Future Pirates draft choice -- clappstar/Flickr.com
As our week-long discussion on catchers has progressed, I've noticed many different takes from our writers and readers on the path the Pirates should take in ensuring that the catcher's position is firmly entrenched when the team becomes a winner.
Some believe it will/can be Ryan Doumit. Others think he should be traded to take advantage of his current peak value years to a team stressing its catching situation.
Through both arguments, I think we can all agree that elite catchers are very hard to come by.
But are they needed to win? I think not.
Quick...who was the Philadelphia Phillies' starting catcher in 2008 -- their World Series season? ... A combination of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste -- two average (at best) hitting catchers that helped more on their knowledge of their pitching staff. Their bats were not considered a threat.
For the Phillies, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and a cast of others took care of that.
If you begin to look back at a lot of the recent World Series champions, you'll notice that their catcher wasn't a huge offensive producer -- '08 Phillies, '06 Cardinals, '02 Angels and to an extent, the '07 Red Sox and '05 White Sox (These two produced a little, but weren't counted on as the main guys, by any means).
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that there is more talent across the board at every other position than there is at catcher in any classification of baseball. So why focus on it?
If the Tampa Bay Rays proved anything in 2008, it's that good pitching and sound defense can win you a lot of games. A smart, trustworthy catcher behind the plate is a key component to that, which Dioner Navarro proved to be. It's certainly something that the Pirates should take note of.
Would I love to have a hard-hitting catcher? Sure. But if I can dump Doumit to a team looking for the help now (like the Boston Red Sox), then I'd do it and bring in as much talent as possible.
If the rest of the team is built correctly and other promising offensive bats can join McCutchen/Tabata/Alvarez, then those bats can take care of offense. I'll take a solid defender that meshes well with our young staff from behind the plate. One that knows how to call a game and command respect. And throw out some runners.
Who knows, maybe one of Diaz, Jaramillo or Walker can turn into that.
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