By Rich Coutinho
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The Mets have acquired Kelly Shoppach from the Boston Red Sox in a waiver trade for a player to be named later.
It’s a move that the club hopes will help reinforce their catching position, providing a reasonable alternative to Josh Thole when the Mets face left-handed pitching. Rob Johnson and Mike Nickeas both supplanted Thole this year, and neither put up the offensive numbers that gave Terry Collins the option to counteract all of the Mets’ left-handed bats.
Shoppach, who is 32 years old, has hit .250 with five homers, 12 doubles and 17 RBIs in 48 games with the Sox this year. Prior to joining the Red Sox for the 2012 campaign, Shoppach spent two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, catching many of the young pitchers in their system.
I believe that is a big plus for the Mets here. It is no secret that young prospects are on their way to Flushing, as the migration has begun already with Matt Harvey joining the big league club. 2013 could the year that Zack Wheeler joins the party, and it can’t hurt having an experienced, dependable defensive presence behind the dish to help guide those youngsters on the Major League level.
It also serves as notice that the Mets feel that Thole has not progressed as well as they had hoped. His defensive game has slipped a bit, and offensively he has not given the Mets enough of a batting average at the position to warrant his substandard defense. I think Shoppach will be given every opportunity to get increased playing time this season, with the hope that he will be on the 2013 roster as, at the very least, a part-time catcher.
This is not the dramatic move that Mets fans had hoped for, but it is a solid, understated pickup.
And it’s a good start to reshaping the Mets.
Should Shoppach get the starting job over Thole the second he arrives in Flushing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…