It’s a baffling world

DMZ · November 24, 2004 at 10:42 am · Filed Under Mariners 

From Damian Miller, 35-year old catcher, to the Brewers for 3y, $8.75m

Now Miller’s a decent enough random free agnet catcher. But… three years?

The best part is the quote from Miller’s agent:

“The Brewers outbid the Red Sox and Dodgers,” agent Bob Garber said. “Maybe the haves and have-nots are bridging the gap.”

Come on now.


71 Responses to “It’s a baffling world”

  1. Nate the Great on November 24th, 2004 4:07 pm

    Why the talk of the A’s anyway? Kendall is a fine addition, but there’s nothing to get all worked up over.

    Bellevue Bunny, watch it, there could be a small argument made that all three of these catchers compare in one way or another offensively.

  2. Dave on November 24th, 2004 4:21 pm


    So your argument, basically, is that Borders taught Garcia something that allowed him to pitch better on his own. I believe they call that “coaching”.

  3. IgnatiusReilly on November 24th, 2004 4:26 pm

    To play devil’s advocate for a sec (might not be a very good one, but oh well); there very well might be aspects of a catcher / pitcher relationship that, while they don’t show up in a box score, are still important. Tension in a pitcher causes him to fatigue and injure himself, etc. So, I’m not saying Dave isn’t 100% correct in saying it is nonsense, but he just might be 1 or 2% wrong. Sure wouldn’t make me take Dan Wilson over Ivan Rodriguez though.

  4. Dave on November 24th, 2004 4:37 pm


    I’m not saying that a catcher can’t impact a pitcher’s performance or health. I’m saying that, if he can, we’ll see it, somehow. His teams pitchers will overachieve based on past performance. His pitching staff will stay healthier than normal. There will be some kind of result, if that kind of skill exists.

    Of course, we saw none of this last year, or really, in any of Wilson’s tenure. Judge by the fruit.

  5. Ace-of-Spades on November 24th, 2004 4:42 pm

    That’s the problem. We don’t have a stat for it. We should call it something like CAPLHRS, which stands for Catcher pitcher love hate relationship. Seriously though, I think there’s a degree of confidence in a catcher that rubs off on a pitcher and improves their game, especially when agreeing on what pitches to call and how to pitch to certain players, ala Schilling’s praise of Varitek.

  6. Dave on November 24th, 2004 4:46 pm

    If it improves their game, than we have a ton of stats for it.

    Seriously, the notion that it is some etherial thing that can’t be measured is just wrong. If the catcher has a positive or negative impact on his pitcher, we’ll see it in his performance.

  7. PositivePaul on November 24th, 2004 4:48 pm

    Okay, Dave, I’m putting the onus back on your shoulders. Without just merely stating that “it isn’t” , please show me how my theory thusly stated is inaccurate (i.e. how a catcher/pitcher relationship — specifically that pitcher’s confidence in his catcher — “isn’t” a factor in that pitcher’s performance):

    Confidence in their battery mate is a HUGE intangible that can either help or hinder your pitchers.

    No, I’m not saying that it’s THE most important factor, but I don’t see how it cannot be a factor at all.

    How can a sinkerball pitcher not have more confidence in Dan Wilson, (as an ex-hockey goalie especially) and his ability to dig a pitch out or smother the ball than in another catcher, say Ben Davis? How can this confidence, then, not help when he’s pitching to Wilson, and how can slightly less confidence, then, not hinder his performance.

  8. PositivePaul on November 24th, 2004 4:51 pm

    Sorry for the delay, Dave, I can see your view a little clearly now. I got interrupted.

    Surely, it will be tangible in some way, but I guess then we might be able to agree that there’s currently no stat to capture it. “CAPLHRS” indeed…

  9. Dave Williams on November 24th, 2004 5:11 pm


    I think Dave is trying to say that if Wilson somehow makes the pitcher feel warm and fuzzy so that he actually pitches better it will show up as more Ks, fewer BBs, fewer HRs, lower ERA/RA, etc. If Wilson makes a pitcher(s) improve their performance it will show up in the stat line somewhere. If their is a consistent difference between what a pitcher(s) does with one catcher vs another it must show in the box score. If Wilson makes pitchers magically pitch better wouldn’t that necessitate that he’d have a lower RA with that catcher? How could it be possible that Wilson would “help” a pitcher without it showing up in the runs,hits,K’s allowed? If he gets the same results (ie stats) with both catchers then there is really no difference.

