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mdep524
10-22-2004, 01:32 PM
Despite what Ozzie and KW are telling you, the Sox have a gaping hole at catcher right now that I am afraid they are going to complete overlook this offseason. If they go into 2005 with Ben Davis as their starting catcher and Jamie Burke as the back up, we are in big trouble. Though much attention has been paid to the OF, SS and P holes on this team, there really hasn't been a lot of discussion about the catcher situation.

Here's how I handicap the Sox options:

1. Trade for Jason Kendall.
The good: Kendall would bring much needed contact, OBP, bunting, speed and baseball intelligence skills to the top of the Sox line up, as well as a grinder, leader and all-about-winning mentality. The fact that he plays catcher is just a bonus.

The bad: Kendall has a ridiculous contract, considered by some to be the worst in all of MLB. The Sox would likely have to ask Pittsburgh to eat some of it Though the Pirates have shown a willingness to do that is previous aborted deals, it would probably cost the Sox an extra propsect. Also, it is rumored that Kendall would only approve a trade to a West coast team.


2. Sign Jason Varitek
The good: Much like Kendall, Varitek is a leader and a gamer through and through, and would thrive in that role on the Sox. His leadership/intangible qualities should not be under emphasized- he's just the kind of guy you want anchoring your team. (similar to Carlot Fisk perhaps) He has a good bat with some power.

The bad: The price tag for Varitek will be high, very high, (possibly in excess of $9 or $10 mil/year) and there won't be anyone to "split the cost" with like Kendall. Also, Varitek is likely going to be the Red Sox's number one priority this offseason and they would do whatever it takes to get him back in Beantown.


3. Sign Mike Matheny
The good: Unlike Kendall and Varitek, Matheny has built his career on defense and pitch calling, which are arguably more important qualities in a cather than hitting. His defense is superb, and he is a well-respected baseball mind as well. Also, compared to others, Matheny will come at a fraction of the price tag.

The bad: Though still arguably a step up from Ben Davis, Matheny doesn't bring too much to the plate, as he hit .247 this season and has a career BA of .239 with no power. He will probably be the most available of the three however.



From there, the level of FA catchers drops off (Damian Miller, Brent Mayne are the best of the rest) and I don't know who else would be available via trade. So, what do you think the Sox should do? Stand pat with Davis/Burke? Sign a FA? Trade for Kendall?

Personally, my most preferred option would be to trade for Jason Kendall, as I've always liked that guy and think he'd be a great fit of this team. Varitek, though also ideal, I think is out of reach, so I would say the most realistic option is to sign Mike Matheny, and I would be happy with that move.

LVSoxFan
10-22-2004, 01:37 PM
I agree with you that pitch calling is more important than hitting in a catcher.

Plus, I wouldn't mind somebody with an arm--there were WAY too many stolen bases taken from the Sox this past season.

wdelaney72
10-22-2004, 01:42 PM
Metheny (sp?)Our SP and Bullpen need all the help they can get.

What's sad is a catcher hitting .247 would actually be a big improvement.

jabrch
10-22-2004, 01:43 PM
Given our other needs, I am ok with Davis and Burke. That's not great - but it is livable if we address other needs.

Paulwny
10-22-2004, 01:45 PM
Also, it is rumored that Kendall would only approve a trade to a West coast team.
.
Its not a rumor its a fact, From Tribune Review/ Pirates Live, Oct 1, 2004

{Any team interested in acquiring Kendall, of course, would need to get him to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. With Kendall privately wanting to play on the West Coast if he leaves the Pirates, that leaves few potential trading partners. }

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/sports/pirateslive/s_257110.html

mdep524
10-22-2004, 02:41 PM
Its not a rumor its a fact, From Tribune Review/ Pirates Live, Oct 1, 2004

{Any team interested in acquiring Kendall, of course, would need to get him to waive the no-trade clause in his contract. With Kendall privately wanting to play on the West Coast if he leaves the Pirates, that leaves few potential trading partners. }

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/sports/pirateslive/s_257110.htmlWell, I don't think that alone should dissuade the Sox from pursuing him. Sure, he would, all things the same, prefer to play on the West coast. But if the Sox show him the same respect and conviction that Theo Epstein and the Red Sox showed Curt Shilling last winter, there's a chance he would reconsider.

kittle42
10-22-2004, 02:59 PM
Have I mentioned yet how much I hate the hot-stove league?

