The Great Backup Catcher Logjam, or: Nothing Better Happen to McCann

Normally I would write up the obvious backup catcher then do an “other catching possibilities” post, but the Braves have done nothing to establish the backup catcher, so everybody goes in one entry.

Really, this shouldn’t be the case, as Brayan Pena hasn’t done anything to play himself out of the job and is out of options, so the Braves will almost certainly lose him if he isn’t on the major league roster. Pena didn’t do a whole lot in brief playing time last year, but wasn’t completely embarrassing, and has obviously conquered the minor leagues. He hit .301/.341/.423 for Richmond last year, and has hit over .300 for four seasons in a row of minor league play, with a career .314/.360/.405 line.

Pena has picked up a reputation as a good defensive catcher somewhere, probably because he hasn’t hit a whole lot in his major league trials and any catcher who doesn’t hit will get the good glove rep. He is agile behind the plate and has yet to commit an error in 40 major league games, and committed only one as a catcher last year in the minors, but didn’t throw well in his first major league outings. Last year, he threw out half of opposing baserunners, four of eight. He has lost most of his speed, meaning that the Braves’ efforts to make a super-utilityman out of him probably came too late. He played first, third, and the outfield corners at times for Richmond, none of them apparently too well, judging from the stats.

The Braves, meanwhile, seem to like Clint Sammons an awful lot, though I’m not sure why. Sammons hit okay in the low minors, not as well as Pena. He didn’t do well in Myrtle Beach on his first try, which hardly makes him unique; he played better there last season but was overmatched in Mississippi. The Braves called him up to the big club anyway, where he had two hits in three at-bats, starting the last game of the season. I don’t get the attraction, but I haven’t seen much of him; maybe he has great defensive skills or something.

The Braves brought Abe Miller back on a minor league deal after he wasn’t totally awful as the backup after Saltalamacchia was traded and Pena was hurt/banished. Corky hit .259/.310/.444, but in only 29 PA. Alternating with Pena behind the plate in Richmond, he hit .210 but with a .342 OBP. You can do worse.

For instance, J.C. Boscan, who wasn’t any good when he was called “Jean” and isn’t any better now. The Braves signed Boscan back in 1997, out of Venezuela, giving him (as I recall) a whole lot of money, and he has never ever hit, not even a little, and never will. His best year in the minor leagues was 2004, when he hit .246/.345/.313 for Greenville and Richmond. The Braves let him go after 2005, but after two years of his usual embarrassing play with the fine, fine organizations of the Brewers and Reds, the Braves brought him back. He presumably has no chance, but you can never tell. I understand he’s good on defense, or is supposed to be. I guess he’d have to be.

Last, and the opposite of least, Javy Lopez. Javy didn’t play in 2007, and didn’t play well in 2006, but hey, it’s Javy! I don’t see any reason not to give him a shot. I might be upset if I thought he would be taking Pena’s job, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the best we could reasonably hope for is Miller. He might outhit Miller, who can tell? It’s a better idea than bringing back Eddie Perez was.

Brayan Pena Statistics (Minor Leagues) –
Clint Sammons Statistics (Minor Leagues) –
Corky Miller Statistics (Minor Leagues) –
J.C. Boscan Statistics (Minor Leagues) –
Javy Lopez Statistics –

83 thoughts on “The Great Backup Catcher Logjam, or: Nothing Better Happen to McCann”

  1. I will actually agree with the label “good defensive catcher” for Clint Sammons. He has an absolute cannon for an arm.

    I too do not know why Brayan Pena is not the backup catcher. It does not seem like the Braves like him too much at the major league level. I think he will be dealt before the start of the season.

  2. No, Kevin, the story would be what allowed Javy to be comeback player of the year–an unspeakable occurrence to McCann. Let’s not go there, please.

  3. UGA President Michael Adams sending letter to Myles Brand outlining a proposed Playoff system:


    And I actually believe Adams about the overall match-ups (at this point) being the bigger issue whether you felt Georgia should be in last night’s game or not. By last week, I was far more dismayed having to watch us play (read: dismantle) Hawaii than whether we should have been in the Monday game.

