This Catching Situation Might Translate Into 2010

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There’s absolutely no way I would have made a claim like this, say, a month ago, but I’m starting to think it could happen. The current catching situation looks like this:

Kenji Johjima/Rob Johnson splitting time, with Adam Moore getting some big league experience and being groomed to be the catcher of the future.

Rob Johnson is bad – we know this. He has a .629 OPS, he has a ridiculous amount of trouble blocking anything in the dirt, and he is worse at holding on to the baseball than any other catcher I’ve ever seen. However, he is still quite young, and if he were to improve his offense, he could probably be a serviceable backup next year. Just getting his wOBA from .280 up to around .300 would be huge.

Kenji Johjima is OPS’ing .710 all of a sudden, with a .251 BA and 9 home runs. As Jeff Sullivan pointed out yesterday, that projects to be 21 home runs over 600 plate appearances. Those numbers are more than good enough to be the starting catcher on this team. Plus, he’s a far superior defensive catcher to Rob Johnson any way you look at it. That whole “Rob Johnson calls a great game” thing has pretty much faded away.

I’m not saying it would be a perfect situation, to keep Kenji around as the starter and use Rob Johnson as the backup next season, and I’m certainly not saying that Adam Moore isn’t the catcher of the future. But, there’s a very real possibility that Moore will not be ready to assume the starting catcher job out of the gates next year, and I don’t see a problem with letting him and Johnson battle it out for the backup job.

The fact is, Kenji is not as bad offensively as his numbers over the last couple of years might indicate. He’s been extremely unlucky on balls in play, and he’s showing this season, on limited playing time no less, that there’s still plenty of pop in that bat. It’s still too soon to write him off as finished.

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