How about option 4 - the only option the Sox will use - Platoon Burke and Davis.

Now everyone get their heads out of the clouds.

JB98
10-22-2004, 03:28 PM
I would like to see the Sox make a run at Matheny. St. Louis has Molina waiting in the wings and may not make a strong run at retaining Matheny. Catcher is a defensive position. I don't care if our catcher hits only .250 if he calls a good game and shuts down the opposition's running game. If our hopes depend on offensive production from the catcher position, odds are we're in trouble.

I have absolutely no interest in Kendall. The guy isn't worth $4 million, let alone $12 million. I'd rather enter the season with Burke and Davis and retain the payroll flexibility than acquire an albatross like that. Not to mention, Kendall isn't a good defensive catcher.

Paulwny
10-22-2004, 04:20 PM
Well, I don't think that alone should dissuade the Sox from pursuing him. Sure, he would, all things the same, prefer to play on the West coast. But if the Sox show him the same respect and conviction that Theo Epstein and the Red Sox showed Curt Shilling last winter, there's a chance he would reconsider.
In the article its mentioned that the Padres balked in their possible deal because they would owe Kendall $24 mil for the 2006/2007 seasons. Pitt wouldn't eat all the money the padres requested.
Kendall is too expensive for a low budget team. Schilling is not too expensive for a team wanting to go to the ws.

Ol' No. 2
10-22-2004, 04:31 PM
So Burke hit .333 and threw out 42% of attempted base stealers. And we don't like him because.............?

idseer
10-22-2004, 04:31 PM
I agree with you that pitch calling is more important than hitting in a catcher.

Plus, I wouldn't mind somebody with an arm--there were WAY too many stolen bases taken from the Sox this past season.
i disagree with this sentiment. catcher is NOT like a middle infield position where you don't need a bat. think of any really good catcher and you'll notice they hit. some better than others but they all have the bats!

idseer
10-22-2004, 04:32 PM
So Burke hit .333 and threw out 42% of attempted base stealers. And we don't like him because.............?
i think the thinking is it's because he's kinda long in the tooth.

Ol' No. 2
10-22-2004, 04:53 PM
i think the thinking is it's because he's kinda long in the tooth.He's 33. And people want to replace him with Damian Miller? Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

idseer
10-22-2004, 04:55 PM
He's 33. And people want to replace him with Damian Miller? Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.
i never said to replace him with miller.

i was giving a reason many here don't think he's very valuable to this team.

Ol' No. 2
10-22-2004, 05:09 PM
i never said to replace him with miller.

i was giving a reason many here don't think he's very valuable to this team.You didn't, but a lot of other people have. Other names frequently mentioned:

Varitek 32
Matheny 34
Kendall 30

mweflen
10-22-2004, 05:13 PM
If we were going to sign any 10 million dollar catcher, it should have been Ivan Rodriguez before the '04 season. He is absolutely worth what Detroit paid for him.

Why couldn't we have packaged Willie or Crede for Freddy Garcia? One one of our innumerable outfield 'prospects'? (who I have a sinking feeling will become the Borchard Clone Troopers - but that's just normal Sox fan pessimism talking)

Instead, we gave up our best hope for a 'catcher of the future' in Olivo.

We've got what we've got, and just have to live with it. I'd love to see Varitek in Chicago, but it's a pipe dream. We have bigger needs to address.

hitlesswonder
10-22-2004, 05:43 PM
Instead, we gave up our best hope for a 'catcher of the future' in Olivo.

We've got what we've got, and just have to live with it. I'd love to see Varitek in Chicago, but it's a pipe dream. We have bigger needs to address.
I wasn't really happy about losing Olivo, but I don't want to spark a debate about his relative merits (the Sox had to give up something to get Garcia and either way it's done).

The question is what should the Sox do now. In my opinion, the tandem of Davis and Burke is the worst in MLB. I don't want that to sound irrationally critical, it's just that I can't think of team with less performance at catcher (if somone can think of one, I'll be happy to be corrected). I think the only bigger hole on the Sox is pitching. So I would say improving at catcher is at least the second priority.

