In his annual post-mortem, MikeGianella captured the essence of National League catchers: “On average, the National League seems to offer a pretty steady rate of return on backstops. You probably don't want to get too cute and overspend on an $8-10 earner, but don't be afraid to push a little bit this year. You might be able to buy two everyday players at a combined $20 who will earn this back for you (and maybe even a little more).” In 2011, CBS paid an average of $14 per catcher for the top 10 most expensive catchers. The question then is: did CBS listen to Mike in 2012?
McCann earned $19 in 2010 and $19 again in 2011. CBS shaved $4 from his 2011 salary, however, which is quite a discount given his consistent production. Nonetheless, this price is closer to his true value. Montero received a $3 CBS raise to match his $20 earnings from 2011. I discounted Montero a bit too much here I think. The average fluctuates, but appears to be relatively solid in the .280 range, and the power is certainly for real. This may be a minor bargain by season’s end. Posey, well…snapped limbs really play with valuation. By my calculations, he was headed for another solid year before the injury, and, if the legs are healthy, he should head right back to that pace. For what it is worth, I had Posey at $22, but decided to let him go because of the concerns about the legs.
I’m Still Valuable on the Second Tier
Yadier Molina $15, Wilson Ramos $15, Jonathan Lucroy $11, Ramon Hernandez $11, Geovany Soto $11, Devin Mesoraco $10
Molina earned $11 in 2010; CBS only paid him $10 in 2011, and he made us pay for it by earning $20. While he got a $5 raise this year, I would not say the room is “all-in” on a Molina repeat. I am bullish on Ramos; this is a par price for me. The only problem with the price is that it eliminates most of the upside value. Lucroy appears to be a bit underrated based on his numbers last year. I think we will see some average regression based on prior performance, but the power should be fine, and he is still only 25. Hernandez, on the other hand, is well over my price. To be fair, much of my discount comes from age factor – he turns 36 in May, and older catchers do have a way of falling off the map. If I recall, he came up at a point where power was becoming hard to find, as were catchers with a heartbeat. As a consistent $10 earner, however, this is a mere quibble on the price. If you want to know how average factors in to a player’s value, take a look at Soto. He got paid like a big boy in CBS last year, and proceeded to earn $3 less than 2010. He is a mystery right now but, again, this price is about on target. Mesoraco is a bit more than a quibble for me. Here is what we know: he went from a busted prospect to A- stud in two years with a little plate discipline and he has 53 major league plate appearances. Bidding $10 on spec is something that happens a lot in CBS, and likely happens now and again in your home league. There is really no justification to a $10 on Mesoraco in a one and done league, particularly with a competent Ryan Hanigan there in case Mesoraco falters.
In retrospect, thinking about my own auction in CBS, I wish I had beaten people to my numbers on Ramos and/or Soto. While it would have burned a starter down the line (likely Billingsley), I would have been happy with those two guys at their prices.
Upper Single Digits Means Something, Right?
As soon as I hit the button on Ruiz at $9, I regretted it. consider this my worst buy of the auction, even though this is $1 under my $10 bid price. One, my bid price is too high. Two, there is no upside. Three, I could have had one of the catchers in the tier above. On the other hand, Ruiz earned $13 and $11 in 2010 and 2011, and CBS paid $10 for him in 2011. The numbers suggest the bid is right in line. I have Buck a bit higher than some of the pundits, but this price is a bit over it. Buck has the raw power, but he is taking the concept of average-independent power too far. 2010 is a pipe dream for average, and he needs to be paid accordingly. Hundley is a personal favorite of mine, and I am sad I do not own him. $7 cannot be paid for one-third of an incredible season, however, and one thing about Hundley to consider is the inability to stay on the field. Can he earn $7? Sure. Will he earn more? I think so. But I cannot justify a much higher bid just because I think; I at least need a rational path to “I know.” Barajas is well overpaid at $5; he came up late and he can hit home runs. The move from The Ravine to PNC Park should be an uptick, but PNC kills right-handed power hitters. All in all, he could earn $4-$5, but you just cannot pay full price for a guy like Barajas in my opinion.
Squat (That’s What Catchers Do…)
Because you pay squat does not mean you get squat. Castro is a roll of the dice, because his health still seems to be at issue. He might need a little more time in the minor leagues, but it appears the Astros are ready to go with him if he is ready to stay on the field. Ellis is the projected starting catcher for the Dodgers. He earned $2 each of the last two years in less than 110 AB. I think he will earn at least the $3 paid here, if not more. Federowicz seems to be a stretch for me at this point. He is a fine buy at $1, but I am not sure when he plays more than one day a week at best. Snyder is in a good spot. He is Jason Castro insurance, can hit for a little power, and moves to a nice ballpark…nice way to earn a living, no? It also sounds like a nice way to earn at least $3 with pop. Thole moves the chains: no one is there to challenge for the job, the bat control and average are good, and Thole easily doubles this investment. Ross is the super-sub catcher…he gets near 200 AB and earns $4-$5 – a nice second catcher option.
Reserves (In No Particular Order)
Do not get terribly excited – we do not know anything you do not know. Sanchez should be in the minors all year, if not to work on his skills then to work on his maturity.