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1917
05-15-2006, 04:55 PM
We seem to be having trouble throwing out base stealers...has anyone else noticed that? I don't remember seeing AJ or Chris throw anyone out this year, I'm probably wrong, but it seems like teams are having there way with us on the base paths.

ondafarm
05-15-2006, 05:04 PM
Garcia wasn't holding anybody on today.

Neither AJ nor Widge are really great against the stolen base though either.

twsoxfan5
05-15-2006, 05:04 PM
Garcia did not give Widger any chances to throw anyone out today. He seemed content to let people steal on him. As far as our other pitchers Buehrle seems to be the only one who concerns himself with holding runners on.

Jurr
05-15-2006, 06:14 PM
I don't think AJ's ever been much of a traffic cop on the basepaths. It's okay..he calls one helluva game. And, as opposed to previous Sox catchers, he can hit the hell out of the ball.

Daver
05-15-2006, 06:17 PM
I don't think AJ's ever been much of a traffic cop on the basepaths. It's okay..he calls one helluva game. And, as opposed to previous Sox catchers, he can hit the hell out of the ball.

Catcher is a defensive position, first and foremost.

Corlose 15
05-15-2006, 06:19 PM
I agree that its mostly on the pitchers. It is dissapointing though to see such a high success rate against the Sox though. I'm pleased with how AJ is playing now though, calling a good game, working well with pitchers and hitting .330 gets a thumbs up in my book.:smile:

QCIASOXFAN
05-15-2006, 06:29 PM
I think that Buerle is the the only one who does a good job holding the runners on because his pickoff move scares the crap out of all the runners. I definitely agree that the other pitchers need to give are catchers a better chance to throw people out.

woodsdavid
05-15-2006, 06:44 PM
where is ron karkovice these days?

ondafarm
05-15-2006, 07:14 PM
Catcher is a defensive position, first and foremost.

I agree with you. And thank goodness for someone else who knows this.

I do want to qualify this though. There are a lot of defensive aspects that a catcher takes responsibility for that do not show up in the basic stats. Given a preference, a guy with a cannon for an arm is better, but the catcher directs the fielding of all bunts, most pop-ups in foul ground and calls the game. A catcher who handles all these things well is a rare find and if he hits, that's bonus. AJ is an outstanding catcher. Much better than say Posada who will probably outvote AJ for the All-Star Game.

HomeFish
05-15-2006, 07:20 PM
Catcher is a defensive position, first and foremost.

What about that one time we signed a defensively sub-par hitting catcher and won the World Series?

Ron Karkovice
05-15-2006, 07:25 PM
where is ron karkovice these days?

cough

Ron Karkovice
05-15-2006, 07:27 PM
the last I heard Hawk said that AJ is 4/20 in catching stealers. It was something like that.

That's terrible, because in highschool I threw out a way better percentage than that.

MERPER
05-15-2006, 07:37 PM
Good observation, but outside of Buehrle our pitchers are some of the worst in the league at holding on runners... I think last year, Contreras and Freddy were the top-2 in runners stealing against them...

But, with stealing being such a forgotten part of the game, it really doesn't hurt.... as long as we stop them from scoring that's all that matters!

Bobbo35
05-15-2006, 08:10 PM
I do not really think it matters as long as the pitching and defense is strong you can weather base stealing very easily. One thing I do think the Sox pitchers need to do is hold the runners better like Buerhle does.

champagne030
05-15-2006, 08:17 PM
Catcher is a defensive position, first and foremost.

That's bull****! You cannot place that label on any position. There may be things you want out of a certain position, but if you've got a 2nd, SS and 3B who put up 80 homers then you don't need power out of 1st.

