May 26, 2011, 2:46 PM EDT
While he’s exceeded expectations as the backup for Bengie Molina and later Buster Posey these last three years, Eli Whiteside is no one’s idea of a full-time catcher. That means the Giants are likely going to have to look elsewhere after losing Posey for the season. They may first turn their eyes to D.C.
Getting phased out by youngster Wilson Ramos, the Nationals’ Ivan Rodriguez is believed to be very much available in trade talks. He’s not much of an offensive contributor these days — he’s batting just .205/.256/.342 with two homers in 73 at-bats this year — but even at age 39, he still has a gun behind the plate and the stamina to play pretty regularly. If the Giants don’t at least touch base with the Nationals before the end of the week, it will be a shock.
Some other possibilities:
Ryan Doumit (Pirates) – Doumit is no Posey, but he’d do a better job of filling the offensive void than Pudge would. He’s hit .272/.337/.446 with four homers in 92 at-bats while splitting time with Chris Snyder for the Pirates this season. Unfortunately, he’s a weak defender with durability issues.
Bengie Molina (free agent) – Molina didn’t seem to have a whole left last year. He posted a .644 OPS in 202 at-bats with the Giants and then a .599 OPS in 175 at-bats following the move to the Rangers. He’s also awfully immobile behind the plate. On the other hand, he has one big plus over the alternatives: he knows most of the team’s pitchers. If he’s willing to take a minor league contract and play himself into shape, the Giants might as well give him a look.
Kelly Shoppach (Rays) – A big offensive disappointment since being acquired prior to 2010, Shoppach is hitting just .167/.247/.250 in 72 at-bats this year. The Rays are far from sellers, but they might jump at the chance to move Shoppach’s salary, figuring that Jose Lobaton could give them more production as John Jaso‘s platoon partner.
George Kottaras (Brewers) – Milwaukee’s backup last season, Kottaras is currently in Triple-A and hitting .271/.358/.373 in 59 at-bats. He’s made a lot of progress defensively, though he’s still below average at best. Offensively, he’s a better bet than everyone here except Doumit.
Bobby Wilson (Angels) – The Angels don’t need Wilson, but they’ve kept him around because he’s out of options and they don’t want to lose him for nothing. A solid defender with a decent stick, he’s not quite good enough to be a regular, but there are certainly worse stopgap options.
Landon Powell (Athletics) – With nine homers and 43 RBI in 293 major league at-bats, Powell has the ability to contribute as a bottom-of-the-order hitter. However, he also has an extensive injury history and it seems unlikely he’d hold up if asked to play much more than once or twice per week.
Taylor Teagarden (Rangers) – It seems doubtful that the Giants will go young, but then, Teagarden isn’t really very young anymore at 27. He’s always drawn pretty good marks for defense, and the Rangers won’t ask for the same kind of return they would have a couple of years ago. Teagarden is durable enough to catch five times per week, and he has lots of power. He might be lucky to hit .220, but he could be a decent regular anyway.
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