I know a lot of people feel defense and game calling are the more important than hitting, but Davis has shown himself to be completely capable of hitting below .200 at the major league level. If he picks up the majority of the games, it could easily be like having the pitcher hit. Which I guess would at least bring the team closer to playing national league ball like Guillen wants. Also, I didn't see great defense out of Davis. This is just my opinion from watching a few games, but it didn't look like he moved well behind the plate. And weren't all of the Sox games called from the bench last year? I hope he breaks out this year, but I think it's unlikely.

I like Burke a little more, but he's been a career minor leaguer. I'm not sure you can depend on his performance to stay at the level it was this year. Unfortunately, the free agent class at C looks lousy to me. Is Zaunn a free agent? If so, he might be worth a look. So, unless Ryan Hankins turns out to be a MLB player (does anyone know if the Sox think he will?), the only way to improve at the position will be to trade, and I think that won't happen until after the season starts (and then only if the Sox are in contention). I think it's a big hole, but I don't think the Sox will fill it.

idseer
10-22-2004, 05:47 PM
Instead, we gave up our best hope for a 'catcher of the future' in Olivo.
i still see no reason to think that. not a drop.

JB98
10-22-2004, 06:25 PM
So Burke hit .333 and threw out 42% of attempted base stealers. And we don't like him because.............?

I don't think Burke would hit anywhere close to .333 if he played every day. In fact, he'd probably hit more like .233. Maybe.

It's not that I don't like Jamie. He's solid defensively. The pitchers like throwing to him. In fact, I'd rather have him than Ben Davis. I just think Burke is a #2 catcher. That's all.

Mickster
10-22-2004, 06:27 PM
Why couldn't we have packaged Willie or Crede for Freddy Garcia? One one of our innumerable outfield 'prospects'? (who I have a sinking feeling will become the Borchard Clone Troopers - but that's just normal Sox fan pessimism talking)
:kneeslap:

johnny_mostil
10-22-2004, 08:28 PM
I agree with you that pitch calling is more important than hitting in a catcher.

Plus, I wouldn't mind somebody with an arm--there were WAY too many stolen bases taken from the Sox this past season.
Pitch calling is really important, but the problem is, it seems nobody knows which catcher is actually good at it. The Rangers slammed Ivan Rodriguez for poor pitch calling in 2002, but suddenly he was a genius in Florida in 2003...

The SB comment is interesting. The White Sox gave up 90 stolen bases. The average number of bases stolen against an American League was 89.5; in other words, the Sox were ordinary. Just because Brian Roberts stole a boatload of bases in a handful of games doesn't mean it was a season-long problem. The Johnny Mostil Theory of Sox Fandom is that we all fixate on defense even when defense isn't the problem.

Further, with a pitching staff giving up 224 home runs, the Sox were better off with as much base stealing as possible given that 48 of the 138 runners trying to steal were thrown out (not counting pickoffs) just to reduce the number of ducks on the pond for all those home runs hit against the Sox pitchers. (By the way, those 224 homers were, more than anything, what cost the White Sox an opportunity to contend).

johnny_mostil
10-22-2004, 08:29 PM
It's not that I don't like Jamie. He's solid defensively. The pitchers like throwing to him. In fact, I'd rather have him than Ben Davis. I just think Burke is a #2 catcher. That's all.
So is Davis. That's the problem.

Ol' No. 2
10-23-2004, 12:19 AM
I don't think Burke would hit anywhere close to .333 if he played every day. In fact, he'd probably hit more like .233. Maybe.

It's not that I don't like Jamie. He's solid defensively. The pitchers like throwing to him. In fact, I'd rather have him than Ben Davis. I just think Burke is a #2 catcher. That's all.So no one likes Borchard because he can't hit. And no one likes Burke, because even though he's hit well, he probably won't in the future. I think you've just ruled out everybody in the major leagues.

ma-gaga
10-23-2004, 12:25 AM
I think the Sox should get a new [insert position player]. Here's who I think we should go after:

1. [Player with bad contract] But only if the other team pays for him.
2. [Player on AL World Series team]
3. [Player on NL World Series team]

What do you think?

