New York Mets Demote Catcher Mike Nickeas to Minors, Recall Rob Johnson

Alex SchuhartCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2012

Mike Nickeas
Mike NickeasMike Stobe/Getty Images

In a move that should have happened months ago, the New York Mets demoted backup catcher Mike Nickeas to Triple-A Buffalo.

The 29-year-old, who batted .168 with one home run in 101 major league at-bats this year, will be replaced on the 25-man roster by fellow catcher Rob Johnson.

Johnson, who the Mets acquired as a free agent in the 2011-2012 offseason, was batting .207 with four home runs in 164 at-bats with Buffalo. He did show success after a call-up to the major leagues earlier in the year, however, by batting .313 in 32 at-bats.

Nickeas, who has been in the Mets organization since 2006, started 2012 as the team’s reserve catcher, serving behind starter Josh Thole.

The Canada native received significant playing time in May when Thole was out with a concussion, but his performance was unimpressive: In 45 May at-bats, he hit only .133 with a .204 on-base percentage.

Never a solid hitter—he batted .200 in his first cup of coffee with the Mets in 2010, then .189 in 53 at-bats in 2011—Nickeas’ inability to hit has been irksome to many fans, making them yearn for the days of Ramon Castro, Vance Wilson and Todd Pratt.

Good receiving skills and solid defense can only go so far, and for Nickeas, they could not make up for his anemic bat.

Historically, Johnson has not been much better at the plate as he boasts a meager career batting average of .203, with a .280 on-base percentage. 

Despite his own weak stick, he received significant playing time with the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres between 2009 and 2011, averaging 69 games played and 205 at-bats a year.

While Johnson is not a huge improvement over Nickeas, he will still provide a slightly better stick at the dish, while offering good defense behind it.