2010 Year In Review: Cardinals Catchers
During the positional reviews here on I-70 Baseball, there are a few positions for the Cardinals that come up and center around one core player. Discussing the catching position for the Cardinals yields that result, yet still features some other players that had an impact on the season themselves.
Any discussion about backstops for the Cardinals begins and ends with Yadier Molina. Molina has become a cornerstone of the franchise, manages the pitching staff at a high level, has one of the best arms in the league, and does not hurt his franchise offensively. The 2010 season would see Molina catch 135 games after catching 140 the previous year. There is some concern about his knees and the franchise is in the process of adding a catcher that can share more of the load in the future. His .262 average was the lowest it has been since 2007. Despite not hitting for average, he eclipsed his career high in runs batted in by driving in 62. When it comes to Molina, the team shows no concern on having him take the field as much as possible.
Molina is the primary catcher and left very few games, or innings even, to be picked up by his backup. Filling that role in 2010 for the third straight season was Jason LaRue. Despite catching only 28 games for the Cardinals this season, it was LaRue that found himself the center of attention during the now famous incidents between the Cardinals and Reds. It was LaRue that came to the aid of one of his pitchers during the benches clearing incident and found himself repeatedly kicked in the head and face by Johnny Cueto. LaRue would end his season, and ultimately his career, after fighting concussion syndromes sustained from the kicks Cueto landed.
LaRue’s trip to the disabled list led to some exposure for catchers in the Cardinals farm system. While Matt Pagnozzi, Bryan Anderson and Steven Hill all took some time behind the plate for the Redbirds, they all left very little to write home about. Anderson’s defense was sporadic at best, though his bat started showing signs of the scouting reports. Steven Hill was a short-term call up and showed he can hit, but needs more time to mature. Pagnozzi showed the most promise defensively and in his handling of the pitching staff. However, the organization has made it clear that offensive production from the backup catcher will be necessary going forward, and it resulted in Pagnozzi finding himself as a minor league free agent.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
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