Devin Mesoraco is being beat down. The position he’s playing has given him a roundhouse kick straight to the hip, multiple blows to the head, and more wear and tear on his body than he can recover from. The amount of abuse that he’s taken behind the plate hasn’t given him a punchers chance at the plate.  Although it’s early, Mesoraco is batting a lackluster .147 and only has a total of 5 hits on the year. He looks sapped at the plate and has already had to miss multiple games this year due to an issue with his quad.

We all know what Mesoraco is capable of when healthy. He’s one of the best hitting catchers in the game. In 2014, the last year he was healthy, Mesoraco was an All Star. He batted .273, slugged .534, and had an OPS of .893. His OPS was tops in all of baseball for a catcher. Not to mention Mesoraco brings an attitude to this team that can be a breath of fresh air at times. Simply put: he cares. He gets fired up when he strikes out, hustles his ass off, and shows competitiveness that we fans crave.

So, how do the Reds cut back on the wear and tear of Mesoraco’s body, keep him in the lineup every day, and restore him to his 2014 glory?

Move him to the outfield. To be quite frank, given the injury history with his hip, this should have been done at the beginning of this year. It was perfect timing. The Reds could have given Mesoraco reps in left field, eventually traded Bruce, and then configured the outfield appropriately once Winker was MLB ready. Tucker Barnhart showed last year he is capable of carrying the load behind the plate for the time being, especially defensively. Even better, it would have been done during a rebuilding year. Mesoraco is more than athletic enough to handle the switch; it’s just a matter of getting him seasoned and 100% healthy.

Look, I know this has been a talked about topic for the last couple of years. One of the main arguments is that the Reds would rather have Mesoraco’s bat in a more premium position such as catcher than in the outfield, where good hitters are a dime a dozen. If that’s truly the case, then where are they? The Reds haven’t had a decent hitting left fielder since I can remember. Also, if Mesoraco can’t stay healthy while playing catcher, then what’s the point?

Mesoraco is 27 years old. That’s not young in baseball years, but it’s not old either. There is still time to move him to the outfield, but it needs to happen soon. Even if it doesn’t work out and Mesoraco never returns to form, the Reds need to do their diligence and have a plan for trying to protect one of their assets.

It’s sad seeing such a talented player struggle with so many injuries.  It’s a shame that Devin Mesoraco is batting a measly .147, but the real shame is putting him in a position where he’s wasting away the prime of his career.

32 Responses

  1. CI3J

    Interesting article, but like I said in Patrick’s article, I think the only thing wrong with Devin right now is (a) he’s still getting used to playing every day after being out injured much of last year and (b) he’s a victim of a poor start which is magnified since he hasn’t had any good stretches to cancel it out.

    Much like Votto, if Devin were struggling like he is now in June after putting up decent stats in April and May, we probably wouldn’t be as alarmed. But the fact he has struggled out of the gate makes his stats look all the more pale by comparison.

    Patience. Zack Greinke has a 6.75 ERA. Freddie Freeman is hitting .167. Mike Trout only has 1 HR. Even our own Joey Votto is putting up very un-Votto numbers so far. There’s no reason to panic or do anything rash.

    Now, if in a month Devin is still struggling, then we can talk.

    • Scotly50

      My opinion is to put Branhardt in the catchers spot. Let Devin try and beat him out of it !!!!! Devin’s defense is sub-par and is, of now, his offense.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      I’m all about patience, but the injuries worry me. He’s already missed multiple games this year and I just worry he will never be 100% this season, especially playing catcher.

      We will see.

  2. Sharon Edmonds

    When are they going to fire Bryan Price and release Hoover I can’t take much more of this lol I been a Reds fan all my life I don’t have long left

  3. Mike W

    The fans are paying full “Price” — we deserve better.
    The owners are paying full “Price” — they deserve better.
    (The) “Price” is not right — we all deserve better.

    I imagine Price was a fine pitching COACH. Working with staff to develop and improve arm speed, grip, delivery, etc. BUT A COACH IS NOT A MANAGER. It is time to admit Price is a coach, not a manager. He doesn’t put the right players in at the right position, he doesn’t pull players out at the right time, and he doesn’t replace the players he’s pulled with the right players. The Reds HAD the right personnel the previous two years (including several All Stars) to make the playoffs. They didn’t. Price was given the opportunity and did not succeed. He must be replaced now by a true MANAGER. Stop playing around with LF, CF and RP. The season has started, the fans and management are paying full “Price” — we all deserve better — you’re “rebuilding” the team, rebuild the manager, too.

