Rumors started circulating late last week that the Angels were on the lookout for a veteran back-up catcher in the wake of a spring training in which Hank Conger has knocked the cover off the ball with the bat but been throwing like the Korean-American version of Rube Baker. Those throwing problems made the Angels nervous so instead of plying Hank with lingerie catalogs and nudie mags, they, in typical Dipoto fashion, acted fast and have signed veteran catcher Chris Snyder to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
Chris Snyder had been in Nationals camp, but was released this morning, which is nice because it saved the Angels the trouble of trying to work out a trade. As I had planned to post later this morning in a review of the Angels' catching options, Snyder is an ideal fit for Dipoto and the kind of players he prefers. Snyder is an established veteran, giving them some certainty behind Conger, who is at least passable defensively and has some pop with his bat as well as a knack for drawing a lot of walks even when he isn't hitting.
For his career, Snyder has slash line of .225/.329/.385, making him kind of a poor man's Chris Iannetta. But last season in Houston he was only able to post a .176/.295/.308 slash line. A big part of that is Snyder underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc back in 2011, so there is a very real chance that he is no longer the same player he was prior to the injury and thus my comment earlier about his defense at least being passable. It could be better, we just don't really know where is is health-wise.
At a minimum, Snyder is now in camp as an insurance policy behind Conger in case he doesn't get his throwing ironed out. However, it seems unlikely that he is magically going to fix his problems and regain the trust of the coaching staff. As such, Snyder is probably the favorite to make the Opening Day roster as the back-up catcher with Conger heading to the minors possibly for a very long time.
The question then with Conger is if this might actually be the end of the line for him in Anaheim. He has tried for a few years now to secure a permanent spot on the roster but had his defense thwart those efforts each and every time. At a point, it is time to just cut bait. If he doesn't make the roster, don't be the least bit surprised if Hank gets shopped around the league, although that may no be a great idea since it weakens the depth at catcher, where Iannetta and Snyder both have injury histories, and would be a classic example of selling an asset at the bottom of its value. But if they keep him, it is unclear what, if anything, he is going to have to do to get back in good standing with Scioscia and the front office.
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