Rays' New Catcher Is a Lot Like The Old One

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIDecember 3, 2009

The new catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, Kelly Shoppach (acquired for a player to be named later), is quite similar to their old one, Dioner Navarro.

Shoppach is coming off an abysmal 2009 in Cleveland, where he batted .210 with 12 homers and 40 RBI. It was a dramatic drop off from his '08 campaign, where the right-handed batter blasted 21 home runs and 55 RBI while batting .261.

Navarro also struggled in '09, batting just .218 with eight dingers and 32 RBI. He was one of the Rays representatives in the 2008 All-Star game and finished '08 with seven homers and 54 runs batted in, while batting .295 at the plate.

The 29 year old Shoppach has more power than Navarro, as evidenced by his .449 career slugging percentage and 33 homers over the past two seasons. Navarro only has 33 home runs in his entire major league career.

Neither can hit righties. (Shoppach has a .194 batting average versus right-handed pitching, Navarro .182).

Something that may come as a little distressing to Rays fans is Navarro was actually better behind the dish than Shoppach in 2009. Both committed six errors, Navarro was two points better in field percentage (.994 to .992) and has a higher range factor (put outs and assists divided over nine innings) 7.76 to 6.79.

In the past two seasons at Tropicana Field, Shoppach has batted .222 with no home runs and two runs batted in.

So with the acquisition of Shoppach, the Rays get themselves a more powerful but older version of Dioner Navarro that isn't quite as good in the field. Considering Navarro was never really viewed as one of the better fielding catchers to begin with, that's a concern.

With Navarro and Shoppach both headed for arbitration, it's likely the Rays will take whomever gives them the best option financially and deal the other.