Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Time To Catch On: Why I Want Thole To Win The Starting Catcher Job

In an article written by Brian Costa of the Newark Star-Ledger the Mets starting catching competition is given an interesting angle that I never ACTUALLY realized was a possibility.  Costa quotes Omar Minaya as saying, "Right now, we don't see Blanco as a full-time guy...We see him as a part-time guy. So it's going to be between Santos and Thole."

I realize that this might not be such a huge shock to everyone else, but I wasn't expecting Omar to put it that blunt.  I was expecting an "it's an open competition comment" or something else along those lines.  This quote from Omar takes it one step further basically saying everyone else is for depth, and these two guys have the chance to win this job.  I LOVE IT. 

It seems as though everyone feels Thole can hit at the major league level judging from his .321 average and .356 OBP he put up after his September call-up last year, and I agree.  I watched the guy hit last year and thought he looked great.  Granted he will not have much power, but if he can hit .300 for the entire season, I don't mind the lack of power, mainly because the other option is Santos who would only provide a marginal power increase and a much lower batting average and OBP.  In fact, I like this kid Thole so much with the bat, that should he make the team and win the starting job, I would go as far as to say he should hit number two in the line-up.  The kid looks to have great bat control, as he only struck out in 8.4% of his at bats.  Although this is from a small sample size, his rate is actually less than Albert Pujols (K'd 9% of the time) and Luis Castillo (10%).  In no way am I saying this kid will be one of the toughest hitters to strike out in the league, but what I am saying is that he clearly has good bat control and could probably be counted on to bunt and hit and run on a regular basis.  Combine the bat control with high average, and you've got a pretty decent number two hitter.  And beyond that, should he hit before Wright/Beltran/Bay he'd be likely to see more fastballs and that would give him a better chance to succeed as a rookie at the plate, and might allow him to concentrate more on his defense which would be the larger concern.

Obviously, the knock on Thole is that he's not "there yet" defensively, but if the Mets already have Henry Blanco on the bench for his defense then Blanco should be used.  I'm not saying start Blanco, but I am saying that he's valuable both as a player and a teaching tool.  I'd rather Thole split time with Blanco and learn to catch from him on the major league level, with the pitchers he'll have to catch in 2011, than have Thole go to Buffalo and catch minor-leaguers while learning from Chris Coste.

So, if Ike Davis is getting consideration at first, than I'm happy to see Thole get the same consideration behind the plate.  And I hope he can come through, because I think (and don't think I'd be alone in this) most Mets fans would be more excited by the prospect of Thole behind the plate than Santos.  So now it's on Thole to get it done.  Earn your keep kid, I'd like to see you behind the plate in April...

No comments:

Post a Comment