Gerald Laird a Smart Signing by the Diamondbacks
By Joseph Jacquez
Yesterday the Diamondbacks signed veteran catcher Gerald Laird to a minor league deal. It’s was a smart move with little cost involved for a team in desperate need of a veteran presence behind the plate.
I guess we cant believe anything Dave Stewart tells the media. Remember when Stewart told the media that the Diamondbacks wouldn’t be signing another catcher? This is what he said:
"“I’ve decided that I’m not going to pursue another catcher,” Stewart said. “I talked with my people and my coaching staff. They believe that O’Brien is going to be around sooner than later. If that does happen, there’s no need to go out and get another guy.“We would have had to trade somebody we didn’t want to trade to make it happen. We’re going to be patient and allow the progression of O’Brien to take place and stand pat on that.”"
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When he said that, I was finding it really hard to believe. Its no secret that Tuffy Gosewisch and Rule 5 draft pick Oscar Hernandez won’t be good behind the plate if the Dbacks intend on contending behind the plate.
Many believe that Peter O’Brien will win the starting job behind the plate. I believe that he can stick behind the plate . He really improved during the Arizona Fall League: I saw it with my own eyes.
However, few scouts outside of the Diamondbacks organization believe he can stick behind the plate. He needs more seasoning behind the plate, and he probably is a year away.
As I have said before, Gosewisch deserves more playing time thanks to his improvement last season. He provides little value with a bat, but the Dbacks have plenty of talented hitters to compensate.
His true value comes behind the plate. He is great at commanding the pitching staff, and controlling the run game which is essential when you have a young staff.
Gosewisch only has 55 games of major league experience, and Hernandez hasn’t played above High-A.
It was imperative that the Dbacks find a veteran catcher at a cheap price. I would have preferred Dioner Navarro, Alex Avila, or Welington Castillo but Laird will do.
Laird will provide a great veteran presence for the Dbacks young starting staff and pitchers, and he holds his own behind the plate. Last season he had a fielding percentage of .995, and he caught 11 of 30 runners trying to steal. A 36 CS% is above league average.
When he gets playing time which he should in Arizona, he is a better hitter than Gosewish. Ignore 2014, because it was a down year. In 2013, Laird had a slash line of .281/.367/.372 with an OPS+ of 106 which is above league average in 141 plate appearances. In 2012, he hit .282. Laird can hold his own at the plate, and he has proven it in the past.
What I like most is that the Diamondbacks signed him to a minor league deal which means they are getting a pretty good catcher at a cheap price. This signing gives us insight into the thinking of Dave Stewart.
Its clear that Stewart didn’t want to give up any of his bullpen depth, infield depth, or outfield depth to acquire a catcher on the trade market. That is why the Dbacks didn’t get Dioner Navarro or Alex Avila. Its also clear that the Dbacks wanted to find a cheaper option, because they believe that O’Brien will be ready by 2016. When Stewart said he was done pursuing a catcher, I think he meant on the trade market and for major league deals.
This is a great singing, and Laird should help the Diamondbacks this season as the primary backup.