jpahighfive

Ben Nicholson-Smith had a post yesterday morning at Sportsnet about Cuban backstop Yenier Bello, who is a step closer to being made available to MLB teams, and is sure to get a certain subset of fans salivating (or, actually, maybe all of them). We’re told that he’s a power hitting 28-year-old backstop with significant experience who– most important of all– is not J.P. Arencibia. Sounds refreshing, right?

Well, the free catching market isn’t exactly bountiful, so yes. Yes he does. Even knowing next to absolutely nothing about the guy. That’s just how great it’s been this year!

But the thing is, that means if Bello is a player teams looking for catching help are truly eyeing, it’s very possibly going to be a long, uncomfortable winter, because holding such a narrow focus may mean sitting out the catching market altogether, waiting for the Cuban to be cleared by the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control. Nicholson-Smith explains that “it could take many months for OFAC to grant Bello the permission he needs to finalize a deal.”

He also notes that “multiple teams have already expressed interest” in him, and that the Jays– while not necessarily one of those teams– are one of a few big league clubs who’ll be looking for catching upgrades this winter. Could we be breathlessly awaiting news on him all winter? I’m not sure putting so many eggs in one basket is a realistic possibility– not for the Jays, and not for the other teams we’re told will be looking for help behind the plate, the Mariners and the Phillies.

The reason the Phillies could be in the market for a catcher, you may be aware, is that their incumbent starter, Carlos Ruiz, will be a free agent. Over at Benny Fresh’s old stomping ground, MLB Trade Rumors, they profiled Ruiz yesterday, noting that the Jays may be one of the teams who’d be a fit, should he choose to leave Philadelphia– and, perhaps intriguingly, that he’s not likely going to be made a qualifying offer by the club. His departure from Philadelphia is not necessarily a foregone conclusion though, as both he and the Phillies have expressed interest in his return. Doing so would give the late-blooming 35-year-old-to-be a good chance to spend his entire career in the organization, and is made all the more plausible by the fact that the Phillies don’t have much in terms of an in-house replacement.

But that may not all work out, and MLBTR also tells us that, despite his having a down year– which included a 25-game suspension for not getting a proper fake script for Adderall like the rest of the damn league– Ruiz looked a little more like himself in the season’s final two months, posting “a more Chooch-like .288/.343/.444 line.” He could be an intriguing guy to look at for the Jays. Then again, he’s getting old, and including the minors was behind the plate for 100+ games for nine straight years before only getting into 92 this season. You worry that a down year, at that age and at a physically demanding position like that, just maybe isn’t so easy to bounce back from. Plus, based just on reputation he’ll likely be somewhat expensive– sort of like the other guy we’ve heard the most about, as far as the catching market goes: Brian McCann.

Now, if the Jays can convince McCann to take their money and still have the resources to do whatever else they need, sure. Do it. McCann is going to be 30 next season, so a deal in the five year range is at least palatable, theoretically, and he hits well enough that you can use him at DH– plus, he’s a left-handed power bat this team should could certainly not turn their noses up at.

But it ain’t happening. (I’m pretty sure, at least.)

That, however, doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting options on the market. Especially if– wait for it…– the Jays are maybe willing to work a little bit with what they’ve already got.

The MLBTR piece on Ruiz suggests he is one of just five realistic starting catching options possible to hit the market, along with McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and “perhaps” Dionner Navarro.

The latter three options– the more realistic ones– don’t come without warts.

Pierzynski, for example, has by far the most even platoon splits over the last three seasons; solely hitting left handed, he posted a .330 wOBA against right-handed pitching over that span, and a .317 wOBA against lefties. However, he got there somewhat unevenly, being better against left than right in 2013, but putting up a woeful .293 wOBA against lefties the year before.

Of course, woeful is a relative term, and Pierzynski still would make for a marked improvement over J.P. Arencibia, who had some pretty even platoon splits of his own this year, posting a fugly .260 wOBA against right-handers, and a fuglier .256 against lefties.

Over three years, however, Arencibia has been quite a bit better than that against left handed pitching, posting a .308 wOBA– and combined over 2011 and 2012, his wOBA against left-handers was a damn near respectable .343 (albeit in just 211 plate appearances). That, sad as it will be for many to contemplate, might make Pierzynski a reasonable option, should he choose to come here.

