Seriously, Miguel Olivo is The Worst

Dave · September 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Because he’s apparently made of teflon, Miguel Olivo will get no criticism from Eric Wedge or the local media for this loss, when in reality, his simple unwillingness to perform the basic function of a catcher – drop down and block a ball that is headed for the ground – put the winning run in scoring position in the ninth inning, and set in motion the chain of events that cost the Mariners the game.

Stephen Pryor might have blown the game anyway. We’ll never know, because with the winning run on first base, Miguel Olivo decided “nah, I don’t need to practice the fundamental skill that every catcher is taught when they’re eight-years-old.” And, naturally, the ball went through his legs. It was his ninth passed ball of the year, moving him into a tie for the American League lead. He hasn’t even played half a season. He’s started 61 games at catcher, and he’s tied of for the league lead in passed balls. It would his fifth time in the last seven years leading his league in passed balls. One of the year he’s didn’t he was injured. The other — last year — he finished third.

In April, I pointed out that Miguel Olivo had gotten a free pass on his laziness and fundamental flaws for far too long, after an easily blocked ball got away from him and eventually cost the Mariners the game. Same deal tonight. He simply will not do what any high school catcher in America is required to do before his coach will play him.

There’s no reason for Miguel Olivo to be a Major League player. He’s the least fundamentally sound player I’ve ever seen, and an absolute disaster both as a hitter and a fielder. That Eric Wedge continues to play him is an embarrassment. If anyone with the organization is considering exercising their team option for him in 2013, they should immediately resign in shame. Miguel Olivo’s career in Seattle should be over next week. In reality, his Major League career probably shouldn’t continue either. He’s just not good enough to play the game at this level.

Update: Apparently the official scorer in Anaheim decided to call that pitch by Pryor a wild pitch and not a passed ball. Because we live in a land of sanity, I’m going to overrule the official scorer and continue to call that a passed ball. The official scorer is apparently as good at his job as Olivo is at catching.


40 Responses to “Seriously, Miguel Olivo is The Worst”

  1. Westside guy on September 26th, 2012 10:44 pm

    My fervent hope is when Wedge starts lobbying for the team to pick up Olivo’s option – and I am reasonably certain he will be doing so – Jack Z will turn a deaf ear to him.

    Montero is a terrible catcher; but at least he’s young. We can pretend he might somehow get better. Olivo is just getting worse with age.

  2. Slats on September 26th, 2012 10:58 pm

    I cannot wait until Olivo is gone from Seattle.

  3. sotteson on September 26th, 2012 11:00 pm

    I was surprised when Blowers called it a wild pitch on the replay. It hit the ground right in front of Olivo’s glove and then right through the 5 hole. Seemed like a passed ball all the way.

  4. Sports on a Schtick on September 27th, 2012 12:17 am

    After i saw the gif of that play (via LL) I knew this post was coming.

    Drop down and block the damn ball, Miguel. Mariners fans are tired of lazy, backhanded glove stabs. We saw enough of that shit with Yuni.

  5. GarForever on September 27th, 2012 1:12 am

    Hated the signing with a white-hot passion at the time, have come to hate it even more over the course of the past two seasons. With Jaso in harness and Zunino on the way, surely wiser heads will prevail and the team will not pick up the option. On the other hand, if Olivo (or for that matter Figgins) is on the team come spring, any time Wedge or Z say ‘accountability’ I will smirk and then flip them off in my mind’s eye.

  6. SonOfZavaras on September 27th, 2012 1:14 am

    Miguel Olivo’s ML-career has been about three times longer than what it needed to be. I am not a Miguel Olivo fan. I have never been a Miguel Olivo fan. Not on his first stint with us, not on this last one.

    As long as he puts on a major-league uniform (and specifically, OURS), that not being a fan of Miguel Olivo feeling won’t change.

    Anybody else waiting for the Mike Zunino era to begin with bated breath?

  7. MKT on September 27th, 2012 2:17 am

    I didn’t see the play — I was listening on MLB Gameday audio — but when it happened I could easily visualize it, and equally easily visualize the upcoming post from Dave. The only thing that surprised me was the lack of outrage expressed in the game thread (although the game threads are sparsely populated these days). But yeah, what everyone else here has said.

