Max Ramirez deserves a chance in Texas


With Thursday's news that Texas Rangers starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is unfortunately back on the disabled list dealing with upper back stiffness, Taylor Teagarden will become the starter somewhat by default. I know a few people in AL-only leagues who are kind of excited about Teagarden, and were hoping opportunity would come his way. Personally, even in deep leagues, I don't think he can help much, but we're about to see him get another chance.

Overall, the Rangers' catching situation is a somewhat intriguing one for fantasy purposes. Let's look at the prospects of their more notable backstops.

Saltalamacchia: The early word is that this is not a good sign. Some DL stints aren't a big deal, but Saltalamacchia couldn't stay healthy this spring or in winter ball, and obviously he's had problems in the past, including Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery last September. In AL-only formats I would try to keep him rostered, because at age 25, it's still too early to call him a bust. Remember, he was a top prospect in the Atlanta Braves system before being a key part of the haul in the Mark Teixeira deal. Saltalamacchia is a big, strong, switch-hitting catcher, but he just hasn't hit much as a Ranger. In March, I thought he'd easily beat out Teagarden and deliver a double-digit home run season. I don't want to presume that can't still happen.

Teagarden: He mashed 27 home runs at two minor league levels as recently as 2007, but in the majors he hasn't hit nor shown any plate discipline, walking 19 times against 95 strikeouts. Defense appears his strong suit. If Teagarden and Saltalamacchia each got 300 at-bats this season -- man, that's gotta be a record for total letters in a backstop platoon! -- I think Teagarden would hit for less power and average. Now we'll see, but he doesn't make my top 20 overall catchers right now. In the AL, I'd still rather have Kelly Shoppach, Alex Avila and Lou Marson.

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Matt Treanor: Hey, it probably says something that when I hear his name my first thoughts aren't about his career .232 batting average, but his very attractive, volleyball-playing wife Misty May. Treanor is 34 and is strictly backup catcher material. His wife is a different story.

Max Ramirez: Frankly, I'm a bit surprised and, from a fantasy sense, disappointed that Ramirez didn't get the call. I realize that his catching abilities have been called into question, and his performance at Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2009 left a lot to be desired (.234 batting average, five home runs in 76 games), but the guy can hit. Ramirez was the prospect said to be included in the Mike Lowell trade in December, and it's possible the Boston Red Sox wouldn't have used him behind the plate, but as a right-handed hitting first baseman type. Remember back in the early-1990s when the Chicago Cubs had Hector Villanueva? OK, so I'm dating myself, but he couldn't catch either, but he had power. Ramirez reminds me a bit of him, but let's not presume he can't do better, either.

I'd like to see Ramirez get a chance. In 2008, over 69 games with Double-A Frisco, he bashed 17 home runs and hit .354, and I know people who thought he could have been last season's breakout version of Geovany Soto. Obviously, it didn't happen, but at 25, it's not too late, and one would think the Rangers want to see what they've got. Maybe they're assuming he's going to be traded at some point, this time for real. Regardless, while the catching position is not a strong one across fantasy baseball, the Rangers are one of those teams offering very little at this time. If Ramirez got a chance, maybe that would change.