The St. Louis Cardinals did themselves a favor over the off-season when they added veteran Brayan Pena as backup catcher.
He’ll likely be called on to carry more of the load that guys like Tony Cruz did in the past. Starter Yadier Molina isn’t getting any younger -- and he’s had a series of injuries over the past few seasons that have cut into his playing time.
So Pena will be more of a second starter than a true backup in the sense of Cruz. Cruz was only going to play once a week, at best, if Yadi was healthy. I expect Pena to see two -- or sometimes three games a week during dog days of summer.
But to best utilize Pena and Molina, I’d love to see the Redbirds find a realistic option for a third catcher.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Both Pena and Molina can hit. It would be a shame if one of them is tied to the bench every game.
If Molina starts and Pena is used as a pinch hitter (or vice versa) the Cardinals are left with no backup catcher on the bench. And that’s a risky situation for manager Mike Matheny to be in.
With a third catcher, the Cardinals would at least have a backup plan that would allow the other guys on the roster to be used to their full potential.
The Cards can’t afford to waste a roster spot on a guy who is ONLY a third catcher. That doesn’t really help because there would still be a guy at the end of the bench who was untouchable in pinch hitting roles. That might have worked in the Whiteyball era when teams carried five relievers and seven benchwarmers. But when the current Redbirds carry six or seven bullpenners, it’s the bench that pays the price.
Maybe the Cardinals need to look at Detroit backup catcher and utility player Bryan Holoday.
Holoday is having a killer spring with a .588 batting average and three home runs. Over the longer haul, he’s a solid .251 MLB hitter over parts of four seasons. But the best thing about him is that he not only catches well -- he also plays third base and the outfield corners.
He’d be a nice option off the bench over a long season.
Holoday, 28, is out of options and unlikely to find a spot on the Tigers’ roster because of the addition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He’d probably be pretty cheaply acquired in trade.
Just a thought. Especially if Molina -- who has yet to swing the bat in a Grapefruit League game this year -- isn’t going to be ready to play when the regular season starts.
With Aledmys Diza and Jedd Gyorko battling it out to replace injured shortstop Jhonny Peralta, there is no need to put another mediocre defensive infield on the roster. So replace Greg Garcia with Holoday.