MeanFish
10-23-2004, 03:03 AM
I think we should look at Damian Miller.

JB98
10-23-2004, 11:40 AM
So is Davis. That's the problem.
Absolutely. You do have to wonder whether Sox management recognizes it as a problem, however.

JB98
10-23-2004, 11:55 AM
So no one likes Borchard because he can't hit. And no one likes Burke, because even though he's hit well, he probably won't in the future. I think you've just ruled out everybody in the major leagues.
For God's sake, did you even read what I posted?

This has nothing to do with Borchard, so I don't know why you're bringing him up. I was commenting on one specific player, namely Burke. The guy has never been able to hit in the minors. That's why he's never stuck in the big leagues. Yes, he did swing the bat well in limited duty with the Sox this year. However, I think it's a mistake to assume he would be an offensive force if given the opportunity to be the Sox everyday catcher in 2005. Let's not forget he was hitting about .210 for Charlotte at the time of his call-up. He is good defensively, and he calls a good game. Those are valuable commodities to have, but I don't have any reason to believe he'd hit better than .220 if he caught 130 games at the big-league level. Burke has been kicking around professional baseball for the better part of a decade, and he's always struggled at the plate. I'd be inclined to think the modest success he had with the Sox is the exception, not the rule. He's already 33 years old. He's not going to get much better than he is now.

I have no idea why you think I've "just ruled out" everyone in the major leagues with my previous post. We have several players who have proven they can be productive on an everyday basis at the big-league level, namely Thomas, Lee, Konerko, Rowand and Uribe. I think those guys have hit in the past and will hit in the future. But this thread isn't about that. It's about catchers, and I think it was pretty clear that I was talking specifically about Burke.

johnny_mostil
10-23-2004, 12:41 PM
Absolutely. You do have to wonder whether Sox management recognizes it as a problem, however.
I believe they do; what scares me is not what they recognize as their problem but rather what they will opt for as "the solution". The Sox tend to value some pretty weird things in ballplayers (Timo Perez).

mdep524
10-23-2004, 01:03 PM
The SB comment is interesting. The White Sox gave up 90 stolen bases. The average number of bases stolen against an American League was 89.5; in other words, the Sox were ordinary. Just because Brian Roberts stole a boatload of bases in a handful of games doesn't mean it was a season-long problem. The Johnny Mostil Theory of Sox Fandom is that we all fixate on defense even when defense isn't the problem.

Further, with a pitching staff giving up 224 home runs, the Sox were better off with as much base stealing as possible given that 48 of the 138 runners trying to steal were thrown out (not counting pickoffs) just to reduce the number of ducks on the pond for all those home runs hit against the Sox pitchers. (By the way, those 224 homers were, more than anything, what cost the White Sox an opportunity to contend).Aside from Buehrle, I think we can blame Sox pitchers almost as much as catchers for all the stolen bases against. A lot of times, Burke/Davis/Olivo had no chance.

Paulwny
10-23-2004, 01:07 PM
[QUOTE=johnny_mostil]Pitch calling is really important, but the problem is, it seems nobody knows which catcher is actually good at it. The Rangers slammed Ivan Rodriguez for poor pitch calling in 2002, but suddenly he was a genius in Florida in 2003...
QUOTE]

IROD had an ego problem in Texas, refusing to attend pitcher/catcher meetings to review opposing hitters and he'd continually call for a fast ball with a speedy runner at first, looking to improve his "throw out numbers", rather then trying to get the batter out.
His attitude changed when he became a fa and didn't receive the big money he expected. He became a "team player" in FL and since has been calling a better game.

Ol' No. 2
10-23-2004, 01:34 PM
For God's sake, did you even read what I posted?