Varitek is below average defensively, but the vast majority of teams would love to have him as their catcher. AJ may not have a good arm or be average blocking balls in the dirt, but like Varitek his other assets outway his defensive liabilities. Henry Blanco is far better defensively than either of the two previously mentioned catchers, but nobody would take Blanco over them. Piazza was brutal defensively (and still is), but in his offensive prime the offense was worth more than the defensive faults. Victor Martinez is terrible defensively, but his offense more than offsets his defense.

kittle42
05-15-2006, 08:20 PM
SS used to be a defensive position, too. 2B, as well. Now, any jamoke (see Alfonso Soriano) can play the middle infield as long as he's a slugger.

pearso66
05-15-2006, 11:45 PM
I think the biggest thing is that our pitchers don't care about the baserunners, and seem to care more about the hitter, which generally is where their minds should be. Pods wouldn't be nearly the threat he is, nor have all the worth if pitchers weren't scared of him running on them. If they went in with the mindset that he was going to steal if he got on base, and just focused on the batter, Pods would be a lot less valueable.

rdwj
05-16-2006, 08:55 AM
Catcher is a defensive position, first and foremost.

On this team the catcher calls the game - that's first and foremost.

And not being great at throwing out batters doesn't make him bad defensively. AJ does most things pretty well behind the plate.

Frater Perdurabo
05-16-2006, 09:53 AM
It doesn't make a hill of beans worth of difference if the Sox catcher never throws out a potential base stealer as long as the runner does not score. I'd rather have the Sox pitchers focus on getting the batter out (perferably via strikeout, pop out or line-out to an infielder) than have them distracted by the threat of a stolen base. If their attention is divided between the batter and the runner, they are more likely to make a mistake that ends up in the outfield seats.

Although I never played the position (heck, I never played organized baseball after age 10), I agree with the former catchers on here (ondafarm and Daver) that catcher is first and foremost a defensive position (as are SS, 2B and CF). A.J. is not a great defensive catcher, but the other parts of his game and his "intangibles" (such as keeping the clubhouse loose and particularly bringing Crede out of his former shell) do make up for his shortcomings. His high average, left-handed stick in the 6-hole makes this a much more dangerous offensive team as well.

A.J. and Widger may not be the best defensive duo at the dish, but at least the Sox are strong defensively at most other positions (Crede, Uribe, Anderson and Dye are particularly good with the leather; Iguchi is above-average; Pods and Konerko are good enough not to hurt the Sox; Garland and Buehrle in particular are excellent fielding pitchers; and Thome should win the Gold Glove for all designated hitters!).

fquaye149
05-16-2006, 10:04 AM
That's bull****! You cannot place that label on any position. There may be things you want out of a certain position, but if you've got a 2nd, SS and 3B who put up 80 homers then you don't need power out of 1st.


Sure you can place that label on any position. The idea isn't that you NEED to fulfill certain requirements from a position (for instance, your power at 1B example) but that it's what you can EXPECT from that position. Maybe your other infielders ARE hitting 80 homers, but almost every first baseman in the game hits 25 or more home runs, so if you're not getting that out of him, he's easily replaceable with someone who can.

Likewise, most catchers in the league can't hit as well as AJ but are better defensively. Widger, for instance, is a bench player and is a better defensive catcher than AJ. Maybe AJ brings intangibles to this team that I'm not in a position to evaluate, but the fact is, if you've got a cf, c, ss, or 2b who can't play defense well, you're not trying hard enough, b/c they're readily available, just like corner players who hit for power are readily available.

batmanZoSo
05-16-2006, 10:36 AM
It doesn't make a hill of beans worth of difference if the Sox catcher never throws out a potential base stealer as long as the runner does not score. I'd rather have the Sox pitchers focus on getting the batter out (perferably via strikeout, pop out or line-out to an infielder) than have them distracted by the threat of a stolen base. If their attention is divided between the batter and the runner, they are more likely to make a mistake that ends up in the outfield seats.

Although I never played the position (heck, I never played organized baseball after age 10), I agree with the former catchers on here (ondafarm and Daver) that catcher is first and foremost a defensive position (as are SS, 2B and CF). A.J. is not a great defensive catcher, but the other parts of his game and his "intangibles" (such as keeping the clubhouse loose and particularly bringing Crede out of his former shell) do make up for his shortcomings. His high average, left-handed stick in the 6-hole makes this a much more dangerous offensive team as well.

