What About Catcher Again?


Yesterday, I posted about the possibilities about bringing in free agents and/or making trades regarding shortstop and left field. Then something dangerous happened. I got to thinking.

The Reds aren’t exactly settled at the catching position either.

I had previously written about how the Reds fared from the position this past season. Flying colors to say the least. But Ramon Hernandez is now a free agent. He banked $3 million last year and he is open to returning. The Reds are most likely interested in bringing him back, too. Here’s where my head began to wander…or did it wonder?

Let’s say that Hernandez and the Reds agree to a deal. I have a feeling it would be of the one-year variety with a possible option for a second season. Even though Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan were extremely productive in 2010, the Reds do have another player that could make things a bit interesting…Devin Mesoraco. And Mesoraco isn’t lost in the shuffle either.

Yahoo! Sports has a quote from Walt Jocketty pertaining to Mesoraco and outfielder Dave Sappelt.

"“They probably need more time at Triple-A. But at this time last year, no one thought Mike Leake would make our team. Dusty (Baker) always looks for surprises.”"

I find this intriguing to say the least. Not so much toward Sappelt (although I think he can be a major contributor down the road), but Mesoraco.

You could see a situation extremely similar to what San Francisco GM Brain Sabean was in some time ago. Sabean had re-signed catcher Bengie Molina during last off-season knowing he had a great prospect by the name of Buster Posey waiting. All Posey needed was a little more work in Triple-A. Sabean dealt Molina to the Texas Rangers (ironic, I know) to make room for Posey.

Walt Jocketty end up in the exact situation with Hernandez and Mesoraco. He can re-sign Hernandez to allow Mesoraco to mature a bit more. It would also give the Reds brass time to determine of Mesoraco’s 2010 was legit or merely an apparition. For 2010, Mesoraco, in three minor league stops, posted his best season as a Reds farmhand. Here’s his offensive progress to date:

The only issue will be Mesoraco’s defense. In his four years in the Reds organization, he owns a .984 fielding percentage with 41 passed balls. In 2010, Ramon owned a .994 fielding percentage behind the plate and permitted only two passed balls. Yes, the kid needs time. But, I’m not the first to chime in on this. John Fay of Cincinnati Reds Blog and Mark Sheldon of MLB.com have voiced the praises of Mesoraco’s 2010 season, too.

Here’s Fay’s take:

"The other part of this equation is how quickly Devin Mesoraco develops. He ended the year at Triple-A. He would give the Reds pop out of the catcher’s spot. He hit 26 home runs last year, and the Reds love his leadership skills. If he’s tearing it up at Triple-A in June, the Reds could always move Hernandez to open a spot for him. The Giants did just that with Buster Posey. That worked out pretty well."

See? I’m not the only one with that thought. I would imagine it will be a prevalent thought if Mesoraco blazes up the pitching in Louisville.

And Mark Sheldon. Your opinion is:

"Mesoraco played only 14 games at Louisville, so it’s not unreasonable to believe more time there will be needed. The Reds could have some space at the Major League level with catching, as Ryan Hanigan will return while veteran Ramon Hernandez will be a free agent.The club expressed interest in bringing Hernandez back. But if Mesoraco is ready sooner than later, it could affect how much the club is willing to pay Hernandez."

I’d say we’re all in agreement here. Bringing back Hernandez is a good and shrewd move. Let Mesoraco get the experience for the first part of 2011 and re-evaluate him. If he is, deal Hernandez.

Baseball’s a tough business.