Starting December with a Bang

Brian SchneiderI interrupt your Tiger Woods coverage with some breaking news: The Phillies have signed veteran catcher Brian Schneider to a two-year, $2.75 million deal. Schneider will back up Carlos Ruiz, and should be expected to start 40-50 games in 2010. His left-handedness will allow Ruiz to sit when a tough right-hander, such as Jair Jurrjens, is on the mound.

Schneider played in only 59 games for the Mets last season and produced a meager slash line of .218/.292/.335. However, in his 194 plate appearances, he had only a .233 BABIP when it’s normally in the area of .270. His 2009 ISO was actually slightly higher than it was in ’08. While his walk rate dropped by 1.5%, so did his strikeout rate by 3.5%. Don’t expect Schneider to be .278 wOBA bad; expect him to be .290-.300 wOBA mediocre.

Although his playing time has been shrinking since 2007, he has still been throwing out runners at an above-average clip. With the Mets in ’08 and ’09, he threw out 33% and 34% of base runners respectively. Carlos Ruiz, on the other hand, has only thrown out 24% and 27% in those same years.

FanGraphs, without including his defense as a catcher, valued Schneider at $1.5 million last year. If we expect a slight rebound in 2010 and factor in catcher defense (good luck with that), Schneider should be a bit of a bargain. Even better, the Phillies’ new back-up catcher is very familiar with the NL East and has a reputation for being a good handler of his pitchers.

I was hoping for a Gregg Zaun signing, mostly because he has the best website on the Internet, but Schneider passes the smell test.

In other catcher-related news, the New York Mets signed former Phillie Chris Coste, and the Tampa Bay Rays traded a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians for Kelly Shoppach.