Blue Jays, Catchers, and the Abyss of Suck-dom

As a Jays fan living in Toronto, I don’t watch a lot of National League baseball.  Occasionally I’ll tune into to Sunday Night Baseball and watch a game, but my main exposure to the NL comes in the playoffs.

Last night was my first real time watching and paying attention to Buster Posey.

Since I had him on one of my fantasy baseball teams this year I knew he was pretty good.  But after finally watching him play I realized three things:

1. He is really, really good.

2. He looks like he is 11 years old.

3. The San Francisco Giants are extremely lucky.

When I say the Giants are lucky, I don’t mean because they have a great player playing for them.  The Jays have had several great players.  No, I mean they’re lucky because one of their so called “catchers of the future” actually panned out.

You can’t say that term – “catcher of the future” – around a Jays fan (or at least around me) and not get a pained expression.  Catcher has been a black hole for Toronto for a long time.  Baseball Reference shows that Toronto has really only had three main starting catchers (three straight seasons as the main starter) in their history: Ernie Whitt (1980 – 1989), Pat Borders (1990 – 1994), and Darrin Fletcher (1998 – 2001).  Since 2001 the Jays have used a pot-pourri of catching options, for the most part journeyman, or veterans playing on one year deals.  Such catchers include Ken Huckaby, Tom Wilson, Greg Myers, Gregg Zaun, Bengie Molina, Rod Barajas, and John Buck.  The Jays haven’t been able to produce a top notch, high quality, young catcher like other teams have, namely Joe Mauer (Min), Carlos Santana (Cle), Matt Wieters (Bal), Brian McCann (Atl), Geovany Soto (ChiC), and of course Posey.

That’s not to say they haven’t had the chance.  Toronto has had so many “catchers of the future” in the last few years, it is depressing that none have made the jump to stardom.  Look at the list, and try not to shed a tear:

Angel (or Sandy) Martinez

Catcher of the Future: 1995

The end of the Pat Borders era was supposed to lead into the beginning of the Martinez era.  But there was one problem (aside from him being referred to as both Sandy and Angel), the same problem that would eventually plague the rest of the players on this list – Martinez couldn’t hit.  He lasted parts of three seasons before being traded to the Cubs.

Blue Jay Stats – .232 avg, .612 OPS, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 104 K in 422 AB

Josh Phelps

Catcher of the Future: 2000

Debuted as a catcher in 2000 before being switched to first base.  Had a great first season in 2002 (6th in Rookie of the Year voting), but crumbled shortly thereafter and was eventually shipped to Cleveland in 2004.

Blue Jay Stats – .266 avg, .810 OPS, 47 HR, 176 RBI

Kevin Cash

Catcher of the Future: 2002

Had an incredible arm, could throw out baserunners from his knees with ease.  Unfortunately he was horrendous at the plate.  Traded to Tampa Bay in 2004.

Blue Jay Stats – .173 avg, .485 OPS, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 85 K in 301 AB

Guillermo Quiroz

Catcher of the Future: 2004

Was the next big thing after Kevin Cash, but like Cash couldn’t hit.  Flamed out in a heartbeat, managing only 29 games for Toronto before being selected by Seattle on waivers.

Blue Jay Stats – .205 avg, .510 OPS. 0 HR, 10 RBI, 6 K in 23 AB

Robinzon Diaz

Catcher of the Future: 2008

The hopeful successor to Gregg Zaun, he lasted all of 4 AB for the Jays.  Was traded to Pittsburgh for Jose Bautista in 2008.  At least that worked out well…

Blue Jay Stats – .000 avg, .000 OPS, 0 HR, 0 RBI

For those counting, Buster Posey hit more home runs this season (18, in less than a full year) than Martinez, Cash, Quiroz, and Diaz combined.  Awful.

Of course we are now into a new Catcher of the Future era with J.P. Arencibia.  It’s WAY too early to judge him, but aside from his brilliant debut he didn’t give us much to be excited about in his limited action this season (.143 avg, .532 OPS).  Regular playing time should improve his stats, but the numbers will have to be impressive to get the taste of catcher failure out of my mouth.  Next year might (or, hopefully, should) give us a better indication if he is more of a Cash or a Posey.

If the former, we are in luck.  If not, just add him to the list and move on to the next.  Travis D’Arnaud isn’t far away…

One thought on “Blue Jays, Catchers, and the Abyss of Suck-dom”

  1. I totally agree we have had some bumps in the road in the past in regards to catching. To me that is why I found it hard to believe that we traded Marcum for a non catching prospect or at least a decent back-up. No offence to Jose Molina but his offense is very limited at best. I wouldn’t another veteran catcher being added sometime near the end of spring training, like something of a Michael Barrett experiment again. Lets just hope it pans out because this season looks to get ugly without a decent signal caller.

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