Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tools of Ignorance

The Nationals re-signed LH RP Joey Eischen and signed CI/OF Robert Fick (who can also serve as an emergency catcher) to one-year deals. Additionally, it appears the Nationals may have solved the problem of who is going to serve as a backup catcher to Brian Schneider by signing a slew of catchers to minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training. Joining the Nats in Viera will be Wiki Gonzalez, Mike DiFelice, Alberto Castillo and Brandon Harper. I assume the hope is to find one guy (preferably a RH hitter) to serve as the back up out of a cast of six [in my order of most to least likely]:
  1. Wiki Gonzalez (baseball-reference/thebaseballcube): The 31-year old has spent six season in the majors, most of which was with SD (he spent 2005 in SEA). He probably has the best bat of the bunch (240/312/362) 17HR in 801 career AB. And his glove is solid enough for a guy who will likely play 30-40 games in 2006 (990 FldPct; 24E in 242 career games; 22PB). He prides himself on calling good games and handling a pitching staff. He's a favorite for the backup spot in 2006.
  2. Alberto Castillo (baseball-reference/thebaseballcube): The 35-year old has spent parts of 11 seasons in the majors for seven different teams (NYM, TOR, STL, NYY, SF, KC, and OAK). Another servicable backup catcher, (222/295/296) and 990 career fielding percentage (23E in 398 career games) and 20 career PB. He, along with Gonzalez, are the favorites to backup Schneider. The odd man out may end up as the starter at New Orleans.
  3. Mike DiFelice (baseball-reference/thebaseballcube): The 36-year old spent parts of 10 seasons with seven different teams (STL, TB, AZ, KC, DET, CHC, and NYM). He's the dictionary definition of a backup catcher, little stick (career 238/288/359) with 28HR in 1,473AB and an adequate glove, 989 Fld Pct (36E in 495 career games). A few too many PB (50 in his career) which may conjure up images of Gary Bennett. My guess is he doesn't stick with the Nationals.
  4. Brandon Harper (thebaseballcube): The 29-year old has played the last two seasons at AAA with the Detroit Tigers. In 102 games, he batted (roughly) 235/325/350 with 9HR 41 RBI and 46/34 K/BB ratio. He's probably destined for New Orleans if he sticks with the Nationals. As the youngest of the bunch, his age is an asset.
  5. Hector Ortiz (baseball-reference/thebaseballcube): The 32-year old has limited major league experience (KC and TEX), 91G 5E 990FldPct. He has a bit more of a bat than Castillo, 288/339/358. He spent the 2005 with New Orleans (248/286/283) in 74 games. If he was going to be the choice, I'm guessing he would have got a call in September over Keith Osik. He's probably one of the odd men out of the Nats plans.
  6. Craig Kuzmic (thebaseballcube): The 28-year old split his first year with Washington between Harrisburg (236/366/439) and New Orleans (262/355/434). He had a combined 89/51 K/BB ratio between the two levels. Unless he demonstrates something in the spring, he may be released rather than return to New Orleans for a second year.

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