A.J. and Widger may not be the best defensive duo at the dish, but at least the Sox are strong defensively at most other positions (Crede, Uribe, Anderson and Dye are particularly good with the leather; Iguchi is above-average; Pods and Konerko are good enough not to hurt the Sox; Garland and Buehrle in particular are excellent fielding pitchers; and Thome should win the Gold Glove for all designated hitters!).

Everyone knows AJ's a below average catcher and that he's a damn good player to have around anyway. Each baseball team has its own set of strengths and deficiencies. Throwing out base stealers is just not this team's forte. It'll be like that as long as AJ's behind the plate and, for that matter, JC, Garcia, Garland and Vazquez are on the mound 80% of the time. I'd say this team's done well despite this great handicap.

champagne030
05-16-2006, 10:51 AM
Sure you can place that label on any position. The idea isn't that you NEED to fulfill certain requirements from a position (for instance, your power at 1B example) but that it's what you can EXPECT from that position. Maybe your other infielders ARE hitting 80 homers, but almost every first baseman in the game hits 25 or more home runs, so if you're not getting that out of him, he's easily replaceable with someone who can.

Likewise, most catchers in the league can't hit as well as AJ but are better defensively. Widger, for instance, is a bench player and is a better defensive catcher than AJ. Maybe AJ brings intangibles to this team that I'm not in a position to evaluate, but the fact is, if you've got a cf, c, ss, or 2b who can't play defense well, you're not trying hard enough, b/c they're readily available, just like corner players who hit for power are readily available.

Yeah, there's a lot of banjo hitting CF, C, SS and 2B's that play good defense that are available, but a team with 4 Neifi Perez's is not going to score any runs. My point was you cannot say that any position is something "first and foremost". The 1B example was the arguement against saying that 1B is a power position first and foremost. It's not....the rest of the offense can make Erstad or Casey (at least when they're healthy) useful players at 1st.

ondafarm
05-16-2006, 11:32 AM
It doesn't make a hill of beans worth of difference if the Sox catcher never throws out a potential base stealer as long as the runner does not score. I'd rather have the Sox pitchers focus on getting the batter out (perferably via strikeout, pop out or line-out to an infielder) than have them distracted by the threat of a stolen base. If their attention is divided between the batter and the runner, they are more likely to make a mistake that ends up in the outfield seats.

Although I never played the position (heck, I never played organized baseball after age 10), I agree with the former catchers on here (ondafarm and Daver) that catcher is first and foremost a defensive position (as are SS, 2B and CF). A.J. is not a great defensive catcher, but the other parts of his game and his "intangibles" (such as keeping the clubhouse loose and particularly bringing Crede out of his former shell) do make up for his shortcomings. His high average, left-handed stick in the 6-hole makes this a much more dangerous offensive team as well.

A.J. and Widger may not be the best defensive duo at the dish, but at least the Sox are strong defensively at most other positions (Crede, Uribe, Anderson and Dye are particularly good with the leather; Iguchi is above-average; Pods and Konerko are good enough not to hurt the Sox; Garland and Buehrle in particular are excellent fielding pitchers; and Thome should win the Gold Glove for all designated hitters!).


Agree on most of this except a couple of the finer points.

AJ is actually a good defensive catcher, he controls the other aspects of the defensive game for the Sox very well and his coordination with the pitching plan is outstanding. That's why the Sox's defense has been so outstanding. Good plan, well executed. That's AJ and Widger.

Pasqua's Posers
05-16-2006, 11:47 AM
Catcher is a defensive position, first and foremost.

i knew that was coming from Daver....

Daver
05-16-2006, 05:23 PM
Agree on most of this except a couple of the finer points.

AJ is actually a good defensive catcher, he controls the other aspects of the defensive game for the Sox very well and his coordination with the pitching plan is outstanding. That's why the Sox's defense has been so outstanding. Good plan, well executed. That's AJ and Widger.

I disagree with this statement.

That does not outweigh his poor arm, his inability to block the ball in the dirt, or his lack of ability to defend the plate on a play there, you weigh that against what he does well and you have an average catcher with a decent left handed bat.

