The Rangers are set up well at catcher for the 2008 season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Gerald Laird. 23-year old switch hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia was one of the keys to the Mark Teixeira trade with the Braves and he will get every opportunity to win the starting job in Texas. Saltalamacchia played in 93 games last season for the Braves and Rangers and he was 82 for 308 (.266 avg, .732 OPS) with 39 runs scored, 11 homers and 33 RBIs. He only threw out 14% of the runners that tried to steal on him and pitchers had a 4.76 ERA with him behind the plate. Look for him to really improve in his second season in the bigs.
28-year old righty swinging Gerald Laird was handed the starting job for the Rangers behind the plate last season and he lost the job due to his poor hitting. He played in 120 games last season for the Rangers and he was 91 for 407 (.224 avg, .627 OPS) with 48 runs scored, 9 homers and 47 RBIs. Laird was impressive on defense as he threw out 40% of the runners that tried to steal on him and pitchers had a 4.78 ERA when throwing to him. Laird will likely return to his role as the backup catcher on the Rangers.
36-year old switch-hitting Adam Melhuse will be the #3 catcher on the Rangers this season. He can also play some 3B which makes him more valuable off the bench. Melhuse played in 35 games last season with the Rangers & A’s and he was 20 for 94 (.213 avg, .562 OPS) with 8 runs scored, 1 homer and 9 RBIs. He will likely have to start the season in AAA unless one of the catchers ahead of him are injured or traded.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2008 SEASON: C+