Texas Rangers' Catchers by Committee: Who Leaves and Who Stays in 2009

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst ISeptember 16, 2008

Right now in baseball, anybody who is anybody that claims to be an expert knows that the Texas Rangers have one of the best farm systems in baseball.

Their AAA affiliate Oklahoma City made the Pacific Coast League Championship before losing to Sacramento, and their AA team in Frisco made the Texas League Championship; however, they lost to Arkansas.

Not only is it one of the best minor-league systems in baseball, but the pipeline of catchers the Rangers currently have is rivaled no other team.

Currently, the Rangers staff four, that's right, four, catchers that can all carry the load at the major-league level.

Gerald Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez, and Taylor Teagarden.

In this article I'm going to profile each player, their pros and cons, and their likely future with the Texas Rangers or as a piece in a trade to acquire young pitching.

Gerald Laird

The workhorse of the team, Laird has earned his spot as the starter and has had to do so over the past few years. First having to split time with Rod Barajas, then with the newly acquired Salty, and finally finishing out the season with Max and Taylor.

The pros about keeping Laird is his ability to work the pitching staff, a huge plus for a Rangers team that is littered with young pitching learning to be major-league pitchers.

Gerald is considered one of the fastest catchers in baseball, with at least 10 infield hits in each of the past two years, and he has greatly improved his throwing-out-baserunners percentage over the past two years. 

Laird also brings leadership to the clubhouse and is the type of player that Team President Nolan Ryan, GM Jon Daniels, and Manager Ron Washington are trying to build this team around.

The problems with keeping Laird are his inconsistencies at the plate, he is at times injury-prone, and Laird might be at the end of his time at his prime.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The young phenom was acquired in the huge trade last season that sent Mark Teixiera to the Atlanta Braves.

First of all, no matter how you look at Salty's time with the Rangers, this was one of the greatest trades in team history that Daniels pulled off.  And it will get better, trust me folks, Salty is nowhere near the best piece that we got in that trade.

Currently injured, Jarrod has been shutdown for the rest of the season, but he looks forward to playing fall baseball in the Arizona Fall League.

Salty has enormous upside, according to numerous major-league scouts, but his problem is that he has yet to find any kind of consistency in his two years at the major-league level.

Continued struggles behind the plate, working with his pitching staff, and consistent quality hitting has stymied Salty's chances of being the Rangers' everyday catcher.

Max Ramirez

Acquired last season in a player swap with the Cleveland Indians for then-Ranger Kenny Lofton. Remember this one, fans, this is the perfect example why the fans are fans and guys like Jon Daniels are the GM.

When this trade occurred, tons and tons of people were sad over the loss of Lofton and cursing Daniels for getting a player no one had heard of.

Today, Max is considered one of the top catching prospects in all of Major League Baseball, and we got him for a player that didn't play at all this season.

Ramirez has one of the biggest upsides in all of baseball, and over his short time with the Rangers, he has shown why.

He quickly rose through the AA and AAA rankings with gaudy offensive numbers, and when promoted to the major-league organization, he did not disappoint.

Max works very well with the pitching staff, more so since he has worked with some of them at Frisco and Oklahoma City. Earlier in the year, when he was asked to work some at first base, a position he has never played before, he did so without complaining and quickly became a quality corner infielder.

The biggest negative about Ramirez right now is that he is young and still inexperienced, that's all folks!

Taylor Teagarden

Homegrown boy from Carrollton, grew up cheering for the Rangers, went on to the University of Texas (HOOK'EM HORNS) to win a National Championship, made Team USA Baseball multiple times, made his major-league debut with a solo home run in a 1-0 victory in Minnesota, won an Olympic bronze medal in Beijing, and is now back with the Rangers and currently has five home runs and 17 RBI in only 45 at-bats.

Sounds pretty good to me.

Major-league scouts agree that Teagarden is still new on the baseball radar, but he has a very bright future ahead of him.

Similar to Max Ramirez, Taylor's only downside right now is major-league experience and continuing to work with his pitching staff.

Right now, Laird's trade-ability is at its highest and will likely never go up any more.

The trade season can't begin until the final World Series game has been played, and it doesn't pick up speed until the Winter Meetings. But already the Rangers have fielded calls about Laird's availability this offseason. The most intriguing is that from the Florida Marlins, a team full of young pitchers.

Like Laird, Salty's trade-ability is still high, but it is falling with his continued problems at the major-league level.

Still, because of his upside, the interest in Salty around the league is high, and the Rangers have already talked to teams about him, which include the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. How nice would it be for those two teams to get into a bidding war over Salty.

I'm a huge fan of Laird's. He has earned his spot and is a quality major-league catcher, but for a team that is in need of much better pitching at both ends and an improvement on defense, trading players like Laird and Salty make sense.

The dilemma is that you have four catchers all fighting for one starting role and a backup role. You already see the youth movement at other positions, from pitchers to outfielders to corner infielders, why not do the same at catching.

If the right offer comes around, Texas should trade away Gerald Laird and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I believe it would be a huge mistake to trade either of the youngsters Ramirez and Teagarden.

If we trade one of them away, it will come back and bite us, trust me. Watch these two, they are something special, both of them.


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