He's no Mark Teixeira, but can Casey Kotchman be an effective first baseman?
19. Who will be the backup catcher in 2009?
Corky Miller and Clint Sammons combined to hit .111 as catchers last season. Need we say more?
Miller is a free agent, and while it's unlikely he'll be back the truth is the Braves love the way he handles pitchers. So it's still a chance he returns as a non-roster player to go to spring training.
Sammons is the player to watch. For several years he's been thought of as the potential backup for McCann. Sammons has never been known for his offense, but instead for his outstanding defensive ability - which is what the Braves want for a backup catcher.
However, after having the situation be so bad last season, it would almost be a shock if the Braves don't bring in a veteran to compete with Sammons for the backup job. If Sammons had hit more after his promotion last summer that might not be needed, but he simply struggled at the plate.
Sammons has a strong arm and has great ability to handle a pitching staff. But the Braves need someone to be able to at least hit between .200 and .250, and Sammons needs to show that in March.
One name to keep in mind is Michael Barrett, who is a free agent. He's an Atlanta resident, and if he can't find a team to take a chance on him as a starter, he might accept an opportunity to be McCann's backup with his hometown team.
There are two former Braves who may be options. Paul Bako, the backup catcher for the 2001 season, and Henry Blanco, who replaced Bako for the 2002 and 2003 seasons, are free agents. Both are very good defensive catchers with marginal offensive skills.
Paul LoDuca, who turns 37 next April, can still hit but his defense is suspect. He's a free agent; so are Gary Bennett, David Ross, and Doug Mirabelli. If Ivan Rodriguez is ready to become a full-time backup, he might be a target. Braves bench coach Chino Cadahia instructed Rodriguez in his younger days in the Rangers' system, so there is a tie there. Rodriguez could be a great mentor for McCann.
The Braves wish Clint Sammons could have convinced them late last season he was ready for the job. But his offensive struggles may make the Braves look elsewhere for a backup catcher for the 2009 season.
Bill Shanks hosts The Braves Show Talk Show, The Atlanta Baseball Show on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, and The Bill Shanks Show on SportsRadio 105.5 the Fan in Macon. He is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at email@example.com.
AtlantaDugout.com Recommended Stories
Week 13: Player Downgrades
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Rusty Reeves predicts a heaping handful of players who will decline in the coming weeks. They should be downgraded at least one tier. Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler …Read More
Scout College Football Top 30- Week Thirteen
The top 30 teams in college football after Week Thirteen...Read More
Outdoorsman's Gift Guide: Christmas 2014
Finding just the right present for that special someone can be a challenge, so we’ve compiled a wide variety of hunting, fishing and outdoor gifts that you—or Santa—can deliver this Christmas.Read More
Scout's ACC All-Century Team
There have been so many great basketball players in the Atlantic Coast Conference since 2000, but which have been the very best? We break down the Player of the Century, Best Coach, Best Freshman, and…Read More
The First Thanksgiving: 10 Myths and Facts
The story of the first Thanksgiving is filled with folklore and legend. But what’s the real story? Here are 10 commonly believed myths about the First Thanksgiving debunked.Read More