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December 08, 2004

Texas exhumes catcher, signs to contract

The Rangers signed catcher SANDY ALOMAR, JR. to a one-year deal for $500,000.

While Ranger management didn't come out and say so, they apparently feel that Gerald Laird deserves punishment. Alomar's signing runs concurrent with GM John Hart banishing Laird to AAA three months before he reports to camp, saying that Laird would start the season in AAA and he "wouldn't be surprised if at some point Gerald is with [Texas]." Thus, Laird has already been deemed inferior to Rod Barajas, he of the .227/.265/.383 career line. (Texas may also trade for or sign another starting catcher.)

Laird did return to soon from his thumb injury, and, inarguably, his utter inability to catch on consecutive days or hit on any day placed too heavy a burden on Barajas's shoulders. On the other hand, who, if not Ranger management, permitted his return? Laird also damned himself by not playing in winter ball, a choice that previously brought managerial contempt upon Kevin Mench.

Laird isn't more than a decent catching prospect. He might become a poor man's Jim Sundberg, or he might have an itinerant, Randy Knorr-like career. Still, it is disheartening as a fan to know that Laird is preordained to don a Redhawks jersey in April.

As for Alomar, he's a famous name with a career that reasonably approximates Darrin Fletcher with shakier health (in fact, Fletcher is slightly younger). Last year, the 37-year-old Alomar batted .240/.298/.308 in limited action, and a repoted deal with Philadelphia collapsed after the team's physicians denied medical clearance. Does Texas expect Alomar to improve as a 38-year-old? I'll give him a 10% chance of being surprisingly adequate, a 40% chance of being very inadequate (and, with Barajas, making the Ranger catching corps among the three or four worst in baseball offensively), and a 50% chance of not lasting the season.

Posted by Lucas at December 8, 2004 11:25 PM