Friday, January 15, 2010

Cleveland Catcher

The Indians have come to terms with free agent catcher Mike Redmond, a move designed to bridge the gap between April and June/July, at which time prospect Carlos Santana is expected to arrive in the majors, presumably to take over the team's regular catching duties for the next five or six years.

At thirty-nine, Redmond's managed to pick up more than 2,200 at bats in the majors without ever managing 300 in a single season.  A right-handed hitter who has always been a backup, we might incorrectly guess that he had faced mostly lefties in his career, the .289 average seemingly lifted by usually being on the proper side of a platoon split.  Actually, almost two thirds (64%) of his at bats have come against right-handed pitching.  Not surprisingly, he does prefer to face lefties as he's hit .268 vs. righties and .327 vs. lefties over his career and so we need to be aware of this if he ends up playing most of the time for the first half of the season.  It still wouldn't surprise us if he could hit .280 with regular playing time but beyond the average, he has no power nor speed and even a version of him that stayed as a regular for an entire season for 400-500 at bats would still only be projected for 45-50 runs scored and around 45 RBI.  In other words, there's little upside here but his average won't kill you if you need a roster-filling catcher.

As for Santana, all he has to do is remain on the course the Indians have plotted for him.  He broke a bone in his hand this off-season but it wasn't expected to change his timetable to the majors.  Santana looks ready for the majors right now and could hit .260-.265 with 15-20 home run power if he were to get regular playing time from day one, a possibility that seems significantly less likely with Redmond now in tow.  More likely, he won't arrive until mid-summer but for those who like to draft backup plans for the second half of the season, he could still be this year's version of what Matt Wieters was to Baltimore last year, albeit a lesser long-term prospect than Wieters.

Two players who lose the most in the Redmond signing are Lou Marson and Wyatt Toregas.  Marson was poised to at least start the season with a shot at regular playing time and now will be a backup but likely still on the roster.  We can't say the same for Toregas, a player we weren't projecting as ready for the majors anyway.  He's likely got a ticket back to the minors now unless Redmond or Marson suffer a spring injury.