  8. Sowulo on September 27th, 2012 4:22 am

    I don’t recall ever seeing a scoring decision of any ball in the dirt as being anything other than a Wild Pitch. That being said, I can’t imagine any catcher other than Olivo missing that one. His job is to block the ball and keep it in front of him. That is EXTREMELY easy to do on a fast ball that bounces directly in front of him. The day before he missed a catch on a fastball strike that was a little up and on the inside half of the plate–just outside and above the point of his should and he flat out missed the catch. His position title says it all. His job is to CATCH the freakin’ ball, not wave at it as it goes by.

  9. stevemotivateir on September 27th, 2012 5:31 am

    Well, as tough as that was to watch, hopefully that was the nail in the coffin, keeping that option for next year buried.

  10. Mariners35 on September 27th, 2012 6:50 am

    Wild pitches and passed balls are mostly interchangeable stats-wise, and mostly preventable by the catcher the majority of the time anyway. Sometimes you get something airmailed 6 feet away from home plate that makes it onto a blooper reel, but most of the time it’s on the catcher. Call it a wp or a pb, it is still Olivo being terrible.

    And people should really resign themselves to Olivo’s option getting picked up. Whatever the optimism and forecasting about Zunino, whatever the platooning possible on paper, whatever frustration we have with Olivo… I’m still nigh-certain that Zunino will spend most of next year in Tacoma, that the org doesn’t see Montero as a fulltime catcher anymore than Cameron does, and thus would rather than spend money on an unknown they’ll go with the devil they know and pick up Olivo’s option.

    We all know there’s nothing Olivo can teach Jaso or Montero unless those guys learn best by counterexample. Nothing Olivo is doing to help win ballgames with his glove or bat, occasional caught-stealing or first-pitch-fastball-home-run aside. Plenty of equivalent or better options available in FA alone, never mind trades.

    But we’ve seen Wedge’s favoritism (and empathy as a former washout catcher himself) plenty of times. Seen Wedge’s pathological fear of letting Jaso face righties. Seen the early hints about trying Montero at 1b. And it’s in the org’s best interest to take their time with Zunino, not only in Tacoma but as he settles into the bigs.

    Olivo’s gonna be back, guys. We don’t have to like it or agree with it. But we shouldn’t be surprised by it.

  11. BrianC on September 27th, 2012 7:10 am

    Any pitch in the dirt is an automatic wild pitch. It is not a discretionary call by the scorekeeper. MLB scoring rules are available here:

  12. stevemotivateir on September 27th, 2012 7:21 am

    “And people should really resign themselves to Olivo’s option getting picked up.”

    Feel free to do so, but I’m not going to stress that or accept it, unless it actually happens.

    There’s plenty of other catchers outside of the organization. Did you forget how we acquired Jaso? Doesn’t matter if Zunino isn’t ready. A better alternative to Olivo can be found easily -and for a lower price. We’re not even sure if the Mariners have completely given up on Montero catching. Maybe they’re willing to give him the time in limbo before Zunino’s arrival?

    I wouldn’t put any money on Olivo returning.

  13. G-Man on September 27th, 2012 7:55 am

    While Wedge is obviously in love with Olivo, I don’t know if JZ shares that feeling. Fortunately it’s up to him to pick up the option or not.

    AS for Zunino, I will count on him when I see him producing in Seattle for a year. Until then, he’s in the same category as Jeff Clement and Adam Moore with me. Show me the WAR.

  14. Westside guy on September 27th, 2012 7:57 am

    Per what MKT said – I’ve participated in most of the game threads, and while admittedly I still do occasionally complain about Olivo… a lot of the time I’m just too worn out from seeing the same thing from him, over and over. Last night’s “wild pitch” was almost predictable, and certainly not surprising – just like him striking out, or grounding into a double play.

    I just didn’t feel like making the effort to acknowledge yet another “Olivo-ism” at that point.

  15. Carson on September 27th, 2012 7:58 am

    The thing that is most maddening for me is that he’s held to a different standard by Eric Wedge.

    Anyone else on the roster pays the price if they make mistakes — on or off the field.

    And, why? Because he has a pretty smile and hugs his teammates? Because he’s a veteran? Well, why on earth would you want his skills (ha ha) to rub off on any of the kids?

    I’m just so, so tired of it.

  16. _Hutch_ on September 27th, 2012 7:59 am

    Yeah sadly I think Olivo will be on the roster next year. Zunino making the team out of ST would be an unprecedented rush of a prospect – even Ackley got 300 PA at AAA before coming up. They would probably be better off dumpster diving for a part-time vet to go with Jaso/Montero, but they’ll probably do the easy thing and pick up the option. He’s by all accounts a good teammate and hits dingers on occasion.

