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Position-by-position: Catcher

First, give thanks to whatever power you give thanks to that your team did not give up 30(!!!!!) runs yesterday.

Nats bullpen vs. Astros: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.

Orioles bullpen vs. Rangers (game 1): 4 IP, 20 H, 24 R, 24 ER, 7 BB, 7 K, 166 pitches

Moving on.

So because I wrote a notebook on Brian Schneider, and because there seems to be some intense debate on whether or not Jesus Flores should play more, I thought we'd start our position-by-position breakdown behind the plate. Let's say this is the first in an occasional series.

Let's look at the two guys they have in the system.

Brian Schneider
Age: 30
Contract: Four years, $16 million, with $4.9 million due in both 2008 and '09

2007:
Offense: 104 G/338 AB, .231 average/.321 OBP/.331 slugging, 6 HR, 41 RBI
Defense: 19 of 64 runners caught stealing (29.7 percent), 5 errors, 3 passed balls, .992 fielding percentage, 4.75 catcher's ERA

Career:
Offense: 732 G/2,251 AB, .252/.322/.378, 47 HR, 281 RBI
Defense: 155 of 424 runners caught stealing (36.6 percent), 29 errors, 28 passed balls, .993 fielding percentage, 4.30 catcher's ERA

Jesus Flores:
Age: 22
Contract: $380,000, cannot be a free agent until after 2012 season at earliest

2007/Career:
Offense: 60 G/122 AB, .230, .304, .344, 3 HR, 18 RBI
Defense: 8 of 25 runners caught stealing (32 percent), 1 error, 2 passed balls, .994 fielding percentage, 3.61 catcher's ERA

And just for comparison's sake, here are the National League averages this year for catchers:
Offense: .256/.315/.388
Defense: 23.3 percent of runners caught stealing, 4.37 catcher's ERA, .991 fielding percentage

Prospects in the system: None

So a couple things jump out that maybe people didn't assume. One is that, though Flores deserves much of the praise he has received for the way he has handled himself and for making the most of his hits, he is, like Schneider, struggling to stay afloat offensively. Completely understandable for a kid who had never played above Class A.

The other thing is that, at least statistically, the idea that Schneider has been a savior for the pitching staff doesn't play out. His catcher's ERA - and I won't use this forum to discuss the merits of that stat - is more than a run higher than that of Flores. That's fascinating.

Schneider is clearly feeling his mortality. The sense I get from talking to him is that he is somewhat embarrassed/frustrated that, this far into both his career and his contract, he isn't producing better offensive numbers. He also understands that the team has a solid prospect right behind him, but that in order for Flores to develop, he must play every day. Will that be at the major league level?

I asked Manny Acta that yesterday.

"That's still to be determined," he said. "We really want the kid to develop properly and get all the at-bats that he needs. But we still have got an offseason ahead of us, [so] it all depends on the moves we make here. By the time spring training rolls [around], we'll probably have a better idea of all that."

There is some internal thought that, if Flores played every day this year, he would be struggling to hit .180. But they absolutely believe in his long-term potential not only to catch and throw, but to hit for power.

That puts Schneider in a weird spot. No one in that clubhouse wants to see this thing through - to be a winner in D.C. - more than Schneider, who very quickly has gone from being a young up-and-comer to a guy much closer to the end of his career than the beginning. "That's tough to admit," he said yesterday. But he has been with this franchise his whole career - 13 years now - and would like to finally win, particularly in Washington.

Is there a way that Schneider improves offensively, Flores gets a season in the minors, and then this problem is put off until 2009? Sure, and that's probably the leader in the clubhouse. But Flores has made an impression on the organization - a very positive one - and Schneider knows that, both for himself and for the team, he must finally put up offensive numbers that he believes he is capable of producing.

Housekeeping: Thought it was interesting what Mike Bacsik's been through over the past few weeks. He actually pitched OK last night. If ever there was a night it seemed like this lineup needed a better, bigger bat to feast on Woody Williams, last night was it. Podcast is here.

Talk amongst yourselves. I'll get you lineups from the ballpark.

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 23, 2007; 11:36 AM ET
 
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Next: Lineup, and a programming note

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