Catcher Conundrum

catcher
Geovany Soto is out until late May, early June. This injury is just one of many that set back the Rangers plans for 2014 before the season even began. Surprisingly, the starting pitching is giving it’s all to the cause and performing admirably. The offense is trying to get in to some kind of groove and deliver some runs for the pitching staff.

One glaring hole in the lineup is at the catcher position. Presented below are the pertinent current offense stats for the catching duo of Chirinos and Arencibia. I’ll give you a minute to grab some anti-nausea meds before proceeding. Back now? Ready? Take a look.

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At this point, Robinson Chirinos deserves to be the primary catcher, and not just the personal catcher for Perez and Ross. It was nice to see him deliver a key home run in the Boston series, and he’s done great work defensively as well. All in all, you can accept a lacking bat with the way he handles the staff and defends the plate. It’s a surprise he hasn’t been given the green light to start more.

JP Arencibia is capable of power, and yet, as you can see, his numbers are not surprising or needed at this point. Let’s not make the discussion worse by talking about the passed balls and other defensive woes that come with the JPA package. We can talk all day about Arencibia just getting DFA’d as soon as possible and getting a replacement up in his place, but that is for Wash and the front office to decide.

The obvious question is whether the Rangers actually have a suitable replacement for him at this point. I’ve found two, and it’s time to look them over and see how they stack up.

PictureCatcher Chris Gimenez was on the Opening Day roster but was released and has been recently re-signed.

Chris Gimenez was a waiver pick up who was placed on the roster, released, and then re-signed by the Rangers and assigned to AAA Round Rock. He’s only started four games for the club and was brought back to supply catching depth for Round Rock in the absence of Robinson Chirinos. His current slash is an interesting .250/.368/.250. A hitter he is not, but his OBP is impressive thus far and is .100 points higher than Chirinos’ and is, more importantly, a sickening three times higher than Arencibia’s in the MLB. Short sample size aside, if there’s already that big of a discrepancy, the time must surely be coming for Chris to get a shot for the Rangers.

He’s been good defensively so far as well, with no errors, no passed balls, and two caught stealing in two attempts. Gimenez certainly seems to have more to offer and probably warrants a chance to come to the big club.

There was some speculation about what would happen with Brett Nicholas going forward, considering he’s a catcher/1B who hadn’t really broken through. He’s now a catcher/first baseman for Round Rock and is doing very well on both sides of the plate so far. Offensively, he’s eclipsing every other name in this discussion. His slash is .278/.422/.472 over 11 games and 36 at bats; his OBP is nearly 3.5 times higher and his slugging is two times higher than JPA. He’s also a left-handed bat, which is always a nice option to have in a lineup.

Defensively, he’s allowed only one passed ball, one base stealer in two attempts, and no errors. He’s also only caught four games, but he seems ready for an opportunity of this level, especially if it means getting something more from the catching position than Arencibia is offering.

Here’s a quick look at the offensive output for Gimenez and Nicholas so far.

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Whether it’s via Gimenez or Nicholas, the Rangers need to find a way to move on from JP Arencibia. Sample size may be preventing a front office intervention, but Nicholas in particular has done exceedingly more in less time than Arencibia. Bring him up, and let him give it a go! Before this turns into an Arencibia Burn Book chapter, it must be noted that other parts of the lineup are starting to come around. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Josh Wilson are doing some good things with the bat and the veteran guys are starting to get into grooves as well. It would be nice if Arencibia, the Automatic Out, was to be replaced fairly soon by a more viable option. Personally, I’d like to see Nicholas up here and see what he can offer.
Sarah Powers

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