This is a guy who got on base less than 30% of the time in 2013, but that number looks positively Ruthian next to Arencibia’s .227 OBP. And by bringing in a left-handed hitter who, if not for the last three years, over the course of his career has generally been weaker against same side pitchers, you could do a whole lot worse than making his backup a guy who has generally hit lefties pretty well. That’s right: ol’ J.P.A.

Of course, that assumes two things: one, that Arencibia’s ego would be able to handle the demotion– and given the kid gloves used by Alex Anthopoulos and John Gibbons all season when asked to address their club’s gaping hole behind the plate, I’m not sure we ought to think it will. And two, that Arencibia’s absolute falling off a fucking cliff this year was just a little bump in the road, and he can get his production up to a level where even just as a backup or, at most, a platoon guy, he’d actually be competent. I know what a tonne of Jays fans are going to say to that, but if the playing time is strictly limited, maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Oh, and I suppose it assumes a third thing as well: that Pierzynski can handle catching R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball. Since becoming a starter Pierzynski has never had a negative value by the defensive component of FanGraphs’ WAR, and only once has been in the negative by the defensive WAR stat at Baseball Reference, but his reputation is hardly so glowing– the Yankees reportedly were concerned about his defence last year, and in Matt Klaassen’s excellent work on catcher defence last year for Getting Blanked, he fared quite, quite poorly. So… I’m not so sure.

How about, then, someone to pair with Josh Thole, who we know can catch Dickey and is also still under contract?

Pierzynski still technically works in that scenario, though it would mean always having his bat in the lineup against left-handers. On the other hand, Dioner Navarro has absolutely mashed left-handed pitching over the last three years, albeit in a small sample (.392 wOBA over 125 plate appearances), and has done well in the split in the minors over that time as well, and in his career as a big leaguer, though the bulk of those plate appearances are from 2009 and before.

Navarro is a switch hitter, too, so you wouldn’t necessarily be committing to Thole as the more active half of a lefty-righty platoon. However, in Navarro’s last 416 plate appearances against right-handed pitching his wOBA is just .305. His on-base is .311, though, which by the standard we’ve grown accustomed to around here is downright decent. The high OBP watermark for Arencibia in his three years is .282, and over that span against right-handers it’s a pitiful .257.

Holy shit, I think I actually just talked myself into Navarro– sad as it is to think that a .305 wOBA and .311 on-base against right-handers is, like, a vast improvement.

But there’s another alternative, and maybe even a better one. It only works, though, if fans and the club are willing to stomach it, and a guy looking to get paid is willing to sign on to largely be a platoon player– and since neither of those things are likely going to happen (especially given that it involves retaining J.P. Arencibia) it may be a total non-starter.

Regardless, it’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia!

Keith Law, in a recent post at ESPN.com about potential free agents who’ve done the most to improve their stock this season, notes that Saltalamacchia  ”wasn’t quite as atrocious batting right-handed in 2013 as he’d been in the past, but he’d probably still be better off abandoning switch-hitting or working with a platoon partner.”

That, of course, is where Arencibia and his “prowess” against left-handers would come in.

Law adds that ol’ Salty is “a solid defensive catcher, better at framing and receiving than at throwing, but clearly superior overall to McCann.” Does that mean he could catch Dickey’s knuckleball? Not necessarily. And with a gross .269 wOBA over the last three years against left-handers, you’d certainly would want to have that platoon partner for him, whether it’s J.P.A. or… well… anyone, really.

So… Navarro, then?

Actually, I could maybe throw Geovany Soto’s name into the mix, as well. Over three year’s he’s posted an Arecibia-like .290 wOBA against right-handers, but in a very small sample he was actually pretty good this year in the split (.380 wOBA in 118 PA), and his three-year sample against lefties is good: a .349 wOBA, albeit in just 280 PA. He’s also flashed a much higher ceiling than we’ve ever seen out of our incumbent, posting a pair of 3.5-ish win seasons in 2008 and 2010, and another 2.2 win season in 2011, per FanGraphs.

