A quick look at Cardinals catchers.
Yadier Molina is an amazing defensive catcher. Amazing. I am amongst those who feel that WAR does not properly judge all that a catcher contributes.
While a great deal with this has to do with athletisism – no doubt what he does to the running game is legendary – I believe he will continue to be a great defensive catcher because of his intelligence.
I have nothing to back this up. I’m thinking here about people like Ivan Rodriguez who kept catching late into his 30’s almost entirely on his defensive reputation.
But I have to admit that my Yadi defensive hopes are potentially wishful thinking based upon the fact that we’ll be paying him good money for at least 3 more seasons.
And I have to rely on D because, let me tell you, I believe the Yadi peak offense is long gone.
Look at those OPS+s. All of them. 2011-2013, considering position rarity and defense, Yadi was likely one of the most valuable players of the game.
Every other year Yadi has been a solid hitter, but not a middle of the order hitter. And there is no reason to expect his peak seasons will return.
Yes, he was hurt last year, but I have news for you. He’s a catcher in his age 32 season who demands to catch 35 innings every game (and his manager lets him). So chances are the injuries will continue.
I believe Yadi knows this, which is why he came into camp at roughly 47 pounds. Anything to save the knees. But all existing history tells us this just isn’t going to happen.
Consider the top 10 catchers in history by JAWS score:
Johnny Bench – Last full year at age 32. Last Peak offensive year: 33 Quickly went on to hoc emu juice.
Gary Carter – Last Full year at age 34. Last Peak offensive year: 32 Died of Brain Cancer, which is hard to make a joke about.
Ivan Rodriguez – Last Full year at age 35. Last Peak offensive year: 32 And that was with Peds.
Carlton Fisk – Last Full year at age 43. Last Peak offensive year: 42 Freak. Though it should be noted his last full year of catching was age 37.
Mike Pizza – Last year of catching was age 32. Offense declined from there. And that was being powered by bacne.
Yogi Berra – Last fullish year of catching was at 34. Real last year was 32/31. Offense was diminishing. Also, clearly a little messed up in the brain.
Bill Dickey – Last year for both was age 32. Did take advantage of war time pitching in a part time role later.
Mickey Cochrane – Offensive peak was gone at 30 (though he was still great) done catching full time at 32. Retired at 34. MAN COULD DRAW A WALK.
Joe Mauer – The last time he caught 1,000 innings as a catcher was when he was TWENTY-FIVE. Dropped off big last year at 31. I love the MLB The Show Commercials.
Ted Simmons – SHOULD BE IN THE HALL YOU BUNCH OF IDIOTS but yeah, his full time catching was done at 32, and his bat was done at 33.
These are the (give or take) ten best in baseball history. Catchers last like gold fish. I believe Yadi has it in him to improve over last year’s injury ravaged numbers. But the end is near. Appreciate his majesty while you can. And Mo, recognize that you will have to replace his offensive output now, not after he is gone. he won’t be OPSing in the 800s at age 35.
Tony Cruz is a joke of a player that has won the jackpot of life, and he knows it.
Fun Tony Cruz facts:
1. His OPS has dropped EVERY YEAR.
2. He was originally a 3B. you hear announcers say all of the time that he can hit because he is originally a 3B, which means he is OFFENSE FIRST.
3. His games played did not go up last year even though Yadi was hurt. Why? Because we are basically just paying him to be a pal to everyone. If the Cardinals need a catcher, they go off and sign anyone they can to play over Cruz. Because Cruz sucks.
4. Tony Cruz has yet to catch 1,000 major league innings. And he has TEN passed balls. Yadi has 6 passed balls over the last 2 years in twice as many innings. The position is called “catcher.”
5. For what it’s worth, he has a -0.3 dWar over the course of his career. In total his WAR is -1.9 in extremely limited playing time. You would not lose much be going with the hotdog vender behind the plate.
6. For all of this, Tony Cruz has made $1.5 Million dollars over the coarse of his career, and will make a further 775K this year. Please do not think about your own job when reading this.
7. HOW DOES TONY CRUZ HAVE 2 CAREER TRIPLES?
He is impressively awful. When people talk about major league budgets, point them here. The Cardinals are willingly paying above the league minimum for this. If you want to save money, grab any catcher from the minors. If you don’t care about money, give someone more than 200K MORE than necessary to do their job poorly 50 times a year. THAT is a nice gig if you can get it. I salute you Tony Cruz.
But man would I rather have a left handed hitting vetran with some potential named AJ backing up Yadi. That wouldn’t be a waste of a roster spot. Yadi’s departure is coming. If this means more Tony Cruz, oh dear God. Just throw it to the backstop. Considering his passed balls, it’s essentially the same thing anyway.