Kottaras an option for the White Sox at catcher


The struggles of the Chicago White Sox behind the plate this season are well documented. And when you look deeper, it has been a problem for some time now.

When the White Sox began pursuing an heir apparent to A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate, they loved the potential they saw in a kid playing in the Atlanta Braves system.

His name was Tyler Flowers.

So before the 2009 season, the White Sox decided to send starter Javier Vazquez and reliever Boone Logan to the Braves in exchange for Flowers, infielder Brent Lillibridge and two other minor league spare parts (Jon Gilmore and Santos Rodriguez if you really wanted to know).

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At the time Flowers had just finished up mashing the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a .387 batting average and 12 home runs in 20 games.

Before that during his 2008 campaign at Single A (Adv), Flowers hit .288/.427/.494 with 32 doubles, 17 home runs, 88 RBIs and 98 walks.

In today’s game, if you can find a catcher that can hit like that, you don’t hesitate on doing what it takes to get him.

Unfortunately, things have not worked out with Flowers.

In his seven major league seasons in Chicago, Flowers has a career slash line of .216/.282/.375. He has only reached double-digit home run totals twice, never walked more that 25 times in a season and over the last four years, has higher strikeout totals than games played.

He also has the third most passed balls since the start of the 2013 season.

This season has been more of the same. He comes into today hitting .202/.244/.323 with just three home runs, 13 RBIs, six walks and 43 strikeouts in 41 games.

Backup catcher Geovany Soto hasn’t been any better.

Soto is hitting .215/.271/.342 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 30 games. He has also allowed 85 percent of runners who have attempted to steal on him be successful (11-13 in SB).

While a change at the position is an obvious need, it’s not exactly an easy fix.

The league average slash line for major league catchers this season is .232/.300/.364. Simply put, there aren’t many good catcher out there and that ones that are, aren’t available.

That leads me to George Kottaras.

Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher George Kottaras poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox signed Kottaras to a minor league deal in the offseason to compete with Flowers and Soto for a spot on the roster. Kottaras ended up having a rough spring and then was injured for a bit earlier this season at Charlotte (AAA).

He is now fully healthy and hitting well. In 14 games, he is hitting .293/.464/.439 with a home run, four RBIs and 14 walks.

While he doesn’t have great career numbers and has played for seven different major league teams in seven seasons, two things he has done virtually at every stop is draw walks and hit for power.

For his career, he has a on-base percentage of .325 and a slugging percentage of .411, both strong when you consider that those numbers are weighed down by his .215 career batting average.

Both are also higher than the league average for catcher this season.

His defense has never been strong and that has continued this season in the minors. He has thrown out just 18 percent of runners and already has two passed balls.

I’m not advocating for Kottaras to be the team’s answer at catcher for this season and beyond. At 32 years of age, that is just ridiculous. What I’m saying is that he is worth a shot as a replacement to Flowers and/or Soto.

Offensively, he can certainly be an upgrade. Defensively, he can’t hurt anymore than the two guys that are already here.

If the White Sox are really trying to make the playoffs and compete in the AL Central, changes need to be considered to help this team turn things around.

A shift to Kottaras is an easy one.

Next: Rodon tops Keuchel for second win

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