Olivo and catcher careers

DMZ · October 12, 2004 at 9:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

This has come up in discussions regarding Olivo (who I would write at length about but do not have time), so I thought I would point everyone to this fine mini-study at Baseball Prospectus by the excellent Keith Woolner, which concludes

Catchers do not improve or maintain their rates of production into their late 20’s or early 30’s. There’s only the slightest tendency for catchers to have their peak season at ages 30 and 31 more often than other position players.

Overall, I don’t view the evidence as a strong trend for a later offensive peak. Perhaps we should abandon the idea of catchers developing more slowly, and recognize that the physical demands of the position will tend to reduce both the length of their peaks and the length of their careers.


43 Responses to “Olivo and catcher careers”

  1. big chef terry on October 12th, 2004 10:19 am

    Moses speaks!!! Finally sanity prevails…

    I would love to hear your Olivo thoughts.

    Peace and blessings upon your family.

  2. John in NV on October 12th, 2004 10:23 am

    Very curious about Enigma Olivo. Initially pretty excited about watching his enthusiasm, hustle and athleticism, especially when our prospects looked so dim at that spot… But the numbers and trends don’t lie.

  3. HarukiMurakami on October 12th, 2004 11:14 am

    Maybe we should be lookig at USC Catcher Jeff CLement with the 3rd pick in the draft. We could sure use a top prospcect in that position.

  4. IgnatiusReilly on October 12th, 2004 12:05 pm

    Drafting catchers. *Shudder*

  5. big chef terry on October 12th, 2004 12:25 pm

    drafting high school catchers is a mistake, flat out, cc or college it improves…certainly not an early round choice…

  6. tyler on October 12th, 2004 2:02 pm

    Yeah… you could get Joe Mauer. or Joe Mauer.

  7. big chef terry on October 12th, 2004 2:14 pm

    or christianson…The eleventh pick in the draft this year was a catcher out of high school…Neil Walker…Aaron Hathaway, junior from UofW was taken by the Mets in 4th round and struggled, terribly…We’ll see how Maurer turns out…this year was flushed.

  8. Eric on October 12th, 2004 3:18 pm

    Mauer just may be the exception that proves the rule…

  9. IgnatiusReilly on October 12th, 2004 4:41 pm

    Still…I suppose when you compare Mauer to our first 2001 pick (Garciappara). Ah heck, yeah, draft a catcher.

  10. Dave D on October 12th, 2004 5:45 pm

    Carlton Fisk, Brian Downing anyone?

  11. Jerry on October 12th, 2004 8:49 pm

    You guys are nuts. The M’s should give Olivo the chance to prove himself. Give him time to work on his defense this offseason, plus a full spring training to learn the pitching staff. If he puts up Ben Davis numbers for a year, then you pull the plug. But talking about bringing in a new catcher is a really bad way to use the funds the M’s have at their disposal to rebuild the club. And catchers are very difficult to develop. The great thing about Olivo is that he is right at the cusp of putting it all together. He is 26, and has all the tools to be an all-star catcher. Give him a chance to adjust to the team before you abandon him.

  12. Jerry on October 12th, 2004 8:49 pm

    I would rather see the M’s draft Justin Upton if he is still available at #3. That guy will be good.

  13. Jerry on October 12th, 2004 9:25 pm


    That BA study has NOTHING to do with our argument. My point was that catchers develop later. I never said that they peak late. As a general rule, catchers take longer to develop and also tend to not age well. They have shorter shelf lives. The BA study was looking at when catchers have their best years.

