The Deal’s Done and “Squashing the Bug”

26 days until the Home Opener
22 days until Opening Night in Billings

by Ben Catley

Well, if you had Miguel Montero to the Red Sox by 2013 in your pool, while you’re not totally out of the running, the possibilities of that happening took a really bad hit on Saturday.

As hope for by many, the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed catcher Miguel Montero (2002-03) to a five-year contract extension, which will kick in next season and pay him, on average, the $12 million per that his agents were reportedly looking for in a deal.

While there are some people who are skeptical about the signing, there is a group who is all for it – the D-backs pitching staff.

For those of you in the anti-long-contract camp, some food for thought:
– The closest catcher to Montero, skills-wise, in the minor-league system is … no one. And that’s not a knock on all of our former Osprey catchers still in the system. There’s just not one guy who possesses ALL of the tools that Montero brings to the table. With it still being too early to judge on Michael Perez – the 5th-round pick from 2011 who is targeted for Missoula this season – the closest thing to Montero’s all-around abilities (from a former Osprey standpoint, that is…) is a mix between Rossmel Perez (2008) and Raywilly Gomez (2009), or a guy like Roidany Aguila (2009-10-11), who improved greatly in 2011 but has struggled at the plate for South Bend. Yet, he has the most starts among Silver Hawks catchers behind the plate (23) this season.

The bottom line is, Perez is probably, among former Osprey, anyway, next on the list. Unless Perez puts up eye-popping numbers at the plate, and can be solid defensively, then there is that chance of having someone with all of the tools whom the D-backs have confidence to bring into the fold. Konrad Schmidt is seen as good at the plate, needs work behind it. With the guys like Montero, it’s the reverse that helps you stick in the Major Leagues.

–  Who else would be out there?? The D-backs discovered that the catching pool is about as shallow as fountain pool – you can stand in it, you may get lucky, but the best you can expect is a handful of pennies and a citation from the cop watching you wade in from a distance. In other words – it’s fool’s gold, compared to what they have in Montero.

– And, last but not least, these numbers to consider: Among NL backstops since 2009, Montero ranks first with 92 doubles, second with 178 runs scored, 209 RBI, .452 slugging percentage, third with a .280 average, 378 hits, 611 total bases, 45 home runs and an .800 OPS, fourth with 391 games and a .348 on-base percentage and sixth with 131 walks. He has excelled in the clutch with 41 go-ahead RBI and 25 game-winning RBI, both second-best in the NL. Defensively among active NL catchers since 2010, he is second to the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina by throwing out 33.7 percent of attempted basestealers (54-of-160).

In other words – the D-backs looked around, discovered they had the best dance partner and have decided to stick with ’em. Oh, and one more thing … Kevin Towers is about as smart as they come, and he wants quality people around. So .. it turned out to be easier than we all thought it would be to keep him.

Some other stuff …
– The D-backs want Gerardo Parra (2006) to tone down a bit on the bases, yet stay aggressive.  This came to light after he was picked off in a key spot in Saturday’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers.

– Paul Goldschmidt (2009) really “squashed the bug” – planted his front foot and turned on it – when he hit a long home run to center field in the D-backs’ win on Sunday at Chase Field. Let’s hope he squashes a few more this season, eh??

Tomorrow … more stuff, including information on the PA/On-Field Emcee tryouts coming up in a few days. Won’t be long now …

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