MSTI.com's 2007 In Review: Catcher

That’s right, the regular season ended less than 24 hours ago and we’re already onto the season in review. Why so soon? Because A., the season really ended two weeks ago and B., the sooner we finish up with 2007, the sooner we can look forward to 2008. And I think I’m not alone when I say, expect this to be quite a juicy offseason.

First, some quick ground rules. Completely unscientific and arbitrary, this is how we’ve seen the results of the season. One important distinction, is that the letter grade is based upon what we reasonably could have expected of the player entering the year, not comparing him to other MLB players at his position. You’ll soon see why this is so important.

Less than 10 IP or 100 at-bats gets you an “incomplete”. Stats are presented (BA/OBP/SLG).

Russell Martin (AmotherfuckingPLUS)
(.293/.374/.469 19hr 87rbi 21sb)

russell-martin-49f-9327.jpg2007 recap: Derrr… that Turtle fella’s good. Let’s see.. in the kid’s first full big league season, he only:
- finished 3rd amongst MLB catchers in VORP, SLG, and OBP – first in the NL in each
- set a Dodger record for SB by a catcher- led the Dodgers in: RBI, OBP, BB, VORP
- finished 2nd in: HR, BA, OPS+(all rate stats amongst batting title qualifiers, which counts out Loney).
- hit a walk-off grand slam vs. Pittsburgh
- and, oh yeah, started the All-Star game.

Seriously, I’m almost at a loss for words as to what to say about this guy. He’s 24 years old, a fantastic defender, a surprisingly agile runner and a dangerous hitter. There is no question that he’s the MVP of the 2007 Los Angeles Dodgers; until Loney dominated September, Turtle had been the hands-down best player the entire year. He can hit; he can run; he can field; he is by all accounts a great person, and an on-field leader. And he might get better. All this, despite Griddle’s insistence on running him into the ground. That last part’s not actually a joke; I’m actually pretty worried about what catching that much is going to do to him down the line, and so is Bill Shaikin of the LA Times.

2008 outlook: Continues to be the best young catcher in MLB. Helps Johnny Drama score some cute extras from Heroes. (Wait, what?) Causes Orel Hershiser to weep that he didn’t push to get his number retired sooner.

Mike Lieberthal (INC.)
(.234/.260/.280 0hr 1rbi)

2007 recap:
Alright, I’m dying to know: did Lieberthal kick Griddle’s dog? Hit on his daughter? ph_117759.jpgHit on his son? Make fun of the South? All season long, Turtle would play every single day. He’d play day games after night games. He’d catch every pitch of an extra inning affair, and come right back the next day. And all this time, even though I thought Lieberthal, being a former All-Star, could be the best backup catcher in baseball, I figured – “okay. I disagree with Griddle here, but at least he’s obviously just trying to win with Martin.” Except that twice in the last week, Martin has sat.. and Chad Moeller has played. It’s one thing to sit for the best young catcher in baseball. And quite another to sit for CHAD MOELLER.

2008 outlook: Dodgers have a $1.5 million club option on him for next season, and he’d like to keep playing. Frankly, I hope they pick it up, because catching is few and far between. Since there’s no one in the system who’s remotely ready, having a veteran former All-Star behind the plate is a great insurance policy. Maybe next year, he’d actually get to play more than once a month, too. I still haven’t quite determined whether Lieberthal got a raw deal this year, or has the greatest job on the entire planet.

Chad Moeller (INC.)
(.125/.222/.125 0hr 0rbi)
moeller.jpg
Chad Moeller, AKA, “Fuck You, Ken Huckaby.”

2007 recap:
Give me a goddamn break. 1 hit inĀ 8 at bats. It’s Chad Moeller. Why did I say “let’s make sure to do every player” again? Yikes. Look – I can’t even find a Dodger picture of him. Off to a great start here.

2008 outlook: 5 teams in 7 years, .224 career average. This guy’s straight out of the Journeyman Catcher Central Casting Agency here. Now paging Paul Bako, Kelly Stinnett, Mike DeFelice, and Sal Fasano, please pick up the white courtesy phone. 2008? Snore. I can’t think of anything that’s going to matter less in Dodger-land.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness

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