NL Central Smackdown : Catchers

Third Basemen | Poll
Shortstops | Poll
2nd Basemen | Poll
1st Basemen | Poll

Before we head to the outfield, we take on the field generals. A difficult position to evaluate with the numbers just because there's just no great way to numerically measure a catcher's defense, leadership and ability to work with his pitching staff...but we'll do our best. I did want to note, I'll keep going with these through the weekend just so we can finish this up by early next week. If you take the weekends off from TCR, be sure to check back Monday and vote on the polls you missed.

The backstops after the jump...

Player 3-Year Warp-3 Average
3 Year Warp-3 Projection
Rob's Ranking
Geovany Soto
N/A 4.5 2
Jason Kendall 3.47 1.1 4
Yadier Molina 4.33 3.03 1
JR Towles N/A 3.67 3
David Ross 3.13 1.63 6
Javier Valentin 2.25 0.87 6
Paul Bako 0.27 0.55 6
Ronny Paulino 4.4 (2 years) 2.87 5
Ryan Doumit 3.1 (2 years) 1.57 5









The Justification: Have I mentioned that I did these before the season started? I'll admit I was a bit skeptical on our boy Soto to start the year and that Yadier Molina entering his age 25 season with decent walk to strikeout totals for his career (138 K:104 BB) might be ready to break out for a few decent seasons with the bat to compliment his exceptional defensive skills. That still might be the case, but Soto has clearly shown he belongs in the majors and ready to take the top spot in the division. Fellow rookie catcher JR Towles hasn't started off quite as well (197/338/443), but it looks like he has a bright future as well. Kendall gets knocked by the Baseball Prospectus projections, but he can still get on-base and is chock full of veteran savvy. The Pirates seem to still be deciding between Ronny Paulino and Ryan Doumit, and although the projections favor Paulino (mostly due to playing time), Doumit's making a case with his bat (159 OPS+ at the moment). Whichever Reds catcher stakes the claim for the most playing time will end comfortably on the bottom of these rankings.

There's another poll for you guys to fill out below this and I'll leave the old polls open until we finish this. I'll keep the series going through the weekend so we can finish this up early next week.

Please note, you do have to register to vote. This isn't some scheme to solicit registrations, it's just an anomaly of the site and the poll software that's built in. Trust me, I'd love to fix it, but I haven't found another piece of integrated software that does these ranking polls which I really like. Plus if you register, you get a better user experience as I tend to test everything as a registered user and you get an uncached version of the site. You can also view the results of the poll after you vote, instead of having to wait until I close it. It takes all of two minutes to register and unlikes some sites, I'll be more than happy to cancel your account if you wish. You'll never receive any spam from us either...promise.


Maybe I am biased, but I think Kendall should be fifth, maybe 6th. He can't block a pitch or throw anyone out, and offensively all he gives you is singles (and last year, he didn't even give Oakland that). Yeah, he is a veteran presence, but isn't that what coaches are for?

Alot also depends on the the answer to: Can Soto maintain anywhere close to his current pace? While I think a 1000+OPS is probably not sustainable, anything over .800 and he should have the top spot on his list.

You might be right. We had first-hand experience with Kendall and, Imo, he added very little value to the team. With the Brewers and their young pitching staff he might have a bit more value.

I voted:

Barrett, Molina, Soto, Doumit/Paulino (Mainly Doumit), Kendall, Towles, Reds

What a crappy position for the division. I'm pretty sure Soto on down ranks last in any other division, although Soto has been impressive to start the year.

I think the catcher position is just down all over right now. Mike Rabelo, Carlos Ruiz, Johnny Estrada, Brian Schneider, Yorvit Torrealba, Chris Snyder, Josh Bard? I don't think any of them have a career average above .255.

The NL Central doesn't have an elite catcher. But after McCann, Molina, and Martin, the rest of the league is also a big steaming pile of dung.

A good-hitting catcher is cute, like a good-hitting pitcher, but mostly I just want a guy who can stop the damn ball, someone who will go out there and give Z a breather when he's on the verge of exploding, and someone who will at least be able to throw out Adam Dunn trying to steal a base.

