What kind of catcher do the Mets need most for the 2019 season?
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets may be on the hunt for some catching help this winter. In their search, is there a specific type of backstop they should look to acquire?
The New York Mets clearly need an upgrade at the catcher position. Only a handful of fans are ready to see a full year of Kevin Plawecki behind the plate or would gladly accept the return of Travis d’Arnaud.
Meanwhile, others are set on seeing them venture into the free agent or trade market to acquire some new blood. If they do, the Mets may need to settle for less than perfect.
There are few catchers who play the game well on both sides of the baseball. Mostly, catchers are strong on offense or defense. Guys like Salvador Perez are field general behind the plate with notable weaknesses while at-bat. Although he can hit a baseball a long way, he’s a butcher at getting on base.
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Perez would definitely benefit the Mets, but it’s unlikely the Kansas City Royals deal him. He is a typical All-Star level catcher who carries with him some great abilities and noticeable weaknesses. With him, a team sacrifices frequency of reaching base for the occasional big fly and regular stellar defense.
Shifting away from Perez, let’s look at what this team could use most from a potential new catcher.
The handedness he bats doesn’t really matter although I would prefer a righty. It’s frustrating to see a left-handed hitting catcher look overmatched versus southpaws, forcing the manager to sit him against tough lefties.
What does matter is how he hits. Do the Mets need a .300 hitting catcher? Not at all. They don’t need one to hit 20 home runs or drive in 80 runs either. The catchers are a rare breed.
Rather, I would like to see the Mets focus on an average hitting catcher who can play really good defense. Traditionally, this is when the Mets have had the most success.
The two championships the Mets won featured Jerry Grote and Gary Carter behind the plate. Each could control the game from behind the plate. This kind of catcher would help change the Mets far more than an offensive-focused one.
Grote and Carter were still above-average hitting catchers; the former belonging in a class as one of the better ones in MLB history. Looking at him strictly as a defensive player, I would gladly sacrifice the middle-of-the-order power and run-production for the kind of leader and catcher he was. Give me Plawecki’s bat and Carter’s everything else any day.
For years, the problem for this team’s catchers has been an inability to throw out runners. What’s more, they haven’t had employed a veteran with leadership abilities behind the plate since Paul Lo Duca. His tenure with the team was short-lived. After he left, it has been a mess at the position with the failed potential of one player leading into the next.
There are very few star catchers active in MLB. Knowing this, the Mets need to find a guy who can do something well. Leadership, Gold Glove defense, a powerful bat, or any other quality needs to stand out.
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I’m not sure there’s specifically one kind of catcher that would help this team. They just need a guy with one distinguishable quality.