FriarBall: 2008 Previews: Catcher

Saturday, February 2, 2008

2008 Previews: Catcher

Wow, it's amazing how time gets away from you. Starting today (and hopefully continuing regularly until Spring Training starts), FriarBall will be looking at the Padres by position, heading into Spring Training and offering thoughts on how the team stands at each position.

Starting with the catchers, it's nice to know that while we may not have a standout superstar behind the plate we do have two competent catchers that would challenge for playing time on most teams in the majors.

While I would assume Josh Bard will be the "starter" this season, it is likely both he and Michael Barrett will each see plenty of plate appearances and have the opportunity to provide offense to the 2008 squad.

Bard really seemed to have a breakout performance last year but at age 30, he should continue to get better with more playing time and I don't see any reason why he can't improve upon the .285/.367/.404 he put up last year.

Barrett will be more of a wild card this year as he tries to rebound from a down year by his standards. Between Chicago and San Diego his batting average dropped from .307 in 2006 to .244 last year. While '06 was definitely a career year for the 31-year-old, he should be able to bounce back somewhat this year. His power numbers may not recover because of the Petco factor, but he should be able to hit more in the .280 range again and he should see upswings in his on base and slugging percentages as well.

The best thing about this tandem is the fact they are a tandem. If one gets hurt the other should be ready to take on more work without issue, and this may be the lone spot on the squad that is not in trouble if an injury occurs. Depth often decides post season runs as much as performance, and neither of those should hinder the catching position in '08.

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