Trenton rosters.

  • TommyTresh

    Obviously a RH hitting outfielder should be the # 1 priority but that doesn’t mean improving the backup catcher situation should be ignored.

    David Ross of Cincinnati would be a great fit. He’s got some power, so he can pinch hit when he’s not catching. He’s a part time catcher so he shouldn’t cost much and he’s a bit expensive for he Reds, so they may be motivated to make a move.

    Buster Olney suggest Igawa and a mid level pitching prospect (Rasner?) might be enough for Jarred Washburn. That would be an upgrade as the # 5 starter.

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