Olivo Injury Forces Roster Decisions
If you missed it, Miguel Olivo left tonight’s game in Tampa Bay with what has been called a strained groin, but he had to be helped off the field and almost certainly looks bound for the disabled list. Let’s just get this out of the way – I’m not celebrating Miguel Olivo’s injury, nor do I encourage anyone else to find joy in his personal pain. That said, there’s an old saying about silver linings, and this cloud may be a little less toothsome than most.
With Olivo likely DL bound, the Mariners are going to have to make a decision on a replacement, and in reality, they have two options.
A. Call up Guillermo Quiroz to serve as the emergency catcher, use Jaso/Montero as a C/DH platoon.
Against RHPs, this probably makes the Mariners better, as Jaso would essentially substitute into Olivo’s line-up spot regardless of which of the two was actually behind the plate on any given day. This would allow Wedge to continue to use Montero behind the plate at the same pace he’s been using him while still getting him at-bats at DH and not put the team in another situation where they had to forfeit the DH if one of the two catchers went down with an injury.
Against LHPs, its a bit more of a problem. Quiroz is a right-handed bat, so Wedge could use him behind the plate and Montero at DH to maintain the mostly RHB-heavy line-ups he’s been favoring, which would probably be the best option. The other option would be to start Montero behind the plate and use Liddi at DH, keeping Seager on the field at third base. Seager’s not very good against LHPs, so the team might actually be better off with Quiroz, but you can make an argument that Seager getting at-bats against lefties is more important for the franchise than getting a marginal upgrade by having Quiroz’s right-handed bat in the line-up.
Neither solution is perfect, but my guess is that Wedge would go with Quiroz behind the plate, as it wouldn’t force him to have Montero catch more than originally planned.
B. Call up Mike Carp, have Montero/Jaso split time behind the plate, and have Carp DH until he shows he’s ready to resume regular OF work.
To me, this is probably the right call. Yes, Carp’s been lousy down in Tacoma and his shoulder may still be bothering him, but he was down there to get his hacks in, not try to earn his way back to the club. By having him come back and DH, the team could get a better look at where he’s at and try to inject a bit more offense into the line-up without forcing him to rush back to the outfield upon his return. The offensive upgrade of going from Olivo to Carp could be substantial, and would force the team to give Jaso and Montero regular time behind the plate. It’s obvious that Wedge doesn’t yet trust Jaso to catch, but that fear isn’t based in any kind of reality, and keeping another catcher off the roster would force him to actually watch Jaso play and hopefully realize that he’s a Major League quality catcher who deserves more playing time than he’s gotten so far.
This option doesn’t come without its risks, however. On days when Jaso catches and Montero DHs, the team runs the risk of losing the DH spot if Jaso gets injured, and they also forfeit the ability to pinch-hit or pinch-run for him in any late game situation. Since he’s slow and lousy against lefties, he’s a late game match-up weakness, and opposing managers would exploit those issues. But, those risks are outweighed by the upside of Jaso showing Wedge that he actually can catch and offer some more offense against right-handed pitching from behind the plate, which could lead to a more optimal playing time distribution even after Olivo returns from his injury.
My guess is that Wedge is going to push for option A, and we’ll see Quiroz joining the team tomorrow. It’d be nice if Jack told him it was time to see what Jaso could do behind the plate and didn’t give him the option of using Quiroz as the new crutch, however. Option A is easier. Option B is better. Let’s hope the team goes with better.