By Evan Brunell
Now that the Giants have had some time to evaluate Eli Whiteside as a starting catcher, they're readying to acquire a new catcher -- if not two, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Whiteside has been the Giants' backup catcher since the beginning of 2009 but hasn't shown any capability with the stick. He's at .164/.266/.255 in 64 plate appearances and as the Mercury News days, has fared poorly on throws to second base and allowing too many passed balls or dropped pitches.
Now, it appears the Giants are ready to move on. One name being mentioned is Ivan Rodriguez, awho is transitioning into a backup role and would find more playing time in San Francisco. However, there are two major roadblocks: Rodriguez is struggling at the plate himself and reportedly told the Nationals he does not want to be traded. While I-Rod would contribute to the Giants on defense and intangibles, the combination of no stick and desire to be traded despite being moved into a backup role could be enough to scare San Francisco away, at least for now.
Not counting the flotsam that's floating around (lookin' at ya, Matt Treanor), here's a look at what catchers could be considered for San Francisco:
Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit, Pirates: Snyder (left) was acquired from the Diamondbacks last season and has a .263/.371/.389 line in 118 plate appearances and has been battling Doumit for playing time all season. Snyder was a bit of a contract dump last year, but has rebounded nicely after two sub-par seasons. He is due $5.75 million this year with a $750,000 buyout of a $6.75 million club option. The Pirates also have $3 million in their pocket from the Diamondbacks to help defray both his 2010 and 2011 salaries. While his power still hasn't returned, he's a strong defensive catcher with a great OBP that would profile well with the Giants and their miserable .306 OBP. Doumit (right) isn't as good a fit as he's defensively challenged and injury prone but does have a .269/.333/.441 mark in 103 plate appearances. He wouldn't be that bad as a stopgap if the club really wants power. But Snyder's defense and on-base pop should outweigh the added power Doumit brings. The Pirates would accept a minor-league player or young major leaguer, so a fit wouldn't be difficult to find.
Ramon Hernandez, Reds: Hernandez is working on just a one-year deal for $3 million and has a career-best .902 OPS in splitting time with Ryan Hanigan. The 35-year-old has a .312/.374/.528 line and solid defensive production, so it's hard to argue that he wouldn't be the perfect fit. But the Reds are trying to win games themselves, and Ryan Haniganhas yet to deliver on the promise of 2010. Devin Mesoraco is ripping apart Triple-A, but Cincy is no hurry to move on from Hernandez and it will take a competitive offer for the Reds to part with Hernandez -- an offer that is probably out of the Giants' price range.
Rod Barajas, Dodgers: Yeah, the Dodgers are a division rival and are hanging tough in the division at 29-33 and 5 1/2 games out, one of -- if not both -- the win-loss record or games behind figures will likely dip and put L.A. into selling mode the closer the deadline arrives. It doesn't hurt that owner Frank McCourt is scrambling to cut corners in order to meet payroll and keep his team. Barajas is at .208/.271/.371 on the year, putting him squarely in the flotsam category, but really, he's the best of that grouping as he's capable of knocking 20 home runs. If he starts hitting better, the Giants could be interested. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was Sabean's right-hand man for many years so there is a rapport there.
Jeff Mathis, Angels: Manager Mike Scioscia loves Mathis, even though Mathis couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if he tried. Owner of a career 48 OPS+ (that's OPS relative to the league, with 100 average, so he's miles worse than the average league hitter), he's been especially putrid this season with a .207/.237/.279 line while splitting time with Hank Conger and making Bobby Wilson get splinters on the bench. As much as Scioscia values Mathis's defense, Conger is the catcher of the future and the Angels may still be able to extract some value for Mathis in a trade given his defensive reputation. If the Giants can't find a bat to replace Posey, they can at least find an elite defender.
Jesus Flores, Nationals: A bit of a surprise name here. Flores was a Rule 5 pick of the Nationals way back in 2007 and received the bulk of playing time in 2008 with 324 plate appearances. He hit for a .256/.296/.402 line. He broke out in 2009 with a .301/.375/.505 mark in 29 games before biting the dust with a right shoulder stress fracture that finished his 2009 season and kept him out of the 2010 season as well. He's been predominantly playing in Triple-A this year but has struggled to get back in the groove with a .243/.262/.360 line in 36 games. He offers upside and could get better as the season goes on and is just 26. He could be a flier for Sabean and provide some depth at the position once Posey returns. He could also offer insurance should Posey not return as catcher. The Nationals wouldn't want to deal him at such a low trade value, though, which could affect things.
That's really it for catchers who currently have significant roles and could be considered a significant upgrade. It's very difficult to find an elite catcher like the Giants had in Posey, which makes it all the more devastating a blow. It's going to be impossible for the team to replace Posey's production behind the plate, which means it needs to look elsewhere for upgrades, like cutting bait with Miguel Tejada, which may occur shortly.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.