    The fact is, the sample size of the 20-24 year old catchers was very small because very few catchers play at the ML level when they are that age. Here is some numbers on the ages at which some of the top catchers in MLB played their first full seasons (more than 100 games):

    Benji Molina: 26
    Javy Lopez: 24
    Jason Varitek: 27
    Sandy Alomar Jr.: 24
    Victor Martinez: 25
    Pudge Rodriguez: 20
    Pat Borders: 28
    Jorge Posada: 27
    Damian Miller: 30
    Dan Wilson: 26
    Miguel Olivo: 25
    Toby Hall: 27
    Jonny Estrada: 28
    Michael Barrett: 22
    Charles Johnson: 25
    Paul Lo Duca: 29
    Brad Ausmus: 25
    Todd Hundley: 24
    Mike Piazza: 24
    Mike Lieberthan: 25
    Jason Kendall: 22
    Mike Matheny: 26

    Out of every decent catcher in MLB today, only 3 became starting catchers before the age of 24. Plus, there are a disproportionate number of really good catchers that finally succeeded at the ML level late: Varitek, Lo Duca, Estrada, Miller, Borders, Posada. If you looked at 3B or 1B, you would see a lot more players winning starting jobs early. Especially good players. This is not the case with catchers.

    These data show that catchers just take longer to develop into ML players. It makes a ton of sense, because the job is more demanding mentally and physically than other positions. It requires a lot more knowledge of a pitching staff to call a good game.

    Becasue it is a much more complex position, it takes longer to develop catchers. Then, the physical effects of catching usually results in declines in performance at a relatively early age. These two factors contribute to overall short careers.

    Getting back to the point of this post, there is no reason that catchers would peak at a different age. I think that the general rule that baseball players peak at 28-30 is a good one. However, catchers have usually played fewer years of ML ball by the time they reach that age.

    Bringing this back to Olivo, you will notice that he is right where he should be given his age. This will be his 3rd season starting, and we should be a little patient with him. He has the tools to be a great catcher. I would hate to see us do something stupid, like signing Jason Varitek, and let Olivo become an allstar for another team while we are stuck with an old catcher who is at just about the age when his skills will decline dramatically.

  14. The Ancient Mariner on October 12th, 2004 9:43 pm

    As a side note on that ’01 draft–the guy I wish we’d taken is 3B Dallas McPherson, whom Anaheim snagged in the second round.

  15. Grant on October 12th, 2004 11:35 pm

    I don’t think your mini-study is nearly extensive enough to be reliable, and please don’t call Pat Borders, a man with a career OBP of .290, and who hit over thirteen homers twice in his sixteen year career a success. It is a great story that he was the MVP of the world series, but it was also a fluke. Another thing that I question is that you are considering the time that a player is called up as the time that they begin to have success. As we know many teams don’t trust minor league statistics and don’t know how to properly evaluate talent. With the way that Posada produces now I have a sneaking suspicion that he was putting up great numbers in the minors for years. Edgar is a great example of someone that should have been called up way sooner than he was. All those years he was dominating the minors you can’t say that he was undeveloped. I hope you’re right about Olivo, but I don’t think that your post proves he will be a star.

  16. The Ancient Mariner on October 13th, 2004 12:41 am


    1) Jerry isn’t arguing that Olivo will be a star, merely that his 50 games with Seattle aren’t sufficient reason to conclude that he isn’t going to be a good catcher.

    2) Sneaking suspicions aside, Posada arrived pretty much right on schedule:

    1991, 20, .235/.388/.359 at low-A Oneonta
    1992, 21, .277/.389/.472 at A Greensboro
    1993, 22, .259/.366/.459 at high-A Prince William
    1993, 22, .280/.333/.280 at AA Albany-Colonie (25 AB)
    1994, 23, .240/.308/.406 at AAA Columbus
    1994, 24, .255/.350/.435 at AAA Columbus
    1995, 25, .271/.405/.460 at AAA Columbus

    and the next year, after his first really good year in the upper minors, he was in the majors to stay.

