Houston Astros Should Give Catcher Kelly Shoppach a Shot

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IDecember 31, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 14:  Catcher Kelly Shoppach #10 of the Boston Red Sox slides into home plate against the Tampa Bay Rays July 14, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Unsigned free-agent catcher Kelly Shoppach would be a good fit for baseball's worst team, the American League-bound Houston Astros.

The Astros are entering the 2013 season with low expectations, but present a lot of opportunities for young unproven players.

Their pitching staff, save for a few veterans like Jose Veras, Phillip Humber and Bud Norris, will be relatively inexperienced. And, as of this writing, so will the catchers.

According to the Astros' depth chart on MLB.com, Houston's two main catchers will be 26-year-old Jason Castro and 29-year-old Carlos Corporan.

They have each played part of two seasons in the majors, with Corporan playing a single game in 2009 for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Castro was fair but unremarkable as a hitter. Corporan batted .409 with a pair of homers his first nine games of 2012, but cooled off in August batting .160.

The team could use a veteran catcher to bring some stability to the position and handle the pitchers. Alas, no elite catchers are available via free agency right now and Houston should be hoarding prospects instead of trading for a receiver.

According to Jeff Passan's Free-Agent Tracker at Yahoo Sports, the only capable catcher available is Kelly Shoppach.

A veteran who has played in eight seasons, Shoppach has been a catcher in three different postseasons with the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay rays.

He is no longer a slugger capable of 21 homers like he was in 2008 with Cleveland, but he is a solid defensive catcher who knows how to call a game.

As the Astros operate as a Quadruple-A team, pitchers learning to pitch in the big leagues and young catchers learning their craft can all benefit from Shoppach's experience.