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Premature Extrapolation: C, 2008/2009

Let's face it people. Varitek is not going to last forever for us. His bounceback (it will happen!) will likely be fairly modest this season. I expect a .270/15/70 line from him, which is certainly not a 'put him out to pasture'-type season. However, he is certainly getting older and less potent with the bat. One also assumes that the workload will need to be eased a bit more than one day per cycle in the very near future.

How to solve this minor problem? Well, don't worry. I'm here to present the options and to not answer that question in the least.

Internal Candidates.

  • George Kottaras. Kottaras has some doubters out there, not the least of which is one of my co-bloggers here on OTM. As you can read on soxprospects, his build is a bit slight for a catcher and his catching skills are described as average. He most likely will hit enough, but it could be a significant sacrifice in defense (I suppose this depends on your opinion of Varitek).
  • Jonathan Egan. To me, Egan is like Kottaras with a little bit less defensive (and overall) polish. I think he is actually a pretty unlikely option, and is probably a candidate to be moved to 1B or LF in the future if he can hit enough.
  • Mark Wagner. Here again, we'd be sacrificing one side of the game (potentially) to improve the other. This time, it's the offense that is in question. Mark will undoubtedly have a ML career, at least as a defensive-minded backup. His ability or inability to maintain a BA of about .260-.270 with a decent OBP will decide whether or not he'll start in the bigs.
Decent FAs/2008.

Should none of the above MiLs look primed for a jump by mid-2008 or 2009, do we need to wait until after Tek's contract is up to search for a FA replacement? In addition, there's going to be a (relative)glut of ML catching talent available in the 2007 off-season.

  • Michael Barrett. Like Carlos Zambrano, Barrett is going to force the Cubs to think about their free-spending ways and whether or not they still have enough money to lock up their core internal players. Barrett may or may not be allowed to leave. He's a folk hero in...well...a lot of cities because of this. He's been knocked about his defense most of his career, but it's hard to deny the offensive punch (16 HRs last season in 375 ABs). The concern here is that at age 31 (age at potential signing) he might have peaked already.
  • Rod Barajas. A year older than Barrett, Rod Barajas was the subject of some minor dispute this offseason. Barajas may be a bit better than Barrett on defense, but he'll make up for it by being the lesser offensive talent. He's probably looking at a future as a backup catcher.
  • Jason Kendall. Wow. His SLG has been lower than his .OBP the last three seasons. I don't want Kendall, but I will mention the positives anyway: Hasn't played less than 143 games since 1999, career .OBP of .381.
  • Ivan Rodriguez. Now we're talking. Though he'll be 36 at possible signing, I-Rod is still a top defensive catcher, who will probably extend his career due to his new, better conditioning (or getting off the juice, if you believe those rumors). His SLG has slipped the past two seasons, and he was never a terribly patient hitter. Seems like a reasonable option if he'll take a maximum of two years. Biggest competition here will probably be the Tigers, as Sickels' top prospect list doesn't even mention catchers in his 'Others of Note' category. The other problem is that with Tek still under contract, there could be significant ego-bruising between these two.
  • Jorge Posada. Yeah. Okay. I don't see this happening either. And I really don't like the prick. But the guy can still hit, and his defensive skills actually improved a bit last season. Still, like I said, very unlikely.
  • Potential 1-year shared duty/placeholders: Yorvit Torrealba (certainly can handle the catching part)., Jose Molina, again, good defensively, though he'll probably look for an unjustifiable multi-year deal. Brad Ausmus, seeing a theme here? And they all get older and older.
Decent FAs/2009.

Wondering why I'm so possibly half-interested in finding someone before Tek's contract is up? Check out this market.

  • Johnny Estrada. Enh? Anyone? C'mon people. This is like Michael Barrett-lite at the plate, though I suppose he is a bit better a receiver. And he's never even punched Pierzynski.
  • A.J. Pierzynski. Relax. This is probably as likely as that whole Posada thing. He can hit for some average and some pop, and is great at pissing off fanbases. We might be able to grow to like him on the whole, though I'm not sure I'd ever accept him myself.
  • David Ross. This is the kind of player I put on here for completion purposes. The Reds hold a reasonable team option, so one of two things happen. He falls off the map, and he's undesirable anyway, or he plays well and they exercise it.
That's it. Let me know if I missed anyone, and be sure to comment on who and what situation would be your particular preference.