18 June 2014

So Much Depends on a Backup Catcher

Although the catcher position was made a bit safer by no longer allowing 200 pound plus guys running full speed into said catcher, that was really not one of the major reasons why catchers get hurt.  Catchers tend to get hurt more often due to injuries brought on by fatigue, foul tips, and general wear and tear.  It is a position where a day off is rather well warranted and a decent backup is often a pretty good idea.  It is also a position where it is difficult to develop talent and there appears to be a scarcity of that talent.

This season, the Orioles suffered a loss behind the plate when Matt Wieters arm gave out.  Tommy John surgery is not common for catchers, but it tends to be a rather big deal.  A lost season at the plate winds up hurting a batter far more than a pitcher losing a season on the mound.  However, I am getting far ahead of myself.  The point I am trying to make here is how poorly off the Orioles are with how they choose to fill their backup catcher position.

In the past, the club has tried to fill in that lack of organizational talent at catcher by bringing in washed up guys like Ronny Paulino, Chris Snyder, and Taylor Teagarden.  None wound up impressing much.  This year, the club depended on Steve Clevenger and Johnny Monell.  Monell was quickly dispensed.  Wieters' injury resulted in the club promoting Caleb Joseph and trading for Nick Hundley.  Clevenger was then sent down to Norfolk.

None have been anything close to a solution.  The following chart shows the offensive performance of players who were not considered the team's starting catcher when the season began.

As you can see, the Orioles enjoy the fourth worst bat from behind the plate in all of baseball so far this season.  On top of that, neither Joseph or Hundley are defensive wunderkinds like the Rays' Jose Molina.  In other words, the current catchers are not making up for their bats with slick gloves.

As the trade deadline begins to loom and this club looks to improve itself if it chooses to make a run, it may need to come to terms with their catching situation and try to shake out a solution.  That likely will not be easy as a good catcher is hard to find.  Perhaps the only player who might be on the market and fits that bill in Russell Martin.  One expects the Pirates will ask for a lot though.  Perhaps more than the Orioles would be willing to pay.

At least this fretting means that we are talking about the playoffs.


Anonymous said...

Now, I'm not saying the Caleb Joseph is the next Pudge Rod and his offense hasn't been great, but didn't he earn a leadoff walk and a single against Cobb? Isn't his caught stealing .444? He has made several very good plays and doesn't have any errors. Sure, I'd like his average above .220, but it the rest of the order wasn't struggling as much, Joseph's offense wouldn't matter as greatly.
BTW, hitting the runner in the middle of his back as he ran inside the basepath was great.

Jon Shepherd said...

A lot of things happening would make Joseph's inadequacies unimportant just like how other's inadequacies would be less important if Joseph can hit.

Really, similar statements can be made about David Lough.