A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how the next couple of months were going to be critical for Josh Thole and his future with the Mets. What I didn’t know was that the Mets were going to acquire Kelly Shoppach from the Boston Red Sox and really throw a wrench into the equation.
Since he has arrived, Shoppach has been starting more games than Thole and Shoppach has made a statement in regards to his playing time moving forward. While he is not the catcher of the future, Shoppach does at least have some pop in his bat and could be the guy Mets lean on for the next couple of years.
Going into Friday’s game against the Marlins, the Mets’ two catchers were going in completely opposite directions. Thole was mired in a horrible slump, going 0-25 in his last eight games. Shoppach, on the other hand, is 8-22 in his last seven games while also slugging two home runs and driving in five runs. In his 25 Mets’ at-bats, Shoppach has already out-homered Thole 2-1 this year.
Shoppach is also getting into a groove with the pitching staff, but I’ll concede that Thole should still be R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher considering the volatile nature of catching a knuckleball.
It was probably a case of being too little too late with the addition of Shoppach, since when he was acquired by the Mets they were in no position to challenge for a playoff spot. However, a right-handed catcher with some moderate power is just what the Mets need going forward. With the 2013 free agent class of catchers void of impact players, Shoppach could prove to be great value for the buck.
Shoppach has never really been given the chance to be an everyday catcher. Shoppach has been with Boston twice while also making stops in Cleveland and Tampa Bay in his eight-year career. The most at-bats Shoppach has had in his career was when he was with the Indians in 2008 when he had 352, and aside from that year Shoppach has never been given more than 271 in a single year. In 2008, Shoppach hit 21 home runs. Shoppach’s career numbers are not pretty, though, as he owns a .228/.318/.425 slash line.
But when you compare Shoppach’s career OPS (.743) to Thole’s (670), you get a good idea who should win out this contest, especially when you consider that Thole isn’t that great behind the plate defensively.
While you will never confuse Shoppach with Mike Piazza, he could actually provide the most pop at the position for the Mets since Piazza. Shoppach is by no means a disciplined batter, but with the season Thole is having, Shoppach should go into the 2013 season as the unquestioned No.1 catcher and even get starts against some righties.
So, while the acquisition of Shoppach came without much fanfare, it was a solid move that could pay off big dividends going forward.
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