    • Chuck Schick

      You seem to be suggesting that the Reds have underperformed relative to their talent level the past 2 plus years. No learned, objective and competent baseball person would agree with that assessment. In 2014 and 15, the roster was horribly flawed. No manager wins with those teams…….none.

      • Playtowin

        Agree. Price is not the problem. Lack of talent is the problem.

      • greenmtred

        Maybe not lack of talent. The Reds are rebuilding and this is probably what rebuilding generally looks like. We’ve been discussing Mes and moving him to the outfield for awhile, but our speculation always involves unproven assumptions, to wit: Mes is too injured to catch. Mes could easily play left field. These are not things that we know.

    • Big56dog

      We’re they not a few games of 1st place at the 2014 ASB, despite a poor start with a bullpen comparable to this year’s, firing Price does nothing except cost more money

  4. ohiojimw

    The ship may have already sailed on Meso’s shot to play LF for the Reds.

    Duvall who is roughly Meso’s age looks to be growing into the position quite well. He is hitting and not embarrassing himself with his fielding. It is far from a sure thing that Meso could stay on the field and outplay Duvall on either side of the ball. Then there is Winker, projected as the LF of “the future” looking like he is ready to come up NLT next season.

  5. dan

    My favorite Reds catcher in 2015 was Tucker. My favorite Reds catcher for all of 2016 is Tucker. Devin has a long long way to go to earn back full time duties, and quite frankly, he is being outplayed by Tucker in every measurable way.

  6. Indy RedMan

    2014? We keep thinking that year (with under 400 atbats) is what Mesoraco is but the rest of his career adds up to:

    134-621 atbats (.216) with 16 HRs, 26 doubles, 54 walks, 119 Ks

    Banged up or not…his defense is worse than ever. He’s no longer young in baseball terms (28 in June) either? What do the Reds do with him? Barnhart is too small imo and the more you see…the worse he’ll produce imo (Ryan Hanigan). Once again that’s what 2016 is for….let Mes play as much as he can….hopefully 100+ games and see if he can start hitting the ball with authority again? He’s not a hacker up there and will take a walk. We still have a ton of baseball to play so who knows?

    • Big56dog

      Exactly, Tucker full-time is not an option, that line does look horrible how does the ops compare to Barnhart?

    • Tct

      Yep. Take out 2014 and Devin’s career line is .216/.278/.338 over 687 pa. Now it’s not fair to take out a player’s best season when evaluating them. But it’s just as silly to look only at a career year and ignore all the other data. It seems like a lot of people only look at 2014 when evaluating Devin.

      Devin’s last homer in the major leagues came on September 23, 2014!

      • ncmountie1

        Said this in off season. His injury has to have more impact in the position he plays. Id be all for moving him to LF & see if 2014 is anomaly or what he can be.

  7. vegastypo

    As usual, the time for this would have been a few years ago when the left field black hole showed no signs of letting up. … Didn’t Price talk about playing Mes in the outfield a little bit going into spring training? That all fell apart when the Reds could barely get Mes in the lineup at catcher, much less try him in other positions.

  8. Red LugNut

    Why doesnt anyone ever mention the possibility of moving Mes to 3rd. Catchers who cant catch anymore go to third, not to the OF. Everyone knows that! Its a more natural transition than OF. Mes,Suarez,Peraza,Votto as Reds infield in a year or two. Blandino filling in. Barnhart and Stephenson behind the plate in a couple yrs. Right now mix Mes in at third on some of his non-catching days.

    • greenmtred

      They tried that with Bench, as I recall, and moved him to first quickly. Bench was surely as athletic as any catcher, but the catcher to 3rd transition may not be as easy as you suggest.

    • lwblogger2

      Not all catchers work out very well at 3B. Bench was a pretty brutal 3B as mentioned. Todd Zeile was alright over at 3B but he ended up across the diamond at 1B too. I don’t want to move Mes at all unless he just shows he can’t give me 100 games behind the plate this year but if I had to move him, I think LF may be the best bet. Problem with that though is as was mentioned above, Duvall is playing well and Bruce is still in RF.

  9. Playtowin

    If Mesoraco can not perform as a catcher his career will be over. He does not have the skills to play 3rd base or the outfield. Given his poor hitting stats it makes no sense to put him at a position that requires productive offense and good defense. He has 2 years after this season on his contract ($28 million deal). The Reds will give him time but he is far from a sure thing. Next up in 2-3 years is Stephenson.

    • ohiojimw

      Yes, if Bench who had some of the best hands ever behind the plate couldn’t play 3B at age 34/35 largely because of his knees being gone, it is difficult to imagine that Meso who has hands of stone by comparison and a history of lower body issues could do it at age 28.

      Meso’s chances other than as a catcher appear to me to be as a 1B or DH but he has to hit consistently over a period of time before anyone is going to give him a shot at either.

    • greenmtred

      I’ll now argue the same point from a different position: We don’t know that Mes lacks the skills to play other positions. It’s worth remembering, too, that his struggle through 18 games (18 games!) has to be taken in the context of his coming back from surgery after missing most of last year.

      • lwblogger2

        Fully agree here. I really think it’s way too early to talk about him being done behind the plate or that he’ll never get his stroke back.

  10. Shchi Cossack

    The plan in spring training was to get Mesoraco reps in the OF early. Unfortunately, Mesoraco was unable to go early in spring training so that plan had to be scrapped. The bungled handling of Mesoraco last season when he could not physically catch also thwarted the plan to give him reps in the OF.

    The Old Cossack was hoping to identify at least 1 OF (Duvall/Schebler Cave/Holt) who would stick and become productive through the 2016 season and plug a hole heading into the 2017 season and identify the starting pitchers and relievers for a competitive push for the 2017 season. After this season, Mesoraco is under a 2 year contract for $20.4MM through the 2017 & 2018 seasons. Mesoraco could play the OF with time and repetitions to become comfortable, but Duvall seems to be laying claim to the LF job going foward. There is still a long season ahead and Duvall may yet fall on his face this season, but his early OF defense is exceeding expectations and getting better while his .841 OPS combined with a 27.3% SO% and 9.1% BB% plays. With Winker looking solid in his 1st introduction to AAA, that appears to provide 2 solid options for the corner OF positions in 2017. Neither Winker nor Duvall can play C, so that kinda removes the OF as a defensive option for Mesoraco in 2017 unless Duvall or Winker struggle this season.

    It’s way too early to write off Mesoraco offensively and while I love Barnhart as a platoon catcher and backup catcher, the Reds have pretty much cast their lot with Mesoraco as the starting catcher for the next 3 seasons, including the 2016 season, unless the OF becomes an option going forward to to Duvall and/or Winker struggling.

  11. Josh Mohr

    I agree, Mesoraco should be the starting LF already. The problem now is Duvall, Schebler and Winker. Also, Bruce comes into play too and whether he’ll be traded. Best case for Reds is Mes gets healthy, mashes, then Reds trade him to an AL team where he can DH. 2nd option is, we hold onto him and pray he stays healthy. I really like Tucker

    • lwblogger2

      I’d argue that right now Tucker would bring more in a trade.

  12. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I still think Devin should be playing OF, also. Catching gave him the injury problem in the first place. Now, the only reasons I could see not to at least try him out there is something like:

    – They’ve tried him out there already, and it was a loss situation, i.e. Alonso played a better LF than Devin, or
    – They simply want him to play catcher and haven’t even considered Devin playing OF.

  13. JB WV

    Same sentiments but it’s still too early. Devo is still getting used to play everyday again; obviously it’s taking time. But with Barnhart and a first rounder waiting in the wings a few years from now the Reds have time.

  14. WVRedlegs

    I see a trade to the American League in Devin’s future. Let an AL team make the OF conversion for Mesoraco. A 3 team trade with an AL team and Milwaukee for C Jonathon Lucroy might be the way to go. He too though, is coming off an injury filled 2015 and looking to regain his 2014 form. Lucroy is scheduled to make $4M this year and a team option for $5.2M in 2017. Less than half the price for Mesoraco, but also a lot less power at the plate. But a better BA and OBP. Lucroy and Barnhart would make a very nice Catching tandem both defensively and offensively.
    I am not aware of a good young catcher in baseball that has a star catcher blocking their path to the Major Leagues that the Reds could pursue and team with Barnhart.

    • Michael W.

      And then maybe we could trade for Mike Trout and put him in CF……Why would the brewers trade a good, fairly cheap catcher to a division rival? Devin is virtually untradeable currently until he proves that he is completely healthy. no one is going to trade for him and his contract now.

      Come on, let’s be real here. He is still hurt. The Reds botched his season last year by not having his surgery in early May to give him more time to get healthy and are paying for that screw up this year by his performance. The most logical position for any catcher to move to is 1B. We all know that is not going to happen and should not happen.

      • WVRedlegs

        The Brewers have been shopping Lucroy since spring training.