This has nothing to do with Borchard, so I don't know why you're bringing him up. I was commenting on one specific player, namely Burke. The guy has never been able to hit in the minors. That's why he's never stuck in the big leagues. Yes, he did swing the bat well in limited duty with the Sox this year. However, I think it's a mistake to assume he would be an offensive force if given the opportunity to be the Sox everyday catcher in 2005. Let's not forget he was hitting about .210 for Charlotte at the time of his call-up. He is good defensively, and he calls a good game. Those are valuable commodities to have, but I don't have any reason to believe he'd hit better than .220 if he caught 130 games at the big-league level. Burke has been kicking around professional baseball for the better part of a decade, and he's always struggled at the plate. I'd be inclined to think the modest success he had with the Sox is the exception, not the rule. He's already 33 years old. He's not going to get much better than he is now.

I have no idea why you think I've "just ruled out" everyone in the major leagues with my previous post. We have several players who have proven they can be productive on an everyday basis at the big-league level, namely Thomas, Lee, Konerko, Rowand and Uribe. I think those guys have hit in the past and will hit in the future. But this thread isn't about that. It's about catchers, and I think it was pretty clear that I was talking specifically about Burke.You missed the point entirely. Everybody loves to carp about this guy and that guy who can't hit (Borchard being only one example), completely neglecting the fact that they've had only a small number of AB, yet Burke is a guy who has hit, and no one wants to believe it. The attitude seems to be, "Players who aren't immediately successful stink, and those who are successful will probably stink in the future." Who's left?

Some guys are late bloomers. It's not as if Burke's had only 50 AB. While I don't necessarily expect he will continue to hit .333, only the most determined pessimist will project .220. He's solid, if not spectacular defensively, and I don't see any reason to project lower than .280. But anything can happen. Would I like to have Jason Varitek instead? Sure, but the Sox have much more pressing needs. Catcher is way down on the list. Burke and Davis will do just fine until these other needs are addressed.

JKryl
10-23-2004, 06:30 PM
[QUOTE=mdep524]
The bad: The price tag for Varitek will be high, very high, (possibly in excess of $9 or $10 mil/year) and there won't be anyone to "split the cost" with like Kendall. Also, Varitek is likely going to be the Red Sox's number one priority this offseason and they would do whatever it takes to get him back in Beantown.
QUOTE]

A good catcher that can hit, throw and counsel the pitchers is worth his weight in gold. If they could get Varitek, I, for once, wouldn't complain about how much these guys make.

JB98
10-23-2004, 07:49 PM
You missed the point entirely. Everybody loves to carp about this guy and that guy who can't hit (Borchard being only one example), completely neglecting the fact that they've had only a small number of AB, yet Burke is a guy who has hit, and no one wants to believe it. The attitude seems to be, "Players who aren't immediately successful stink, and those who are successful will probably stink in the future." Who's left?

Some guys are late bloomers. It's not as if Burke's had only 50 AB. While I don't necessarily expect he will continue to hit .333, only the most determined pessimist will project .220. He's solid, if not spectacular defensively, and I don't see any reason to project lower than .280. But anything can happen. Would I like to have Jason Varitek instead? Sure, but the Sox have much more pressing needs. Catcher is way down on the list. Burke and Davis will do just fine until these other needs are addressed.

I'd be willing to bet you anything that Burke would not hit .280 given 500 at-bats. If that makes me a pessimist, then so be it.

I was also considered a pessimist for declaring the Sox out of the race in mid-August, and you saw what happened.

hitlesswonder
10-23-2004, 10:56 PM
It's not as if Burke's had only 50 AB. While I don't necessarily expect he will continue to hit .333, only the most determined pessimist will project .220. He's solid, if not spectacular defensively, and I don't see any reason to project lower than .280. But anything can happen. Would I like to have Jason Varitek instead? Sure, but the Sox have much more pressing needs. Catcher is way down on the list. Burke and Davis will do just fine until these other needs are addressed.
I guess I'm a determined pessimist, although I think .230 might be more fair. I like Burke a lot. He seems like a good guy, looks like he plays decent defense, and he's been a very good hitter for average since he got to the Sox. I think he'd be a great backup. If anyone could post his career minor league numbers, I'd love to see them. I don't think he's a career .280 hitter there. In the AL last season, only 40 or so players hit .280 or more (in enough at bats to qualify). It's hard to do, and I don't think Burke would. That being said, I might play him over Davis, who hit all of .207 last year (I know, small sample size). I don't think they'll do just fine, but that's just my opinion.