    BTW, regarding Edgar, here’s his minor-league line:

    1983, 20, .173/.295/.202 at low-A Bellingham
    1984, 21, .303/.416/.490 at A Wausau
    1985, 22, .258/.381/.353 at AA Chattanooga
    1985, 22, .353/.450/.485 at AAA Calgary (68 AB)
    1986, 23, .264/.385/.390 at AA Chattanooga
    1987, 24, .329/.435/.473 at AAA Calgary
    1988, 25, .363/.469/.517 at AAA Calgary
    1989, 26, .345/.452/.522 at AAA Calgary (113 AB)

    As you can see, Gar’s minor-league career was actually pretty undistinguished until he hit Calgary–and given that that was one of the best places to hit in all minor-league baseball, there was the distinct possibility that it was the park and the mountain air, not Edgar. If I’d been running the M’s, I doubt I’d have called him up before mid-’88 (as badly as Presley was hitting that year, .363 at Calgary would *have* to be better, no?). Lefebvre’s inexplicable love for Jimmy cost Gar a season and a half, but realistically no more than that–especially as he actually got more ABs in the majors in 1989 than he did in AAA, and didn’t hit.

  17. Troy on October 13th, 2004 8:17 am

    The Ancient Mariner, I guess it depends on what you call undistinguished. His SLG was all over the place (.490, .353, .485, .390, .473, .517, .522) but his OBP’s were beautiful. From age 21 on, he never posted an OBP lower than .381. I think it’s very clear he should have been in the majors much earlier than he was.

    The real question is, why did we send him back to AA in 86? If he had spent 86 in Calgary, it’s not unreasonable to think he would have received at least a mid-season call up in 87, if the organization knew what it was doing.

    Face it, the M’s dropped the ball on Edgar.

  18. big chef terry on October 13th, 2004 9:18 am

    Jerry, You have obviously not seen him play…BOTH the white sox and the Mariners have given up on him.

    He can’t CATCH!!! 13 passed balls in 100 games is terrible, his throw-out rate is ok, but nothing extraordinary.

    You can’t ignore defense. Bill James early on wrote that there is an increasing spectrum of defense by position starting first base, then left field, right field, third base, center field, 2nd base, ss and catcher being the most difficult. You can’t just put dh type players at all positions…and assume that defense doesn’t matter…

    Offensively, his onbag after two years in the majors is .287 and he has some power, his k/bb is terrible…he’ll be 27 next year.

  19. Jerry on October 13th, 2004 10:01 am

    I have seen him play. I saw him play a lot. I have seen him struggle a bit, but flash very impressive skills. You can’t just toss aside a player with tons of talent because he struggles for 49 games. Passed balls are one of the easiest things to work on for a catcher. He has the natural skills, he just needs some refinement.

    By the way, you are the one that has given up on Olivo. There is no reason to think that the M’s are exploring other options at C. Only a few misguided bloggers like yourself are talking about it at this point. And the White Sox did not give up on him. They traded him because they desperately wanted to get Garcia, who was the best starter on the free agent market. The White Sox fans were not happy about that trade, and Olivo was getting more playing time than any of the other catchers in Chicago (including Sandy Alomar Jr.). If they had given up on him, he would have been in the minors or at least playing in a back-up role.

    Dude, you don’t know what you are talking about. If the M’s go out and sign someone like Varitek, it will be one of the biggest blunders they have made. Similar to the horrible trade in which they move Varitek in the first place.

    Olivo deserves a chance to play for a full season. The M’s have several other needs to fill in free agency that are MUCH MUCH more pressing than C. The M’s should just resign Wilson to a 1-year contract to be the backup. If Olivo fails miserably, no big deal. They will have lost nothing, and could go after another catcher for 2006. Pursuing another catcher right now would be idiotic for several reasons.

  20. Dave on October 13th, 2004 10:09 am

    Jerry, Chef, let’s lose the personal attacks, okay?

    And, seriously, can we stop with the “Miguel Olivo is on the verge of being an all-star?” hyperbole. He’s clearly not. The whole gushing over his tools package is giving an exorbitant amount of value to arm strength and speed. Olivo has potential thanks to his power, but right now, he’s a bad major league player who needs to make substantial improvements on his game.

  21. Evan on October 13th, 2004 10:45 am

    And really, at this point would you rather have a poor-to-middling defensive catcher with some offensive potential (Olivo), or a great defensive catcher with effectively no offensive potential (Kevin Cash)?

    I’ll take Olivo, thanks.

