Friday, July 3, 2015

Braves Interested In Young Catchers? Why?

The Braves are being linked to young catchers and they're apparently willing to offer young pitchers in return. But are they needed?

Kevin Cox/Getty Images
To me, the bigger question is why are they seemingly giving up on Christian Bethancourt after 104 plate appearances this season? In a rebuilding year, they're going with 38 year old A.J. Pierzynski and failed prospect Ryan Lavarnway. Why is a franchise that is in full rebuilding mode choosing to give up on their own highly touted prospect? And choosing to play someone past their prime and a catcher who was a highly touted prospect, but failed to live up to the expectations? 

Instead of searching for other catchers and giving up valuable pitching assets, why not give playing time and experience to Bethancourt? If you buy into "veteran leadership" and "grit" Pierzynski would make the perfect back-up for a player who is trying to establish himself at the Major League level. The Braves have decided to bury Bethancourt in Triple-A and essentially destroy any value he may have had.

In his short stint with the Braves this season, Bethancourt has struggled at the plate, but he has been good for a 0.6 dWAR behind the plate. Lavarnway and Pierzynski have combined for a -0.7 dWAR and a mediocre 0.9 oWAR.

On paper, the combination of Bethancourt and Pierzynski would be the most effective duo in Atlanta, but they choose to not give Bethancourt a legitimate shot at establishing himself behind the plate.

For a team that's building towards the 2017 season, limiting the at-bats for one of the biggest position player prospects in recent memory is not the right way to go about things. With his value at an all-time low, he wouldn't help the Braves out in a trade either.

In Triple-A, Bethancourt is doing pretty well given the small sample size so far. Hopefully this will lead to another promotion to Atlanta and the Braves will finally give him a legitimate shot to prove his value. If not, Atlanta will possibly trade valuable pitching prospects for a defense first position... Which is interesting considering that's Bethancourt's speciality.