NEW YORK -- When asked why the Mets had made a catcher, Hobie Landrith, their first selection in the 1961 Draft, Casey Stengel responded with customary logic.

"If you don't have a catcher, you're going to have a lot of passed balls," he said. And no one questioned his genius.

Forty-eight years later, the Mets have made sure the plate will be covered. And they're still not done looking for catchers.

For the second time this week, the Mets have signed a free-agent catcher not named Bengie Molina, Rod Barajas or, for that matter, Landrith. This time, it's Henry Blanco, late of the Padres. The club announced the one-year deal on Thursday night, two days after the signing of former Phillie Chris Coste became public knowledge. The club has yet to announce Coste's signing.

So now, the Mets have two veterans -- Blanco is 38 and has 11 years in the big leagues and Coste, 36, has four years in the Majors and 13 in the Minors -- to go along incumbent quasi-regular Omir Santos, who was a rookie at age 28 last season.

The Mets' plan is for someone other than Blanco, Coste or Santos to be their regular catcher. Blanco, a right-handed hitter, is the most likely to serve as the understudy to the regular. He played in 67 games with Padres last season, batting .235 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He is highly regarded as a defensive player, and not only because he is .228 career hitter. He threw out 34.1 percent of 41 would-be base stealers, a comparatively high percentage.