First, he is a fairly solid defensive catcher similar to the Padres’ backup receiver last year, Henry Blanco. Neither player throws many runners out at this point in their career, but competent at calling a game and handling a staff.
Second, he is familiar with the NL West batters having played in the division for the past 9 seasons. No learning curve necessary of the league’s top offensive threats, and he probably already has an idea of what the Padres’ pitchers feature having faced them for several seasons.
Third, he brought his Louisville to the park with him last season. He is coming off his best offensive season with .291 avg., and .488 avg. with runners in scoring position. Better yet, those numbers were not inflated by playing at Coors Field, as he hit better on the road than at home. Does that mean he will duplicate that performance in 2010? Possibly not, but he should be more of a threat overall than Blanco was last year hitting .235 for the season and .196 with runners in scoring position.
Finally, he can play almost everyday and is a threat to Nick Hundley to take over the everyday catching job. Everyone in the Padres front office hopes Hundley can move forward and establish himself as a permanent everyday backstop, both receiving and at the plate. But if he doesn’t show that anticipated progress, they now have a viable alternative on a daily basis, which they did not have last year because of Blanco’s physical limitations.
All this for what will probably turn out to be about $4M less than the Rockies were willing to pay him for 2 years, and less than what Blanco will end up getting from the Mets if he keeps breathing. The Padres found themselves at the right place at the right time, and GM Jed Hoyer wisely pulled the trigger to strengthen his club at a position and a price I doubt he was anticipating being able to do.