Cheap Seats

Preview: Catchers

Catching may be the least worrisome column on the Cardinals roster. Not only does the team have a a young defensive wiz behind the plate as the starter, but also a capable back up and a prospect in the minors who is near major league ready.

Yadier Molina -- Statistically, he had the worst defensive season of his career in 2008 and he walked away with his first Gold Glove. Why? Because he had his statistically best offensive season in 2008. It makes no sense. But it bodes well for the Cardinals that Molina seems to have finally chosen a hitting stance and stuck with it. I have believed since his rookie season that Molina has the stuff to hit .270 or .275 with 15 or so homers. And that is a ton of production from a guy who erases other teams' runs from the scoreboard by cutting down runners on the basepaths and keeping them from advancing on pitches in the dirt. I have a feeling that last season was just a warm-up. As Yadi Matures, his stick is just going to get better. (2008 stats: .304, 7 HR, 56 RBI, 37.)

Jason LaRue -- It looked like LaRue's bat had gone dry in the early part of 2009. On June 19, he was hitting .194. But his glove work kept getting La Rue in games and when the summer heated up, so did he. The soon to be 35-year-old isn't going to compete for the starting job. But he's a nice extra guy to have around. And he has the best moustache in the National League. (2008 stats: .213, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 17 R.)

Bryan Anderson -- The 22-year-old catcher hit .388 in Class AA Springfield early in 2008 to earn a promotion to Class AAA Memphis. In 73 games there, he hit .281 with a .367 on base percentage. A .306 career hitters in the minors, Anderson's stick isn't the concern. Coaches are trying to sharpen his glovework to help him jump to the big club. Anderson has been the subject of several trade rumors. But, given the Birds recent past, it looks like a youth movement is in the works for 2010 David Freese or Brett Wallace taking over at third, Colby Rasmus inheriting the center field job and, possibly, Anderson coming up to fill the shoes of LaRue as Molina's back up.

Overall grade: A-

A little more power behind the plate might be nice. But you can't ask for much more than what Molina and his cast of backups already give. If Yadi stays healthy, he should be the favorite for the Gold Glove again in 2009.

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