photo by Samara Pearlstein
The catcher with the pimpin’ nickname has returned to the Tigers. Our old buddy ‘Source’ has Detroit reportedly today signing Gerald Laird to a one-year deal (terms as yet unknown) pending a physical.
Laird returns to the Tigers with a restful year behind him (he played in 37 games in 2011) and a World Series ring. Yes. Gerald Laird: World Series Champion– a sentence fragment made possible because Laird was able to find it within himself to be That One Guy Who Was Pretty Good About Staying Out of Yadier Molina’s Way.
We all know how G-Money hits these days. We know that he just turned 32. We know that he didn’t want to re-sign with the Tigers before because he wanted more playing time and he was definitely not going to get that in Detroit. We know that he helped bring Alex Avila up as a kitten and thus may have trouble accepting him as The Guy now. This signing is nothing to get excited about… but come on, Laird is (now) a backup catcher. The only time it makes sense to get excited about a backup catcher is if it’s a young kid being trained for a future starting role. Alex Avila, as The Guy, is The Future, so if all goes as it should (knock on dead tree surfaces) there will be no excitement about backup backstops for a while in Detroit.
Here’s why this is still (probably) (mostly) ok:
–The fact that he hardly played last season will mean that Laird ought to be well-rested and in fairly good condition for 2012. He will also have a year’s worth of experience backing up under his belt, and he should be used to playing only after long stretches on the bench by now.
–Although their roles were at the time reversed from what they ought to be in 2012, Laird did seem to get along well with Alex Avila his first time around (remember him leaping in to defend Avila from a pissy Armando Galarraga).
–He knows many of the Tigers pitchers already, and he’s a crusty old veteran with plenty of big league experience, so he shouldn’t have much trouble getting up to speed with the ones he doesn’t know.
–He’s not a true DH snuck onto the roster under the cover of the backup catcher position. I love Victor Martinez, but that whole situation was incredibly poorly handled, and if Avila had been one hamstring less tough it would have been an unmitigated disaster. With Laird in the fold the Tigers will have an actual backup catcher again, and Leyland will have fewer excuses to play Avila into an early baseball grave.
–Rod and Mario will get to say ‘G-Money’ during broadcasts again.
Gerald Laird is not going to do much to help the team offensively. But look: you and I and Paws already knew that Avila was going to get the bulk of the playing time, and thus the burden of offensive production out of the catcher’s spot was always going to fall squarely on his manly man shoulders. Laird will be a serviceable backup. He should be a serviceable backup.
Heck, he’s a warm body we know and he’s better than NO backup, and that’s the main thing.