In a pronouncement that comes as no surprise, general manager Neal Huntington said that the Pirates intend to decline club options for Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder after the conclusion of the World Series. The catchers are two of four Pirates who hold club options for the 2012 season.
Where to begin. Ryan Doumit has felt like a Giant in the making for awhile now. Career-wise, he’s been a pretty decent hitter (104 wRC+), but he comes with two huge problems; 1) he can’t stay healthy and 2) he’s an awful defender behind the plate. Countless posts have been written on Doumit’s defense at catcher. In Mike Fast’s recent illuminating post on pitch framing skills, Doumit ranked dead last in the majors with a combined score of -66 runs from 2007-2011. By Fast’s methodology, that works out to -26 runs per 120 games played — or nearly 2.5 wins cost just by the pitch framing skill (or lack of). By the Fan Scouting Report, at catcher, Doumit ranked at -2 runs below average in 2009, -11 runs in 2010. He appeared in just 77 games in 2011 due to a sprained ankle.
Chris Snyder is the stronger defender (the bar is set so low), but he’s just as injury prone as Ryan Doumit. He appeared in just 61 games in 2009, 105 games in 2010, and 34 games in 2011. His bat doesn’t have the upside of Doumit’s (86 career wRC+), but he’s shown a strong walk-rate (12.2%) over his career with the ability to hit for power (.164 ISO), though his power numbers have surely been helped by playing so many games in Arizona.
Both catchers will be 31-years-old in 2012. Snyder is a right-handed batter and Doumit is a switch-hitter. On some level, both make sense for the Giants. It became clear in 2011 that Eli Whiteside was unable to play on a regular basis. When asked to step in after Posey was injured, Whiteside’s defense, his only redeemable quality, went out the window. The amount of missed pitches in the dirt, deflections off the glove and general defensive mishaps that Whiteside suffered brought me back to the last days of Bengie Molina. It was bad. It’s unclear how Posey will come back from injury and the Giants will surely want to limit his workload behind the plate. Doumit or Snyder could be an appealing candidate to caddy with Posey. Both have shown moderate upside at times and both should be sign-able without breaking the bank.
Even though Doumit has a “Giant” feeling about him (ie: positional flexibility — which the team seems to love more each year), Brian Sabean has placed a lot of emphasis on defense at catcher in recent memory. It was the supposed reason that left Posey in the minors for the first part of 2010. Article after article was penned on how well Molina handled the staff and it was assumed, or used as an excuse, that Posey would be unable to do the same. In the end, Posey ascended to the majors and had no problems handling the starting rotation. For that reason, I could see the team going for someone like Chris Snyder. As Otis showed in his Failure Cake post, Giants’ catchers were the second biggest problem on the team, only behind the atrocities of shortstop. Getting a catcher that can hit even just a little could go a long way to helping shore up a weak side of the team.
EDIT: I also created a bar graph using a 5/4/3 weighted-average (similar to the Sanchez post below) that compares Doumit and Snyder to the NL league average catcher. Data runs from 2009-2011. I decided to use XBH% since things got a little cluttered when I used 2B%, 3B% and HR%. If you want the specifics on extra-base hits, I’d suggest looking over their player pages. I don’t like XBH% mainly for the reason that it will treat two players the same who had vastly different outcomes. For example: Player A hits 10 home runs in the same number of plate appearances as Player B who hits 10 doubles. They’ll both have the same XBH%, even though Player A was more valuable.