Back in December, Drew wrote a stellar piece about the boom and bust that is so prevalent in the catcher market. Whether it's the physical grind or just the extra spotlight on the game's most unique position, it's hard to disagree with his thesis that there are few things in baseball more hyperbolic and mercurial than breathless talk about a young backstop.
Who cares. Let's take a quick peek at a handful of past and present COTFs, both well known (and not that young anymore) and emerging, and their current status in camp.
- Jesus Montero and Austin Romine, Yankees: Montero is the one with the flashy bat and most of the press coverage but at least one reporter says that Romine is "light years ahead" of Montero behind the plate. Both were just sent down to AAA, but if one gets called up during the season the smart money would be on Montero, the guy with the chance to make the most immediate offensive impact.
- JR Towles and Jason Castro, Astros: Towles is on the other side of COTF hype. A couple seasons ago he was all hype and potential but hasn't done a whole heck of anything with the big club. Castro is the team's #1 pick from 2008 and most highly regarded offensive prospect. But at the moment, Towles is having the bigger spring and that combined with his relative seniority look to give him the edge for the #1 spot on the depth chart.
- Adam Moore, Mariners: While starter Rob Johnson has been recovering from hip surgery, Moore has been getting plenty of innings behind the dish and AB's next to it. And Don Wakamatsu seems happy as a clam about the whole development, saying he has a chance to be "a real special player" and pitchers Ian Snell and Cliff Lee have also heaped praise on him. Fine, but whatever you do just don't call him Jeff Clement.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden, Rangers: OH MY GOD HOW LONG ARE THEY GONNA DO THIS??
- Josh Thole, Mets: Thole had a fine season in the minors last year, had a cup of coffee at the end of the season and was optioned to AAA last week. With the motley crew of catchers the Mets currently employ, another strong start down on the farm could bring him back up again. Expect swoony love columns to follow. Not even the immortal Omir Santos is safe from COTF hype.
- Florida State Seminole Buster Posey, Giants: Conventional wisdom at the beginning of camp had FSSBP starting the year in the minors no matter how well he did, just to delay his arbitration eligibilty. But is Bruce Bochy throwing a wrench in that line of thunkin' by giving Posey reps at first? LET HIM PLAY DUDE, YOU HAVE NO OFFENSE.
- Wilson Ramos, Twins: Wait, the Twins have a COTF? The same Twins that just signed their catcher to an extension so well publicized that it probably slept with Tiger Woods during the health care vote? Apparently so. Our boy La Velle Neal says the team is enamored with this guy both for his catching skill and the pop in his bat. Gardy calls him "a package deal" and Gardy knows package (stores). So who knows, if Ramos gets the backup spot and sees some time every now and then spelling the not-always-healthy Mauer, he could make a name for himself. After all, isn't one of the dreams for a COTF to become Trade Bait OTF or better yet, Overpaid In Relation To Actual Experience Free Agent OTF?