Rick Dempsey. Andy Etchebarren. Chris Hoiles. Javier Lopez. The Orioles have had some good catchers over the years. Now, they don't have one. Shortly after the offseason started, the club optioned backup Guillermo Quiroz to Triple A Norfolk. Weeks later, the O's completed a four player trade that sent starter Ramon Hernandez to Cincinnati and Ryan Freel, Brandon Waring and Justin Turner to Baltimore.
But who is behind the plate next season?
Matt Wieters? Chad Moeller? Matt Treanor? Gregg Zaun? Who could the next guy be?
Matt Wieters: Orioles fans love this guy. In his first year of professional baseball last season, the catcher hit .355 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI. For those mind boggling numbers, he was awarded Minor League Baseball Player of the Year. The interesting thing about the award is the guys who have won have had great careers.
But if not great careers, they have had careers. Some who have won include Josh Beckett, Rick Ankiel, Paul Konerko, Andruw Jones, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Tim Salmon, Delmon Young, Alex Gordon, Sandy Alomar Jr., Frank Thomas, Doc Gooden, Tom Gordon, Jose Canseco, and Mike Marshall.
That's not bad company. The fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft signed minutes before the August 15 deadline and was flirting with the Orioles future. Why? Because Wieters seems to be the future of the franchise. Some other mind boggling statistics he had were more walks then strikeouts (82 BB, 76 K), a 1.053 OPS, .454 OBP, .600 slugging percentage and 155 hits in 130 games.
Wieters was voted the No. 2 prospect by fans on an MLB.com survey. He only trailed Rays starting pitcher David Price. Andy MacPhail said that the Ramon Hernandez trade was done strictly for Wieters.
While he said this, Andy acknowledged Wieters has never played a game in Triple A and that the O's will take the Evan Longoria approach. He will likely start the season at Triple A and if he does as well there as he did in High Single A and Double A, expect Matt Wieters to be the O's starting catcher.
Chad Moeller: When you think of the greatest catchers in the game, Chad Moeller isn't the name that pops into your head. Moeller attended the University of Southern California from 1994 to 1996. He was All Pac 10 in 1996 and was drafted in the seventh round by the Twins. He made his debut in 2000, but has never had a breakthrough year and is now 33 years old.
Moeller has played with the Twins, Diamondbacks, Reds, and Dodgers. In seasons with Arizona, he wasn't bad. He hit two homers and drove in 16 runs while batting .286 in 105 at bats in 2002. In 2003, he drove in 29 runs and hit seven homers in his final season as a Diamondback. He has since been picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, and now: Baltimore Orioles.
Days ago, the O's signed Moeller to a minor league contract and gave him a Spring Training invite. Moeller hit .232 with one homer and nine RBI for the Bronx Bombers last season. His one home run was actually against the Baltimore Orioles. In his career, Moeller has 27 home runs and 122 runs batted in. While I know Chad Moeller isn't the answer, he could provide the veteran presence Wieters needs with Ramon in Cincinnati now.
Matt Treanor: The O's are also in negotiations with free agent Matt Treanor. Like Moeller, Treanor is no Johnny Bench. Treanor is better then Moeller offensively, though. He hit .238 last season with two home runs and 23 RBI. While those numbers aren't especially Matt Wieters-like, Treanor showed he can get it done when given the opportunity and like Moeller, he could provide the veteran presence the rookie Wieters needs.
Matt Treanor was born in California in 1976. He was a high school star at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals all the way back in 1994 at the age of 18. However, he didn't make his debut until 2004 with the Florida Marlins. He has stayed with the Marlins since and has shown great defense, something Ramon never provided with the O's.
In a game against the Washington Nationals in 2005, he threw out all three runners attempting to steal and later hit a home run against the Baltimore Orioles, his first of the season.
What is with these veterans and getting their first homers against Baltimore and more specifically off Daniel Cabrera? Treanor hasn't been officially signed with the O's, but it's likely he will, as the O's and Treanor have been in negotiations and have shown mutual interest in each other.
Who would you start Opening Day?