Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis will battle it out in spring training for the starting catcher job. 26-year old righty swinging Mike Napoli has the edge based on his bat. He played in 75 games last season for the Angels and he was 54 for 219 (.247 avg, .780 OPS) with 40 runs scored, 10 homers and 34 RBIs. Napoli did whiff 63 times which is kind of a shocking number that he must improve on. He threw out 21% of base runners trying to steal on him and pitchers had a 4.28 ERA throwing to him. If he could just stay healthy he would likely hit 20-25 homers in a season.
25 year old righty swinging Jeff Mathis will likely settle in as Mike Napoli’s backup this season but he will get a chance to win the starting job in spring training. Mathis played in 59 games last season for the Angels and he was 36 for 171 (.211 avg, .627 OPS) with 24 runs scored, 4 homers and 23 RBIs. Mathis only threw out 17% of runners trying to steal on him but pitchers had a 3.89 ERA when throwing to him.
28 year old Ryan Budde will likely start the season in AAA but he could get his big chance to prove what he can do if either Mike Napoli or Jeff Mathis are injured. Budde played in 12 games for the Angels last season and he was 3 for 18 (.167 avg, .389 OPS) with 1 RBI. Angels pitchers had a 4.27 ERA throwing to him.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2008 SEASON: D+