At the end of spring training, when the Rays made the decision to release Rene Rivera and go with the duo of Hank Conger and Curt Casali, it was a conscientious decision to move away from exceptional defense in favor of adding some much needed pop behind the plate, hopefully eliminating the offensive black hole that has surrounded the position for the past few years.
However, so far this season, the switch for more offense has been a dud as Casali and Conger have combined to slash .159/.196/.182 over 18 games and 46 plate appearances. Now, of course, this is a very small sample size, but it still places the Rays among the league's worst in fWAR, wRC+, wOBA, and ISO. The duo also sport a ridiculous strikeout percentage of 43.5%, easily the highest in the league.
[Author's Note: Curt Casali is currently significantly increasing his offensive production as he is 2-2 off of David Price with a homer]
Also, unlike the rest of the team, BABIP luck may have actually helped the tandem as their mark stands at .292, which puts them right around league average. Conger has been the better hitter, while Casali has been better defensively behind the plate (some fans expected the opposite). Both have had their share of struggles on the receiving end, though.
To date, Rays catchers have allowed nine wild pitches in just 18 games, but at least they have zero passed balls. Also, Conger's stolen base problems from a year ago are still with him, as opposing base-stealers have already snagged nine bases off him, and one off Casali, while no runners have been thrown out.
One small positive thus far has been Casali's framing prowess, as he ranks in the top 10 in the majors in framing runs so far on Baseball Prospectus, while Conger is around the bottom of the list. Casali is also near the top of the list in extra calls per game and runs above average, while Conger falls just under the middle of the pack.
Probably these early season struggles aren't a true indication of the pair's true-talent level, but still, when the Rays let go of Rivera, we were hoping for at least some offensive production. Right now, the two Rays catchers seem to have fallen through the same black hole as Jose Molina and Rivera did in year's past.