This will be a wide open battle between three flawed catchers in Spring Training. The one who appears to have the most talent is 25 year old Mike Napoli. He had a great start to his career, but only hit .164 in the second half of the season after pitchers quit throwing him fastballs…which he crushes. He hit .228 as a rookie last season and scored 47 runs, hit 16 homers and drove in 42 runs in about half a season. The Angels probably would put up with his low average as long as he maintains his power and keeps playing good defense. He does need to work on making better contact as he whiffed 90 times in only 268 at bats. Napoli has a strong arm as he threw out 30% of the base stealers that challenged him. He needs to harness his arm strength as he made 8 errors and allowed 2 passed balls and that needs to improve.
31 year old Jose Molina has been a backup his whole career, so he’s not likely to win the starters job. He only hit .242 with a lousy .642 OPS last season. Molina threw out 42% of runners who tried to steal on him, but he also had 8 errors and 5 passes balls…so he has some things to work on when Spring Training comes. He likely will be the backup for the Angels in 2007.
The Angels gave 24 year old Jeff Mathis the starting job out of Spring Training last season, but he didn’t do much and was quickly sent to the minors. He only had 8 hits in 55 at bats last season for the Angels (.155 avg). He didn’t pout when he was sent to the minors and hit a solid .289 in AAA with a .763 OPS. He will get a chance to battle for the starting job in Spring Training but he is clearly #3 on the Totem Pole going in.