Posts Tagged ‘Catcher’
I was working on an irate post last week while everyone was lapping up and regurgitating Wilner’s line about Barajas and Fasano being basically the same offensively when I decided that everyone has their own definition of a “slight upgrade” and the world needs more peace, love, and understanding, not some jackass with a calculator splitting hairs over numbers to feel better about himself by trashing other people’s equally valid perceptions.
But DJF just made the topic cool again, I’ve got this graph laying around, and some idiot just keyed my car for fun so the world can go get stuffed again. Here’s Fasano vs. Barajas in terms of OPS+ over their careers:
This is brutally unscientific, and uses a bunch of SMALL SAMPLE SIZES, but that looks to me like one guy who figured out how to hit eventually and another who…well, who the hell knows really. He’s never even had half a season and put together two pretty good seasons about six years apart.
But assuming the backup catcher plays 50 games in 2007, the gap in production between their runs created (4.5 vs. 2.1) comes out to just over 13 runs next season. That translates to about one win. And if I was a compulsive gambler (errr…oh, yeah, I am), I’d bet that it’s going to widen next year. Fasano at 36 is right at the point where catchers vanish in a puff of smoke (and had his worst season ever in 2006), while Barajas is only 31 and has been pleasantly floating around slightly-below-average for a while now (although his numbers last year are buoyed by a bunch of walks due to him hitting right before the pitcher).
While I think that the need to throw out runners is grotesquely overrated, here’s a comparison of Sal and Barajas’ numbers since Sal’s hiatus from the big leagues. Fasano doesn’t seem to have the same cannon any more, while Barajas has been pretty steady his entire career:
|Year||Fasano CS%||Fasano ATT/Inn||Barajas CS%||Barajas ATT/Inn|
The numbers in bold are when Sal and Fatty were catching for the Phillies, which is as close as we can get to factoring out the fact that the Jays pitching staff makes their catchers look bad. Not only does Barajas pick off 10% more steals, but runners try for the extra base half as often with him behind the plate.
Using those numbers, if Sal played 400 innings last year (roughly 50 games), he would have had 36 attempts and caught 9 runners stealing. Barajas would have had 16 attempts and caught 6 runners. Using “The Book“‘s numbers for the value of of a stolen base being worth .175 runs and being caught stealing having an offensive value of -.467, we find that steals against Fasano created (27*.175)-(9*-.467)= .522 runs, while against Barajas they come out to (10*.175)-(6*.467)= -1.052
Ugh…I can’t believe I figured that out for a run and a half of difference. Hence “grotesquely overrated”. But after adjusting for stolen bases coming more often in high-leverage situations, we’re probably looking at somewhere slightly over 1.5 wins of difference between the two players, even receiving very limited playing time as a backup. That’s not bad for 1.2 million bucks, and if it comes down to the wire or if Zaun is injured again, it looks even better. Of course Thigpen could be ready and Olivio might have been better but for all his charm, Fasano was not the answer.
Do not adjust your calendar. The Blue Jays have signed Rod Barajas after he left them at the altar last year. Now it makes sense why the club confirmed a lack of interest in the few catchers left (Barrett, Lieberthal), but didn’t even hint at who they might be signing until the deal was done. Hopefully the contract is signed in blood this time because that was just stupid last year.
Ironically, the picture from the Jays home page (ripped off at right) is Rod pulling his apparently patented (ripped via DJF) move on a play at home where he has the ball but bends over at the waist to swipe the runners upper body instead of getting down to block the plate and hopes the ump gives it to him because the ball was there first. I saw maybe 2 Phillies’ games last season and I swear I saw this exact moment and Ramirez scored for no particular reason. And you thought it was fun to whine about Zaun’s arm…
I’m sure a lot will be made out of the about-face this represents, and J.P. certainly sounded ticked after being publicly embarrassed, delivering as un-mealy-mouthed-as-he-gets quotes such as:
“Where I come from, your word means something and your handshake means something and we had more than a handshake,” Ricciardi said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Ricciardi later noted that he only wants players that are eager to play for the Blue Jays.
“If your word doesn’t mean anything any more, and your signature don’t mean anything, what kind of world do we live in,” Ricciardi said. “It’s all right. It worked out for the better. … If he feels uncomfortable, we don’t want him here. I was disappointed in the fact that the player would go back on his word and a new agent just came in and said we have no deal.”
But as usual if you really want to know what’s going on, follow the money. Barajas weaseled out last season because either he or the MLBPA didn’t think his agent was getting him enough money, not because his wife didn’t like Toronto or whatever. Now the Jays are getting him for 1.2 million for one year with an option instead of 2.6+ for two, which makes him a quality backup/platoon rather than a poor (and first-time) starter.
I can almost write the article Griffin is going to write about “what message this sends”, and it’s stupid. The message is the Jays need a backup catcher whose name is not Sal Fasano, and Barajas was above-average even last season and comes cheap compared to the ridiculous contracts handed out to guys like Kendall and Torrealba. He has a little power, swings at everything, and has an arm that’s good enough we’ll really get to see how impossible it is to throw out someone with Dustin McGowan or A.J. Burnett on the mound.
And think about it- he’s basically come crawling back to the club. We were ready to make him a starter for two years and he ended up falling out of favour in Philly and riding the pine. Now we’re paying him half what he turned down, he’s gone back to being a backup and the Jays even have a team option for once. Talk about greed blowing up on your face…it’s almost sweeter that he ended up coming to the club after all under much less favourable terms.
I would also like to take this moment to do the opposite of the classic blissfully-moving-right-along technique they teach in journalism school. BOY WAS I WRONG about why J.P. didn’t want to get into who/what they were looking at beyond mumbling something about the bench. Turns out it was just another brush-off of a bunch of hacks. I love that man.