You'd really take Barrett over Soto at this point?

The division has one young established catcher who is mediocre with the bat but fantastic with the glove (Molina), two up and coming offensive catchers (Soto and Towles), one fringe prospect who at least appears to be a decent hitter (Doumit), and then scrubs in Kendall and whoever the Reds are running out there these days. It's not a great division for catchers, but if Soto performs he could be up there with Russell Martin and Brian McCann, and who else has really good catchers? It's a position that wears on the body and carries a lot of responsibility that distracts from things like batting practice.

How many other catchers would you rather have on the Cubs at this point than Soto? I'm sure you can name a few, but I think if we had to list starting Catchers in the majors, Soto would probably be in the top 10 most valuable--if we believe he's going to continue to hit.

I'm 100% certain he was joking since he already said he values defense at the position.

NL Central Catchers REALLY SUCK!

Turnbow DFAed as speculated.

last year, when he was everybody's darling in the first half, I told everyone that he sucked and would turn back into a pumpkin. Everyone said I was crazy.

Never question THE CHAD!

Not even about THE IZTURIS?

Even on Izturis. I was correct on the concept. No one could know the extent that his injuries would hamper his play.

doesn't look promising for tonight

The field will be soaked from this afternoon, but at 6 PM the chance of rain drops to 20% and eventually to 0% a couple of hours later. So we might get the game. I'd expect a late start though if we do.

So you're infallible. Good to know!

Yep, all the sports books have the Cubs as underdogs

..and it's supposed to rain, too.

the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that Yovani Gallardo tore his ACL when he collided with Reed Johnson last night. It may have already been torn, but Yost is an idiot for leaving him in.

You hate to see players get hurt, especially good ones. Last night's loss was depressing, and Kerry Wood's struggles at closing are troubling, but neither of them may be the biggest story coming out of that game. If Gallardo is out for the year, then Suppan has to stay in the rotation and Dave Bush is back in it. The Brewers' rotation, as well as their overall pitching depth, would suddenly be even that much more suspect.


Suppan wasn't going anywhere after just one bad outing, but yeah, Bush should be back up. They just need Sheets to take his yearly trip to the DL for a few months and that should end their season.

Now we just have to stop Duncan from teaching his pitchers how to scuff baseballs and we're set. :)

Gallardo tore his ACL on that play yesterday. I wonder if this will lead the Brewers to get Prince on a diet plan, because any other 1b (ok maybe not Howard, Delgado, or Giambi) makes that play unassisted.

Well, Fielder did make the play unassisted. He tagged Johnson himself before he got to the bag. Gallardo just got in the way.

but with Dlee or Pujols that is a no doubter and the pitcher does not need to worry about getting to the base, incase a toss needs to be made.

Pitcher has to cover on any play on that side. it had nothing to do with fielder. it was a fluke.

It could have been worse, Fielder could have landed on him.

The fat joke never gets old!

Ooh, ooh! Do one with donuts!

I feel bad for the guy, but boy that does help the Cubs.

May explain why the Cubs got to him to 2 runs in the 6th....

That sucks. He seems to be a very talented kid -- you never want to win by injury.

Certainly poor form to root for an injury. But...since it's already happened and all, can't say I'm sad about it. That just the way it goes. Thinking of Prior and Wood. I'd be just as happy if the Cubs won the division over a team decimated by injury as much as I would if they took out a fully healthy team.

A story about another side of Lou Piniella. Specifically, the underside:

Dear god, is that real or parody?


when we need him?!

Is an ACL potentially season ending in most cases?

In case you missed this tidbit:

"The last Brewers player to sustain a torn ACL was infielder Tony Graffanino..."

From having ACL surgery myself, the recovery time is a minimal 5 months, and even that wasn't at a big league level. I started to briskly run at 4 months and couldn't sprint until 6 months, so I'd expect him to be done for.

ACL i'm going to say is the season but he'll be good to go when pitchers/cathcers report in the late winter.

