Three backstops too many?

sandy.jpg

In the major leagues, when a catcher is traded, released or goes on the disabled list, the course of action for a ballclub is rather obvious: The team calls up a catcher from one of its minor league affiliates to fill the void.

As you know, the Atlantic League doesn’t have minor league affiliates. So what happens when an Atlantic League team loses a catcher to an affiliated organization or injury?

It scrambles to find a replacement.

This happened to the York Revolution twice last season. The abrupt retirement of Greg Brown on Aug. 15 and a nagging thumb injury to Luis Taveras left York with one option behind the plate for brief periods of time in 2007. The club considered signing Chris Hoiles to a 10-day contract on a number of occasions to serve as the back-up catcher, but he held out for the maximum league salary and negotiations stalled (I kid, I kid).

My poor jokes aside, Adam Gladstone, the Revolution’s director of baseball operations, does not plan to be caught in this bind again. Although he’s only procuring talent for one team and could have an easier time finding replacements this year, the Revs plan to carry three catchers throughout the ’08 season.

Taveras and Sandy Aracena (pictured above) will serve as the one-two combination — in no particular order — with youngster Kevin Kotch filling the role of emergency catcher. Kotch has limited rookie ball and low Class A experience and has basically signed on for the opportunity to learn from Hoiles.

Gladstone feels Taveras and Aracena will make up one of the best catching combinations in the league. In my view, Lancaster (Lance Burkhart and Manny Mejia) and Somerset (Travis Anderson and Jason Belcher) are the only other teams in the conversation so far.

But the big issue here is obvious: can the Revolution afford to hang on to three catchers all season? When the affiliated signings start mounting and the strain of a 140-game season start to take its toll on the pitching staff, it will be interesting to see if York sticks to its plan.

070817_revs_ducks_2.jpgMy guess is Kotch will eventually get caught in a numbers crunch. Aracena has not played in affiliated ball since 2005 and has only made it to Class A. Taveras, 32, played at Triple A in 2003 but has no record of playing professionally in the United States until he joined the Revolution last year. So the odds that either of these players are signed by affiliated clubs are slim. Thus, barring injuries, you could argue that Hoiles will have a hard time working Kotch into the lineup.

We’ll have to closely monitor how the 23-year-old — finally a player younger than me! — performs in spring training and throughout the first month of the season. The Revs plan to bring about 26 players to Lakeland, Fla. and will likely leave camp with 24 on the active roster, but I’ve been assured Kotch will be on the team on opening day.

First major concert to be announced: The Revs will announce the identity of a Grammy Award-winning musical act slated to play at Sovereign Bank Stadium this summer during the team’s Fan Fest on Saturday. The concert will take place on June 14 and will be the first major musical act to perform in the stadium.

Hawk attacks girl at Fenway: In a strange bit of news, a young student from Memorial Boulevard Middle School in Bristol, Conn. was attacked by a hawk during a tour of Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday. The hawk swooped down and scratched the girls’ scalp with its talons, although she was not seriously injured.

More on Bonds: Jayson Stark is the latest man to tackle the question: Why is Barry Bonds unemployed? Sorry to disappoint, but there’s no mention of the Long Island Ducks in there. Still, anonymous sources say they’re certain Bonds will play in the majors again this year. So he has to find some way to keep fresh, right?

*Aracena photo by Dispatch photographer John Pavoncello; Taveras photo by Dispatch photo editor Randy Flaum.

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2 Responses

  1. Tike Redman just keeps plugging away. The former Revs’ outfielder went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in Norfolk’s 9-4 loss on Thursday night.

    Redman is once again hitting leadoff and playing center field for the Tides. Anyone want to take a stab at how many days pass before we see Redman back in the majors?

  2. The Jessica Simpson concert at Commerce Bank Ballpark a few years ago was great.

    Because I got a story out of it? No.

    Because I got in for free? No.

    Because I got to be five feet from Jessica Simpson?

    You bet.

    – Mike Ashmore

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