Jason Castro's 2011 season came to a quick end when the news broke that Castro had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. The injury leaves the Astros with Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles as their top internal options behind the plate, and it's possible that Houston is content to stick with this duo. Quintero is a solid defender, if nothing else, and Towles is just a couple of years removed from being considered a top prospect himself, so the Astros might be willing to give Towles one last chance to prove himself at the Major League level.
As with any notable injury, however, the hot stove is already heating up with speculation about who Houston could pursue if the team looked outside its organization. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and David Golebiewski of Fangraphs have both already chimed in on the situation, so let's take a look at their possible candidates…
- Ryan Doumit. Pittsburgh is known to be shopping the veteran, and willing to eat some of his $5.1MM salary for the right talent in return. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, however, wonders if the Astros would really give up anything of value for just one year of Doumit.
- A.J. Ellis. He isn't exactly a proven veteran, but Ellis could be available. Ellis and Dioner Navarro are battling to be Rod Barajas' backup in Los Angeles.
- Jesus Flores. The Nationals could be the most fitting trade partner here, given the number of catchers on their roster. Flores has looked healthy in Spring Training and could probably be obtained at a low cost.
- Tyler Flowers. His future with the White Sox suddenly became blurry following a mediocre 2010 season in Triple-A and A.J. Pierzynski's new two-year contract with the club. Flowers is just 25, however, and was ranked by Baseball America as the 60th-best prospect in the game heading into last season. It's very unlikely that Chicago has already given up on Flowers.
- Bengie Molina. Unlike these other players, Molina is a free agent, and would cost Houston nothing but money. We heard last month that Molina was on the fence about returning next season since he couldn't find a team that would offer him regular playing time.
- Brian Schneider. McTaggart observes that Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. have collaborated before, most notably on the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last summer. Schneider and Carlos Ruiz make a nice lefty-righty platoon, however, and it's unlikely the Philles would want to break that combination up.
- Kelly Shoppach. John Jaso is pencilled into the starting job in Tampa Bay, so the Rays could listen to offers for their veteran backup, who makes $3MM in 2011.
McTaggart also notes the Yankees' minor league depth at catcher, but says they're an unlikely trade partner since the Astros would be looking for a Major League-ready catcher. Besides, New York is dealing with their own injury problems behind the plate, as Francisco Cervelli will be sidelined with a broken foot.
Molina seems like a no-brainer. A rebuilding team trading any piece of value to get a catcher who would, at best, become a backup after this year doesn’t seem to jive with Wade’s new, overdue, player development philosophy. Castro is the catcher of the future; Molina may well sign for premium playing time, which he’d get, and would probably be reasonably priced. I’m still high on Towles, but I don’t think the organization is going to give him another chance to take the reins, with his lack of big league production.
The question isn’t so much does Molina make sense for Houston but rather does Houston make sense for Molina. I can’t imagine Molina at 36+ wanting to play on a 5th place +/- 1 spot club. Molina’s better off waiting for an opportunity with a more competitive club to surface.
It is not unlikely at all that the Sox have given up on Flowers. In fact, they don’t even see him as the best catching prospect in their system, not to mention the fact that they signed AJ to a multi-year deal instead of handing the reigns to Flowers. Flowers will never do anything on the South Side, and is in desperate need in a “change of scenery”.
Throw Adam Moore into this mix. With Olivo on board, Moore is getting squeezed. Starting fresh in his home state could be just what Moore needs. Houston should think about it.
Angels fans will pay you to take Mathis.
Try telling that to Mike
that’s why i said Angels fans and not the Angels, because we all know about the man-crush
Woof. Washington has a good amount of catchers to give away.
Why they weren’t listed is a mystery.
Well, Jesus Flores is listed but I guess they didn’t list Derek Norris or Wilson Ramos because Castro is out for the year, not forever thankfully
Realistically if the Nationals are going to trade a catcher the most likely choice will be Flores. Ramos will spend the season backing up Pudge with an eye on taking over in 2012. Norris might be ready, but wouldn’t be hurt by some additional seasoning in the minors rather than being rushed. So focusing principally on Flores’ availability isn’t quite so shocking here when you think about it.
Actually, they’re better off dealing Pudge to Houston where he’s blocking nobody this year. He’s going to try for 3,000 hits, and it is more likely with Houston than with Washington.
Logically any team would prefer to deal the veteran than the young guys who will be taking over in a year. But I get the impression that the Nationals want him around for another year to provide some veteran leadership in the clubhouse, work with the pitching staff that’s relatively young aside from Marquis and Hernandez, and mentor Ramos for another year.
It’s a mystery because I completely missed Flores.
Yeah, Molina makes a ton of sense.
Just give JR the starting job. If he does well, then he becomes trade bait. If he doesn’t, you either release him or doom him to “organizational depth”. But there’s really no sense in adding payroll on a non-contender. Have an uninspiring season at worst, sell the club, and wait for the kids next year. If Jason becomes the AJ Pierzynski everyone thinks he’ll be, 2012 will be something to moderately look forward to.
Doumit plus 80% of his salary chipped in for Jiovanni Mier
possibly. mier could be a bust. doumit could fetch something at the deadline. i could go either way on that.
Humberto Quintero, Castro’s backup, is a solid defensive catcher. He will be the regular catcher to start the season, and J. R. Towles will be given every opportunity. Unless the Astros find themselves in a contending situation at the All-star break, I think it will pretty much be a platoon type situation until Castro is back next year.
If you want Tyler Flowers I may be willing to part with him, but before you Astros fans get to salivating all over yourselves, I should have you know that I will accept nothing less than (2) bags of Doritos (or 1 bag Flaming Hot Cheetos) AND at least (1) can silly string which I may later use to satisfy my burning glee. Take it or leave it.