    What’s most telling? The reaction by Ohio State President Gordon Gee:

    “As far as a playoff system, there will not be one,” Ohio State President Gordon Gee recently told reporters. “They will wrench a playoff system out of my cold, dead hands. It’s too much like moving toward having universities being farm clubs for the pros.”

    What a SHOCKER. The mouthpiece for the Bug 11 champion, the team that plays a pillowy soft schedule, with no qualifying championship game, and the school that got a FREE PASS to the BCS title game and is now 0-9 against the SEC, is against the idea of a tournament. I am stunned.

  4. @4
    love the Charlton Heston reference…and the douche bags on game day claiming that USC is the best team in the land…please. espn, what a sham. congrats to LSU, way to bring it home for the SEC.

  5. beedee-

    There’s a small groupf of teams – USC, Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas (for the most part) that no matter how good or bad those teams do, the talking heads at ESPN are in love with.

    This is the problem. We have opinions on ESPN that are influencing games and rankings.

    If you did institute a tournament, not only would we be spared from the BCS only having Georgia or USC blowouts (or spared from Ohio State ever participating in another championship game) but then the Herbstreit’s and Corso’s and Lou Holtz’s of the world wouldn’t matter – Georgia and USC would have settled it on the field.

    And though I think Georgia or USC could have won – but Georgia or USC vs. LSU would have at least been a fun game to watch on Television and better for Fox. Watching choke-hio State play football is like watching “CSI” – slow, boring, methodical.

  6. How can you criticize Ohio State for not playing in and winning a conference championship game, and then turn around and say that UGA should have played USC for the title when Georgia did not even make it their conference championship game and USC did not as the Pac-10 does not have one.

  7. Not that I think OSU deserved to play in that game necessarily – it probably should have been USC vs. LSU.

  8. Smitty,

    You are hilarious. Thanks for giving me a good laugh this morning.

    I think Georgia wins a close, hard fought game, 27-24. But we’ll never know so it’s only a guess.


    I am really not upset as much anymore about Georgia not getting in last night – but rather, would have at least like dto have seen them play USC so the country and Fox would get a great game. (not that Thom Brenneman deserves that).

    But the Big 10 doesn’t even have a championship and Ohio State’s schedule this year was as easy as Kansas and Hawaii’s. At least Kansas ended their year with a win.

    Of course the Ohio State President doesn’t want to change the system – look how often Ohio State benefits! (and the SEC will continue to beat their brains in – ahem).

  9. It’s clear that if Javi shows any ability at all to still hit and catch he’ll be the backup. Pena has a slight chance of hanging on as a utility man/3rd catcher but more likely will be traded. The others qualify only as worst case scenarios.

  10. @13 – Gotcha. Well there is probably a good shot of UGA playing USC next year in whichever bowl is hosting the title game – both teams are going to be loaded next year. I’m not much of a recruiting nut like some college football fans, but take a look on at USC’s depth chart and their recruting ratings – it is ridiculous. they have five 5 star TB’s returning next year and yet Pete Carroll probably can still convince the best HS RB’s to come play for him.

  11. Sammons has a good defensive rep, and the tag of a “good gamehandler”. Breyan Pena’s continuing exile is frustrating. If you not going to give him a chance, atleast do him a favour and deal while he might make something of a career with some other club.
    I strongly suspect he will be traded and Corky Miller is going to be backup, with Javy retiring once he realises he can’t catch up with ST fastballs.

  12. Now that the semi-professional football season is thankfully over, it’s almost time for baseball, thank god. If Javy has anything left offensively, I wouldn’t mind seeing him because the Braves bench is typically so weak offensively. At least it would help in the interleague games. I don’t want to see Corky Miller again–although he did amazingly get a couple of big hits, even a home run. When is the last time the Braves actually had someone on the bench that could hit?

  13. To those who think USC should have played in the championship game:

    They lost twice just like everyone else, and one of those was to Stanford. Maybe they are the second or first most talented team in football, and maybe if they got into a playoff they’d win it, but a loss to Stanford is almost as bad as it can get. (I say almost, because I really know what the actual worst is and I don’t wanna talk about it).