Speaking of FanGraphs, there’s also this note from a Matt Klaassen piece there less than a year ago:

In terms of throwing out base stealers Soto has been below average, while being a bit above average when it comes to blocking pitches. However, when it comes to pitch framing, the balance might shift in Soto’s favor. He is no Jose Molina or Russell Martin, but as Mike Fast’s well-known study of pitch-framing from 2007-2011 shows, and Matthew Carruth privately confirmed with me from his own calculations that include Soto’s 2012 season, Soto has regularly been above-average when it comes to framing pitches. Matthew has Soto at about four or five runs above average each of the last few years.

Plus, as a right-handed hitter, having him would setup nicely with Josh Thole, who you could then obviously keep around to catch Dickey.

Soto has only been worth 1.3 wins over his last 153 games, and hopefully you’d be able to make a greater improvement than that, but… once again, sadly that is still an improvement on what we’ve got. And one with a few crumbs of upside possibly still remaining, too. I mean, him or Navarro and Saltalamacchia sure would start looking pretty nice, in relative terms, but realistically you’d have to figure the Jays are only looking at adding one– at least when it comes to the free agent route.

And doesn’t even take into account whether they can even manage to sign one of these “premier” guys! Though Nicholson-Smith’s list was small, it’s not like a lot of teams won’t be looking to upgrade behind the plate– see, for example, the dogshit year had by the guy, Ryan Hanigan, who the Reds started last night in a damn playoff game!

Ugh. Catchers, you guys!

Comments (76)

  1. I’ve said it a bunch but I’m targeting Chooch.

    I see it similarly to you – that he may be looking at a nice payday, but virtually every respected writer I’ve seen comment on what he’ll get – ie. Dave Cameron, the prediction at MLBTR – pencil him in for something that seems quite reasonable to me, like one-year $8M or two-years $14M.

    I’d take that gamble, even though the age is obviously a bit of a risk.

    Truth be told, sign up Ruiz for $7 or $8M for a year or two and come to terms with Johnson for one-year in that range, and all of a sudden for $15M in 2014 the shopping list becomes a lot more manageable while bringing in two guys with nice upside. (Of course, they’d still need one more proven starter and a second baseman, but two needs is a lot better than four?)

    • I really like that idea. Reasonable and those guys could bring a ton to the table. Moving some of the surplus of fringy arms might help bring something of value as well.

  2. Given the organization’s blunt demotions of Lind, Encarnacion, and, especially, Romero, I think it’s likely that JP Arencibia has played himself out of a starting job in 2014 and could very well end up being the starting catcher for the Buffalo Bisons next year. The front office isn’t going to tip their hand about their FA targets or their internal evaluation of JPA but if history is any guide, AA isn’t afraid to do what’s required for the team, whatever the cost to a guy’s ego.

    • I would assume if the plan is to not have JPA catch for the big club next year then he will be non-tendered. I don’t see them giving him a contract knowing he is headed to Buffalo

      • That is incredibly stupid. JPA has options, and provides good depth at a position that sorely needs it. Really, just a really stupid idea.

        • So instead we let him go to arbitration and get rewarded for hitting homers and driving in runs and pay him to go play in Buffalo for the year. I fine with negotiating a contract with him that would be team friendly, but he’d be better off to go to arbitration and get a raise

          • Even with the home runs, there is enough evidence of his poor play that he isn’t going to be THAT expensive as a first year arb player. They afford the small jump even if they intend to start him at AAA, simply for the flexibility and depth, no?

          • Ideally the front office goes into the arbitration hearing ready to rip JPA apart and make sure he gets the smallest raise possible.

            They try to make it abundantly clear that the 21 HR do not matter when the rest of his production is basically a gaping black hole.

            Hopefully that acts to wake JPA up that he needs to make adjustments if he wants to stick around. But more likely it just makes him more pissy. Oh well.

  3. Why not a Saltalamacchia and Arencibia platoon?

    I don’t see how having Thole in the lineup is any better than Arencibia. Arencibia has out hit him the last couple of years, and I think Arencibia is regarded better defensively (at least by WAR).

    You admonished keeping Blanco around just to catch Dickey, so why do it with Thole, who’s worse than Blanco?

    • 1) Because Arencibia?

      2) Defence.

      3) The context of that was that Thole actually might have been able to produce better than J.P.A.

      • And how likely that Thole will? Enough to suggest that a Navarro/Thole platoon is feasible, but Saltalamacchia/Arencibia isn’t?

        Arencibia sucks, I get it. But so does Thole. Arguably Arencibia provides value on defence, where Thole has been neutral. Who would you keep as a backup to a FA catcher?

