The Great Eight of 1998; The Terrific Ten of 2010?

Not only have the Mets decided to dip into the catcher’s market, they’ve decided to swim in it.

Last night, Henry Blanco was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million dollar contract. Blanco is the second catcher acquired this week, joining the newly-minted Chris Coste. The tandem joins Omir Santos and Josh Thole on the catching depth chart, which will almost assuredly be captained by Bengie Molina. That’ll make five catchers with Major League experience all with a chance of playing with the big league club next season.

While pondering our new found catching surplus, my mind wandered back to a time of a richer plenitude. It was 1998. Todd Hundley was slated to be the starting catcher, but off-season elbow surgery sidelined him, eventually forcing him into the outfield. This thrust a career journeyman, Tim Spehr, into the opening day lineup.  Spehr alternated catching duties with Albert Castillo for the first few weeks. Unhappy with their performance, the team called up Jim Tatum and traded for Rick Wilkins. Unsurprisingly, both failed to distinguish themselves and the Mets completed a blockbuster deal for Mike Piazza. Jorge Fabergas and later Todd Pratt would serve as the Piazza’s primary back up. In September of that year, Bobby Valentine mercifully ended Todd Hundley’s stint in left field and started him behind the plate for a couple of games, completing  the catching circle.

In total, eight different catchers started games. This is how they fared:

  Age G GS Inn PB WP SB CS CS%
Mike Piazza 29 99 99 845.1 5 18 74 28 27%
Alberto Castillo 28 35 28 245.2 1 4 13 15 54%
Tim Spehr 31 21 15 147.0 1 6 12 7 37%
Todd Pratt 31 16 8 90.2 2 0 5 4 44%
Jorge Fabregas 28 12 5 63.1 0 6 8 3 27%
Rick Wilkins 31 4 4 34.0 0 2 3 1 25%
Todd Hundley 29 2 2 18.0 0 4 1 2 67%
Jim Tatum 30 4 1 14.0 0 0 1 4 80%
Team Total   162 162 1458.0 9 40 117 64 35%

So, can we get to ten in 2010?  It’s certainly possible. We have our aforementioned five, plus Robinson Cancel always seems to be in the picture — recent release be damned.

Raul Casanova? Gustavo (not related to Bengie, Jose or Yadier) Molina? How about dusting off Mike DiFelice?

Vance Wilson is a free agent. What’s Jason Phillips doing? You know, Phillips had a .373 on-base percentage his rookie season…

One Response to “The Great Eight of 1998; The Terrific Ten of 2010?”

  1. tjv101 says:

    Thats absolutely amazing how many catchers this team had 10 years ago. Its crazier that they are signing guys that didn’t even want to be a Met like Coste. He can stay in Buffalo and never be heard of from again. Poor Omir Santos. I guess his crummy game calling days are over.

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