This will be a recurring series outlining the different aspects of the A’s roster. I will preview what the outfield, infield, bench, starting rotation, and bullpen will look like culminating in a preview of what the opening day roster might look like. This series will use the currently active 40 man roster. I will post the links to previous parts of the series here (1, 2).The A’s current 40 man roster contains two catchers. They are newly acquired John Jaso and sophomore Derek Norris. I recently reviewed the Jaso trade and how the A’s plan to use him. He brings a solid average, some power, and an excellent on base percentage. Norris brings a careful eye but for some reason that doesn’t translate over to being selective. He has a lot of swing and misses but does draw some walks.
Offensively Jaso is a major upgrade from what the other A’s catchers brought to the table last year (including Norris, Kurt Suzuki, George Kottaras, and Anthony Recker). It remains to be seen whether Norris will ever develop into the everyday Major League catcher they think they received in the Gio Gonzalez trade.
The player with the most to prove: Derek Norris. As previously mentioned Norris will need to take a major step forward if he plans to start in the Major Leagues. His .201 AVG last year is unacceptable for any player on the roster. Scouts said he has a watchful eye, but in his first Major League time he struggled to be selective and find the pitches he could drive. His defense needs improvement but overall was decent. He will need to work on blocking balls in the dirt (remember the ALDS?) and throwing out base runners.
The player with the most to gain and lose is John Jaso. Jaso broke out last year and finally developed into the catcher most thought it would be. It will be interesting to see how many games he catches this year considering he only caught around fifty games last year while playing over one hundred. If Jaso does catch more games than he did last season the A’s will have to monitor his production to see if it will slip from catching more. If it doesn’t get hindered by more time behind the dish then Jaso just might set himself up for an extension. It will be an interesting predicament if Jaso does put up similar/better numbers this season and Norris struggles. If Norris breaks out then Jaso might just become expendable and a trade candidate.
The A’s catching situation is pretty solid as of right now. Look for GM Billy Beane to add a catcher on a minor league contract to push Norris and Jaso in spring training and also to add organizational depth since Recker has since signed with the Mets and Kottaras being designated for assignment. If Jaso continues his success the A’s just might be able to push for another AL West crown again next season. That should be music to A’s fans ears.