  22. big chef terry on October 13th, 2004 11:45 am

    Thanks Dave…for the record the M’s did quit on him after he went 0-31, he came back and played one game…Pocket lint is a sock puppet for Lee Pelekoudas. His piece pretty much indicates their thinking on him and his future here, which is that its problematical…

    I’ve read that some suggest he’s had bad coaching…he has been a professional player for some time having not come from college, two years at 100 games or so at the major league level.

    Not everybody makes it.

  23. tede on October 13th, 2004 2:46 pm

    Chef Terry,

    I dunno about his coaching while on the Sox. But here he was managed by a guy who was 7th in least amount of passed balls allowed for career (over 500 games, 25 PB in 627 games. Olivo is at 23 PB in 234 games).


    And Dan Wilson with 1 PB in ’97 had either the 9th best year (or second best) for the least PBs allowed post-1900. And he’s not adverse to helping the “kids”.

    Admittedly, PBs are very score keeper dependent. A better measurement would be to look at PB + WP allowed while catching. Does anybody know where WP’s allowed while catching can be found? I know they list SB allowed while pitching (Piniero & Mateo = bad).

    I’m just not convinced that his non-throwing defense is going to get much better. Every postseason there’s always a guy who is going to work on something in the off season (in the NBA it’s always the stiff centers who are going to be taught how to shoot and rebound). Like rebounding (to continue the hoops analogy) some of this is technique but some of it is desire also. If he was turning 22 and entering AAA, I’d be more of an optimist.

    Replacing Olivo this off-season is not a priority. But they definitely need to keep their eyes open.

  24. Xteve X on October 13th, 2004 4:46 pm

    I watched Olivo quite a bit while I was living on the South Side of Chicago the past 3 years. He was clearly a better hitter while there, in my opinion, and actually better defensively. Can I chalk up his Mariner numbers to poor coaching, or if you prefer, different approaches by hitting coaches? I think that might play a part in it. I have statistical evidence to back up these assertions, only the opinion of a Seattleite who lived within walking distance of US Cellular Field and took in many a Sox game to pass the time.

    Olivo isn’t an All-Star level talent. But I don’t think he’s a complete doorknob either. I think his number of passed balls can be helped with more coaching, and I for one think his speed on the basepaths is something that this team could use.

    In summary, I can certainly see Olivo as a reasonably decent platoon player, if nothing else. But the Ms shouldn’t overlook a cheap vet catcher, either.

  25. Xteve X on October 13th, 2004 4:47 pm

    Sorry, that last comment should read, I have NO statistical evidence to back up my assertion. Either way, I think Miguel deserves a shot at being the starter next year. He hasn’t done badly enough to be completely written off — yet.

  26. Paul Covert on October 13th, 2004 5:29 pm

    By the way, speaking of catchers: Do we have any idea whether Dan Wilson is returning? Neither the “2005 Team Construction” post nor Dave’s “Looking Ahead to ’05” makes reference to Wilson (only Olivo is mentioned behind the plate, unless I missed something); I am I correct in taking that to mean “The Bavasi regime has no serious interest in retaining Wilson’s services?”

    (No complaints here if so; just asking.) 🙂

  27. Dave on October 13th, 2004 5:33 pm


    Barring a premature death or mutilation, Dan Wilson will be back next year. His contract will probably be the first one announced this offseason.

  28. The Ancient Mariner on October 13th, 2004 5:39 pm

    Troy, yes, the M’s dropped the ball on Edgar, but not as badly as you suggest. At the beginning of the ’87 season, in two years spent mostly in AA at 22 and 23, he had hit .273/.392/.374 and .264/.385/.390–in a third baseman without leadoff-type speed, forget it’s Edgar for a moment and try to tell me that doesn’t look like a guy who might be a poor man’s Dave Magadan. Then, in 1987, they promote him to the Calgary Cannons (motto: “Where everybody is a power hitter”), and at 24 he turns in a .329/.435/.473 line. Yeah, in retrospect, we can see that looks like Edgar, but hindsight is 20/20; if they wrote it off to the benefits of playing in a bandbox at altitude, I can’t blame them. Jimmy Presley was only 25 and had shown flashes–better-than-average glove, promising power, though his OBP stank–who wouldn’t have expected him to improve?