If it's his push off leg then he will be really screwed, I'm guessing.

even the landing leg gets a lot of pressure placed on it (see Willis' injury in DET)

Wow. Wait until Sheets gets injured. The Brewers will be in trouble.

Yeah, but when the brewers get those 2 back. It will be like "making a deadline deal." Only they won't have to give anyone up.

Never mind the fact that they will be 20 games out of first at that point. But if the get those guys back in time, maybe the can flirt with .500 for the second time in 20 or so years.

Here is a link discussing stats from Dave Bush's last demotion:

He had a 6.75 ERA and a .320 BAA with no one on base - yet .267 with men on.

I guess Yost Infection would not consider Turnbow as a starter?

Hart down---Fox up

Strange move. Lou thinks Fox will be more reliable than Hart?



yeah, hart has some questionable control issues right now, mateo cut? was fox on the 40-man?

we talking about chad fox, right?


CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs today selected right-handed pitcher Chad Fox from Double-A Tennessee. To make room for Fox on the 25-man roster, right-hander Kevin Hart was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. In a separate move, the Cubs outrighted right-hander Juan Mateo to Single-A Daytona.

There's a new post up on it, but the Cubs did not need a 40-man roster spot. Mateo was outrighted for other reasons.

turnbow released by MIL, too.

hell of a day for MIL pitchers.

just saw the news on Gallardo... I think this is fair retribution for Braun's comments post-game about Cub fans.

When I saw the collision he was on the ground in severe pain so I thought it odd that Yost kept him in the game. Reminded me of the collision with #22 and Marcus Giles. I thought Gallardo might have fractured his patella/kneecap but an acute ACL tear makes sense. CPat tore his ACL just before the all star game in 2003 by stepping on first base awkwardly, running out a grounder as I recall and he was back the next season (except he was never the same, although I doubt anyone blames his ACL reconstruction).

In the old days they might rehab it and let him pitch through this season wearing a brace and then reconstruct the ACL after the year. That's not how things are handled currently in pro athletes. As a pitcher if the knee acts unstable he will have a tough time pushing off of a mound. The ACL is a ligament that keeps the tibia from shifting forward on the femur which when it's not functional leads to that kind of instability. Plus it's common to have a secondary meniscus tear either at the time of injury or in a delayed fashion if athletics are continued on an ACL unstable knee. So this news means he certainly will be out for the season.

So it's usual now to reconstruct the ACL but they usually wait a couple of weeks for the acute swelling to subside, this lets the knee get some preop therapy to work out the stiffness from the acute injury. There are multiple techniques for the source of graft including middle 1/3 of the patellar tendon, hamstrings or even cadaver graft (several sources are used such as achilles, ant. tibialis or hamstrings).

I'll work on a more detailed writeup over the weekend.

I think this is fair retribution for Braun's comments post-game about Cub fans.

That's really damn harsh, man. What did Braun say?

whatever braun said i'd bet the fans did worse.

from the bleachers to the seats lining the field there's a lot of ANGRY assholes coming to wrigley over the years. they paid for a ticket so they get to scream at players...even their own.

hell, its not really anger as much as it is they think they're contributing to their baseball experience via their right to scream obsenities and gestures at anyone they please reguardless of the 100s around them that have to listen/see the crap.

some people really do come for the game, not to get drunk and scream at millionaires so they can say "did you see Blah McBlah look at me when i called his mother an anal waste sucking whore? man, if the father of that group of 5 year olds would have shut up about me not being the center of the universe i would have really let McBlah have it. WOOOOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!!!!"


Ned Yost deserves to be fired for leaving Gallardo in after that brutal play.

After Kerry Wood blew another save to the Brewers, Braun was quoted as saying how sweet it was to come back and beat the team in front of these fans, talking all about how rowdy they are and stuff.

(that might not be an exact quote but it captures the spirit of it)

...still not appropriate IMHO to comment in this way after a "painful" victory even if he hates the fans. It Tempts fate. Which isn't worth fates consequences as it tends to have an evil sense of humor.

extremely well presented article...

