Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole (22) against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
All spring long, John Gibbons and the Toronto Blue Jays have been preaching that they would bring the best team north with them for Opening Day. Player options and personal preferences would not play a part in the decisions of who would make the roster and who would be sent to minor league camp.
And all spring long, every move the team has made has been seemingly contradictory to that point. The latest tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca would seem to confirm that.
Yes, you read that right. Josh Thole has managed to beat out Eric Kratz for the role as back-up catcher behind Dioner Navarro. Or as we like to put it in this neck of the woods, the personal catcher to R.A. Dickey.
Kratz seemed to have the edge in the competition, with the former Philadelphia Phillies back-up hitting a solid .400 with a 1.164 OPS, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI this spring. Josh Thole, who struggled offensively a season ago with the Blue Jays, didn’t do much with the bat to make anyone feel better about his offensive contributions either, hitting just .240 with .520 OPS. Based on sheer offense, Kratz looked to be the winner there.
However, defensively is where Thole made his bones. In 50.1 innings of work, Thole has yet to allow a passed ball, whereas Kratz has allowed 3 of them, mostly while handling R.A. Dickey.
That seemed to be enough to convince Blue Jays management that Thole should be Dickey’s personal catcher. Of course, Dickey likely had a word in the decision as well, having had three years worth of experience throwing to Thole, both with the Mets and the Blue Jays. Winning a Cy Young with Thole behind the plate likely didn’t hurt his opinion of the man either.
So instead, Kratz will join the team’s minor league camp and likely begin the season in Buffalo. Of course the Blue Jays did this a year ago, sending Thole to Triple-A and going with Henry Blanco to start the season, but ultimately sent him packing when his offense was completely lacking. How long of a rope they give Thole will remain to be seen, but at least the Blue Jays will have a strong reserve in the minors should a change be needed.