    Of course, the next year, they have no excuse, as Presley imploded and Gar did it again; we have Jimmy Lefebvre to thank for that one. On the other hand, we do have to give them at least a little credit in 1990, as both of them did it yet again, so they called Gar up; given that he hit .240/.314/.304, certainly no improvement on Presley’s .236/.275/.385 line, it’s hard to blame them for only giving him 171 AB.

  29. The Ancient Mariner on October 13th, 2004 5:43 pm

    That should probably read “we do have to give *the M’s* some credit” . . .

    In an odd way, I think we do Edgar something of a disservice to act as if he was a natural and the M’s should have seen it long before. He *wasn’t* a natural, he built himself into a HOF ballplayer with brains and discipline and hard, grinding work as much as talent.

  30. Jerry on October 13th, 2004 9:10 pm


    Here is why I think that it is much too early to give up on Olivo. I have already gone through the argument that catchers develop later, so I am not really concerned with his age. If you look at his stats, the player we traded Garcia for is not the same player that we saw in Seattle. He obviously had some major issues when he came over in the trade. I don’t know if it was because he was disappointed about being traded from his first team (a contender at the time), or if it was dealing with a new city, a new pitching staff, or what. But obviously, he had some problems with the transition. If you look at his stats, though, he was having a nice year until the trade. And if you compare that year with 2003, he was showing improvement:

    2003 w/ Chigaco: 114 G, 317 AB, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 19 BB, 80 Ks, .237 AVE, .287 OBP, .360 SLG, .647 OPS
    2004 w/ Chicago: 46 G, 141 AB, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 10 BB, 29 Ks, .270 AVE, .316 OBP, .496 SLG, .812 OPS
    2004 w/ Seattle: 50 G, 160 AB, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 10 BB, 55 Ks, .200 AVE, .260 OBP, .388 SLG, .648 OPS

    Before the trade, his OBP was a bit of a concern. But otherwise, he showed improvements in every important stat between 2003 and 2004: plate discipline, power, everything. That is what you hope to see in a young player. Then, he went into the crapper after the trade. Call me an optimist, but I don’t think that players just become bad overnight (although Cirillo showed it was in fact possible). I don’t think that it was Safeco either, because he K/BB rate got much worse also. Defensively, the only thing that stands out are the passed balls, and some judgement lapses. But, he had over twice as many passed balls in Seattle as he did in Chicago (9 vs 4), which again suggests that this was a problem related to the trade. I don’t see why it would be more difficult to catch in Safeco. He was just a totally different player after the trade.

    I really think that Olivo’s problems had everything to do with an adjustment issue. An alternative is that he just happened to have a mega-slump at the end of the season, and that the small sample size from his time in Seattle just made him look that much worse. While it is likely that both are true, I think that it is more likely that he just took the trade personally, and struggled with the new surroundings.

    Basically, I don’t think that we really got to see much about what this kid can do. If his numbers and progress in Chicago are any indication of his potential, then we have to let him play. I don’t really see an alternative. Wilson will almost definitely be back, and he is a good backup. If Olivo faulters for a whole year, then you can talk about ditching him. But right now, I don’t see any reason to bring in another player. You don’t trade your best starter for a young player, then just bail on him after 50 games. His contract is minimal, so he is not a big handicap to the team if he doesn’t pan out. On the other hand, his stats in Chicago suggest that he was progressing into a very good hitter, and his problems with PBs were not as much of an issue. With his tools, I do think that he could be an all-star catcher. I don’t think that there is any reason to think that Bavasi will give up on him this quick, so we’ll see next season.

  31. tede on October 13th, 2004 9:32 pm


    Chicago has been looking at the Freddie trade as two separate trades. Garcia for Reed and Morse, & then Ben Davis for Miguel Olivo. You heard some of the non-scientific seller’s remorse from Chicago and their fans about dealing Reed. But less seller’s remorse on behalf of Olivo or very reminiscent of San Diego when they dealt Ben Davis to Seattle three years ago.

