Most of the attention this week went to the signing of Ryan Howard, but the strangest move may have been Colorado's decision to send Chris Iannetta to the minor leagues.
Iannetta, 27, had a tremendous 2008, hitting .264/.390/.505 in 407 plate appearances. His numbers dipped somewhat in 2009, falling to .228/.344/.460, but that was still good for an OPS+ of 103, which put him in the upper echelon of hitting catchers. The Rockies clearly thought highly of his future as well, signing him to a three-year, $8.35MM contract this winter, with a 2013 club option.
So why would the team send Iannetta down on the strength of 34 poor plate appearances? And what's more, they did so in favor of Miguel Olivo, who is nearly five years older and has never had a season that approached Iannetta's 2008. It boggles the mind.
But with Iannetta out of favor in Colorado, it is hard to imagine the Rockies wanting to spend $8.35MM over the next three years on their Triple-A catcher. So which teams should have the most interest in Iannetta?
- The Mets make a whole lot of sense as a landing spot. With Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco as the current major league catchers, the future is not planned for behind the plate with either one. Josh Thole is a promising catcher at Triple-A (though off to a slow start), but Iannetta projects to be the far better hitter than Thole, and hitting is Thole's ticket to the big leagues. And the Mets have the money to take a chance on Iannetta's long-term deal: even if he pans out as a backup, that salary doesn't kill them.
- The Red Sox could be a strong contender for Iannetta's services. Obviously, Jason Varitek doesn't figure to be on the roster for the long-term, and the throwing skills of Victor Martinez (just 2 of 29 base stealers thrown out) makes his future at catcher tenuous at best. Martinez is also a free agent after the season. The Red Sox can also afford to take on his salary, even as a backup; Varitek, the backup this season, makes $3MM. But as ESPN's Jayson Stark noted yesterday, the roster becomes a mess if the Sox add a catcher.
- The Royals have Wil Myers as their catcher of the future, but he's currently in Low A ball. Iannetta could bridge the gap, even with Jason Kendall signed through next year.
Of course, plenty of other teams could benefit from the addition of Iannetta. Whoever ends up with Iannetta, the only one likely to regret it is the team trading him.
The last time the Red Sox added a Rhode Island native it didn’t go so well
The local media here is not talking like the Rox want to move Ianetta but get him some at bats because he’s struggling at the plate. I don’t see Colorado moving him at this point. Olivo just happens to have the hot bat at the moment and the team is doing well
HEY DAYTON!!! WAKE UP!!! Ianetta’s OBP alone would make him one of the 3 best hitters in our pathetic lineup. I don’t know what we could offer them…Maybe some starting pitching:
Bannister or Davies, plus a C grade prospect???
Is there any data compiled to suggest Olivo calls a better game? I know he caught the Jimenez no-hitter but I’m not sure of either of their reputations in that regard.
There’s not really much data to support it either way. You could try comparing pitcher-catcher ERA splits (or OPSa splits would probably be better) but they tend to not really mean much.
Can Iannetta throw out people at second? Serious question. As for roster issues, if the Sox add a catcher it simply means that they’re willing to dismiss Ortiz and/or Lowell and make Martinez the new DH.
23.1% for his career, but that’s skewed slightly by a 3-21 run his rookie season in 2006. From 2007 on he’s at 24.1%.
current Red Sox catchers are something like 2 for 40 in throwing out runners but that’s skewed because of the runners thrown out was actually picked off by Lester. Whoever it was that was actually thrown out should have to wear the “cone of shame”.
I’m not saying that either of the Red Sox catchers is stellar defensively, but remember that those numbers are skewed by Wakefield. Everybody runs wild when he’s on the mound.
“I do not like the cone of shame.”
ok, but that would just give them another DH that can’t hit. He is getting close to 100 ABs on the season and just hitting .238. While that would actually be a tremendous upgrade over ORtiz at this point, I’m sure you could pick a name out of a hat from the AAA roster and do nearly as well.
“had a tremendous 2008, hitting .264/.390/.505 in 407″ Am I the only person that sees this statement as ridiculous? Then he offers this: dipped somewhat in 2009, falling to .228/.344/.460”. First he states that .264 batting is a “Tremendous 2008” and then he says he “Dipped somewhat” to .228. Then has the gall to say that they sent him down after “34 poor plate appearances”. How about a whole season + 34 poor plate appearances? He had one mediocre year and they overpaid him. I’m guessing that Mr. Megdal might be from Colorado.
are you new to baseball? in what world is a .895 OPS from a catcher anything but tremendous? and how is a .806 from a catcher anything but very good? FIO..
Maybe I’m just spoiled here in Minnesota, I guess. Still seems overstated to me though.
Yes, you’re spoiled. For a catcher those numbers are awesome… for a left fielder they’re average. Think of it this way, a catcher’s primary responsibility is to work with the team’s pitchers, most of his time is spent getting in sync with them. Hitting is only secondary. So if a catcher can get an .895 OPS and do it regularly, that catcher will be well sought after.
