Padres address catching need with Ross

By Jim Callis
July 28, 2005

Unlike most .500 clubs, the Padres have a realistic chance at the postseason because they play in (and lead) the dismal National League West. Trying to protect their first-place standing after losing starting catcher Ramon Hernandez for 3-6 weeks to wrist surgery, San Diego found another backstop on Thursday. The Padres acquired David Ross from the Pirates for Triple-A infielder J.J. Furmaniak.

Now joining Robert Fick and Phil Nevin in San Diego’s catching mix, the 28-year-old Ross is the best defender in that group. He’s no Gold Glover, but he has thrown out seven of 12 basestealers (58 percent) and 34 percent during his big league career. While he has some pop at the plate, he’s an undisciplined hitter who strikes out too frequently. He has little speed, typical of a catcher. Sold by the Dodgers to the Pirates in March, Ross has hit .222/.263/.380 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 108 at-bats this year. A career .211/.284/.403 hitter with 19 homers and 50 RBIs in 158 games, Ross will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season.

Furmaniak, 25, steadily has climbed the minor league ladder since signing as a 22nd-round pick out of Lewis (Ill.) in 2000. Projected as a utilityman, Furmaniak has played mostly third base and shortstop at Triple-A Portland this year, hitting .266/.324/.437 with 14 homers, 47 RBIs and nine steals in 99 games. He has more power than most middle infielders and a solid arm. His speed, hands and plate discipline are nothing special, but he’s a versatile player who can help a big league club off the bench.