    Does that mean I miss Ben Davis? Not yet but it’s getting there. These two guys inability to seize the starting job that’s being handed to them on a silver platter is making Dan Wilson a wealthy man in the twilight of his career.

    Olivo’s 9 PBs for Seattle in limited action were only 6 away from the team record of 15 by Dave Valle in ’91 (the year he couldn’t hit – thus blowing away another vintage Rizzism about Valle’s plate struggles not affecting his defense).

    It’s yellow alert time about the catching position. It may be red alert by mid-season. But as Minnesota saw this year, it’s hard to upgrade at the position at mid-season. They’ll just have to keep their eyes open.

  32. Paul Covert on October 13th, 2004 11:27 pm

    “Barring premature death or mutilation”?! Let’s not be giving people any nasty ideas! 🙂

    Do I dare ask how much they’re planning to spend on him?

  33. Grant on October 14th, 2004 12:28 am

    wow, jerry
    I’m really glad you mentioned sample size, I totally agree with you about Olivo. I mean he put up great numbers in Chicago for years before he was traded to the Mariners… Oh wait, no he didn’t! In a full year in 2003 his OPS was actually a point lower than it was in his 50 games in Seattle. Luckily you have the whopping 46 games he played in for Chicago this year that show the true player that he is. You claim that the stats he put up in Seattle are too small of a sample size yet, the data you are relying on to promote him is an even smaller sample. Again I hope you are right about Olivo, but you make a very weak argument.

  34. JPWood on October 14th, 2004 4:10 am

    When Olivo was brought in, Wilson was sucking at the plate and Olivo comparisons were pretty much a wash: no real mention of them. His strengths were advertised as being his arm and his base running, but with his OBP, someone should have seen that base running was something he’d be best at as a pinch-runner.
    There were, however, some serious personal issues. I remember reading at the time, from several sources, that he cried openly in the clubhouse when he was told he’d been traded. Someone clearly will have to pick up the pieces if he is even going to amount to much more than average. Can anyone imagine a battery with a greater contrast in character than Olivo and Madritsch?

  35. Jerry on October 14th, 2004 10:51 am


    I don’t really see your point? What exactly are you arguing? That the M’s should drop Olivo and get another catcher? If so, I think that that would be a really premature, impulsive, and bad decision. If you are arguing that we don’t really have a good enough idea about Olivo’s skills to make a definitive call on whether he has a future with the club, then I agree. However, I think that it is useful to look at his stats carefully, because you can make a case that his stats in Seattle are not representative of him potential.

    You don’t trade for a young catcher, then just bail on him after 49 games. I hear a lot of people on this blog arguing that Olivo sucks, and we should ditch him, but none of the critics are proposing any viable alternatives. If not Olivo, than who? Jason Varitek is the only good free agent catcher. He is too old, will be hard to sign, will be very expensive, and is rumored to be looking for a 5-year contract. No thanks. Mike Matheny is a free agent, but he is past the age when catchers start to go into decline. There really aren’t any other options. The most likely option is Dan Wilson, and he will almost definitely be on the team anyhow. So most of this argument is just a moot point. I personally think that Olivo has the potential to be a very good catcher, and that his stats before the trade were suggestive of somebody who was on the right track. Hopefully, he will get back on track.

    When I was talking about sample size, I was refering to the effect of Olivo’s slump at the end of the season on his stats in Seattle. The 2004 numbers are a small sample (about 50 games in both Chicago and Seattle), but you did see marked offensive improvement between 2003 and 2004 in his Chicago stats. That is undeniable. And it is undeniable that he was two different players before and after the trade. I think that his 2004 stats in Chicago are more indicative of his potential, because there are all sorts of factors that could have contributed to his struggles after the trade (anger over the trade, learning a new pitching staff, meeting new teammates, moving to a new city, ect.), all of which are relatively easy to recitify. Because of this, I am more comfortable disregarding his Seattle stats as a fluke than I am with his Chicago stats, where there were less variables that could have contributed to the trends in his performance. You have to take that into consideration when you are evaluating this guy. Grant, what is your alternative? That we just ignore the numbers? What exactly is your point?

