With Rod Barajas clearing waivers and being traded to the Dodgers over the weekend, the Mets made a statement about their catching plans going forward. That is, it’s time to think about the future, and the future at the position is obviously rookie Josh Thole.
It took a while, but the Mets finally got it right with their catching conundrum.
At 62-62 and 11 games back of the Braves and 8 ½ games out of the wild-card leading Phillies, the sentiment with everyone associated with the Mets is universal: trying to chase the playoffs will be futile.
As I predicted back in this post Barajas, coming off the DL, was given some at bats so the Mets could dangle him on the waiver wire while trying to see if he could provide a spark like he did earlier in the season. However, Barajas failed to muster any offense or offer a spark, and thus was expandable.
The Mets were never serious about keeping three catchers on the roster, and with Barajas gone, the catcher’s position will now primarily belong to Thole, with Henry Blanco serving at the backup.
With Barajas no longer in the mix, most Mets fans everywhere are saying “it’s about time!”
Whether the Mets were trying to stay in the playoff race or play with an eye toward the future, the best option was to continue to play Thole anyway. Thole has not disappointed in his time with the Mets, and believe it or not, is one of the better clutch hitters in the lineup
Overall, Thole is batting .289 with a healthy .361 OBP. However, Thole turns it up a notch when put in a pressure situation.
Thole’s batting average with runners on is .341 (.460 OBP). With runners in scoring position Thole’s batting average increases to .450 (.577 OBP). With two outs and runners in scoring position, Thole is batting an impressive .444 with a .643 OBP.
You gotta love Thole’s approach at the plate. Thole is patient, selective and hardly strikes out.
His defense and game-calling has vastly improved ever since spring training and Met pitchers feel much more comfortable with Thole behind the plate now.
If you are looking for a big bopper, than Thole will never be your cup of tea. However, if you are looking for a gutsy contact hitter with a penchant for coming up in the clutch than look no further than Thole. At 23, Thole still has plenty of room to grow.
Think of Thole as a young left-handed hitting Jason Kendall.
It will be refreshing to see the Mets turn to one of their own at catcher for the foreseeable future. While having Mike Piazza in the lineup for eight great years was a thrilling ride, ever since he left it has been a revolving door of veteran catchers who couldn’t sustain their success for too long or were never that talented to begin with (Paul Lo Duca, Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro, Omir Santos and Barajas).
While GM Omar Minaya gets a lot of warranted criticism, at least he-perhaps luckily-did not go after Bengie Molina hard enough and have his contract tied to the team for multiple years. Molina is struggling mightily this year and has already been traded to the Rangers and is hitting only .247 with 5 HR’s and 28 RBI’s.
Now that there are no more restraints with Thole, he could go out and give Met fans something to hope for down the stretch in what has been a disheartening season.