Last year this time, who did you think would be the Rockies’ opening day catcher in 2012? If you said Ramon Hernandez, you’re lying, because no one thought that. If you said Chris Iannetta, you might be telling the truth. He would have been my best guess. At the same time, the front office’s growing dissatisfaction with Iannetta was clear even in the 2010-2011 offseason, so it’s not entirely shocking that Dan O’Dowd was able to make a deal for him. He’ll be missed, by me anyway.
After shipping Netta off to the Angels, DOD signed free agent Hernandez, most recently of the Cincinnati Reds. Hernandez is nothing fantastic, but he’s certainly a capable catcher. He committed just 1 error in 82 games last season, and had only 3 passed balls. Considering the fact that he’s 7 years older than Iannetta, that’s not bad at all. He also contributed 2.0 WAR offensively with his .282 average, 12 home runs, and 36 RBI. Iannetta has more power potential, but the general belief is that he’s never going to live up to it, since he hasn’t yet. We should get out of Hernandez roughly what we got out of Iannetta the past few seasons. He’s also slightly cheaper ($3.2 million instead of $3.5).
More importantly, Hernandez is a stop-gap. At first, he’ll be the starting catcher, but the plan is to phase him out to make room for Wilin Rosario, the Rockies’ catcher of the future. Hernandez’s contract is good through 2013, and hopefully by the end of that season Rosario will be playing every day and contributing. Then we can thank Hernandez for his service and send him on his way.
As to where he fits into the lineup, well, in Jim Tracy’s book catchers only get to bat 8th. Unless, of course, they are named Eliezer Alfonzo.