    This argument over whether the M’s should get a new catcher is really a moot point. The M’s are going to give this guy a chance to start. I would be very surprised if they went after a starting catcher in free agency. It will probably be similar to the situation with Davis last year, where the job was his to lose. It is a near certainty that Wilson will be retained as the backup. If Olivo struggles, the M’s will turn to Wilson, just like they did this year. I hope that Olivo can step up and take over the starting job. If his numbers are similar to his stats 2004 stats in Chicago, that is good enough. If he improves on his numbers (especially his OBP) then he could be very good.

    Regardless, the one thing that I hope that they don’t do is go blow a big chunk of thier cash on Jason Varitek or some other free agent catcher. The team has more pressing needs elsewhere. I would rather see them give Olivo a proper evaluation over the entire season in 2005. He is cheap, young, and is already on the team. The Mariner’s will not be contenders in 2005, and they can afford to give Olivo a long look next year. If he doesn’t pan out, perhaps Rene Rivera, Ryan Christiansen, or Wiki Gonzales emerges as a viable option for 2006. If not, they can address that need in the offseason after 2005. They lose nothing by giving him a chance. Ideally, Olivo will stick as the starter, and Christianson or Rivera can develop fast enough to be a backup. Christianson could still become the player we have all hoped for if he can get past his injuries. Rivera is a good defensive catcher, and could be a backup. Both are by no means great prospects at this time, but who cares? If they look good in 2005, great. If not, the M’s can pick up another catcher after next season. Giving Olivo a shot for the entire season next year (with Wilson as Plan B) is a no-risk option. It will give the team more time to develop and evaluate Christianson, Wiki, and Rivera, and they can always sign a free agent for 2006.

  36. msb on October 14th, 2004 10:58 am

    “There were, however, some serious personal issues. I remember reading at the time, from several sources, that he cried openly in the clubhouse when he was told he’d been traded.”–Comment by JPWood — 10/14/2004 @ 4:10 am

    how is this a ‘personal issue’? A player can’t be stunned when told with no warning that he has been traded (especially from a then-contender to a cellar-dweller)? It isn’t as though he brought it with him– he showed up for work, ready to play. What is is Dan Rohn calls it, the ’24-hour bitch session’? He gives a guy who’s been sent down 24 hours and then it’s back to work… as far as we can tell, Olivo didn’t need even the 24 hours.

  37. Grant on October 14th, 2004 12:38 pm

    I agree with you that Olivo is the logical choice for next year, but only because the Mariners have so many other glaring needs, catcher isn’t traditionally a position that has a lot of offensive production, and because of the few FA catchers this year that would make sense. My point in my previous post is not about who we should go with at catcher but just that the conclusion you come to from the data you present(that Olivo is on the rise) is incorrect. Your whole argument hinges on Olivo’s mental state, are you a psychologist? Do you know Olivo? I also heard that Olivo was very upset when he was traded, but from what I saw he coped very well, and seems to be a happy go-lucky kind of guy. In fact when he first came to Seattle his numbers were looking pretty good, and then he hit the slump in the second half of his stint with the Mariners. Olivo and Wilson will be our catchers next, but we are not in good shape at that position.

  38. Jerry on October 14th, 2004 12:54 pm


    It is not ‘incorrect’ to say that Olivo is on the rise. That won’t be clear until after next year at the earliest. That is the nature of a projection: you don’t know if they are correct until a year or so later. However, his stats before the trade do show a marked improvement in several important stats. That is not debatable.

    Again, my point is not that Olivo is emotional. I am saying that there are a variety of factors that could have combined to make his Seattle stats bad, the most important of which is having to deal with about 15 pitchers that he had never worked with before.

