Scout’s Take: d’Arnaud Never Caught On

It was inevitable that Travis d’Arnaud was going to be released by the Mets in one way (designated for assignment) or another. The one time first round draft pick by the Phillies in 2007, was at one time the best catching prospect in baseball. We here in NY all know it was d”Arnaud who the Mets really wanted in the trade for Cy Young winner R.A.Dickey in 2012. A trade that also brought Noah Syndergaard to Queens. The young catcher was also who Toronto wanted in the trade with the Phillies for Roy Halladay in 2009. Travis can always tell his grand children that he helped a major league team get to the World Series.

He had all the tools to be a full time starting catcher in the big leagues but too many injuries over the past seven years just killed his career. d’Arnaud always had the potential to hit but catching and hitting are the two toughest things to do in baseball. When we see a pitcher throwing 95, 98, 100 mph the thought is, how hard it must be to hit that stuff. How about “How do you catch those blistering bolts of lightning for 3 hours?” When you are plagued with injuries like the ones he has had in his career, it is a recipe for disaster at that position. d”Arnaud is just another in a long history of catchers who have gone down this road. All those dings and bumps have allowed him to only average 58 games a season over the past seven years. He never played in more than 100 games more than twice.

Travis is a career .242 hitter which by today’s standards is ok. Consider that the top 9 catchers in the majors this year are averaging .258. But batting .087 (2 for 23) so far this season and being 30 years old with a history of injuries left the Mets with no choice but to deal or release him.

Unfortunately, d’Arnaud went backwards defensively. Too many passed balls, combined with an inability to throw out base stealers and not bestow any confidence from his pitchers plagued him throughout his Mets career. We all know that playing in New York puts extra pressure on players. We have seen so many Hall of Fame players come through our baseball city and sometimes forget just how hard it is to play this game.

Don’t boo guys like d’Arnaud, they are capable of doing things most of us can only dream of achieving. Also don’t feel too sorry for him, he has enjoyed the major leagues and made some nice money over the past few years. I never thought he was as good as Rene Revera behind the plate in handling the pitching staff or blocking balls but Rene with only a .220 BA could never be put ahead of Travis.

I hope he can find a new home in the big leagues and get his 10 years in. That’s worth about $200,000 a year in a lifetime pension after they reach 62. I brought that up because it is looking more and more like players over 30 with less than 10 years in the big leagues are being pushed out of baseball. I’ve always thought that this is one of the the reasons why, but that is a topic for another time.

We have seen some darn good catchers come through Queens over the past 50 years. John Stearns, Todd Hundley, Jerry Grote, Gary Carter and Mike Piazza spoiled the heck out of us. They made it look easy. Two in that group are in the Hall of Fame and the last three mentioned have a total of 5 world series appearances (Grote had 2 with the Dodgers) and 2 championship rings.

I don’t believe Travis d’Arnaud ever made us feel like he would be the next great catcher for the Mets as he plodded along over the past 7 years in their organization. When they made the trade for him in 2012, in the back of our minds we all hoped that maybe, just maybe he could be the next one. That being said, let me tell you something someone once told me:  “If you put a bunch of maybes, could haves, should haves and would haves in a bucket with a nickel you know what you have? A nickel.”

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