Now if we could only get the veteran presence to hit
December 22 2006
Rod Barajas isn't a good offensive player. Among MLB players who got at least 300 plate appearances while playing catcher last season, his OPS was 20th of 26. His on-base percentage was 24th of 26. The '06 Phillies didn't have a catcher who got 300 plate appearances, but of the group of Lieberthal, Fasano, Ruiz and Coste, the only one that Barajas outhit was Fasano.
It should be noted that Ruiz got just 69 at-bats, but he, Coste and Lieberthal were all better offensively. Each hit for a higher average, got on base more and even had a better slugging percentage than the basher Barajas.
As a group, Phillies
catchers were good last season. Their .793 OPS was fifth-best in the
National League. For the Rangers, virtually all of the at-bats from the
catcher position went to Barajas and Gerald Laird. Laird was better
offensively in his 243 at-bats than Barajas, hitting 296/332/443. Even with
the significant contribution from the better-hitting Laird, as a group
Texas' catchers still underperformed Phillies' catchers. They posted a
.753 OPS, which was seventh-best in the AL.
Assuming that Barajas gets a significant number of at-bats as a catcher for the Phillies in '07, the team seems sure to produce less offensively from the position unless he contributes much more with the bat than he did last season.
One of the things that's odd about Barajas as an offensive player is his numbers against left-handed pitching. He's had six seasons in which he's gotten more than 100 at-bats, and in three of them the righty has been better against right-handed pitching than left. In the three years he's gotten the most at-bats, the last three, he has been better against righties in two of the three years. Last year he was genuinely awful against lefties:
The Royals signed David Riske.
The Brewers have made a four-year offer to Jeff Suppan. Suppan is one of a dwindling group of still-available starting pitchers that includes Lieber.