Before they were fired Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya both indicated that 24-year-old Josh Thole would likely be the Mets’ starting catcher in 2011 after playing regularly down the stretch as a rookie, but new general manager Sandy Alderson isn’t quite as sold on the idea.
Alderson said yesterday that the Mets are “thin” at the position are “looking for more catching” while explaining that “it would be a little bit premature if I were to make a judgment on Thole without ever actually having seen him play.”
Here’s a little more of Alderson on Thole:
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Josh. So I expect that he’s going to be a very important piece for us. I’m not making a judgment about Thole as the No. 1 or No. 2. Whether he plays the majority of games or not, we’re going to need additional catching help. So I think in part it’s going to depend on what I hear and what others think of Thole. And the second is going to depend on what’s available out there otherwise. But we’re very happy that we have him. Exactly what his role will be is a little undetermined.
Thole is a left-handed hitter, so it would make sense for the Mets to pair him with a right-handed-hitting veteran backup and re-signing Henry Blanco would seemingly be a good fit. I do think he deserves a shot at the clear-cut starting job, though.
Thole doesn’t have much power, but he hit .277 with a .357 on-base percentage and 25/24 K/BB ratio in 227 plate appearances as a rookie after posting a .376 on-base percentage in six seasons as a minor leaguer. He’s never going to be a star, but for a team with plenty of other holes to fill a 24-year-old catcher with good on-base skills making the league minimum is worth leaving alone.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.