On Thursday, Rod Barajas began his rehab assignment from a strained oblique in the Gulf Coast League (while hitting a three-run home run) and once he is fully healthy to return to the Mets the team will have a difficult decision.

Will the Mets again roster three catchers and have Barajas, Josh Thole and Henry Blanco coexist? Or will they send the future in Thole back to Buffalo? Or will they release Blanco, or Barajas himself?

My feeling is that they will initially have all three on the roster when Barajas comes back, but soon after they will make a decision based upon on how the season is progressing.

While the Mets have broken fans hearts time and time again this year, and amid unflattering off-the field issues popping up (K-Rod’s assault issue with his father-in-law and Johan Santana’s pending civil suit against a woman who claimed he raped her), the Mets are not quite out of it.

It’s hard to fathom, but there is still a lot of baseball to be played and the Mets can make a push, with the operative word being can. If the Mets can make a push, and if Barajas, once activated, can give this team a lift he’ll stick around. His overall numbers are still mediocre (.227 AVG, 12 HR’s and 34 RBI’s) but don’t forget the fact that he carried the team in April and May delivering many clutch hits. Maybe he has one or two good months left in him.

However, by the time Barajas can come back, and they will take it slowly with the way Thole is playing, the Mets will most likely be out of it. If the season is a lost cause and the playoffs are far beyond reach, then I expect the Mets to either try and trade Barajas through waivers or outright release him after giving him a shot to see how he plays after the injury.

Blanco is really not in danger of losing his job as he is a true backup and a good defensive catcher who the staff feels comfortable with.

Thole has impressed the Mets with his hitting approach and sports a nifty .325 AVG and .417 OBP. Thole is certainly the future at catcher and, barring unforeseen circumstances in the off-season, will be the everyday catcher in 2011.

So, if the season goes south with the Mets out of it by the time Barajas is ready to contribute then there is absolutely no need to keep him on the roster as he will certainly not be with the team in 2011.

I like Barajas, who doesn’t? He’s a very likeable guy who plays hard and is a good clubhouse influence. My heart says the Mets will have something to play for and Barajas can have an impact, but my head says the Mets will be out of it and thus it’s time to go with Thole full-time.

2 comments on “Barajas on comeback trail – now what?

  • BaysideBillyD

    You’re right on the mark.
    Of all the acquisitions Omar has made, the decisions to sign Barajas and Blanco can’t be questioned. Their effect on the Pitching staff can’t be overstated. They truly were great acquisistions in that they bolstered their Pitching staff through the acquisition of Catchers that know how to call a game and play well defensively.
    As Danny points out, Barajas’ bat was huge for us in the early part of the season too.
    Coming down the stretch though, I can’t see keeping 3 Catchers on the roster. Nor can I see putting Thole down in AAA if he is indeed going to be the starting Catcher in 2011. Seems to me as if it would be better to let him get more ML at-bats this season rather than waiting for next year.
    That said…
    We’re coming onto a stretch of the season where we might just be able to put a dent in the Divisional and Wild Card races… 10 of the next 15 games are against Houston and Pittsburgh. If we are ever going to make a move, the time is now. A third catcher is a luxury we just can’t afford over this stretch. Someone has got to go, and it’s not going to be Thole.

  • Mets360.com — It’s Thole time now

    […] Posts August 13, 2010 — Barajas on comeback trail – now what?August 11, 2010 — Fight to the endAugust 9, 2010 — Should Mets throw in the towel?July 28, 2010 — […]

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