It wasn’t too long ago that Seattle felt really good about it’s catcher position. Kenji Johjima was coming of a good year, and there were 3 talented prospects that were coming down the pipe. GM Bill Bavasi talked about it being a “good problem to have,” and that the team could pick the best 2 and the others could be traded to fill other holes.
Oh how quickly things change. Johjima’s bat speed suddenly disappeared, and he left the team and moved back to Japan. Clement’s offensive talent turned out to be a mirage, and both Johnson and Moore have been decidedly less that than originally advertised.
Rob Johnson: RJ was given the majority of the playing in 2010, and, well, did the exact opposite of making the most of it. He posted an absolutely anemic wOBA of .261. On top of that he proved that his inability to catch the ball in 2009 wasn’t just a product of his injuries. 18 balled balls in just 61 games is completely unacceptable. The fact that he didn’t play again with Seattle after being sent down to Tacoma, and that playing time was given to GQ in September tells us a lot about RJ’s future with the M’s.
Adam Moore: Adam Moore simply wasn’t ready for big league ball at the beginning of the season. Why the M’s chose to rush him up and play him and not give him more time in Tacoma, especially with Bard on the payroll, is something I’m not sure I’ll ever understand. The end result was really a wasted year for Moore. He languished in Seattle with a .224 wOBA in 60 games before mercifully getting set down to Tacoma. His playing time in September wasn’t much better, but he did seem more comfortable, and managed to avoid the catcher interference calls, so perhaps he’s starting to get ready to play at this level.
Josh Bard: Bard was signed to be a veteran backup and mentor to Moore and RJ. One has to wonder why he spent most of the season in Tacoma while RJ and Moore struggled with the big team then. Bard’s .281 wOBA once he finally got called up is nothing to write home about, but it was better than both the kids. Bard isn’t signed for the 2011 season, and I expect the M’s to find another version of him to back up Moore next year.
Guillermo Quiroz: GQ will be 30 going into next season, so he’s hardly a prospect of any kind. He’s a guy who spend more time at AA than any other level the last 2 years, and doesn’t offer any upside at all. Still, he’s been a good guy to have in the organization, as he’s willing to sit in AA and wait to be an emergency call up in case of injuries.
Overall analysis: The Mariners better hope Moore turns the corner next year or it’s going to be a long painful year at catcher. Other than that, the cupboard seems pretty bare.
Prediction Guaranteed to be Wrong: A good part of the M’s rebuilding plan hinges on Moore. I expect him to be given every chance to prove he can play at this level. I also fully expect the M’s to sign another veteran mentor for Moore like Josh Bard was in 2010, and I expect to see RJ as a part of a trade this off season. Either that or he’ll be released outright to make room on the 40 man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft.