Sunday, June 03, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ It's High Time To Upgrade Your Opinion of Josh Thole

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  Behind Almost Every Great Pitching Performance, Lies a Good Receiver.  Even Though He Still Has a Ways to Go, Never the Less, It's Time To Up The Love On Josh Thole.

Something has been lost on the two most recent pitching exploits of New York Mets hurlers.  And that would be the return of Josh Thole.  It's time this man started receiving a bit more love from the fans, and the Media for that matter.  However, that's not to say he isn't generally liked already.  But many still take a tepid attitude when assessing him as a catcher.

Am I about to divert too much credit toward Josh Thole for Johan Santana's no-hitter, or R.A. Dickey's complete game win Saturday?  No.  But I will say, behind every no-hitter, there is a good receiver.  And what we do know about The Battery, is that the pitcher-catcher relationship is a symbiotic one.

Considering Friday's game was his first since suffering a concussion in early May, I'm thinking how difficult is it for a young catcher to go from receiving high octane, and change-ups all game on one night, from one of the titans of 21st century baseball, then go to catching butterflies the following afternoon against an uber-cerebral thirty-seven year old, alternative pitch specialist?  And mind you, he caught both games flawlessly.

I'm not getting into catcher ratings or anything like that.  To me, delving too deeply into statistical analysis is more akin to being a ancient Mayan heart specialist/slash/star reader.  Statistical analysis is not needed to recognize the vast improvement in his catching skills from last year to this season.  Let's not forget he was promoted, and I think we all agree, a season, or even a season and a half too early.  Perhaps this season should have been his major league debut.  But like a growing number of young Metsters, he too was pressed into service early.

Since his initial call-up, I have pledged my support for Josh Thole in this blog almost religiously.  So if you feel I am speaking to you through blind love, meh..., so be it.  I will also admit to you then, that I am partial to catchers.  Therefore, Jerry Grote, John Stearns, Todd Hundley, Mike Fitzgerald, and then Gary Carter, all exist as favorite backstops of mine.  The omission of Mike Piazza was not an accident by the way.  He is a horse of another stable; but an under-rated catcher for toughness behind the plate.

I did say before Opening Day, Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada, were at least going to be .290 hitters this season.  After going 0 for 4 in his return game Friday, Josh Thole was 2 for 4 in Saturday's game, with a run scored.  He is currently batting .281 this season, but of course this is only after eighty-nine at-bats this season.

So if that doesn't work for you, maybe this does.  Since his first call-up in 2009, through yesterday's game, he has played in 232 games, and has amassed 684 at-bats during his brief major league career.  Currently at ninety-one, he is yet to strikeout over 100 times as he approaches 700 at-bats.  As a matter of fact, as a September call-up in 2009, he went 2 for 5 in his first MLB game.

I love his attitude, his exuberance, his humbleness and humility.  But over all, I enjoy his self-awareness, which makes him work exceeding hard to prove he's a major league catcher.  I have no doubt he understands his craft through listening to him in the post-games.  The physical portion of his game is coming along more quickly now that last season.  He will turn twenty-six years old in the Fall, and there's more maturity starting to shine through his smile.  I think that was demonstrated through his composure during Johan's no-hitter.

With health, I AM expecting a fine summer from the Mets' receiver, and many more seasons to come.  All he wants to do is improve every day and with a tremendous enthusiasm to get it done.  There are no stats to qualify that.

If you really, really, need something to judge him by, I officially declare him Jersey Worthy.  But then again, I thought that long ago.  So just take that and run with it.

Let's Go Mets

*wiki pic


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