The Phillies season is quickly coming up upon us with just over 60 days to go and the other day, Jeff Wittwer, who writes here on FightinPhillies.com and his own blog for the Phils called Voice of A Die-Hard Phillies Fan, suggested we have some fun by posting each position in a break down each position for each week left till the season starts.
Read Jeff’s post here for his breakdown on the catcher’s position and below is my breakdown.
The Phillies have had some problems in the past couple years in the catcher’s position with offense production. Carlos Ruiz has done the job for the past two seasons as he has displayed the best defensive skills of all the candidates for catcher the Phillies have had in the past two years. The battle between him and Chris Coste for the number one spot for catcher was quickly won by Ruiz early on into the 2007 season. Coste though has done a wonderful job for what the Phillies needed from him in ‘07 and again in 2008. He has come up very clutch at times and delivered when the Phillies most needed it. Coste’s story of just making it to the bigs is a great one, it’s a story that a lot of ballplayers never get to tell, that is getting to the big leagues.
Carlos and Chris have been almost identical in stats from last year. Ruiz has the most games started with 92 but Coste was right there at 69, sometimes Coste would be inserted into the lineup for a pinch hit or with a change of pitchers. The fun stops there, quite simply the offense put up by both of them has been very little. Last season combined they both had 13 total homeruns and only 66 rbi’s. Grumblings from fans and sportswriters pointed at Ruiz’s anemic offense last season prior to the Phillies making the playoffs. Ruiz started to become an ‘endangered species’ of a player, then came the playoffs and the World Series. For my money Carlos Ruiz was very close to being an MVP of the playoffs and World Series. He emerged as some sort of superman, who got the job done under enormous pressure. Ruiz even prompted me to call for him to be considered for “Mr October” for the Phillies playoff and World Series games here.
Ruiz will probably be the Phillies everyday catcher in 2009, top prospect Lou Marson will be getting more playing time only into the middle of the season when there may be a time to call him up. An injury to either Ruiz or Coste will dictate that, of course that is if Coste is going to get on the big club after Spring Training. If Marson can have a great Spring Training, Marson may compete for the top Phillies catching job himself. Only time and his play will tell that. Marson only played in one game last season and you can call that a cup of coffee for the moment. The trouble with Marson is really in the minors he hasn’t hit all that many homeruns or had many rbi’s so the Phillies could possibly opt to go for a free agent to fill the position should it become necessary.
Phillies depth chart: catcher
(My #2 of NL East Catchers) Carlos Ruiz -possibly ‘Mr October’ last year for the Phillies
Carlos has proved his worth in the playoffs and his steady defense.
Chris Coste – Aging catcher, a 33 year old ‘rookie’ read here
Lou Marson- young Phillies prospect, may get the call this year for the Phillies for more than just the 1 game he appeared last year
Here’s my preview and depth of the rest of the NL for catcher and my picks for top starting catchers in the NL East with the teams in alphabetical order:
(My # 1 NL East Catcher) Brian McCann - .301 avg with 23 HR and 87 RBI in ‘08
McCann maybe the best catcher in the game today, he’s only 25 years old and anchors the Braves very well
David Ross – a steady backup was just given a 2 year extension by the Braves in Dec ‘08
(My #5 NL East Catchers) John Baker - .299 avg in 61 games last year for the Marlins – should be Marlins catcher after Spring Training but don’t count on it.
Mike Rabelo- last year’s backup in Marlinville, Rabelo is not expected to be the Marlins Opening Day catcher, he will be a backup if anything.
New York Mets
(My #3 NL East Catchers) Brian Schneider – Makes $5 mill a year for an average return. This is his 10th season in the bigs
Schneider came to the Mets from Washington in Nov. of 2007 with Ryan Church for Lastings Milledge. He gets the job done and is a good defensive catcher.
Ramon Castro – May be getting the call in 2009 as a starting catcher for the Mets if Schneider falters. His offense was better last year when needed. He may catch much more this year for the Mets.
(My #4 of NL East Catchers) Jesus Flores – Jesus is expected to be very good this season in 2009, he is near the bottom of my list preseason until he proves to be better, my #3 pick this year and Flores could be easily swapped but I give the edge to the veteran Schneider.
Will Nieves – a backup to Flores last year, he’ll remain in that roll and be called upon for some more of what he did last year very well.
Stay tuned to the blog here next week for the First Base depth chart of the National League here and on Jeff's own blog at Voice of a Die-Hard Phillies Fan
Rich Baxter - Fightin Phillies Blog