I remember listening to 620 WDAE the day the Rays acquired Dioner Navarro and Jae Seo from the Dodgers. Andrew Friedman was doing an interview on the Steve Deumig show and was gushing over Navarro and his potential. Friedman told everyone that the Rays were getting a catcher who called a great game, played great defense, and had gap power that they were certain would develop into home run power sometime in the near future. I was excited to have him hearing all of this from Friedman and couldn't wait to see him play. I have watched and waited and i am still waiting for any of the above to happen. Navarro is no where near the player we were told we were getting. Navarro not only can't hit, but his defense is also horrible. I watch every game with my wife and every time Navarro gets up she looks over to me and says, "why is it that every time we are getting a rally going he gets up and gets an out?" I would love to be able to tell her that he does so much for the team that we have to over look his horrible bat, but that is just not the case. Navarro is one of the worst defensive catchers in the league allowing 22 of 28 base runners to steal on him. I have never seen base runners steal 3B on a catcher with such ease as i do when Navarro is behind the dish. Further, he doesn't even call a good game. The team ERA when Navarro is behind the plate a hefty 5.51 while the team era when "back-up" catcher Josh Paul is on the mound the is almost half a point lower at 5.14.
The Rays have options at the Catcher position and they should use those options now. Josh Paul could take over as the starter and the Rays could bring up Shawn Riggans to back him up when he comes off of the DL in a couple days. Paul is batting .245 with a .302 OBP in 15 games. Also, Pauls's percentage of throwing out runners is double Navarro's with a respectable 42%. Riggans played extremely well in spring training and is having another solid year in Durham. On the year Riggans has a .295 avg., .348 OBP, and 4 Home Runs. Riggans is a decent defensive catcher with a 30% caught stealing percentage and Durham has a 4.15 ERA when he is behind the dish. The Rays could also go to stud catcher John Jaso in AA Montgomery as the backup. Jaso is crushing the ball right now and is a great defensive catcher.
One other option the Rays could look at is to make a trade for Braves catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia. Salty was the future catcher of the Braves, but with the emergence of Brian McCann and his long term deal Salty has become expendable. Salty is a great Offensive and Defensive catcher. Salty was one of the top catching prospects in the minors for the past couple years and now is up with the big club. Going into 2007 Salty had thrown out 61.5 % of runners who attempted to steal on him. Before being called up to the big club Salty was batting .309 with 6 Home Runs in 22 games. To get the deal done the Rays would most likely have to deal either Dukes, Upton, or Rocco, but wouldn't it be worth it? The Rays have a glut of OF and we need a great catcher.
The Rays have a variety of ways they can go at the catcher position and i hope they choose one of the options not named Navarro. I can understand not making the trade for Salty or not wanting Riggans to be the starter, but at least let Paul be the starter and get the majority of the games. I am tired of watching Rays games and knowing that every time Navarro gets up to the plate there will be an out and every time a runner gets on he can steal any base he wants. Navarro is not the guy we thought he was and its time to remedy that mistake.