Today was a sad day for some around the Brewer Nation. The Brewers’ back-up catcher for the past few years, George Kottaras, was traded to the Athletics. The deal could still be in the works, as we haven’t heard what the Brewers are getting in return.
Kottaras, originally a late round pick by the Padres in 2002, was picked up by the Brewers during the 2009-2010 offseason, on the same day that the Red Sox released him. He had served as the Brewers back-up catcher for most of the time since, except when he briefly took on the starting role in early 2010 after a season-ending injury to Gregg Zaun. He promptly lost it after the emergence of Jonathan Lucroy.
Kottaras hit .218 over his three seasons with the Brewers, which is what you’d expect from a back-up catcher most of the time. In his first season, 2010, he didn’t hit for a very high average (.203), but hit nine home runs and had 26 RBIs and showed some promising power. The power fell in 2011 (just five home runs), but he hit .252.
He got off to a very hot start this year, hitting three home runs in the Brewers’ first six games of the season. But, Kottaras hasn’t hit a home run since April 12th, and his average fell from the mid-.400’s all the way to .209.
After Lucroy’s injury in late May, instead of using Kottaras as the starting catcher, Ron Roenicke opted to call up Martin Maldonado and try his hand at starting. Maldonado was hitting under .200 at Triple-A Nashville, but has been very productive at the plate since his call-up, with five home runs and a .275 average. With Lucroy recently coming back from his injury, there just wasn’t a place on the roster for Kottaras, who has just been serving as Randy Wolf’s personal catcher, on the roster any more. He was designated for assignment as the corresponding move for Lucroy’s return to the 25-man roster.
But the Brewers, who are still high on Kottaras, believed he still deserved a shot at playing in the Majors. Teams like the Indians, Blue Jays, and Athletics were interested in using him in the Majors, and it was the A’s who wound up getting him. The A’s definitely need help at the catching position, with their two catchers- Kurt Suzuki and Derek Norris- both hitting barely over .200. On the year, Athletics catchers are hitting for a cumulative .198 average. Kottaras won’t necessarily help with the average part, but he’s always had a massive on-base percentage (he had a .409 OBP despite his .209 average this year). His great eye helped with that, as he had more walks than strikeouts.
So best of luck to Kottaras in Oakland (or wherever else he winds up after). I’ve always tried to be high on him myself, but there isn’t room for him in Milwaukee any more.