Tagged: Catchers

FLB Updated Catcher Rankings ’08


1. Russell Martin, LAD
After a slow start, Martin is finally starting to heat up. His power/speed combo puts him at the top of my list because 20/20 guys are pretty hard to come by at the catcher position. I expect  him to continue to make a contribution in all 5 offensive categories (avg, HR, RBI, SB, run) and should only get better as the season progresses. Too much playing time really wore on him last year towards the end of the season but I don’t think that will be a problem this year. Joe Torre has been handling him pretty well and is giving him rest when he needs it. 
Adjusted Projection: .311/21/84/22
2. Brian McCann, ATL
The Braves’ big hitting catcher has been delivering on his power potential out of the gate. With 6 HRs under his belt already, he could be on his way to setting a new career high for HRs. At this point he’s my #2 catcher due to his upside and experience. He should be able to handle the rigors of the long season without too much of a problem and is a consistent contact hitter, which means he’s less likely to dig himself into a prolonged slump. 
AP: .305/22/92
3. Geovany Soto, CHC
Without a doubt, Geovany Soto has been the best fantasy catcher in baseball so far in this young season. If you take a look at the monthly rankings, you’ll find him on top of the list of catchers for April. The way I figure out the overall rankings is simple…I ask myself if I would trade the player who’s higher in the rankings for the player who’s lower in the rankings. For example, as fa
r as Soto’s case is concerned, I’d trade him for Martin or McCann but not for V-Mart…you see where I’m going with this? The reason I’d trade him for the two I mentioned is because it’s highly unlikely Soto will maintain his current .345 batting average, though it is possible. Over the course of a season, numbers tend to even out. At some point I expect Soto to come back to Earth…though I expect him to maintain all-star caliber numbers. His talent is legitimate and he’ll be a fantasy force for years to come. 
AP: 294/24/87
4. Victor Martinez, CLE
It’s safe to say that those of you who drafted V-Mart expected a lot more than you’ve been getting from him so far this season. In 98 at-bats this season, Martinez has yet to hit a single HR. The entire Indians team is struggling with the bats so V-Mart isn’t alone. He’s posting a nice batting average, well above .300 but if you wanted a catcher who could hit for average without much power, you would’ve drafted Joe Mauer several rounds later. Hardly anyone expects this power outage to last so now might be a good time to buy low. I don’t see him matching the power numbers of previous seasons (unless he goes on a tear sometime soon) but he should end up around 20 HRs or so. I’m sure many rankings still have him as the #1 ranked catcher but based on the way guys like Martin, McCann and Soto have been playing, I just couldn’t rank him ahead of them at this point. That may change as the season progresses. 
AP: .312/18/83
5. Bengie Molina, SF
Early in the season, Molina hasn’t disappointed. There were questions whether he’d be able to drive in any runs while hitting in that anemic Giants’ offense but he already has 20 RBIs to go with 4 HRs. He may not be as flashy as some of the options ranked ahead of him but he is a dependable bat who’s fortunate enough to be hitting in the middle of a lineup…even if the lineup happens to be sub-par. Expect him to continue to hit for power, although the average may drop a little bit before all is said and done. 
AP: .284/19/81
6. Ryan Doumit, PIT
Fantasy owners have to be happy with the Pirates’ new manager, John Russell. For years now, owners have been clamoring for the Bucs to start power hitting catcher/OF, Ryan Doumit behind the plate. He may not be as good at handling pitchers as counterpart, Ronny Paulino, but definitely has a lot more pop in his bat (which is all that really matters to us fantasy addicts). Doumit’s bat has in fact made it nearly impossible for the Bucs to sit him in favor of the light hitting Paulino. He’s already one of the top ranked catchers in each offensive category…I don’t think he’ll maintain a .333 average all year but his bat is legitimate and he should not be overlooked in fantasy circles. 
AP: .299/21/78
7. Joe Mauer, MIN
A lot of fantasy owners think that Mauer is overrated since he doesn’t hit many HRs. That may be true based on where he’s been drafted over the past couple of years but he can hit for average and knock in runs just as good as anybody. Eventually, the power stroke will come but is still lacking at this stage in his career. Even so, how can you complain about a .350 average, 20 runs and 15 RBIs? He should finish the season with the best batting average amongst catchers and should reach double digit HRs. 
AP: .325/12/66/8
8. Jorge Posada, NYY
If Posada wasn’t hurt right now he’d obviously be higher on this list but last I heard, he’s due to be out for another month and possibly longer. Many thought his production would drop off from last season’s career year but he came out of the gate strong hitting .302 with a HR and 11 RBIs in only 63 at-bats. There’s no doubt in my mind that he will produce once he returns so keep him on the bench if you can. The only real question is when he’ll return which makes his numbers difficult to project. 
AP: .298/14/64
9. AJ Pierzynski, CWS
Pierzynski has always been a good hitter but seems to disappear from the fantasy radar every now and then. Some seasons he ends up as one of the better offensive catchers in the league and other seasons he can’t seem to get it together. Luckily for his fantasy owners, this  year seems like it might be a big one for him. No catcher had a hotter start than him and even though his production has tailed off a bit since then, he’s still batting around .300 and is knocking in runs. He’s not flashy but can provide better than average numbers when he’s playing well. 
AP: .274/16/69
10. Mike Napoli, LAA
Fantasy owners hate time shares and that’s exactly what Napoli is stuck in right now with top prospect Jeff Mathis. It’s really too bad because he’s been hitting the tar out of the ball…knocking 8 HRs over the fence in only 63 at-bats. The reason I have him ranked this high is because even though he’s splitting time with Mathis, he could very well out-produce all of the guys behind him in terms of power numbers…even in limited time. His average may end up hurting you but so far he hasn’t been bad in that respect. What’s causing him to lose playing time is not his bat, it’s his defense. He’d probably be used as a DH in his off-days if the Angels didn’t have such a logjam at the position with Vlad Guerrero, Garrett Anderson,  Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales. When the season started, Napoli was getting more starts but now Mathis seems to have a leg up. Look for playing time between the two to flip flop back and forth as the season progresses. 
AP .267/17/62
11. Jason Varitek, BOS
AP: .258/14/65
12. Ivan Rodriguez, DET
AP: .280/11/54
13. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, TEX
AP: .244/10/48
14. Chris Snyder, ARZ
AP: .271/11/55
15. Kurt Suzuki, OAK
AP: .268/9/51/6
16. Ramon Hernandez, BAL
AP: .239/11/62
17. Kenji Johjima, SEA
AP: .255/8/59
18. JR Towles, HOU
AP: .212/13/56
19. Jeff Mathis, LAA
AP: .246/9/48/7
20. Carlos Ruiz, PHI
AP: .257/8/52
21. Yadier Molina, STL 
AP: .288/11/64
22. Gerald Laird, TEX
AP: .266/10/61
23. Dioner Navarro, TB
AP: .276/4/50
24. Paul Bako, CIN
AP: .269/9/55
25. Wil Nieves, WAS
AP: .291/5/43
26. Chris Ianetta, COL
AP: .287/6/44
27. Chris Coste, PHI
AP: .281/5/38
28. Jason Kendall, MIL
AP: .295/1/39/6
29. Gregg Zaun, TOR
AP: .276/5/41
30. Josh Bard, SD
AP: .233/4/36
Just Missed: 
-Paul Lo Duca, WAS
-Ronny Paulino, PIT
-Miguel Olivo, KC
-Brian Schneider, NYM

