Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Omir Santos, Buffalo Bison (Again)

Posted by JD on December 8, 2009

A consistent theme throughout this offseason is the Mets’ desire to change their catching situation. They signed Chris Coste and Henry Blanco, have been linked at various points to Ivan Rodriguez, Yorvit Torrealba, and Rod Barajas, and appear to be in a death-spiral to sign Bengie Molina. The Mets are seemingly intent on sending Omir Santos on a trip to Buffalo, which I kind of (but ultimately don’t) understand.

Santos had an 82 OPS+ in 2009 (100 equates to league average). He didn’t exactly light it up and he was a 28 year-old rookie, so there’s little hope that he’ll ever produce more than he did in 2009 (to say nothing of the fact that it’s a tiny sample size). Throw in the fact that the Mets seem to be down on the way he handled the pitching staff and I can understand why they are exploring their options.

But I wanted to see how he compared to the rest of the catchers last year, especially because most of the free agent catchers are looking for multi-year deals. Here’s the full list of catchers with at least 300 plate appearances in 2009 (from Baseball Reference’s Play Index):

Rk Player OPS+ Age
1 Joe Mauer 170 26
2 Jorge Posada 133 37
3 Victor Martinez 127 30
4 Brian McCann 120 25
5 Mike Napoli 118 27
6 Miguel Montero 110 25
7 Carlos Ruiz 104 30
8 Miguel Olivo 103 30
9 Chris Iannetta 103 26
10 Yadier Molina 100 26
11 John Baker 99 28
12 Kelly Shoppach 98 29
13 Matt Wieters 97 23
14 A.J. Pierzynski 94 32
15 Kurt Suzuki 93 25
16 Ryan Doumit 89 28
17 Russell Martin 86 26
18 Bengie Molina 86 34
19 Ramon Hernandez 84 33
20 Omir Santos 82 28
21 Jason Varitek 80 37
22 Geovany Soto 79 26
23 Rod Barajas 73 33
24 Josh Bard 73 31
25 Ivan Rodriguez 73 37
26 Jason Kendall 72 35
27 Jarrod Saltalamac 70 24
28 Gerald Laird 64 29
29 Dioner Navarro 52 25

Couple of thoughts: Molina had a marginally better OPS+ (86) but is four years older. Barajas had a worse OPS+ (73) and is five years older. Jason Kendall had the same OPS+ as Barajas but is seven years older. Torrealba didn’t even record 300 plate appearances (to be fair, he had to leave for an enormous family crisis when his 11 year-old son and brother in-law were kidnapped). Miguel Olivo (103) is available and he qualifies as an upgrade…dear God, did I just say that? Let’s just stop here.

Long story short (too late): I’m not sure why the Mets are in a rush to demote Santos when the alternatives are all older catchers that require multi-year investments. Are they better? Debateable, but every penny spent on a mediocre catcher is a penny that could be spent on a better left fielder or first baseman. I can live with a Santos/Blanco combo in Flushing and a Thole/Coste combo in Buffalo, but apparently the Mets can’t.

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