I’m going to be honest – I don’t know the answer to this question. I do know, however, that Georgie finds himself in a rather unenviable position. That position being that Martin Maldonado is younger, and just as good on offense. Although there is yet to be an exact return date, Jonathan Lucroy looks to be returning on schedule in early June. That leaves the Milwaukee Brewers with three catchers.
We don’t need three catchers.
So, it’s time to pose some questions to the fans and to the team. Who is worth more? Who can bring more value in a trade, if necessary? And, if a trade doesn’t materialize, who should go back to the minors?
We’re going to leave Lucroy completely out of this discussion. With the numbers he’s pulled in the last two years, combined with his extension make any discussion on his place on the team irrelevant. With our two current catchers, we begin with a simple look at the numbers both offensively and defensively.
Kottaras was off to the hottest of starts in 2012, but has since cooled off. This is to be expected, especially for someone who was coming off the bench cold most of the time and started only one out of every five games. His batting average currently sits at a luke-warm .241. He gets on base an awful lot – 21 walks so far in 54 at-bats – and he is hitting with good power. All of this is well and good, but when you look at Maldonado’s numbers you see an interesting comparison.
Martin Maldonado has had 20 less at-bats then Kottaras has. In those at-bats, he is only trailing Kottaras by five hits – George has 13, Maldonado has eight. His batting average, likewise is .235. It is a decent enough gap, but when you consider the short amount of time Maldonado has had to adjust to being a Brewer, you have to give him credit for stepping up. He also has Kottaras matched for home runs at three and the pair have 10 RBI’s apiece. Maldonado is striking out more per-AB than Kottaras, but he hasn’t yet grounded into a double play – something Kottaras has had the displeasure of doing twice. I don’t take much stock in ground outs to air outs, but Kottaras for all the talk of his power he puts them into the infield with surprising regularity.
In my mind, they are a wash offensively. My only inclination would be to side with Maldonado’s youth – I think with a 25 year-old catcher as opposed to a 28 year-old you won’t have to worry as much about durability issues (although that has never shown to be an issue for either backstop.) It is the defense of the two men where the differences begin to show.
I’m just going to come out and say it: Maldonado is a better defensive catcher than George is. You can see it in the way he frames up pitches, he is quicker to the ball, and the numbers back this up. Maldonado has a much better range factor (9.27 to Kottaras’s 6.25) and is better at putting out runners from behind the plate.
It seems no matter how you slice it, Maldonado has more potential as a future catcher. And that’s the
key here: Potential. Maldonado is younger, stronger on defense and nearly as good as Kottaras is with the bat. Now that is not to say that Kottaras can’t – or won’t – continue to improve on defense or get even stronger with the bat. I fully believe he can. Either way, where there’s potential, there’s a market.
How a strong a market for these players has yet to be determined – but if you add to the fact that we just signed another catcher (Clint Coultre, the first-round selection in this year’s draft), it’s not out of the question to try and shuffle one of these guys to another team. We won’t be getting superstars from them, of course, but right off the top of my head I can think of three teams – Oakland, San Diego, and Pittsburgh – who could use a nice, reliable back-up catcher (or starter, for that matter) and have more than a few interesting infield and pitching prospects, to say nothing of multi-player prospective deals.
I’m not a financial wizard, or much of a prognosticator if I can be honest, but I know a good deal when I see one. I don’t expect either one of these guys to move until very near the deadline if they do at all, but it seems silly to sit on value that’s about to become redundant. Especially if you have needs in other areas.