Money for Martin

If Dodgers’ catcher Russell Martin and GM Ned Colletti are both telling the truth, there is a major communication breakdown going on behind the scenes. Martin made claims in the Los Angeles Times today that Colletti has yet to approach his agent about a contract extension. Colletti claims otherwise and says that he was rejected when he brought up talks of an extension. Then again, when you look at Martin’s statements closely, you can begin to see what may have happened,
“It’s not up to me and (agent Bob Garber). It’s up to the team. If the team wants to offer something legitimate, it’d be idiotic not to look at it”.

This quote seems to imply that Martin was lowballed by the front office…which in itself, isn’t hard to believe. Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt is jokingly known around town as Frank McCheap due to his reluctancy to sign big name free agents to big time contracts. Here we have a dilemma. By all means, Martin has done everything he could’ve possibly done to earn the money. He’s already one of the best catchers in all of baseball, was the most consistent offensive threat the team had last season, handles the pitching staff extremely well, is incredibly durable, was an all-star and is a Gold Glover behind the plate…yet McCourt and Colletti are trying to weasel him behind closed doors. What more do you want from him? What else does he have to prove to you McCourt and Colletti? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the Dodgers front office should do whatever it takes to lock this guy up long-term.

A catcher is the backbone of a team. As I just mentioned, they make an impact on more than one dimension of the game. Not only is Martin everything you could want from a catcher, he’s young and is a clubhouse leader. Many would say that he is the heart and soul of the team. I don’t know how true that is since I’ve never been in the clubhouse but regardless, it’s pretty plain to see that he’s a valuable asset to this Dodgers team and is a major piece of the championship puzzle. If it were up to me, I’d take a look at whatever a guy like Joe Mauer, Brian McCann or Victor Martinez just signed for (if they any of them recently signed extensions) and try to lock Martin up to a similar deal, hopefully buying out a few years of arbitration in the process. A catcher like Martin will make a literal killing in arbitration. The team won’t even have a case to make against him if he continues to play at the pace that he set for himself last season.

I suppose Colletti’s one saving grace is time. There is no rush to lock Martin up for years to come because he already is locked up for years to come. He still has to go thru his arbitration years by which time you’d think the front office would have a deal cooked up for him. The Dodgers shouldn’t be strapped for cash. McCourt has always said that the team should have a budget around $100 million. I may be wrong but I think the Dodgers’ current player budget is maxed out at $85 million. It’s always nice to wait on making major deals like that just in case Martin suffers an injury sometime down the road (knock on wood) but the longer the front office waits, the more Martin will feel unwanted and disrespected and may eventually resolve to test free agency. You take your chances when you hesitate and lets just hope that the Dodgers front office knows what they are doing. Russell Martin is not a player that the Dodgers can afford to lose down the road. If he’s talking to newspapers about an extension, it would be a good idea to get something done.