That is not to say he is not a good catcher for this team, a veteran starting staff that is truly five deep combined with a good defensive team can make up for any defeciences on the catchers part when averaged out over a full season, and the intangibles he adds in attitude and team first approach make him a good fit.

ondafarm
05-16-2006, 05:50 PM
I disagree with this statement.

That does not outweigh his poor arm, his inability to block the ball in the dirt, or his lack of ability to defend the plate on a play there, you weigh that against what he does well and you have an average catcher with a decent left handed bat.

That is not to say he is not a good catcher for this team, a veteran starting staff that is truly five deep combined with a good defensive team can make up for any defeciences on the catchers part when averaged out over a full season, and the intangibles he adds in attitude and team first approach make him a good fit.

Hold on.

I didn't say he's a whiz defensively. The Sox are middle of the pack in passed balls and wild pitches, are very low (poor) in the steals against and as far as the defending the plate, I don't know how to quantify that. He's certainly not a fearless plate dominator like say, Fisk, was but he seems decent at the catch and tag play.

I do think he's an above average smarts player who directs the defense well and calls a very solid game.

I am curious as to where the Sox are looking for their next catcher. AJ is 30 (IIRC) so 2007 is probably his last prime year. Widge is even older.

The Sox have had a string of fair to poor catchers, who called bad games and didn't really tend to the pitchers well. Or the defense.

Daver
05-16-2006, 06:17 PM
Hold on.

I didn't say he's a whiz defensively. The Sox are middle of the pack in passed balls and wild pitches, are very low (poor) in the steals against and as far as the defending the plate, I don't know how to quantify that. He's certainly not a fearless plate dominator like say, Fisk, was but he seems decent at the catch and tag play.

I do think he's an above average smarts player who directs the defense well and calls a very solid game.

I am curious as to where the Sox are looking for their next catcher. AJ is 30 (IIRC) so 2007 is probably his last prime year. Widge is even older.

The Sox have had a string of fair to poor catchers, who called bad games and didn't really tend to the pitchers well. Or the defense.

I would hazard a guess they are counting on Donny Lucy, who is a very good defensive catcher that doesn't hit real well, but I disagree that AJ will top out after next year, he's a guy that stays in shape and takes care of his offseason work, he can probably play well into his mid thirties.

ondafarm
05-16-2006, 09:46 PM
I would hazard a guess they are counting on Donny Lucy, who is a very good defensive catcher that doesn't hit real well, but I disagree that AJ will top out after next year, he's a guy that stays in shape and takes care of his offseason work, he can probably play well into his mid thirties.

Few catchers are nearly as productive after they turn 33 as in their late 20s. Catching is just a very physicaly demanding position and players tend to get banged up. My two knee surgeries I attribute to my three years catching over 100 games.

I don't doubt that AJ can continue to play, I don't think he'll get as many games in. I'd like to see the Sox keep him until his mid-thirties but transition to a new guy.

What about Chris Stewart? My problem with Lucy is if he can't bring his hitting up to snuff at B'ham, what chance will he have in Chicago?

1 Dog
05-16-2006, 10:12 PM
In general, I hate making sweeping generalizations, but what the heck?

A "fair to poor" defensive catcher is not capable of calling four consecutive complete games in the postseason. Period.

Daver
05-16-2006, 10:20 PM
Few catchers are nearly as productive after they turn 33 as in their late 20s. Catching is just a very physicaly demanding position and players tend to get banged up. My two knee surgeries I attribute to my three years catching over 100 games.

I don't doubt that AJ can continue to play, I don't think he'll get as many games in. I'd like to see the Sox keep him until his mid-thirties but transition to a new guy.

What about Chris Stewart? My problem with Lucy is if he can't bring his hitting up to snuff at B'ham, what chance will he have in Chicago?

I'll defer to Randar on his opinion of Stewart, I have no tape on him, so I cannot give an informed opinion. Lucy has hit in the past, whether or not he can adjust to pro pitching is still up in the air, I'll take a lights out catcher with a weak bat though.

Daver
05-16-2006, 10:21 PM
In general, I hate making sweeping generalizations, but what the heck?

A "fair to poor" defensive catcher is not capable of calling four consecutive complete games in the postseason. Period.

You base this on what?