    OSU is a really good team with one major handicap, a terrible horrible no good very bad QB. They also graduate approximately one important player, and may lose a junior or two to the pros.

    USC vs UGA is probably only happening next year if UGA makes the championship game.

  14. I think voters will be very hesitant next year to put Ohio State in the another BCS championship game, assuming that other teams have equal or better records than them. After the last two poor showings, it will take a lot to get back in good with the voters come the end of the year.

  15. Has there been any further talk on modifying the Big 10 schedule? I remember lot of whining about how they had a much larger break.

    God, you guys are converting me to college football!

  16. Yea the problem this year was that everyone else lost twice to OSU’s once. There wasn’t really much anyone could do to keep OSU out. I still think they’re going to open the season in the top 3 because of how few players they lose, similar to UGA and UF in that regard.

  17. I haven’t heard any talk on modifying the big ten schedule. The large break actually helped OSU this offseason because banged up players were able to heal up. Likewise for Michigan which really had some key players hurt when the regular season ended.

    I don’t know why the Big Ten ends so early. The main reason I’ve heard is that it starts getting REALLY REALLY cold instead of just cold.

  18. Could there be three SEC teams in the preseason top five? I haven’t really thought about it, but my top five would be:


  19. “There’s a small groupf of teams – USC, Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas (for the most part) that no matter how good or bad those teams do, the talking heads at ESPN are in love with. ”

    I agree, but I think their list is different than yours. Its Notre Dame, USC, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas, and possibly Penn St. Even though the SEC has won 3 of the last 4 Champ. Games fairly easy, they still get no love from the analyst or ESPN in general…

  20. Apparently Rosenthal thinks the Mariners are close to getting Bedard. Adam Jones is the central piece. They’ll probably be giving up 2 other prospects, and in all likelihood, because Bill Bavasi is not smart, they will give up something like their three best prospects for 2 years of Bedard.

    Once Bedard is gone, Billy Beane and Bill Smith will get to double team every other club looking to land a frontline starter.

  21. another reason I hate preseason rankings…if you’re going to rank your teams, the National title winner needs to start the next season as the #1 team. Even if LSU is losing 17 starters, they are the best team until the get beat again

  22. One forgets that Georgia already played and lost to USC this year. THATS why they didn’t make the big game.

    Marc, I’m with you. Let baseball season begin. Thank God that OSU lost last night or I would have had to endure months of smug Buckeyes. At least here I can skip the smugger SEC stuff and read the baseball posts.

    I know that the Braves are a scouting first organization but I don’t understand thier assesment of minor league performance. One would think that someone that has had some success in the minors like Brayan Pena would be the first choice to back up McCann. I dunno.

  23. Not only do you want Bedard to stay in the AL, but you want him away from NY and Boston and to wallow in the mediocrity of an AL West club who is not going to be a contender for the playoffs.

  24. CSG,

    I don’t agree. My feeling on it is that if you’re going to rank them, you should rank them based on which team you think would beat every team below them. If you think LSU would lose to UGA, and UF because LSU lost 60% of its starters while the other teams return nearly everyone then you shouldn’t rank LSU above them. What you’re saying is pretty much the same as ranking Hawaii #1 because they were the only undefeated team.

    By week 8, which is when I think rankings should start coming out, you should rank the teams based purely on resume, i.e. who they beat and who beat them. In my opinion resume is more important than record.

  25. Mariners would not be well served to give up Adam Jones. But then, it is almost impossible for them to get Bedard without doing so.
    Braves have totally slunk out of the news after the first day of the Winter meetings. Not that they can do much, but I would atleast feel a bit better if I heard Wren was calling up McPhail and Bavasi.

  26. Too bad we don’t have Horacio Ramirez and Edgar Renteria, if we did, we could offer them up for Adam Jones and probably get him.

  27. I agree with Godot. It is always disappointing when trades are being made and the Braves don’t seem to be involved. But Bedard was always unrealistic. It looks like the O’s actually have competent management finally. If they get Adam Jones, that’s a real coup. I really would have liked to see the Braves take a run at Prior.

