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2014 St. Louis Cardinals Preview – Catchers

Posted: January 30, 2014 at 9:58 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Rightfully so, Yadier has carved out a reputation as one of the top, if not the top, overall catchers in the game today. Offensively, he’s become an excellent hitter, worth 9.5 offensive WAR the last two seasons combined, and Fangraphs showed him as the third-best catcher in terms of weighted Runs Created Plus. He has tremendous plate discipline and has flashed power at times, hitting 22 home runs in 2012.

Defensively, there aren’t many catchers who can rival him. His throwing arm has earned such a reputation that last season, only 46 runners attempted to steal on him, a league best. In terms of pitch framing, there’s at least some debate as to whether or not it’s truly an effective asset, but some metrics show him as being among the best in the game.

The Cardinals have Yadi locked up for four more years, with an option for 2018, so he’ll be here in St. Louis for the foreseeable future. He’s at the age (31) that productivity generally tends to decline, and the fact that he’s caught so many games may inevitably wear him down even more quickly. This year, though, it’s not unreasonable to expect another .300/15 HR season from him.

48 Tony Cruz

2013 stats – .203/.240/.293, 1 HR, 13 RBI, -0.6 WAR

In his short career, Tony Cruz has won a World Series and been to another; in between, he was also in a league championship series.

For all that, he’s caught exactly one inning and had one at-bat in the post-season.

It’s not that Cruz is a terrible player; he’s played reasonably well filling in for Yadier the last three seasons. He’s decent behind the plate (4.19 cERA last year, career 33.3% CS), and he’s at least respectable hitting-wise. Unfortunately for him, he’s stuck backing up perhaps the best overall catcher of the last decade, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon, barring injury.


The Cardinals haven’t really had a need for a high-level catching prospect the last decade or so. They converted one young catcher into a pitcher with tremendous success (Jason Motte) and are observing the results of another conversion (Robert Stock).

At Memphis, the Cardinals have Travis Tartamella and Audry Perez, who actually had a very brief cup of coffee with the Cardinals last year. Beyond that, though, one of the most intriguing prospects could well be Casey Rasmus (yes, Colby’s younger brother). He doesn’t have much power (two home runs in three seasons in the system), but he hit .292 when he was promoted to Springfield, and he’s thrown out 43% of all would-be base stealers.