"So that's it in a nutshell. The Cubs fans at the "world's largest beer garden" tend to be a little more douche-riffic than other ballparks but it's really just a numbers game and not an accurate representation of the fanbase in general. "

i can totally buy that wrapup.

still, i have friends that have gone for a long time and it's not just them becoming bitchy old men...they have all noticed a distinct "football tailgate" type aggression coming out. people have always bitched about their players and other team's but the amount of venom and non-baseball-related taunting is definately on the rise.

i dont think many players mind being ragged on for their play or assumptions of their play or even some off-field stuff, but there's a lot more stuff that's crossing well beyond the "your mom/wife is a...." mark into totally unnecessary crap.

at least the people behind the plate at wrigley arent on the "distract the pitcher freethrow basketball style" thing like some other parks.

Kendall can still get on base???

Last years OBP: 301

Well... to be fair to Kendall, last year is a clear outlier in his career, and he was able able to get on base once he arrived in Chicago last year (.356 OBP) and has been able to continue that this year in Mil (.365).

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  • Dan Vogelbach is working on his firstbase defense in Seattle. Seems to say the Cubs didn't teach him properly.

    QuietMan 21 min 37 sec ago view
  • Oh my! Cards down 2-1 to Reds in the bottom of the 9th -- get a leadoff triple -- and don't score!

    billybucks 3 hours 34 min ago view
  • Gameday has stopped at the top of the 8th inning. Google tells me it ended up 8-4 Pirates but I can't get further detail. Guess I'll have to wait until the Cubs' website updates...

    JoePepitone 4 hours 39 min ago view
  • Attaboy!

    billybucks 4 hours 53 min ago view
  • Phil, thanks for posting. Where do find the schedule? I have a condo in Surprise, yet I drove to Mesa and Tempe looking for a game today! Thanks!

    rvimpeny 4 hours 54 min ago view
  • Dear Baseball Gods--
    My trip to Chicago has nothing whatsoever to do with the Cubs. In actuality, I am a Red Sox fan.

    CTSteve 4 hours 55 min ago view
  • Well, if Strop had to give up a least he hit Sean Rodriguez to do it.

    billybucks 5 hours 3 min ago view
  • strop...stawwwp.

    jaso has a cycle and 5 rbis...pit leads by 4.

    crunch 5 hours 15 min ago view
  • have a nice bowl of pizza soup deep dish pizza...or a leisurely walk around the notorious south-side (bring money) at one of the walmart supercenters...waiting in line to waste $20 at willis tower...

    seriously,'s chicago, a lot to do. have a dog for lunch, a great dinner, and catch some local comedy.

    crunch 5 hours 22 min ago view
  • Strange, because he really seemed to have the Pirates number last year.

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    billybucks 5 hours 26 min ago view
  • Jinx remover -- your trip doesn't have to be for a baseball game -- lots of stuff to do here in town.

    billybucks 5 hours 29 min ago view
  • Guess they could always try to White Sox (and Bears...sob) approach: Never Rebuild! Seems to work pretty well for them.

    billybucks 5 hours 30 min ago view
  • 3rd time this season he's given up 6+ runs to PIT...only team he's given up 6+ runs to this season.

    7 runs is the most he's given up since august 6th in 2014.

    crunch 6 hours 27 sec ago view
  • Over 100 pitches, only the 5th.

    Brick 6 hours 2 min ago view
  • coghlan his cleats stuck in the wall attempting a play (failed, but looked great doing it). walking off on his own, precautionary/day-to-day looking stuff...hopefully not worse.

    also, jake arrieta is literally worse than hitler. 1-5, bottom 5. ...make that 1-6, bottom 5. ...make that 1-7, bottom 5.

    crunch 6 hours 3 min ago view
  • Coghlan crashes into wall and comes up limping, looks like left knee or ankle. Leaves game...

    Arrieta inspiring no confidence yet again.

    Rob G. 6 hours 9 min ago view