    BTW, for those in the DC area, I have been getting calls from the Nationals trying to sell tickets to the new ballpark. Does this mean they are having trouble selling out the new park? It sounds like parking is going to be a mess and the Metro stop won’t be nearly as convenient as at RFK. I’m sure it will be another year of enduring Mets Nation, Cubs Nation, Phillies Nation, and every other Nation at the new park. Braves Nation isn’t particularly loud or obnoxious like the others–but I might be biased.

  28. AAR,

    Oh, I agree we are numerous. Maybe we just don’t drink as much as Mets or Cubs fans! :)

  29. Guess I don’t get the Javy-love (unless you’re female – was about 8 rows behind the plate one time and these three ladies IN FRONT of me had the binoculars out eyeing our handsome catcher).

    I thought we got rid of the guaranteed double play with Andruw …

  30. I sort of lean to the yin/yang of backup catchers. If you’ve got a great offensive catcher, the backup should be a glove guy, and if the starter is a glove guy, you want a bat on the bench.

    I have no problem with a Bruce Benedict clone as a backup.

  31. Yeah we don’t have anything like Adam Jones to offer the O’s. Jones looks good but his great season was put up in the PCL, a hitter friendly league. If I am Seattle I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    Marc, forgive my ignorance but is the new park downtown DC?

  32. 2 things.

    Mac, I think Auburn has to be the front-runner in the west next year. If we hadn’t lost Muschamp, it would be a slam dunk. Even still, it’s not like it takes a brain surgeon to coach the type of talent we have returning. Plus we actually no longer have our maddeningly inconsistent quarterback from the Birmingham suburbs…

    I think the one part we misunderestimate (my favorite fake word) about the Javy thing is how much he’ll bring in with ticket revenue and sales of t-shirt jerseys. Of course, he now has to compete with Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann, instead of just Chipper.

    I don’t like making that point, but that happens when you’re in a family full of female Braves fans…

  33. “By week 8, which is when I think rankings should start coming out, you should rank the teams based purely on resume, i.e. who they beat and who beat them. In my opinion resume is more important than record…”

    exactly, there really is no reason to rank any teams before week 5 or 6, excpet for TV ratings and giving the sports talk guys something to discuss. This is what cost Auburn a shot at a Nat. Title a couple of years ago

  34. If you’re going to mix-and-match your catchers (using the glove guy late when ahead, for example) that makes sense to me. But the Braves don’t normally do that. I think you should just get the best player for the job.

  35. James,

    I think Auburn will have its best team in awhile, but it is going to be close with LSU.
    Auburn has a tough schedule and it is always difficult to replace both off/def coordinators. I really like what LSU brings back on offense. I think Keiland is a star, the WRs should be great, and if Perrilloux can stay out of trouble they should be fine. I think their defense will still be good even with the loss of those seniors.

  36. And, Sammons has options. He has a good throwing arm (one of the best in the minors). IF backup catcher can’t catch too well, then you bring up Sammons.

    Meanwhile, while McCann is o.k. to go, you have a decent pinch hitter on the bench.

    But wait, BC can’t pinch hit a catcher, can he? Maybe we need Eli Marerro II?

  37. Johnny,

    The new park is in an area called Anacostia, which is across the Anacostia River. (The Potomac is a different body of water.) The Capitol and what you might call downtown Washington (although there is no real downtown in the way you are probably familiar with) is on one side of the river and Anacostia is on the other. Anacostia has been a slum and the new park is supposed to be part of a renovation but there have been huge disputes over building parking for the new stadium.

  38. The problem is that it’s often impossible to pick “the best player for the job,” as your analysis sort of indicates: players have different skill sets. That being said, I would lean to having a glove guy on the bench, but Pena may in fact be that guy, I dunno.

  39. UGA President Michael Adams sending letter to Myles Brand outlining a proposed Playoff system:


    This will never, ever happen. Good press for him though.

    Georgia did not even make it their conference championship game and USC did not as the Pac-10 does not have one.

