What does the future hold for Anthony Recker?

Anthony ReckerThrough games of August 16, the Mets had used just two catchers all season – John Buck and Anthony Recker. This is due to three main reasons: Buck and Recker stayed healthy, Travis d’Arnaud did not and there was no other catcher who deserved consideration for the spot.

But d’Arnaud finally recovered from his early-season injury and the paternity leave for Buck opened up a spot for him. Now comes word that when Buck returns, the Mets will keep d’Arnaud in the majors. It’s hard to argue with that logic – d’Arnaud is the future and there’s no reason to send him back to Triple-A at this point.

However, someone will have to go and all signs point to Recker being sent to the minors. Recker’s overall numbers are not that impressive – a .193 AVG and a .629 OPS – but he does have one stat that simply should not be ignored. Here is the Mets’ record when their three catchers have started the game:

Buck: 40-53
d’Arnaud: 0-2
Recker: 16-11

The Mets have a .459 winning percentage overall but when their backup catcher starts, they somehow play at a .593 clip. This is even more impressive when you consider that Recker did not start one game when the club’s best pitcher was on the mound, as Buck was behind the plate for Matt Harvey’s first 24 starts and d’Arnaud caught him Sunday.

Perhaps if Recker had caught him some, Harvey would have more than nine wins.

It is very possible that Recker’s success is just a small sample size fluke. Still, one cannot help but wonder why manager Terry Collins kept him glued to the bench, especially early in the year when the Mets stumbled after getting off to a solid start. From April 26th through June 14th, the Mets were 14-28. In those 42 games, Buck started 35 times and the club was 11-24.

Buck was white-hot through most of April and it made sense to ride him as long as his hot hitting lasted. But Collins kept writing his name in the lineup day after day, even when his hitting was dreadful. In the span listed above, Buck had a .575 OPS.

One of the criticisms of Collins is that he rides players too long and it certainly appeared to be the case with Buck. Most managers look to give their starting catchers one or two days off each week, a number that goes up if they are on the wrong side of 30. Buck turned 33 in July.

Regardless, as we look to the future, we know that d’Arnaud is the club’s starting catcher in 2014. The question is who do they pick as his backup. Buck has won praise for his handling of the pitching staff, along with his work mentoring d’Arnaud, but will he be content in a backup role? He’s played 100 or more games seven of the past nine seasons and currently sits at 99 games.

Meanwhile, Recker currently has two options remaining, although if they send him down as expected early this week, he’ll burn one of those. Still, it means the Mets could retain him in the organization even if they decide to go with Buck as the 2014 backup, provided they either keep him on the 40-man over the winter or he goes through the Rule 5 draft without being selected.

Everyone talks about the money coming off the books this season and how the Mets will have cash to spend this winter. If that is true then bringing back Buck as a backup seems like a decent play. But if this offseason follows the previous ones under Alderson, where the club had very limited funds to spend, then they should be happy to go with Recker as their backup at a league minimum salary.


Only three times in franchise history have the Mets used only two catchers in an entire season. The last time was in the strike-shortened 1994 season, when Todd Hundley was backed up by Kelly Stinnett. The last full season where it happened was 1987, with Gary Carter and Barry Lyons. The first time it happened was 1970, when Jerry Grote took time away from Duffy Dyer.

11 comments for “What does the future hold for Anthony Recker?

  1. August 19, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Why would the Mets allocate 3-4 million dollars on a 34 year old back up catcher? Would it not make better sense to retain Recker through the end of the year at the major league level? After all the Mets aren’t going anywhere this year. Better to release any one of the bull pen rejects. Why not see how players perform these 40 or so games and let management make their preparations for the 2014 spring training roster.

  2. Metsense
    August 19, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Travis d’Arnaud should be the full time catcher in 2014 . I hope they plan to start him in most games . In 2012 Posey played in the most games at 148, while the #10 Aj Ellis played in 133, the #21 John Buck played 108 games. It appears that a backup catcher logs a significant amount of playing time. If the Mets can afford a John Buck then that is great for his leadership and knowledge. If they can’t then they should remember that Recker hit 5 HRs in 1o9 ABs and over 361 ABs( Buck’s total) he may hit 15-16. TC says that he is a hard worker, always prepared and he studies and follows the game plan. Recker is not a bad alternative as the 2014 backup.

  3. August 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    They won’t burn an option sending down Recker. He’ll be back up when rosters expand, and having spent fewer than 20 days on optional assignment, the option won’t count. I see Recker as an organizational asset, though a marginal one. If I’m the Mets, for 2014, I bring in a mentor-flavored veteran free agent to serve as d’Arnaud’s backup and move Recker to Las Vegas as depth at a shallow position. I’d be fine with bringing Buck back in this role, but I think it’s more likely he’ll be some other team’s starting catcher next year. As for the team records with various catchers, maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see that as having any predictive value. Similar to catcher ERA, I suspect it just doesn’t mean much.

    • August 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks for the clarification on the option.

  4. August 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I was going to type out a response, but Chris Walendin just said it. Word was that Marcum refused (or felt disinclined) to pitch to Recker for one game — there was a late change in the lineup, inserting Buck — and it’s also telling that he’s never caught Harvey. His future with the Mets comes down to his ability behind the plate, which seems marginal. As for Buck, I think he’ll seek a larger role than the Mets can offer. This feels like a job for a Henry Blanco type. Again, the most important thing to the organization is the development and success of Travis d’Arnaud. His backup should be the guy deemed best able to mentor and support d’Arnaud’s efforts.

    • August 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      I remember that game where Buck was inserted at the last minute and thinking it was curious. Turns out that Recker only caught Marcum once and it was a poor outing early in the year. But there were plenty of poor outings this year for Marcum.

      Recker never catching Harvey was all on the shoulders of Terry Collins.

  5. Jim OMalley
    August 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Baseball HQ newsfeed indicates Recker has been sent down to AAA.

  6. Chris F
    August 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Sounds like he will be back up…and maybe sooner than anyone might figure. I watched TdA play for the first time today, and that was on my phone. Just caught the highlights of the win and I immediately noticed something about his defense that scares me to death: he keeps his throwing arm in front, in his crotch. Its only a matter of time before he is going to get a deflection right down on to his hand or bounced up from below and shatter a few fingers. I’m used to most catchers putting their throwing hand behind their back. Am I crazy?

  7. Dan Stack
    August 20, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Any chance Buck can clear waivers and be traded? With Alex Avila banged up, maybe the Tigers can have a need for Buck? Just a thought.

    • Metsense
      August 20, 2013 at 8:00 am

      If Sandy wants Buck back he should be talking about an extension now and see if he wants to pay him the price and if Buck wants to be a backup. If the answer is no to either then send Buck through waivers. If claimed you could let him go and save .5-1M $ in salary. If unclaimed you are free to trade him for a prospect. Good thought, Dan.

  8. eric
    August 20, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Recker will not be on the 40 man Roster for the Winter. They will try to trade Buck before the 31st…if they’re sane.

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