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Breathing Room Behind the Plate

I think everyone expected the Rangers to not go into 2009 carrying four catchers. That logjam was relieved somewhat early this morning when Gerald Laird was traded to the Detroit Tigers.
In return, we got two minor league pitching prospects. Their names were Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo. Stats and writeup about minor leaguers I’ve never heard before are not my strong point, so I’m going to shamelessly rip off what Scott Lucas (of the Newberg Report) wrote about them.

Used mostly as a starter, the 25-year-old, 6’1″ righty walked eight and struck out 50 in 34.2 innings with a 3.12 ERA in AA Erie. Earlier in 2008, he posted a 2.42 ERA in 52 high-A innings. As Jamey mentioned, Moscoso was recently named Detroit’s #10 prospect by Baseball America. He’s presently pitching for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan League, where he has an 8.36 ERA in 14 relief innings.
In addition to Guillermo Moscoso, Texas will receive 6’3″ RHP Carlos Melo, a native of the Dominican Republic. Melo made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2008, posting a 5.14 ERA in 49 innings. Per Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, Melo “is known for an electric fastball that averages well over 90 miles per hour.” Melo struck out 61 of 187 batters faced (33%) and walked 20 (11%) in the DSL.

While I’m sure these guys are pretty decent prospects, I do have to admit to being disappointed that we didn’t get anything major league ready (or at least close to it) in return. Catcher was one of our rare really strong points, and I do have to say I really wanted something back that would show an immediate impact in Arlington. From what I’ve read online, that’s neither of these guys. We’ve had way too many trades over the last several years that would fall under “bag of magic beans” category, and while I can’t say that about the two new inbound prospects, I can’t get over that feeling of “Oh great, here we go again”.
I always felt Laird got the shaft when he got hurt, and lost his job here to Rod Barajas at the time. Given our catching logjam wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, perhaps it’s best to send him somewhere that he’ll get a chance to play. It’s mildly interesting that Laird will become the regular catcher in Detroit, replacing their last regular catcher, a former Rangers catcher who famously wore #7 during his time here (yeah, I know he was with the Yankees at the end of the season, but you know what I mean).
This will immediately make Saltamacchia and Teagarden the major league catching team in Arlington, with Max Ramirez going to AAA, I would wager. I’d also expect us to sign a journeyman veteran catcher to play with Ramirez in AAA (A Guillermo Quiroz / Adam Melhuse kind of guy). Laird was our best “game calling” catcher, so hopefully Saltamacchia can step that up. The biggest plus for Laird was his superior defense. Hopefully the guys who we will go to battle with in 09 can pick it up, as Laird’s gundown rate was pretty darned good.
Also, ESPN’s MLB site is currently running a poll asking which is the best remaining catcher the Rangers have? I’ve embedded the poll here on my site below:
Edit: They’ve changed the poll to something else, but when I last looked at it, Jarrod Saltamacchia was leading with a 72% vote.

Comments

  1. I’m not so sure just getting rid of Laird didn’t improve our team more than getting back the two prospects.
    Teagarden has amazed some of his pitchers with his ability to use the results of one pitch to set up the entirety of the rest of the game for that hitter. He knows, instinctively, what a hitter is trying to do by how he approaches every pitch.
    And, he can throw; move around the plate; block the plate and everything else defensively a great catcher does. He needs to be playing every day to help all these prospect pitchers learn the craft of the game of baseball in general and pitching in particular.
    Salty makes a great alternative – kind of the Felix Jones to TnT’s Marion Barber – who can slip behind the plate every 5th or 6th day and bounce out to 1B a game a week and power the DH slot the rest of the time. Plus, he hits from both sides of the plate.
    Max will likely get another year at OKC. But, he will only enhance his status as a blue-chip trade piece as the year wears on or he can come up to (down to?) Arlington should Salty be traded to do what Salty was doing.
    Gerald WILL NOT survive as an everyday player behind the plate. Given a week or two straight there, his offense vanishes. And, his defensive skills begin to waiver. His ego says his abilities are far greater than they are in truth and his mouth keeps swallowing his feet (or shooting holes in them…).
    For him, we get Feliz II and another good prospect.
    Just getting rid of him was a good trade – getting something in return? Priceless.

  2. Joe Siegler says:

    Thing is I always thought Gerald was fine as an everyday catcher. I don’t want to particularly see him fail in Detroit. But I can’t give you evidence to deny your claims. We’ll see obviously, but I don’t think it will be as bad for him there as the everyday guy as you say here.