  17. TomC on September 27th, 2012 8:52 am

    “AS for Zunino, I will count on him when I see him producing in Seattle for a year. Until then, he’s in the same category as Jeff Clement and Adam Moore with me. Show me the WAR.”

    Agreed G-Man. The Mariners have had too much history of failed “can’t miss” catching prospects to assume anything about Zunino at this time.

  18. uoduckfan33 on September 27th, 2012 8:56 am

    Now tell us how you really feel…

  19. BillyJive on September 27th, 2012 9:10 am

    I’m fine with us moving forward with Jaso and Montero as our catching duo until Zunino is reading. I detested this signing when it happened and I hate it even more after last night. If Olivo gets resigned because management thinks we need ‘catching depth’ I will be choked.

  20. DarkKnight1680 on September 27th, 2012 9:32 am

    Gotta love a guy who is last in baseball in OBP for anyone with at least 300 PAs. And its not close.

  21. don52656 on September 27th, 2012 9:47 am

    The scoring about WP and PB is sometimes ridiculous, but I see that now has a stat called C/WP, which I believe counts the number of WP which occurred while that catcher was catching. I did a quick look at AL catchers with 400+ inning caught to see what the rate of WP+PB per 9 innings was, and Olivo ranks 20th out of 22 with a 0.50 rate. Montero is 0.49 and Jaso is 0.47 (with only 326.3 innings), so all of the M’s catchers are poor using this metric. The two catchers below Olivo are AJ Pierzynski and Carlos Santana, neither of which have been mentioned as especially good defensive catchers to the best of my knowledge.

    The AL leaders are Bobby Wilson (0.18), Matt Wieters (0.25), and Brayan Pena (0.26). I’ve noticed that Wieters seems to be consistently toward the top of the rankings on a yearly basis, which tells me that he is probably way better at preventing WP/PB than most catchers, especially Olivo.

    My biggest complaint about Olivo is that he is the worst hitter I’ve ever seen. An OBP in the .220s, and yet he bats 6th or 7th most of the time. When you combine that with his defense, it becomes especially galling. To be fair, though, he does have a good success rate throwing out would-be base stealers…..

    Looking forward to not having him on the Mariners next year. It’s safe to say that he is the Mariner I will miss the least.

  22. djw on September 27th, 2012 10:07 am

    Montero is a terrible catcher; but at least he’s young. We can pretend he might somehow get better.

    In addition to that, I would much rather watch Montero ineptly but gamely try to block the plate than Olivo not even bother. It’s considerably less disheartening. Watching Olivo ‘catch’ makes me feel like a sucker for rooting for this team.

  23. thedude1987 on September 27th, 2012 10:18 am

    I believe Russel Martin might be a good platoon partner for Jaso next year.

  24. dang on September 27th, 2012 10:40 am

    My fervent hope is when Wedge starts lobbying for the team to pick up Olivo’s option – and I am reasonably certain he will be doing so – Jack Z will turn a deaf ear to him.

    Jack Z. is the idiot who signed both of them.

  25. Jordan on September 27th, 2012 11:11 am

    I think it’s safe to say Dave’s off season plan will include picking up nOlivo’s option, giving Figgins the starting job in left field and then leaving 1b open for Smoak or Carp to regress to a monster year.

    In all seriousness though, this should be the last offseason under Z if some exponential positive changes don’t occur, and I’m not talking good process bad results. We’re at the point now that the process demands better results a la Beane in Oakland.

    Z and co. have done a commendable job rebuilding value in the minor leagues and with some large item pickups (Luetge etc.) and finding undervalued players (Jaso etc.) in the majors, but we must cut all of the dead weight and build an actual major league roster.

  26. Typical Idiot Fan on September 27th, 2012 11:16 am

    Even if it is ruled a wild pitch, good catchers stop wild pitches. Hell, mediocre catchers stop wild pitches. That’s the point of the catcher, to play defense against his own pitcher, at times, and stop that ball from going to the wall or hitting the umpire.

    Now, every pitcher is going to uncork a wild pitch that is just so bad that there’s nothing even the best catcher can do about it, but this was not one of those.

  27. Rainiers_fan on September 27th, 2012 11:17 am

    The thing I worry about is that Olivo didn’t suddenly get this way. He has been a poor offensive and defensive player his entire career. So Jack and Wedge didn’t see anything last night that they haven’t seen countless times before. Jack signed him and Wedge plays him despite seeing what Westy calls “Olivo-isms” damn near every night. I hope a light bulb flashed, but why would this time be any different?

