By Jim Callis
January 6, 2005
The Tigers traded for a backup catcher on Thursday, allowing them to address their third-base situation. After picking up Vance Wilson from the Mets for minor league shortstop Anderson Hernandez, Detroit no longer needs Brandon Inge to serve as its No. 2 catcher and will make him its regular third baseman.
Wilson, 31, is a competent reserve coming off his best year with the bat. He hit .274/.335/.427 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 157 at-bats over 79 games. He usually hits for a modest average and has decent power. He stands out more on defense, where he threw out 32 percent of basestealers last season. Wilson has good catch-and-throw skills, moves well behind the plate and calls a good game. He’s a career .254/.308/.384 hitter with 17 homers and 92 RBIs in 286 games and 649 at-bats.
Hernandez, 22, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001. He too excels more with his glove. He has consistent hands, fluid actions, excellent range and a strong arm. He can make accurate throws even when he’s off balance, and makes both the routine and the flashy play. He committed just 18 errors in 125 games between high Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie last year. Hernandez has added some strength, but he’s still weak at the plate. He batted a soft .274/.326/.376 with five homers, 29 RBIs and 17 steals in 2004. He lacks the plate discipline to make much use of his above-average speed. In 418 minor league games, he has hit .257/.305/.345 with nine homers, 127 RBIs and 87 steals.