Okay, but does one “tremendous” year say that he can do it regularly?
No, nor does his 2009 stats mean he will perform like that regularly.
http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/colorados-catching-situation/ < Shows the difference between Iannetta in 2008 and 2009.
That is awesome! Joe Mauer should be the starting catcher on the AL and NL clubs for the AS game.
Try looking at the OBP instead of his average. Sure, he doesn’t have a Mauer or Martinez like average, but he was getting on base at the bottom of the order and slugging. He was a very good offensive catcher but has regressed since then. They paid for Olivo as well and he’s hot right now so I guess they can afford to ride him while they can.
The Boston catching / throwing numbers are worse than shown. Jon Lester has two pickoffs this year, one with Martinez and one with Varitek which for some unknown reason the catcher gets credit as a caught stealing.
Actual 2010 numbers, V-Mart caught 1 in 29, Varitek 0-12
Olivio has a career OBP of .279, seriously why do they want to move Iannetta? His OPS last year was still better than Olivio’s OPS in any year.
They don’t want to move Iannetta. He has an uppercut swing for some reason, and he’s gonna need regular ABs to get back to a LD groove. With Olivo OPSing above most elite catchers right now, that just isn’t going to happen.
The Rockies are not moving Iannetta. They sent him down because Olivo has taken over the full time job and they want him to have regular at bats down at Triple A. It’s not that they’re giving up on him; he was just signed to an extension and no GM but an idiot (which O’Dowd is not), would give up on an investment like that after 34 plate appearances. Trust me, there’s going to be a time when Olivo reverts back to his sub .300 OBP days this season, and the Rockies are absolutely going to need Iannetta when that happens.
uhm howard no mention of the reds? wow they have no future catcher what so ever they should have been mention before kc an the soxs
a lot of hyperbole in that article.
I hope Chris gets his swing back in the minors, but he also needs to work on his defense. Also, I don’t know what it is, but the pitchers pitched so much better with Torrealba and now are pitching better with Olivo (well except for Greg Smith who can’t pitch to anybody).
Its a little to early to assume the Rockies would automatically get the worst of this deal. They have 2 decent prospects in McKenry and Rosario that will be ready soon. If they can package Iannetta with some other players, maybe Hawpe and Barmes to get a substantial upgrade at 2nd base and the rotation it would be a good trade.
I think EY Jr. may be the upgrade at 2nd base. I love the lineup with EY Jr. and Fowler at the top. If they trade Hawpe, Barmes, and or Ianetta; I would hope it would be for a starter. There is a lot resting on the return of Francis and the emergence of Chacin and Esmil Rogers.
Can you imagine how amazing the top of the lineup will be when Helton retires? EYJ, Fowler, CarGo, Tulo. I shudder to think about it.
I’ll throw out the Rays and Mariners as other possibilities. I like the Reds suggestion too – something based around Yonder Alonso for Chris Iannetta (not saying it’s completely even, but as a base) is intriguing.
Tigers! Gerald Laird is God-awful…
When I read Iannetta was sent to the minors, all I thought about was how some team not named the Mets would cash in. Please, Omar, here is another life boat [for you to let go]!
How about this one Rox fans:
Pick one: Brian Bannister or Kyle davies Plus:
Pick one: Tyler Sample, Keaton Hayenga, Patrick Keating (all pitchers ranked 15-22 in our org)
Plus Jason Kendall with us picking up half of his salary (you’ll need a backup catcher)
Would you do that for Ianetta?
Alex Gordon is very much available too, seems like a good time to dump the Jamarcus Russel of the MLB.
Time to trade Alex Gordon.
Maybe that thin air will help him make contact with the ball and catch it in the field. The royals are not smart enough to make a trade for Ianetta though.
Anytime there is someone possible available that could help a team, just keep the Royals out of the discussion.
A demotion to AAA is clearly a remedial move. Why would they try and trade him now? They’d get nothing in return.
I agree. Iannetta is not on the trading block now. The Rockies need an upgrade at catcher. The best chance for the Rockies to get that is in Chris Iannetta fixing his issues at AAA, and coming back improved. Not by trading him away.
But if Chacin or Rogers falter, Francis doesn’t come back strong, or Greg Smith blows another start, the Rockies may find themselves in the market for starting pitching more so then a need for catcher…and then Chris Iannetta may be come a chip.
I agree, Howie, this is goofy. Maybe they’re hoping to raise Oliva’s trade value and trade him instead of Iannetta.
Ianetta opened the eyes of many in the WBC last year regarding his power and defensive skills. His regular season was disappointing, as was the beginning of this season. Perhaps the signing of Olivo coming on the heals of his contract sent mixed messages….unwittingly, O’Dowd may have been playing with his head. If you have watched Iannetta, it will become obvious that he is a true talent….as a Rockies follower, I would indeed be surprised, actually shocked, if they trade him. He is a an hour or so away, simply to get some at bats and work on his technique. A bad call by O’Dowd and Tracy though? Yes, psychologically it could be damaging.