It’s strange to make a list that builds up, listing the team’s best players and questioning their future prospects, and not mention Felix Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award Winner. So here goes the Felix tie-in: his battery mate.
The Mariners’ catchers ranked last in the entire big leagues in each of the three slash line categories. Rob Johnson and Adam Moore, both considered candidates for “catcher of the future” at one point during their careers, struggled mightily in 2010. Josh Bard, probably the best offensive catcher on the roster last season, received only 126 plate appearances. Bard’s a free agent now, and the Mariners have some moves to make.
They’ve been linked to Miguel Olivo and Greg Zaun. In the two they don’t tip their hand, as Olivo and Zaun are near polar opposites. Olivo is solid behind the plate, with an awful approach at the plate. He’s a free swinger with a lot of power, but one that struck out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances the past two seasons. Zaun, by contrast, is not as good behind the plate, but strikes out almost half as often as Olivo, and walks almost three times as often. He’s a switch hitter, and fits Safeco Field masterfully, while Olivo doesn’t, as proven by his first unsuccessful run in the Safe.
While perhaps too much is made of a catcher’s chemistry with a pitcher, there is no doubt that the Mariners catcher position is the easiest place for them to upgrade the offense. It’d be really hard to assemble a worse tandem of Major League catchers on purpose. Look for a huge upgrade at the catcher position, even if the name isn’t as big as the upgrade.
For more articles about Seattle sports check out North and South of Royal Brougham.