    And in case no one else has said it… Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  10. David on November 24th, 2004 5:25 pm

    Off topic, slightly. John McDonald was DFA’d by the Indians today after the Wickman signing. I know some people have mentioned Pokey Reese as a one-year, fairly cheap shortstop option who can suck up groundballs while sinking the rest of the team from the 9 hole. Well, then why not McDonald? His D reputation is stellar (though I admit I have never seen any defensive metrics to back this up), he’ll be cheaper than Reese, and he actually had a higher OPS over the past two years (by a hair’s breadth, but still). Thoughts?

  11. Evan on November 24th, 2004 5:44 pm

    I’d be the first guy in line trying to bring back Pat Borders… as a coach. As much as I’m amazed he can still play (he’s a 41-year-old catcher – how does he do it?), he really has no business doing so at the ML level.

    As for John McDonald, he’s a career .235/.276/.310 hitter (park-adjusted). Pokey is .241/.299/.342.

    If you want a middle infielder with a sub-300 OBP, at least take the guy with the fun name.

  12. Adam M on November 24th, 2004 7:13 pm

    Jason Kendall is a poor man’s Paul Lo Duca. If those words don’t give you pause…

    Or as I wrote last year, “why would the Mariners pay Kendall $X million/yr to play crappy defense and hit for no power when they’ve already got Dan Wilson doing those things for less money?” Paying a catcher mostly to hit for average is like paying a first baseman mostly to steal bases.

    OT, for all the old fools from the old school, ya know who was a great backup catcher? Scott Bradley.

  13. Adam M on November 24th, 2004 7:19 pm

    Also, how can M’s fans argue that a catcher doesn’t have an effect on a pitcher? Didn’t the M’s have to bring up Pat friggin Borders because nobody else could keep Freddy’s head in the game? Granted, that’s a special case that doesn’t really translate across a whole staff, esp. since the M’s ERAs when Wilson and Davis caught were roughly the same as I recall, but you can’t make the point that they have *no* effect. Also, some catchers will do a great job with a staff they’re familiar with, others can come to a new team and give the staff a kick in the ass that really works.

  14. Dave on November 24th, 2004 7:25 pm

    Argh. Sometimes, you guys frustrate me.

    No one is arguing that catchers don’t have an impact on pitchers. Nobody.

    What we’re saying is that the effect they have on pitchers shows up in the pitchers performance. If they really do “handle pitchers” better than everyone else, and that actually matters, it will be reflected in the record of the pitchers performance, and we will be able to see a noticable difference.

    And really, calling Jason Kendall a “poor mans Paul LoDuca” is pretty ignorant. Kendall is obviously the superior player by just about any metric you want to use.

  15. Adam M on November 24th, 2004 7:40 pm

    Duh, I completely apologize – just looked at the numbers and you are totally right. I completely underestimated a) how much Lo Duca’s stats fell off in the second half (stopped following him after the trade) and b) how little Kendall’s have fallen off the last few years (the way everybody was talking about him, you’d think he was playing on an pegleg). *And* Lo Duca’s two years older, which I would never have guessed based on their service time.

    Serious egg on my face. The last thing I want is for this to turn into loudmouths barking baseless opinions past each other. Damn, now I have to actually look up stats before I make an argument!

    As for catchers, somebody did refer to them as a “HUGE intangible”…(“so huge, it can’t be touched!”). But I see your point, and agree with it.

    OT, the folks on AB’s Dodgers board (which has some very sharp guys on it) were scratching their heads why Beane would pay Kendall’s salary. They think the A’s will flip him to the Dodgers for somebody like Brazoban (or Choi, whom Beane apparently covets).

  16. Jerry on November 24th, 2004 10:02 pm

    Interesting discussion of catchers intangibles. I tend to think that catchers that are not really good, but are liked by the team, get a lot of recognition that is not really deserved. Dan Wilson is a perfect example of this. Everyone always talks about his defensive ability, but he doesn’t really do anything that is reflected statistically. I think that he is a good backup. He isn’t a horrible hitter (for a backup catcher), he can stop the ball from hitting the backstop, his is a fan favorite and link to the glory days, and he provides some leadership in the clubhouse. He is worth 1 million for a year. But he is by no means irreplacable.

