2005 Catching (read: Javy Lopez)

Javy Lopez is back as the starter after a very good first season with the Orioles. At 34, he is soon to decline no doubt, although he already had those two down years at 30 and 31 before exploding in 2003 with career highs across the board in offense.

Last season he got good notes early for handling the pitching staff well, but that's from sportswriters and who knows how much you can take from it. Lord knows the pitching certainly wasn't any good early last season, but I don't think Lopez is to blame either. I figure Javy to be an average catcher defensively, but feel free to argue (especially if you're Greg Maddux).

Offensively, he's still among the best in the league. His .316/.370/.503 line was among his best seasons. Not near the year prior, which made him a disappointment to some, but better than should be expected of a 33-year old catcher switching leagues. What looked like it was going to be Lopez's prime (97-98) were both similar seasons in terms of raw numbers. Lopez set career highs for walks (47), hits (183) and doubles (33). He had 579 at-bats (explaining the walks and hits), easily the highest total of his career. He was durable and reliable.

Outside of the two down seasons before his career contract year, Lopez has always been a good contact hitter, which I think was forgotten a bit especially after 2002 when he hit .233/.299. He'll probably hit somewhere around his career average of .290 this season.

There's just not a lot to say about our catchers, so I'm basically writing a Praise Javy! right now. Lopez is a strong offensive catcher, Geronimo Gil is your average MLB backup if he keeps the job over Sal Fasano, who hasn't played in the big leagues since 2002. Eli Whiteside is the organization's fourth option. Barring injury to Lopez, the catcher position will again be an offensive strength. B+

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