When it comes to pre-season position battles, none come with less intrigue and importance than a battle for the back-up catcher's job. That statement is true for 29 of the 30 teams in baseball. You'll never guess who the exception to the rule is.
Just because Chris Iannetta has been brought in to replace the maligned Jeff Mathis doesn't mean that the Angels' backstop drama is at an end. We know that Iannetta tops the catching depth chart now, but what does that really mean? Will he get 140 starts or will he get 85? Only Mike Scioscia knows what the plan is and he is the one responsible for letting Jeff Mathis spend so much time haunting the catcher's box for the last few years.
What makes this roster spot competition so curious is that Scioscia has before him an opportunity to recreate a similar catching duo dynamic to the one that he has had the last few years with Mathis and Mike Napoli. In this scenario, Iannetta plays the role of Napoli, the catcher with big power potential, strong plate discipline and question marks about his defense. That, of course, means we have to have someone playing Mathis. Enter Bobby Wilson.
Like Mathis, Wilson's bat is decidedly weak but his defensive reputation is a strong one, especially in the eyes of the great and mighty Sosh. In Bobby's defense, his bat may not be as horrific as that of Jeff Mathis, which is most definitely daming him with feint praise. Make no mistake, Wilson has the ability to perform better offensively than Mathis, but not by a whole lot. The problem is that his offensive ability may not matter.
In the same way that Wilson probably can't be as bad as Mathis, Iannetta probably can't be as good as Mike Napoli. We all just saw what Napoli could do with his MVP-like season in Texas. That simply isn't something Iannetta is capable of. He can hit homers and draw walks, but he has some major contact issues that will prevent him from ever reaching those heights. Unfortunately, what Chris can do is find his way into Scioscia's defensive doghouse just like Napoli did. Iannetta has a better reputation than Napoli, but he has struggled with consistency. With the high defensive standards Scioscia carries, that could spell trouble.