complete b#llsh!t- looks like Rod Barajas would be the starter...f'n told ya!First, let me introduce you to each of the Phillies starting catcher candidates:
1) Rod Barajas - 8 year veteran. Has started around 100 games each of the last three seasons with Texas after playing 50% of the time in Arizona, where he won a World Series. He batted .256-11-41 with the Rangers last year. His previous best season was '05 when he knocked 21 out of the yard and drove in 60.
2) Chooch Ruiz - the heir apparent to that stiff Mike Lieberthal. Ruiz stuggled in his initial stint with the Phils last year but rebounded at the end of the year to hit a respectable .261 for the season. Ruiz has torched minor league pitching (for catchers...) hitting over .300 in the last two seasons in AAA.
3) Chris Coste - 11 minor league season. Lifetime .301 minor league average (built mainly on his early career in the Northern League.) When he finally got to the Big Show, he still hit, batting .328-7-32 in limited action last year behind the plate.
Analysis - Despite Barajas being the starter heading into the season (according to phillies.com) I still see Ruiz getting a good deal of time behind the plate. Ruiz has proven himslef at AAA, but he only played in 27 games last year. I can't see starting the season and trusting a pitching staff and a playoff contending team to a catcher with 27 games major league experience. Barajas is a necessary evil. His "upside" is far below that of Ruiz but he is a proven commodity that can bridge the gap between Lieby and (presumably) Ruiz. The guy who is really going to take it in the 5-hole here is Chris Coste. With Barajas and Ruiz doing the majority of the catching, and Helms and Charlie-Manuel-Love-Doll Abe Nunez holding down third base, I think you'll see Chris Coste in an emergency / pinch-hit / injury roll this year. He got 198 at-bats last year in only 65 games. He won't get more than that next year.
Speaking of catchers, how about some of these classic Phillie backstops:
Ozzie Virgil - the Ozzman cometh! He had two pretty solid years in '84 and '85, hitting 37 homeruns. That got him traded to the Braves for Milt Thompson and Steve Bedrosian. Two of the greatest beards in Phillie's history, Virgil and Bedrock, traded for each other. This is an event that is not referenced enough by the historians.
Steve Lake - proving in this pic that the fu-manchu was around South Philadelphia ballparks long before Sal came to town. Lake played four seasons for the Phillies. He sucked. He still was a better hitter and Abe Nunez will ever be.