    And the Pac-10 does not need one. The Pac-10 is the perfect football conference right now. Ten teams, everyone plays each other. Everyone has a natural rival for the last weekend (SC-UCLA, Cal-Stanford, Oregon-OSU, Wash-WSU, Arizona-ASU).

    I’m still waiting for LSU to play Georgia. Are we absolutely sure that these two are in the same conference?

  40. Joe Mauer would probably be the “best player for the job” at backup catcher. With V-Mart being the “best player for the job” at starting catcher. Lets do that.

  41. If you had Mauer and Martinez, one of them would be at first base, but you know that…

    I say take the best all-around player is all. Of course, with teams only carrying one backup catcher that player isn’t going to be used to pinch-hit. I continue to lean towards the idea of having one regular catcher and two or three guys who are catchers-and, but that’s way too radical for the Braves.

  42. Robert,

    LSU and Georgia play back to back home and away 2 years out of each 5 (as do each of the other divison teams other than “traditional rival” Auburn).

    Georgia plays, next year, Auburn at Auburn (a series that is favorable to the away team). LSU at LSU, and Alabama in Athens, in addition to the 5 east teams.

  43. UGA prez Adams is certainly courting the positive press, because he hasn’t gotten a lot of that in the past few years. Looks like a “plus-1” setup is being considered. Whatever…

    I love the SEC setup. I’d add one more conference game, but that’s all. The SEC championship game is a blast & I love it. The SEC champ is the SEC champ & there’s no debate.

    The other conferences can do what they want, including crown their champions via karaoke contest.

  44. College Football Recruiting Quote of the Week:

    Courtney Upshaw, 4* DE, possible Bama Committ.

    “The quote of the week came when Upshaw noted that the Auburn coaching staff was still recruiting him. “They told me I could come to Auburn and be another Quentin Groves. I told them that I could go to Alabama and be another Quentin Groves,” he said. Upshaw doesnt plan on taking a visit to Auburn.”

  45. @ 39
    even as an auburn fan i have to say that nothing in the SEC is ever a slam dunk. Yes Auburn will have a young and experienced team next year but until they solve some issues with coaching and start finding the endzone it’s gonna be hard to win much less dominate.
    it will be a fun season regardless.

    as far as the back catcher goes, i don’t see why Pena doesn’t get the spot unless the pitching staff favors Sammons more behind the plate than Pena

  46. Does Sammon’s Georgia connections give him an edge for the job?
    UGA grad, high school hero, Atlanta resident, Frenchy’s high school teammate…

  47. Marc, thanks. Family was talking about taking in DC again this summer.

    James, how the heck do you turn your female family members into Braves fans? I’ve been trying the better part of a decade to get my girls (wife and daughters)to like baseball.

    Mac, agreed for all that I love about Bobby Cox and the Braves. They do cling to the hoary procedures and trends established long ago for no apparent reason.

  48. I heard best qoute of the day from Jesse Palmer on ESPN radio. He was talking about Tressel’s game plan, and the decision to run the ball with Wells. He said “It was a good game plan. Tressel wanted to pound the ball with Wells…LSU has not seen a running back like him this year.”

    I am still fairly certain that LSU played Arkansas, and they had some guy named Darren McFadden, right?

  49. Johnny,

    It probably will be pretty easy for a tourist to get to the park on the subway if you want to take in a game. Unfortunately, the Braves are in twice in April and then only once the rest of the year.

    I agree about Bobby Cox. Like most managers of his generation, he becomes attached to doing things the way they have always done them.

  50. Johnny,

    The head of the entire Nats sales operation is actually an old friend of mine (having lunch w/ him in fact on Thursday) & he said the sales have been going awesome with the new park, but there’s certainly still some seats to be had.

    He readily admits that ownership will probably not overspend the first year or two on free agents because the shine of having the new park will still be a big draw, but if the team doesn’t win with a modest payroll, expect the Nats to “ramp up” in the next few years.

    Of course I told my friend that they should probably start by dumping Jim Bowden. He stayed silent but didn’t disagree.

    re: The SEC in 2008

    …will be loaded – again. LSU’s young talent is so good, I don’t think Auburn’s any kinda lock to win the division. Just like I think it’s probably a toss up between the Dawgs and Gators for the East.