  4. If AA brings back JP he’s an asshole.

    • I say after the first snowfall he writes “fuck Jp” in piss on the roof of the skydome and then takes a massive dump on Jps front lawn. And then maybe cut him or send him to buffalo or some shit. Whatever

  5. I know it’s a bit of a pipe dream but I would love to see Ruiz or Molina sign a deal similar to Russell Martins.

  6. Navarro/Thole platoon actually sounds pretty not bad…

    • I think they release him. In my humble opinion, JP needs to take whatever he’s learned here and try to catch on (pardon the pun) with another organization. He needs a fresh start. I really think the guy tries, especially the past couple of months, but he’s not really got it in him to be a MLB starting catcher and never really had ‘it’. I wish him the best though. Hey, maybe it’s for the best and he becomes a permanent member of The Band Perry ;-).

  7. The Jays are interested, at the catcher’s position, defense and then defense and then defense…Salty is likely a target because he’s an upgrade on JP defensively, even with not the best throw out rate IF the trade route falls through. AA has stated repeatedly that his priority is SP…at least one SP…more likely two and he knows that he needs a general on the field to handle his pitchers next year. I think Thole is retained as long as RA is in TO unless the guy they trade for has experience catching a knuckleball at some level of baseball, AAA or something and convinces AA he can catch RA…not likely though, so Thole will stay.

  8. You seem to be looking at this more from “what a new catcher will bring offensively” Stoeten. If the Jays just get an actual good receiver/game caller then they will be exponentially better. JP calls a horrible fucking game. I’ve watched games this year when batters were hopelessly overmatched with gas for 2 strikes and then he calls a breaking ball that ends up in the nose bleeds. He has no concept of the chess game that is “out thinking hitters”. He’s also shitty at pitch framing, throwing out base runners and atrocious at blocking pitches in the dirt.

    So in my opinion you are looking at the free agent market the wrong way, you should be analyzing only who is the best all around defender available because that alone would make the Jays light years better. Any offense will just be a bonus.
    For the dollars it will take for any of these guys, Ruiz is the best option flat in my opinion.
    McCann will obviously hit more, but for 20 million. Chooch does everything pretty well and will be less then half in annual salary. If he prices himself out of Toronto or doesn’t want to come to Canada then they should take the next best defender/game caller available.

    • Fair point. I’d take Goins at 2B and a solid defensive catcher (without spending a fortune).

      Save the money for re-signing Johnson and getting Tanaka.

    • Is he really that bad calling a game though? Or might it be the starting pitchers?

      It is hard to blame the woes on his ability to call games, when he was the exact same catcher for the league leading bullpen.

      Which isn’t to say he doesn’t need to be replaced, but it is difficult to argue his ability to call a a game when the bullpen numbers clearly indicate success.

  9. Salty would be nice.

  10. Trade might be a better route. Think I read that the Angels are looking to shed a few contracts, which means Chris Iannetta could be available. Due about $11 million over the next two years, I think. He’s also right-handed, which makes Thole work as a the backup/Dickey caddy.

    I’m horrible at gauging this sort of thing, but you might even be able to get him for bullpen arms alone or low-level prospects like Deck McGuire.

  11. Sign A.J. Pierzynski. Then next year we can refer to the catcher as AJP. For added confusion, sign AJP and keep JPA as his backup.

  12. If they do find a replacement and go with Thole as the backup, what happens to JP? Sent to Buffalo? Released?

    • It depends how much financial flexibility is a concern. He may be due for a $2 or $3M salary from arbitration. I have no clue the answer to this, but if they’re running close to a salary ceiling, perhaps that’s $2 or $3M that can be spent better than a catcher ticketed for AAA?

    • I think they release him. In my humble opinion, JP needs to take whatever he’s learned here and try to catch on (pardon the pun) with another organization. He needs a fresh start. I really think the guy tries, especially the past couple of months, but he’s not really got it in him to be a MLB starting catcher and never really had ‘it’. I wish him the best though. Hey, maybe it’s for the best and he becomes a permanent member of The Band Perry ;-).

  13. So it’s come to this.

    Scouring free agency for 1.5 WAR platoon hitting catchers to “upgrade” the team.

    Sad but true.

