Sunday, August 19, 2007

Evaluating House

JR House finally found his way onto the 25 (and 40) man roster in the abscense of Jay Gibbons, but he hasn't really found his way into the lineup. He started one game against the Blue Jays, pinch hit in games against the Yankees and Jays and got six at-bats over the two series. He's made good so far with 3 hits including a HR (but also a baserunning blunder in the 10th inning of today's game).

It's disappointing that House has only started one game. Paul Bako started a game at catcher in each of the two series so it seems clear that, at least for now, Bako will remain the backup C and House will serve mainly as a DH. Aubrey Huff has finally started to heat up over the last month (.382/.433/.727 with 4 HR in August) so he might be starting daily. Add in Kevin Millar riding a 40+ game streak of getting on base earning him a daily spot in the lineup, and there does not seem to be much time for House.

The general thinking is that the Orioles are hesitant to use House as a catcher because of his defense, and not having seen him play behind the plate, I have no idea whether the concerns are warranted. It seems to me that his defense is not likely to be much worse than Paul Bako's offense, in which case House should be the backup.

If House is at least competent defensively behind the plate, that would open up some interesting possibilities, assuming he can hit to the level his minor league numbers suggest he can. He'd certainly add more value to the team than Bako. It might also allow the team to trade Ramon Hernandez if he regains some value (i.e. power) in the near future. The Orioles could clear payroll with such a move while allowing House to serv as a bridge to catcher of the future Matt Weiters in 2008.

With the team done for the season, the Orioles ought to do themselves some good by giving House a few games behind the plate so that the Front Office can evaluate his defense at the Major League level. If he's terrible, no real harm done. If he isn't, the Orioles might have some real value in House for the next few seasons

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