A rather intriguing Fangraphs piece today (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/trade-targets-catchers/) speculates that Pirates catchers Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit may be attractive trade deadline targets for the Red Sox, if they decide an upgrade is needed over the current tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek. Note that I am not attempting to stir the pot on the catching situation, I simply found this article interesting and thought it could use an expansion. I suggest reading the article for a concise overview of the situation. My down and dirty on both players:
Basic: Turned 30 in February. 6-4, 245 pounds. Righthanded. With the Diamondbacks served mostly as a backup to Miguel Montero. Due to that, and injury issues, has never totaled more than 404 plate appearances in a season. Under contract for $6.25M this year (would be prorated in a trade, of course) with a 2012 club option.
So far this year: .291/.342/.430, 129 wRC+, .349 BABIP, 13.5% BB, 5 of 20 basestealers caught.
Defense: Snyder has thrown out 30% of base stealers in his career; over the last three years though he has slipped to 20-25%. Catcher defense is difficult to get a handle on statistiscally, but for what it’s worth, both Defensive Runs Saved and Total Zone rate him positively for his career (+7 TZ, +12 DRS). Fan Scouting Report likes his hands, release and arm strength/accuracy.
Baserunning: Career 1.0 Speed rating from Fangraphs. Never stolen a base in MLB. Yeah….moving on.
Offense: With Arizona, Snyder vacillated between a “solid” level, where he was around .250/.350/.430, and a Mendoza-esque level where his wOBA essentially hovered around .300. The main difference was his BABIP, which fluctuated wildly and is at .272 career. Snyder is a mostly flyball hitter, which combined with his utter lack of speed, likely accounts for that unusually low figure. Snyder’s four main appeals are:
1) Some pop: a .164 career Isolated Power.
2) Plate discipline: 12.4% career walk rate (13.5% this season).
3) Righthanded dead pull power: 62 of 70 career HR to left.
4) Excels against LHP: a career .251/.360/.453 line against LHP with 27 HR in 550 AB.
Weaknesses: David Ortiz on a full stomach and with lead shoes on probably could outrun Snyder. Snyder also K’s at an alarming rate (close to 30% the last few years, although less this year) and has a career .223/.322/.372 triple slash (76 wRC+) against righties. His overwhelmingly pull-happy offensive approach is also a fairly obvious hole for opposing pitchers to exploit, as Snyder is utterly inept at hitting to the opposite field (.494 career OPS…no not a typo).
Basic: Turned 30 in April. 6-1, 210, switch hitter. Under contract for $5.2M this year with club options for 2012 and 2013. Has played more regularly than Snyder in the past, but again due to a variety of injuries has never totaled more than 465 PA in a season.
So far this year: .269/.333/.441, 111 wRC+, .288 BABIP, 8.7% BB, 5 of 22 caught.
Defense: Ehhh…better to shield your eyes. Doumit is by all accounts utterly hideous defensively. A career 24.5% CS rate isn’t bad, though that collapsed to 12% last year and is back to his career norm this year to date. Make of that what you will. Doumit is however skewered by both DRS and TZ (career -11 and -10 as a catcher, respectively), while the Fan Scouting Report venomously loathes every single aspect of his defensive game, particularly his instincts, hands, release, and arm accuracy. In fairness to Doumit, he also accumulated time playing RF and 1B, which I would imagine he did not handle well; nevertheless, when everyone thinks that you’re this bad, it’s not a good sign.
Baserunning: Not much to see here…move on. Seems to be better than Snyder but won’t be winning any 100m titles any time soon.
Offense: FG’s Matt Klaasen labels Doumit as “Mike Napoli lite” and this is a pretty apt comparison. Doumit’s career line of .268/.332/.438 fairly well encapsulates his differences from Snyder on offense: more power, less patience. Their career ISOs are surprisingly similar however (.164 for Snyder, compared to .170 for Doumit), and Snyder actually has a higher career HR/FB rate (12.9% compared to Doumit’s 11.2%). Doumit, however, has been much better at putting the ball in play as his K rate has been significantly lower in recent years, which likely makes up the difference.
Weaknesses: Despite being a switch hitter, Doumit is much better against righties than lefties, hitting RHP for a career .272/.335/.457 but only managing .256/.323/.386 against LHP. Splits-wise, he and Snyder are essentially each other’s opposites. His defense also leaves much to be desired.
Verdict: If the Red Sox feel the need to pull the trigger on a catching upgrade, and Snyder can be had for an acceptable cost (i.e. C+ level prospects and/or accepting the cash dump from the Pirates), in my opinion he represents a significantly better choice than Doumit. Let’s be clear that neither is a star, nor would their acquisition (or lack of it) likely be anything close to earth shaking. Both essentially are inverse images of each other in terms of platoon performance. Both have contracts the Red Sox can absorb without a second thought. Both are the same age. And both would likely be no more than 1-2 year stopgap solutions (if even). However, if it’s one or the other, I would take Snyder’s average to above-average defense, plate discipline, and proficiency against LHP over Doumit’s terrible defense, mistake-power, and ability to hit righties. The main objectives of any prospective catching upgrade, after all, is to acquire somebody who can ostensibly provide league-average defense with a league-average bat. Both guys can provide the bat, but Snyder is better against lefties which gives him the edge in my book. And by the looks of it Doumit sure as hell is not providing the glove, which makes this a clear cut choice in my view.