For additional biographical information, please see LaRue's entry in Red Hot Mama's Human League.
Historical Statistics (for explanations of all the statistics used in this entry, please see the Baseball Statistics Quicksheet).
|Pos.||Year||Level||DI's||PintoGB (+-runs)||Passed Balls/150g||Caught Stealing||CS%||ERAeffect|
In other areas of his game, LaRue seems generally average. Pitchers do not tend to have a better or worse ERA when he is behind the plate, so he seems to call a good enough game and handle pitchers adequately. He gets out of the box to field ground-balls fairly well, ranking 6th among starting catchers last year. One area in which LaRue has consistently been critiqued, however, is his poor ability to prevent passed-balls. His '04 season was dreadful in this regard, though he was not quite as bad in '03 or '05. Nevertheless, I'd be concerned with him behind the plate if the Reds tried out a knuckleballer again.
In what could be interpreted as an initial effort to combat this, the Reds acquired Dave Ross during spring training. Ross, a right-hander, could probably contribute to a reasonably effective platoon with the switch-hitting Javier Valentin if, say, LaRue were to be traded. In fact, I'd go so far to say that a trade of LaRue is likely. As an effective-hitting and defensively-capable catcher, he definitely has to have some value, particularly as injuries begin to occur to contending teams' starting catchers. LaRue has a better track record and is more obviously a starting catcher than is Valentin, who has poor numbers against left-handers. Finally, he is also at a position where the Reds have clear redundancy, with even manager Jerry Narron admitting that it will be difficult to find everyone sufficient playing time.
If he is not traded, it is difficult to imagine the Reds carrying three catchers all season. The struggles of our pitching staff necessitate carrying 12 pitchers, putting reservist position player spots at a premium. Even the versatility of guys like Ryan Freel and Rich Aurilia can't completely make up for the challenge of, say, carrying a player or two with day-to-day injuries for several days in a row. A move seemingly has to be made this season. Hopefully it will be one that brings some value in return, rather than simply designating Ross for assignment and losing him via waivers.
Baseball Archive, The
Baseball Cube, The
Baseball Prospectus '06 Annual
Baseball Think Factory
Hardball Times '06 Annual