    I really may have to go to Jacksonville this year if at all possible. As a friend of mine said, the winner of the game could be playing their way into the SEC and National Title game.

    As for the pre-season rankings (and I agree…wait until week 8) LSU should not be #1 if the talent level isn’t as good as say Georgia, USC, Florida.

    The fact is, in what other sport do you get to be “considered #1” in a new season, just because you won the previous season?

    Florida won the National title in college hoops, but lost their entire starting 5. I don’t know any Gator fans who thought Florida should even be ranked in the top 20.

    In pro sports, when a team wins a championship, they don’t automatically become the pick of every publication to win again – especially if they lose free agents or a close rival got a lot better.

  51. #55

    Kenny – ESPN gets what they deserve for hiring ‘The Bachelor’. That’s asinine.

  52. Mac,

    You’d play Mauer or Vmart over Pujols at first base? I dont think so, Mauer can ride the pine.

  53. Alex,

    I agree on preseason rankings. If we are going to have them, and it is apparent that they can be important to determing who plays in the MNC game, than they should be based on who is the best team going into the season. The polls are supposed to be a snap-shot of how good teams are at a particular point in time. A few of the many problems with polls are that people never reevalutate their opinons, and pollsters are always tring to make teams fit in with where they thought they would be. The second part is why you see so many pollsters clamoring that they think USC is the best team in the nation (preseason #1).

    Palmer is usually not to terrible, but ESPN is trying to make him another Herbstreit. He has gotten better, but still says a lot of strange things that are extraordinarily puzzling.

  54. I wish those dates were a bit more spread out – but a lot of weekend games, thankfully.

  55. Yup – I am not sure how many tickets my Nats friend will give me, but if I can convince him to give me any extra, I will let you know and get them to you.

  56. The battle for backup backstop begins. Let’s hope he remains in a reserve role.

    Auburn peeps,
    Just curious: Who will be your QB next year?

    We’re #2! We’re #2!

  57. ububba,

    I can’t speak for the Auburn folks because, but seems to me the job is Kodi Burns’ to lose?

  58. There’s actually another game in DC because the Braves are opening the stadium on March 31. Of course, good luck getting tickets to that one. As part of my season ticket consortium, I typically get two tickets to the games I choose and try to find someone else to go with me. So, if anyone is interested, I will probably have an extra ticket to some of the Braves games in DC.

  59. Marc-

    yes – that is correct – 3/31. I think I am going to have to PAY for that lunch this Thursday to ensure a good ticket to that one.

  60. Sorry, answering my own question he got 50 the previous year. It’s the most he’s gotten since 2001. Perhaps a little probably-not-a-juicer mojo working there.

  61. Alex,

    I would certainly be interested and appreciative of free tickets. But I will also be buying tickets through my ticket consortium and we have to buy them in pairs so there is always an extra ticket.

  62. Hey, as far as you DC guys go, if yall are just throwing around Braves-Nats tickets give me a holler.

  63. I didn’t really make my female family members Braves fans. They love baseball almost as much as I do. I’ve got some that are Montgomery Biscuits season ticket holders even. They usually make at least one Auburn baseball game every year. I guess I just got lucky

  64. Clint Sammons is a stud catcher..Thats one reason why the braves love him. Another is that he is an extremely intelligent player. Another is he is very likeable which goes a long way with an organization like the braves. He’s mature even for his age. You wouldn’t know from his numbers but he’s clutch at the plate..Surprisingly his arm isn’t that outstanding, but he’s quick and accurate, He calls a great game..He plays the game right..He respects coaches and player alike.
    !Boscan!, one of the best catching prospects the braves have had in the past decade. That kid has a cannon for an arm, Calls a great game. Receives the ball…like the stud he is..except he can’t hit..
    Pena, can’t call a game, isn’t that great of a receiver. Not all that likeable. Isn’t really a leader (unlike sammons).
    Who would I rather have as my backup catcher? well someone who at least is more valuable as a catcher

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