    At least we are on the same page about acquiring other catchers. But lets at least wait to see what he can do before we start saying that “we are not in good shape at that position.” We are in worse shape at CF, SS, 3B, 1B, and the bullpen.

  39. Dave on October 14th, 2004 1:12 pm


    I’m going to give you a tip that you’ll hopefully take to heart. It will help you come across better here and in real life.

    Stop being so forceful defending opinions. Saying things like “that is not debatable” is not only incorrect, but breeds a defensive response, not intelligent conversation. It absolutely is debatable that Olivo “improved”, as the sample is too small to definitively back up that assertion. Improvement is a possibility, as is sample size noise (considering the drastic left/right splits he showed in Chicago, this is actually a pretty strong possibility), and general random chance.

    I’m not arguing with you about Olivo. You like him more than pretty much everyone else here. That’s fine. But your tone is overwhelming for a side that is basically supported by your gut feeling and can easily be disagreed with by those with strong factual support to the contrary.

    Tone it down. Your opinions aren’t facts.

  40. Jerry on October 14th, 2004 2:36 pm


    What I said was that most of Olivo’s offensive stats improved if you compare his 2003 performance with his 2004 Chicago stats. The exact quote was: “his stats before the trade do show a marked improvement in several important stats. That is not debatable.” His stats did improve. That is a fact. It is quantifiable. You are right when you say that this could be a function of small sample size (only 141 ABs), and I have said this several times also. But it also could reflect a hitter who was getting better. Obviously, his stats went to crap when he came to Seattle. It is also a small sample (160 ABs). There are various ways that you can interpret that as well.

    I never said that “Olivo is the next Pudge, that is a fact” or “Olivo is going to be an All-star and that in not debatable”. What I said is that his numbers improved. And that is not my opinion. You can explain why his numbers improved any way you want, but they did improve. That is an empirical fact. For some reason, you are not misunderstanding my posts.

    All I am saying is that I think that Olivo could become a good player, and that we should let him play. That is my opinion.

  41. Dave on October 14th, 2004 2:50 pm


    There’s a subtle, yet very important, difference between “his stats before the trade show a marked improvement” and “his stats improved”. The sentence as you wrote it infers that the subject of the ‘marked improvement’ was Olivo, not the numbers themselves. I’m guessing that everyone who read it took the comment to mean that you believe Olivo improved, not that his numbers did.

    Regardless, my comment referred more to the tone of your overall posts in general. You’d be well served to tone down the rhetoric overall, regardless of your opinion of Olivo.

  42. Jerry on October 14th, 2004 3:47 pm


    I am sorry that you misunderstood my post. However, I stand by what I said.

    I think that it is pretty hypocritical to criticize the overall tone of my posts. I read through the posts in the recent debate about the Mariner’s front office politics and Fortune-500, in which the tone was about as heated and unnecessarily personal as you can get in a sports blog. I do tend to get argumentative in these debates, but from reading through the debate between you, DMZ, and Jumanji, I think that you should perhaps take a bit or your own advice before you start calling people out. At no point in this conversation did I ever resort to name calling. Chef, Grant, and I just disagree about this particular topic.

    I appreciate the work that you guys do here. This is the best M’s blog that I have seen, and you guys obviously know what you are talking about. But comments like this:

    “I’m going to give you a tip that you’ll hopefully take to heart. It will help you come across better here and in real life”

    are exceptionally patronizing. Since we are giving out unsolicited advice, you would come off better if you didn’t treat people who post on your site like children. Especially since you are just as guilty of polemics as anyone on this blog.

  43. DMZ on October 14th, 2004 4:28 pm

    First, to this:

    “I am sorry that you misunderstood my post.”

    At some point, if enough people are misunderstanding your meaning, it’s worthwhile to consider that you errored. It’s helped my writing a great deal to acknowledge that if 100 people didn’t get what I wanted them to get, the fault might lie with how I said it.

    And further — I don’t really want to argue perception, but I think you’ll find that in the discussion you cite Dave and I managed to stay pretty even-keeled despite the nature of everything that went on around us.