Dave Dombrowski has gone on record stating that if the 2013 season were to open right now he’d consider this off season to be a success. I don’t think anyone could know that until late in the 2013 season but I am sure that if the season started right now we would all be more concerned about 1) the fact that four months just disappeared without warning and 2) since it’s so cold out, once Alex Avila goes down with frostbite and such, who the hell is going to catch the ball?
Once the mighty Gerald Laird signed a two year deal with the Atlanta Braves there was one less name the Tigers could consider when looking for a backup catcher. Laird was a good backup and if you looked at the options of the free agent catcher class, the list was undoubtedly short. But Dave Dombrowski and Co. didn’t want to bring him back for more than a million a year, and certainly not for the two year $3m deal he took from Georgia’s team.
That could tell us a number of things. 1) They see Alex Avila’s 2012 as more of a fluke than his 2011 season. 2) They don’t want to waste that much money on a player who will garner less than 200 plate appearances. 3) They didn’t want to lock a bottom end player up before the new year. 4) They really like their internal options.
We don’t know if any of these things are true but we know that a few of them could be. The last one is probably just as true as the first three reasons but a bit less so as most of their internal options are a number of years away from being ready to provide service time to the big league roster.
But what about Bryan Holaday? You may ask. He is in Lakeland, Florida now, preparing for the season. (That may have something to do with the guy taking Dave Dombrowski a bit too literal, but I digress). Bryan Holaday is really, really, looking forward to being a major league catcher. It certainly looks like they are planning to go with this option, as they also signed Brad Davis to a minor league deal in a move that should send him to Triple-A to take over for Holaday.
Also, we have quotes:
“We do feel comfortable with Bryan Holaday as a guy that can step in and be a backup catcher.” Dombrowski said in his end-of-season wrap up press conference .
“At this time, he would be our backup and we would be happy with him performing that role for us. However, we will also continue to keep our options open.” - Dombrowski wrote in an email to MLB.com,
So Holaday has the job right now and if the season started today, well, he’s already in Lakeland, so that’s good he wont be late or anything.
But, when looking at all the backup catchers who could be fetched for a cheap price, Kelly Shoppach’s name is one that keeps popping for me. It could be attractive to me because Kelly Shoppach would probably sign a one year deal in the Laird range. It could be attractive to me because Kelly Shoppach has a career .868 OPS against left handed pitching – which would be a perfect compliment to Alex Avila’s career .821 OPS against right handed batters. It could be attractive to me because Kelly Shoppach is a catcher and his last name reminds me of a commercial vacuum and I’m all for puns and such. It could be attractive to me because Kelly Shoppach is Kelly Shoppach and he sounds like a Detroit Tiger, i.e. big, slow, unathletic, like the author of these words.
Kelly Shoppach could also be attractive to Dave Dombrowski because the other options are Bryan Holaday and Rod Barajas.