A preview of the 2008 Mets, presented in the expected batting order, followed by pitching rotation, followed by impact bullpen/bench players. Today we focus on catcher Brian Schneider.
2007: .235 avg, 6 HR, 54 RBI, 33 runs, .326 OBP, 129 games
To Rick Peterson, Brian Schneider is a catcher who knows how to handle pitchers - one of the best in the game at doing so.
To Omar Minaya, Brian Schneider is an excellent defensive catcher.
To Willie Randolph, Brian Schneider is not Paul LoDuca (and that's a very good thing).
To Mets fans, none of this matters. Brian Schneider (who will forever be paired with Ryan Church in this regard) is the .235-hitting catcher that was acquired in exchange for top trading chip Lastings Milledge.
I guess it's no harm, no foul, since the Mets traded Milledge to the Nationals and were still able to acquire Johan Santana from the Twins. But the fact remains Milledge was out there for years, and could have brought the Mets a big catch....but he brought Brian Schneider and Ryan Church. And that has the potential to be a tough thing for Schneider to live down...or live up to.
Personally, I think I'm going to like Schneider. I keep hearing great things about the kind of catcher he is, and any offense he adds at this point looks like it'll be a bonus. That said, I don't think he'll hit .235 again - he's more of a .260-.270 hitter, and the Mets will be able to give him plenty of rest, with Ramon Castro seeing plenty of time off the bench in 2008, I'm sure.
Paul Lo Duca might give you a .300 average, but his emotions could cloud his judgments (and also did a number on relationships in the clubhouse, from what I hear). If Brian Schneider is hitting less than .300, but keeping the Mets in games by keeping his head on what's happening in the field, that's an improvement for the Mets. The Mets have a few pitchers who could use a heads-up catcher - Oliver Perez in particular, and guys like Aaron Heilman out of the bullpen. Maybe that's where Schneider proves his worth.
Catcher was a very strange position this off-season. The Mets went from a possible free agent signing of Yorvit Torrealba (or Jorge Posada to a lesser extent) to an actual acquisition of Johnny Estrada, to finally settling with Brian Schneider. If he can contribute in any way offensively, while living up to the defensive standards that will now be expected of him, Mets fans will be fine with Schneider ending that game of catcher roulette as a Met.