    I think that the ‘working with the pitching staff’ arugment is sorta valid, as I would imagine that a catcher will know how each pitcher works over time. However, I think that this is simply familiarity, and that it can effect the catcher’s performance a lot. For instance, I think that it is likely that Olivo’s lack of familiarity with the M’s staff led to a lot of his problems with passed balls. He only had 4 with the ChiSox versus 9 with the M’s in about the same amount of time behind the plate. However, his catcher’s era was better than Wilson’s this year, despite the fact that everyone says that Wilson ‘works well with the staff’. Like Dave says, if this was true, you would expect it to be reflected in the stats. In reality, the staff had an era about a half run higher with Wilson than with Olivo, even with his passed balls.

    So in this case, it seems like the M’s pitchers did fine with Olivo, but Olivo had trouble with the new staff. This is something that I hope can be remedied quickly during spring training and over the course of the season. Coming to a new team, and the constant stream of new pitchers between Tacoma and Seattle after the trade, probably had a lot to do with his problems. Next year, I think that Olivo could really improve his defense and game-calling as he gets to know the staff during the season. At least, I hope so.

  17. PositivePaul on November 25th, 2004 1:21 am

    As the originator of this whole intangibles confusion, I apologize. Maybe this will help…

    What I said to start this whole mess was this:

    It may not show up in the stats, but confidence in their battery mate is a HUGE intangible that can either help or hinder your pitchers.

    If you do a grammatical analysis of my statement, you should realize that the “It” in my statement refers to “Confidence Level” (hence the italics). That’s the intangible that I’m referring to. You cannot empirically or scientifically measure “confidence level” itself. One might be able to deduce confidence level by observing performances, but since “confidence level” is not a concrete measureable, it therefore becomes something intangible.

    It’s like measuring concretely the level to which someone is “trying” to do something. You just can’t do it. You might be able to see the end result of someone’s “trying” but you can’t observe that “trying” in and of itself.

    Certainly you can analyze the statistics for a particular pitcher and compare them between his various battery mates to see if there’s a significant difference in that pitcher’s performance amongst battery mates. If there is a significant performance gap, then you obviously want to pair up that pitcher with the catcher who he, statistically, performs better with. One possible explanation for such a significant gap, then, might be something intangible. Even with all things being relatively equal statistically, then, a pitcher may (on a given night, or not) have a battery mate that he feels more confident in. That’s who you want him to pitch to, again because of the intangible “confidence” factor.

    In essence, then, I think we agree. Just looking at the same thing from two different angles.

    I apologize for the frustration, Dave! It’s Turkey Day! Have a happy one!!!

  18. PositivePaul on November 25th, 2004 1:25 am

    Derek — I guess that’s three beers I owe you. Or how about a Belgian Tripel Ale. That should cover it, right?

    My closing italics tag got lost in translation. I’m going to bed now…

  19. DMZ on November 25th, 2004 2:05 am

    Fixed. And yes, that would do nicely.

  20. John on November 25th, 2004 10:59 pm

    #65 I think your onto something. I’ve always said if you think Eurebiel Durazo was Billy Beane’s holy Grail, Hee Soep Choi is his wet dream. Why not Choi and Brazoban both?

  21. Adam M on November 26th, 2004 11:59 am

    That’s probably more than the Dodgers are willing to give up – Brazoban is NASSSTEEE. Choi really wore out his welcome after the trade, although he had some clutch hits and walks towards the end. I remember one big late-season game where he was first out of the clubhouse, and just shot out like a rocket like the unhppiest cmaper you have ever seen. People seem to think that Korean players on the Dodgers will bring folks in from the big Koreatown community, but Chan Ho Park didn’t really do that, and I’m not sure Choi will either unless he turns into an All-Star.

    Unless Beane really needs to get younger and cheaper, I don’t know why you’d pick up Choi when you already had Durazo. They’re both much better against righties than lefties (Choi’s splits are absurd, but it’s a small sample size), but Durazo’s better in both cases, he’s only 4 years older, and he’s not making that much more. Durazo might make sense for the Dodgers (more dependable stats), but then they’re getting bigger at two contract slots.