It may be time for Mets to part ways with Josh Thole

Kelly Shoppach

Kelly Shoppach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     The New York Mets production has not been very good this season. Even though a lot of teams have struggled getting offense from their catchers, it has become a concern over whether the future behind the plate looks bright at all for the Mets. Josh Thole, known to be a hitter first, catcher second, is currently hitting .238 with just 18 RBI in 277 at bats this season. Though Kelly Shoppach has gotten off to a good start since being acquired from Boston, he does not profile as an everyday major league catcher. As the 2012 season is coming to an end, it seems planned out for Thole and Shoppach to split time behind the plate going into the 2013 season.
    I think a fair case could be made that Thole has improved behind the plate as a defensive catcher. He seems to be catching the ball better and with help from pitching coach Dan Warthen, has called a better game than he has in recent years. But his defense is still below average and his offense does not make up for his imperfections behind the plate. The Mets sent Lucas Duda to AAA after a terrible slump earlier this season. Though Duda was hitting much worse, it was determined his offensive production was not enough to substantiate him being in the field where he was a liability. My question is when it will be determined Thole has the same value Duda did at that point.
Thole was expected to be a .300 hitter and it is pretty obvious he will not be. His approach at the plate is terrible. He is not aggressive and consistently takes fastballs right down the middle. And when he has two strikes, (which seems like every time up) he chokes up on the bat and tries to do anything he can not to strike out. He turns into a slap hitter (see Luis Castillo) and becomes extremely vulnerable.
Based on the recent couple of weeks, it seems Terry Collins has become more inclined to use Shoppach on more of a regular basis, even against right handed pitchers. The Mets need to upgrade at this position. It will not happen with Thole and Shoppach on the roster after this season. Though Shoppach is a free agent, it is likely the Mets will bring him back for next year. Having Shoppach and Thole will keep the Mets from pursuing another catcher.
What are the Mets options? They can try to trade Thole but lets be honest, even at age 25 he has little value. Perhaps he can be added to a trade as a throw in. That would be ideal. Since Thole is not arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season, he is unlikely to be non-tendered. The truth is, Thole is not a regular catcher, even as part of a platoon. I think the Mets need to move on from Thole before they can make an effort to upgrade the position. Maybe releasing him may be a little harsh, I can’t think of anything more resonable for the Mets to do. Thole is still young enough to get a fresh start somewhere else. I wish him the best, but its time for Josh Thole and the New York Mets to part ways.
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