Frater Perdurabo
05-16-2006, 10:24 PM
:threadrules:

This thread rules simply because of the great baseball discussion going on here. I'm sure I'm not the only one who learns a great deal about the game just by reading threads like this one.

1 Dog
05-16-2006, 10:34 PM
If you consider calling the game part of "defense," which you may not as a former catcher (I could see considering this another skill set), then the fact that it has not happened since 1959 speaks volumes to me. That is, someone with fair to poor skills at calling pitches just couldn't do it.

I understand that some pitchers more or less call their own games, and that the catcher is just flashing what they discussed pre-game. Also, a pitcher-catcher tandem can make a lot of mistakes in a game and still get the win. I also understand that the manager has to allow four consecutive starters to go the distance.

All that aside, the catcher is in a unique position to detract from a pitcher's game. I just don't see calling someone "fair" who called four consecutive complete games. If nothing else, A.J. was able to do no harm. :wink:

Daver
05-16-2006, 10:43 PM
If you consider calling the game part of "defense," which you may not as a former catcher (I could see considering this another skill set), then the fact that it has not happened since 1959 speaks volumes to me. That is, someone with fair to poor skills at calling pitches just couldn't do it.

I understand that some pitchers more or less call their own games, and that the catcher is just flashing what they discussed pre-game. Also, a pitcher-catcher tandem can make a lot of mistakes in a game and still get the win. I also understand that the manager has to allow four consecutive starters to go the distance.

All that aside, the catcher is in a unique position to detract from a pitcher's game. I just don't see calling someone "fair" who called four consecutive complete games. If nothing else, A.J. was able to do no harm. :wink:

There is a difference between calling pitches and calling a game, there has not been a Sox catcher since Fisk that called a game. With a veteran staff, the catchers job becomes a bit easier, because nowadays, the pitcher watches more game tape than the catcher does, and thus is better prepared than the catcher when he takes the mound, they rely on the catcher to notice the hitters set in the box, but overall the pitcher controls the pitch call.

ondafarm
05-16-2006, 10:45 PM
In general, I hate making sweeping generalizations, but what the heck?

A "fair to poor" defensive catcher is not capable of calling four consecutive complete games in the postseason. Period.

What's a center fielder know about catching?

Do we tell you about center field defense? Okay, actually I do.

1917
05-16-2006, 10:51 PM
AJ got Gathright tonight, my post ends. I just want to clarify that this has nothing to do with AJ/Chris defense ort signal calling, I just noticed that people seemed to run at will on the Sox.

ondafarm
05-16-2006, 10:59 PM
There is a difference between calling pitches and calling a game, there has not been a Sox catcher since Fisk that called a game. With a veteran staff, the catchers job becomes a bit easier, because nowadays, the pitcher watches more game tape than the catcher does, and thus is better prepared than the catcher when he takes the mound, they rely on the catcher to notice the hitters set in the box, but overall the pitcher controls the pitch call.

Totally agree here. When I played, even with guys I was ten years older than, my goal was always to get them to call their own game. Because I was a lot closer to the hitter, I more often called the location and gave my suggestion about the pitch. Most of my pitchers had an up and a down sign to give me their call. For example flick the glove meant one up so if I had one finger down for fastball he wanted a curve, which I'd confirm (so that SS and 2B knew it.) Pitchers also had a wipe sign which meant 'new location'.

A veteran pitcher I caught in spring training once, Kitabeppu of the Hiroshima Carp, told me before we started that he made all the final calls, but gladly took my suggestions. I responded by telling him that was fine with me, until the stat "Games Caught and Lost" appeared, he should make the call. We locked up pretty well and he actually squeezed me home in the fifth after I'd tripled. We won the game 7-3 and he congratulated me after saying "No stat today."

1 Dog
05-16-2006, 11:01 PM
There is a difference between calling pitches and calling a game, there has not been a Sox catcher since Fisk that called a game. With a veteran staff, the catchers job becomes a bit easier, because nowadays, the pitcher watches more game tape than the catcher does, and thus is better prepared than the catcher when he takes the mound, they rely on the catcher to notice the hitters set in the box, but overall the pitcher controls the pitch call.

