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February 9, 2007

Looking Ahead to 2007: The Backup Catcher Candidates
by SG

I'm having a rough week at work, which you may have noticed from my meager posting, but I wanted to at least get my 2007 player previews started. So, I figured I could squeeze in a quick look at the exciting trio of backup catchers the Yankees are bringing to spring training with an eye on the backup role to Jorge Posada. The three candidates whom it seems will be fighting out are Raul Chavez, Wil Nieves, and Todd Pratt.

Like last year, I'm going to run throught the various projection systems for each of these guys. In this case, we'll be looking at their CHONE projections , their Marcel projections, their ZiPS projections, and their PECOTA projections.

First up, there's Raul Chavez. Chavez will 34 in 2007, and brings a career line of .212/.253/.284 to the battle. How does he project in 2007? I'm sure it's not very good, but we'll take a look anyway.

Next up is Wil Nieves, the bounty for Bret Prinz a couple of years ago. Nieves isn't particularly young at 29, and is pretty much a singles hitter with very little plate discipline.

Next up is non-roster invite Todd Pratt. At one time, Pratt was a really good backup catcher. He's now 40. Would you believe he's older than John Flaherty?

I calculated the projected batting runs using linear weights compared to average, and position-adjusted for catchers. I removed PECOTA from the charts so I don't get sued.

Remember Kelly Stinnett and how much he sucked? Raul Chavez is worse.

Based on projected playing time, Pratt's about a half-win better than Nieves and a full win better than Chavez. Of course, this ignores defense. Here's how their defense rates over the last five seasons.

Joe Torre is likely to take Pratt due to his experience. The numbers say it would end up being the smart move. Of course, Tessio thought he was making the smart move too.