What do you think the Sox most pressing needs are? I think just looking at performance last year, another starter has to be number one. After that, I think the biggest holes (at least on offense) are C and 3B. So I'd place catcher as tied for 2nd.

Ol' No. 2
10-24-2004, 12:52 AM
I guess I'm a determined pessimist, although I think .230 might be more fair. I like Burke a lot. He seems like a good guy, looks like he plays decent defense, and he's been a very good hitter for average since he got to the Sox. I think he'd be a great backup. If anyone could post his career minor league numbers, I'd love to see them. I don't think he's a career .280 hitter there. In the AL last season, only 40 or so players hit .280 or more (in enough at bats to qualify). It's hard to do, and I don't think Burke would. That being said, I might play him over Davis, who hit all of .207 last year (I know, small sample size). I don't think they'll do just fine, but that's just my opinion.

What do you think the Sox most pressing needs are? I think just looking at performance last year, another starter has to be number one. After that, I think the biggest holes (at least on offense) are C and 3B. So I'd place catcher as tied for 2nd.I guess we'll find out on Burke. I see a good solid hitter with a nice, compact swing who makes consistent contact. He's not much for power, but he doesn't strike out a lot, either. Only 3 GIDP in 120 AB. He puts the ball in play, which is what they need at the bottom third of the order. The only things I don't like is he doesn't walk much, he doesn't see a lot of pitches and he hits a lot of ground balls.

I'd agree that their most pressing need is a starter, and not a 5th starter, but one who can win at least 15 games. After that, I'd put bullpen help above any position player. They need at least one good reliever to go with Takatsu, Marte, Politte, Cotts and Adkins. And again, not a marginal guy, but someone who you can send out in the 8th inning in a tight game without covering your eyes. For relievers, I use the "Oh, ****" test. That is, if you can look out into the bullpen and see him warming up, and your first reaction is, "Oh, ****!! Not HIM!", he's failed the test. Two solid relievers would be even better, as I'm not really sold on Politte as anything more than average. I really think that with a good starter and two relievers better than Politte, I would have no problem going to war with the rest of the team as it is.

akingamongstmen
10-24-2004, 01:18 AM
I guess we'll find out on Burke. I see a good solid hitter with a nice, compact swing who makes consistent contact. He's not much for power, but he doesn't strike out a lot, either. Only 3 GIDP in 120 AB. He puts the ball in play, which is what they need at the bottom third of the order. The only things I don't like is he doesn't walk much, he doesn't see a lot of pitches and he hits a lot of ground balls.

I'd agree that their most pressing need is a starter, and not a 5th starter, but one who can win at least 15 games. After that, I'd put bullpen help above any position player. They need at least one good reliever to go with Takatsu, Marte, Politte, Cotts and Adkins. And again, not a marginal guy, but someone who you can send out in the 8th inning in a tight game without covering your eyes. For relievers, I use the "Oh, ****" test. That is, if you can look out into the bullpen and see him warming up, and your first reaction is, "Oh, ****!! Not HIM!", he's failed the test. Two solid relievers would be even better, as I'm not really sold on Politte as anything more than average. I really think that with a good starter and two relievers better than Politte, I would have no problem going to war with the rest of the team as it is.
I agree with you completely. Pitching if far and away the most significant need that must be addressed this off-season.

MeanFish
10-24-2004, 01:21 AM
Does it really matter if we have a catcher who can hit? I'd personally rather get ourselves a backstop catcher who can hold runners on the basepaths and could call a good game for our young pitchers. It's my feeling that a team's catcher can have a lot to do with how a pitcher does coming out of the minors.

If this team is serious about bolstering its pitching then getting a catcher who can call a good game is not just an ideal, it's a necessity.

TheBull19
10-27-2004, 02:50 PM
For God's sake, did you even read what I posted?

I was commenting on one specific player, namely Burke. The guy has never been able to hit in the minors.


2003 Charlotte he hit .322, 2002 Salt Lake .304, 1999 Edmonton .336, 1997 Midland(AA) .329. I skipped some poor years there, but you did say never.

My opinion is Burke's not the problem. Give me Burke/Matheny and I'll be happy.