Nov 16

2011 Player Review: Josh Thole, C

We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. We started evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada and continue today with catcher Josh Thole. Tomorrow: Ike Davis.

JOSH THOLE – C

THE SKINNY: Thole turned heads in 2010 with his bat control and ability to work the count. The Mets had a young hitter who could draw a walk and take an outside pitch to left field. Who knew? Defensively, he was new at the position, but the pitchers liked how he handled a game and gave them a consistent low target.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: If Thole could make a good impression over 227 at-bats, imagine what he could do over a full season. And, as he developed physically and filled out he might be able to hit for more power. Also, his continued work with the pitching staff should make him even more comfortable behind the plate.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Not according to plan. Thole had 386 at-bats in 114 games, but a fulltime catcher should get more work than that. Ronny Paulino played more as a back-up than expected and that was a reflection on Thole. His defense regressed as he led the National League with 16 passed balls and he threw out just 17 attempted base stealers (21 percent). Offensively, his batting average (.268) and on-base percentages (.345 from .357) dropped. He hit three homers in both years despite having 160 more at-bats. In a word: disappointing.

JOHN’S TAKE: Thole might have benefited by more time in the minor leagues, but that wasn’t the hand he was dealt. He took a step back after a good first impression, but that was to be expected as the league found him out. Since his learning environment has been the major leagues it doesn’t make much sense to change that now. He would benefit from having a veteran back-up, and I don’t know if Paulino is that guy. The Mets will stick with Thole for the simple facts they have confidence he’ll develop and they want to spend their limited resources elsewhere. A tip: Have somebody else catch R.A. Dickey.

JOE’S TAKE: Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Thole is long for this team. The only reason he is still hanging onto his job is because quite simply the Mets positional depth at catcher is in complete shambles, and it has been that way for most of the team’s 50 year history.

On most teams, Thole is a backup catcher – maybe. On the Mets he’s the best they got, which says more about the state of the Mets than it does about Thole who was a good soldier when he was asked to ditch his first base glove and put on what Tim McCarver refers to as the “tools of ignorance.”

Thole has already had a few pitchers jaw about his pitch calling and you don’t need binoculars to see how miscast he looks behind the plate. His instincts are lacking and his offensive game leaves much to be desired. On a team that will have too many dead outs in their lineup in 2012, Thole is the worst one because he can’t field his position at a satisfactory level. When an opposing batter makes it to first base, they start drooling when Thole is behind the plate – even those who run as slow as John Olerud. Thole is a huge problem for the rotation, and for a team that is going to find themselves struggling to score runs and protect leads next season.

Jul 25

Beltran holds cards, but can’t be too picky.

Carlos Beltran has stated a preference of staying in the National League where he can play the outfield, but his first preference is to go to a contender, so Boston and Texas remain in play. He has veto power over any deal and hasn’t ruled out the Red Sox or Rangers, but has made it clear the American League isn’t his first choice.

BELTRAN: Can't disregard AL possibility.

Beltran doesn’t want to limit himself by being pigeonholed as a designated hitter because that shrinks his market, and subsequently what his next free agent contract might bring

“Right now, when they approach me about the teams, then I will decide if I would love to go to that place or not,’’ Beltran told reporters in Miami this weekend. “I made it clear to them that teams that are in contention are the ones that I’m willing to go to. … Right now, I feel so comfortable with the National League. I’ve been here seven years. I feel comfortable here. … It’s just seven years that I haven’t played in the American League.

“But let’s see. I mean, it’s going to be convenient for the organization, for sure, but it also has to be convenient for me. If it’s convenient for both, we move forward.’’

Beltran showed flexibility this spring with his willingness to move to right field, where he has stayed healthy and produced. He needs to continue to show flexibility this week if a trade is presented him to an American League team.

Beltran can’t take too hard line a stance because he can’t take it for granted he’ll never be presented with the DH choice. Beltran has stayed healthy after two years on the mend, but what if after this season a National League team is reluctant to offer him more than two years, fearing he was lucky this season?

It is one thing to show the market you can play the outfield, it is another thing to make too much of that demand where you alienate future buyers.

Beltran would be foolish to turn down Boston or Texas where if he played well he might parlay it into an extension. He can’t take the risk of vetoing a trade to an American League team and staying with the Mets and possibly getting injured and hurting his position in the market.

Most likely any trade for Beltran would be a rental, but good things can happen off a rental and if being the DH in Fenway Park can save some wear and tear on his needs, he needs to accept that option.

 

Jul 23

Five teams in mix for Beltran.

Carlos Beltran prefers a trade to a National League team because he’s not cool on the idea of being a designated hitter, but reportedly he’s willing to accept a deal to the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox. Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco are also in the mix.

The favorite to land Beltran depends on who you listen to and when. Since the Mets are talking with the Phillies and Braves, there are apparently no reservations in dealing within the NL East. Their thinking is since they won’t win this season, it doesn’t matter if the Phillies or Braves win if the Mets can gain a cornerstone player for several years in exchange for a two-month rental.

Jul 23

Today in Mets’ History: Cleon Jones and Jerry Koosman in star-studded All-Star Game.

On this date in 1969 at the All-Star Game in Washington, Cleon Jones had two hits and Jerry Koosman pitched 1.2 scoreless innings as the National League won, 9-3.

The game took place three days after Apollo 11 and featured 22 Hall of Famers, including seven members of the 500 Home Run fraternity.

Noteworthy to this game was when it was postponed a day because of rain, American League starter Denny McLain returned to Detroit for a dentist appointment and showed up late the next day. By the time McLain showed up, the American League trailed 8-2.

BOX SCORE

 

Jul 12

Today in Mets’ History: Mets in the All-Star Game.

On this date in 1966, in the stifling 100-degree temperature at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, the National League prevailed, 2-1, in ten innings.

Tim McCarver led off the inning against Pete Richert with a single to right and was sacrificed to second by Ron Hunt. Maury Wills then singled home the game-winning run.

In the 1988 game at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, David Cone pitched a 1-2-3 inning and Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry had hits in the National League’s 2-1 loss.

Dwight Gooden started for the National League that day and gave up a run in three innings and took the loss.