  14. If you can’t get McCann (a pipedream really, but would be a great acquisition), Ruiz needs to be the target. Despite what Klaw says about, I don’t like Salty’s D at all.

  15. That Gibby and AA didn’t throw him under the bus surely has to do with having no (healthy) alternatives. And the fact that we were already well into a shitty shit-show of a season. I wouldn’t assume it gives him some special protection going forward.

  16. How much will Navarro get? If there is such a limited number of teams in need of a starting catcher, and if Ruiz and Philly take each other off the market, there isn’t a whole lot of competition for the remaining guys?

    So I wonder if Navarro could be a rare value FA option?

    McCann would be freaking amazing. He could DH an increasing number of games toward the back end of the contract, ending up as the full time DH, so 5 years or more should not be a concern. I wonder if we’d have to outbid the Yankees or Boston or another deep pocketed AL team.

    • Navarro would be my dream target

      • I’ve been banging the drum for Navarro for a few months. But dream target? Moreso than McCann??

        With Dickey on the staff, think of all the opportunities McCann will have to block guys from touching the plate!

        • Dumb. Of course McCann wouldn’t be catching if Dickey’s pitching; that’s a job for the ghost of Hank White.

  17. fwiw – I fully expect the blue jays to non tender arencibia… thole is under contract and can handle the knuckleball… and it is clear that the have to do something at the position.

  18. Taken from Razzball, which admittedly, is a fantasy site.
    But the comments apply nevertheless;

    ” Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Salty is the first catcher from these rankings that sat on waivers for most of the year even though he put together a decent season. Salty will also be the first catcher ranked this high that won’t have anywhere near this good of a ranking next year. Salty’s BABIP was over .350 and his K-rate was north of 30%. Those two don’t make for great upside moving forward. Preseason Rank #18, 2013 Projections: 38/17/53/.217, Final Numbers: 68/14/65/.273/4″”

    Full Article is here.
    http://razzball.com/top-20-catchers-2013-fantasy-baseball/

  19. I will only purchase tickets for next season on the day JPA is traded/released. I’ve told this to my Jays ticket rep…

    • What’s wrong with having him start in Buffalo?

      I don’t even see what’s so wrong with having him start a game a week. Nothing wrong with a bit of right-handed power on the bench for late in the game.

      Thole wasn’t hot shit. I don’t know if this is crazy, but I’m curious what JPA would be like as Dickey’s personal catcher.

      • He can’t adequately field his position, he just doesn’t have the reflexes to catch the ball/block the ball/receive the ball. The backstop routinely takes a beating when pitchers without deceptive breaking balls are on the mound and you want him to catch the most unpredictable pitch in baseball? I hope this was a joke. Did you watch the home opener?

        When JP gets sent to hell for the cruel and unusual punishment that we were forced to witness in 2013, the guy with horns will have JP trying to catch knuckleball for the rest of eternity. And I’d buy tickets to watch it.

        • That opening day start was one of the management mistakes this year. Why give the guy opening day and not a single more chance? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

          You obviously know much more than I do about whether with more reps (and no other defensive job) a professional catcher can learn to catch a knuckler. Maybe you’re right, some guys are born with the potential to catch it and others aren’t and therefore can’t learn it.

          • I don’t know more. It’s just that we’ve all seen him botch straight fastballs like he’s trying to catch the ball with frying pans. Big league catchers shouldn’t have that happen. It just stands to reason that if he has to work his ass off to be a less then average catcher with a hard thrower on the mound he’ll be flailing like a drunk mime with a knuckler on the mound.

            • I know. You’re not wrong. I feel like I (we all?) know what Arencibia is. I just have a hard time imagining what he could be. Is this all he is?

              • Further, how much of what he is (awful) has to do with overexposure? How much lack of ability? How much improper usage?

    • One less shitty fan to deal with at the park.

      • Guess what, I buy a flex pack every year with 4 seats. Your statement should read “FOUR less shitty fans to deal with at the park”… dick

      • Nah, c’mon. The guy buys tickets.

        I have myself made inflammatory comments about AA’s competency should I be subjected to JPA again. That was in the heat of the moment. Some of us may still be in that moment.

        I still don’t want to see JPA play for the Jays next year. But I’ve realized there are options other than running him out of the organization. He could be a nice piece in Buffalo as an experienced guy to come up in case (when?) there is an injury. He could even rebuild himself in AAA.

