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With Ausmus Gone, Padres Sign Blanco

Well, there you go. Just hours after officially missing out on Brad Ausmus, the man San Diego had targeted to become their backup catcher, the Padres turned around and signed Henry Blanco to fill the same role.

Blanco agreed to a one-year, $750,000 contract with San Diego, where he'll back up young catcher Nick Hundley, who is penciled in as the team's starter. ESPN's Buster Olney broke the signing, and he points out that Blanco filled this exact role for the NL-Central winning Cubs over the past year, helping usher in Geovany Soto, who blossomed in part because of Blanco's help.

Still, this is clearly one of the most obvious "backup plan" signings we've seen in awhile. Clearly, the Padres wanted Ausmus, and when they couldn't get him, they turned to the next savvy, veteran catcher on the list.

Nevertheless, Blanco could actually be the better signing, couldn't he? Maybe people disagree, but the numbers make an interesting case for Blanco. With the Cubs, Blanco hit .292 (.325) with three home runs and 12 RBI. Ausmus? He hit .218 (.303 OBP) with three homers and 24 RBI. Essentially, Ausmus had more RBI but was inferior (or tied, in the case of homers) to Blanco in every other offensive category. Some would also argue that Blanco is a better defensive catcher, which is clearly what the Padres will be leaning on him to help teach Hundley. So why would the Dodgers pay $250,000 more for a guy who seems to be behind Blanco in all those categories and is two years older?

Thoughts? What do the Dodgers know that the rest of us don't?

By Cameron Smith  |  January 21, 2009; 8:38 PM ET
Categories:  Dodgers , Padres  
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Well it's all about perception isn't it? Ausmus has always been the "best" cerebral catcher out there and cerebral catchers know how to call games and help out young pitchers. And ya know Ausmus is just so much more of a gamer(tm) than Blanco. Those Ivy Leaguers are certainly worth $250k just for their gamerness(tm).

But you're talking about back-up catchers, I'd guess Ausmus will act more like a bullpen/bench coach than a player and he does seem to be a better fit for that than Blanco who'd probably want to play.

Posted by: noahthek | January 22, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

If I had to guess, I would say that the Dodgers are worried about LoDuca getting injured or are thinking he's not going to be a catcher the whole year and they want a guy who has proved he can play the entire year.

I would say this logic is twisted because Blanco is two years younger and has caught about 1100 games less than Ausmus.

Or maybe they assume that those 1100 games have taught Ausmus something that Blanco doesn't know. Nuances, grittiness, etc. Who knows.

Or perhaps they took a look at the two years that Blanco played over 100 games and saw that his OPS+ was 65 and 60, whereas Ausmus has been at 60 or better 4 of the last 5 years playing more games?

And stop trying to use logic in baseball salaries. You know that doesn't fly. Ausmus has played 5 more years and so, obviously, you pay him more. GEEZ!

Posted by: adampschroeder | January 22, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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