I was not aware that this was now the norm. (I thought that only a few dozen veteran pitchers did this.) I never played at a high level (peaked in JV). When I pitched, the catcher called the game. I was worried about executing pitches (again, see "peaked in JV"). In real life, I've only pitched and played 2B. (No CF either, even for the Mets!)

I still think that a poor catcher can really tank a pitching performance. For example, catchers can tip pitches also. I would be interested in your take on that. I had a noticable difference in my "catcher ERA." One of the catchers never understood that calling location implied fastball. When I had to shake him off on location a few times, the better teams would steal our signs. This was partially my fault, because anyone could hit me inside/low and I wouldn't throw there (intentionally).

ondafarm
05-16-2006, 11:06 PM
I was not aware that this was now the norm. (I thought that only a few dozen veteran pitchers did this.) I never played at a high level (peaked in JV). When I pitched, the catcher called the game. I was worried about executing pitches (again, see "peaked in JV"). In real life, I've only pitched and played 2B. (No CF either, even for the Mets!)

I still think that a poor catcher can really tank a pitching performance. For example, catchers can tip pitches also. I would be interested in your take on that. I had a noticable difference in my "catcher ERA." One of the catchers never understood that calling location implied fastball. When I had to shake him off on location a few times, the better teams would steal our signs. This was partially my fault, because anyone could hit me inside/low and I wouldn't throw there (intentionally).

Agreed a poor catcher can tank a pitcher. The rule I taught every guy who threw to me was '3 shake-offs and I'm coming out'. Or they could just step off and wave with their glove.

1 Dog
05-16-2006, 11:51 PM
Agreed a poor catcher can tank a pitcher. The rule I taught every guy who threw to me was '3 shake-offs and I'm coming out'. Or they could just step off and wave with their glove.

The "better" catcher (in my mind anyway) would not call pitches that I could not throw with confidence. My main problem was an inability to work off the fastball: too slow and straight. The other catcher did not start often, and he did not pay much attention when he wasn't playing. Also, I think someone had told him that you can't throw a curve when you need a strike. The "better" catcher understood that I was basically a junk-ball pitcher who spot-started on a bad team.

ondafarm
05-17-2006, 12:46 AM
The "better" catcher (in my mind anyway) would not call pitches that I could not throw with confidence. My main problem was an inability to work off the fastball: too slow and straight. The other catcher did not start often, and he did not pay much attention when he wasn't playing. Also, I think someone had told him that you can't throw a curve when you need a strike. The "better" catcher understood that I was basically a junk-ball pitcher who spot-started on a bad team.

If the guy didn't know you, what you could get over and what you couldn't fool guys with, then he was a poor catcher.

I will say this though, several guys who were convinced that they couldn't get a fastball past guys found out they could if they hit the right location. A well-located 80 mph fastball can get guys out if it's in the right location.

Daver
05-17-2006, 06:23 PM
I was not aware that this was now the norm. (I thought that only a few dozen veteran pitchers did this.) I never played at a high level (peaked in JV). When I pitched, the catcher called the game. I was worried about executing pitches (again, see "peaked in JV"). In real life, I've only pitched and played 2B. (No CF either, even for the Mets!)

I still think that a poor catcher can really tank a pitching performance. For example, catchers can tip pitches also. I would be interested in your take on that. I had a noticable difference in my "catcher ERA." One of the catchers never understood that calling location implied fastball. When I had to shake him off on location a few times, the better teams would steal our signs. This was partially my fault, because anyone could hit me inside/low and I wouldn't throw there (intentionally).

Catchers tipping pitches is hard to detect, you would have to be a top notch sign stealer to catch it, when I played, I'd change the signal sequence in between innings every time, the only signals that stayed the same for the entire game were the signals for infielders, something the bench coach does nowadays. I would have to beleive that this is normal in MLB, the only pitch signal that remained the same for an entire game was a thumb point left or right, that was the signal to hit the batter.

AngryCollins
05-17-2006, 11:01 PM
where is ron karkovice these days?

Doesn't he run a skin care clinic with Randy Johnson?