        If he could learn to catch a knuckle ball, and accepting that Dickey needs a personal catcher, I’d rather him than Thole in that role.

        Without making another inflammatory comment, what I do not want to see is JPA getting regular playing time as part of a full time platoon. I can handle a day a week for a specific reason, I don’t think I could take more.

    • Did they tell you that they will get right on it?

      I bet AA is scrambling to get him outta here, because GDR wont buy four fucking tickets.

    • I said the same thing to my mother!

  20. I’ve always thought that Ruiz should be the target as he’s likely to provide 2-4 WAR over a season.

    Interestingly, though, when I look at his Fangraphs page, the thing that jumps out at me is his decling walk rate. 2008-10 his walk rate was about 12%. Then 10%, then 7%, and finally last year it was 5.3%. Does anyone know if this means anything. Big red flag?

    I think I would still prefer to sign him. His defensive metrics have always been very good and he’s probably at least an average hitter for the position.

  21. Great read. Thanks for breaking it down.

  22. so if jpa isnt gone, his leash is basically nothing rigiht?

  23. What about this……

    Sign AJP and partner him with JPA.

    Platoon ✓

    Defensive upgrade ✓

    Limit over exposer to the veteran catch ✓

    Limit over exposer to the younger catch who hasn’t proven he can handle it ✓

    Save protected pick (2nd rounder that is) ✓

    Not totally give up on JPA, (he is still young) ✓

    Not bust the free agent budget ✓

    Not get stuck diving a crazy multiyear deal (see McCann)✓

    Now the fly in this ointment is who is going to catch RA Dickey? But think about this, Thole has a contract, he’s getting paid and is taken care of. So if he was to be give the Mike McCoy shuttle treatment of going to Buffalo and back to catch Just Dickey.

    Yes I know he has to wait 10 days ( I think ), also I’m assuming he has an option year left, but basically have him waiting on stand by at the Buffalo airport. cycle him in as often as possible, maybe make it a 3 way Buffalo option platoon team with the last guy in the bullpen, and which ever 4th outfielder is on the team from Buffalo next year. Also, get him back up when the injuries inevitably happen.

    Thole won’t make every RA Dickey start, but he could perhaps make half of them. As for the other half “never had a negative value by the defensive component of FanGraphs’ WAR”. Let’s hope he can hold the fort. If not, maybe that is the time to cut bait on JPA?

    It would be a tricky piece of roster manipulate by AA, but he kinda did that all year with the bullpen and starting pitchers (remember SanDiego).

  24. Damn i just seen who JPA got engaged to and we have to bring him back! If she promises to come to the home games maybe sing a couple songs before the game I don’t give a shit what he does out there….

  25. JPA is awful in every facet and should not be back. Got to say though, whenever I hear the term, “power hitting catcher” Im mortified after the jpa experience. That could very well mean “does nothing well except hit bombs occasionally”. Not sure this cuban guy is the answer.

  26. Zaun is on PTS spewing stuff about being ‘Clutch’.

    Fuck I hate the word clutch in sports. Ugh.

  27. I can think of one guy. He knows the fundamentals. He knows the mentality. He will do whatever it takes to win He’s not afraid to be a leader, either by calling out the players, the manager, or the GM. In fact, he should probably take all 3 positions. He KNOWS how to run a team. He knows how to identify young talent, and he’s ready to call talent out via social media if necessary. Bottom line; HE IS A WINNER. The best part is, he’s right under our noses. Make the right offer, Alex.

  28. Fuckin gross.

    Pierzynski can go piss up a rope. He’s a natural born wad of fuck.

    I agree with Chooch would be a beauty take.

  29. Actually, I hate Pierzynski more than I hate paying taxes.

    Actually, I’d rather ride out a year or nasty, open cancour sores that burn at the taste of beer than see Pierzynski in a Jays uniform.

    Actually, if I saw him and his mom at Walmart, I’d punch his mom in the face for giving birth to him.

  30. Actually, I’d punch her right in the uterus.

  31. Is Thole really so bad when getting at bats a bit more regularly?

    Could he be a .260/.330./350 guy if you had a backup to give him a break against tough lefties?

    He’s done it before and is only 26 years old . Sounds bad but I’d probably lean this way and use my financial resources where a more obvious upgrade is available.

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