Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Astros sign a catcher

Jon Heyman tweeted that the Astros have signed catcher Robinson Cancel to a minor-league contract.

Who is this Robinson Cancel? Well, he...

*Will be 35 in May.
*Was drafted by the Brewers in the 16th Round of the 1994 Draft.
*Has played 43 Major-League games: 15 for Milwaukee in 1999, 27 for the Mets in 2008, and one for the Mets in 2009 - posted a .547 career OPS (42 OPS+).
*Spent 2007-2010 in the Mets' organization, mainly with the Triple-A team. In seven Triple-A seasons, he has hit .267/.318/.388, with 162K:67BB in 288 games.
*Has a career 40% CS rate in 16 minor-league seasons.

We can look at this a couple of ways:

1. We already have a career minor-league catcher in his 30s, and Brian Esposito is younger than Cancel.

2. At least Wade didn't trade anybody for a stop-gap catcher.

Heyman said this:
The Astros are at a catching deficit with Castro out. Cancel gives them another option.

So I don't know how worked up we should get about this signing. It's only a minor-league deal, but it would indicate (to my uninformed opinion) that the Astros are - for now - out on Jesus Flores, Ryan Doumit, or any other catcher. Could Ed Wade go out and get another catcher? Of course he could. Don't screw this up, Towles.

UPDATE: Brian McTaggart says Cancel will be in minor-league camp. So stay tuned...

UPDATED UPDATE: Steve Campbell notes that Cancel is not seen as a candidate to replace Jason Castro. It's simply to boost minor-league depth.

Catchers in Eddie's Farm (with ages), minus Castro, with their 2010 level (short-season ball not included):

Robinson Cancel (36)
Brian Esposito (32) - AAA
Humberto Quintero (31) - MLB
Lou Santangelo (28) - AA/AAA
Carlos Corporan (27) - AAA
J.R. Towles (27) - AA/MLB
John Curtis (26) - AA
Jon Fixler (25) - AA/A
Jordan Comadena (25) - AA/A
Federico Hernandez (23) - A+
Ben Heath (22) - AA/A
Bubby Williams (22) - A

So. Barring another trade, adding another 30-something catcher would indicate that he'll see some time in Oklahoma City, while the Astros will carry Quintero and someone else on the Opening Day roster. If Towles was going back to the minors, where the heck would he play? So I realize that this is a "depth move," but bringing in another catcher after signing Cancel just seems like a bizarre move to me.
Rene Garcia (21) - A