  28. Paul B on September 27th, 2012 11:39 am

    When I evaluate catchers I always sum passed balls and wild pitches. Then, if the catcher caught a knuckleball pitcher or something really unusual like that, give him some credit or benefit for that.

    I remember looking once and seeing that the two worst catchers at the time were Rob Johnson and Miguel Olivo.

    Why can’t we ever have anything nice?

  29. Paul B on September 27th, 2012 11:45 am

    My biggest complaint about Olivo is that he is the worst hitter I’ve ever seen. An OBP in the .220s, and yet he bats 6th or 7th most of the time. When you combine that with his defense, it becomes especially galling. To be fair, though, he does have a good success rate throwing out would-be base stealers…..

    Olivo has two strengths, he is good at throwing out basestealers, and once in awhile he hits a home run.

    Apparently that is what Wedge likes in a catcher.

    But Olivo has lots of weaknesses that have always been way to obvious to us — like he is bad at stopping pitches, he has atrocious plate discipline and never walks, he strikes out a lot, he does not hit for average, and he is likely on the downside of his career such as it was.

    There’s probably other things I am forgetting to complain about, but that is enough.

    I was actually sad when Olivo got 3 hits day before yesterday because that just reinforces Wedge’s bad decisions. Wedge reminds me of a gambler playing a slot machine — it is a losers bet but he wins it once in awhile so he keeps pulling that lever.

  30. _Hutch_ on September 27th, 2012 11:49 am

    I was going to play devil’s advocate and argue that Olivo’s arm is the reason the organization sticks with him, but a 31% CS rate is pretty unremarkable unless you’re a net positive offensive contributor.

  31. PackBob on September 27th, 2012 12:39 pm

    And there is his base stealing too. This year he has been caught stealing 6 of 9 attempts, including last night. His career average is 61%, well below what is considered to be productive.

    But he’s “fast” for a catcher, which I guess gives him the green light.

  32. miscreant on September 27th, 2012 12:44 pm

    Miguel “I have immunity so I can suck as bad as I want” Olivo also had a weak ass throwing error on an Aybar steal attempt (4th inn I believe) that allowed Aybar to scurry all the way to 3B. Luckily Felix clamped down and got out of that one unscathed.

    Which leads me to another gripe about Wedge’s pet player. When an opponent attempts to steal, it seems like half the time Olivo comes out of his stance and bobbles the ball. No throw. Allowing the stolen base. Then he always has that sad pathetic blinky Eeorye face that I pray we fans never have to see in a Mariner uniform again after this season.

    But I have a sneaky feeling Wedge will find a way to spoil that dream.

  33. GarForever on September 27th, 2012 1:43 pm

    Jack Z. is the idiot who signed both of them.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call him an idiot, but the disheartening thing about Z is that he does not seem to be a man who readily admits a mistake, and for that reason alone I fear some of the commenters here are right when they suggest we have not yet seen the last of Olivo in a Mariners uniform…


  34. _Hutch_ on September 27th, 2012 1:43 pm

    Actually to be fair it looks like the MLB avg CS% is around 27 percent, so 31 percent is above average. But I suppose it’s kind of a wash when you’re leading the league in passed balls.

  35. thurston24 on September 27th, 2012 11:40 pm

    Has anyone else thought it seems like the Mariners always have catchers who have tons of pass balls in a season? I miss Dan Wilson.

  36. swershow on September 28th, 2012 7:57 am

    What I am wondering is, where is the role of the journalist here. Other than the commendable job of the USSMariner community castigating Olivo, why isn’t anyone asking in the post game conference, or wondering aloud in the paper, why are you running this guy out there? How many games will you let him cost the team? Don’t you think its funny that a part time catcher is leading the league in past balls? Shouldn’t a veteran catcher know that in the ninth inning of a close game he absolutely needs to sprawl on a pitch in the dirt with a runner on?

    We need someone to ask tough questions publicly so that wedge is held accountable for his decisions, and since it wont be the softball tossing mainstream guys, maybe we need a ditch olivo (and wedge) letter writing campaign. Also, i suggest that anyone who attends mariner games (all 25 of you) start booing Olivo every time he shows his fat lazy face.

  37. stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2012 8:58 am

    ^If there were fewer people struggling, I think the questions regarding Olivo would have surfaced more. The fact that he lost significant playing time to Montero and Jaso probably satisfies a lot of the critics.

  38. pgreyy on September 28th, 2012 12:30 pm

    I can hear every Mariners radio and tv announcer–all of them…pre-game, in game, post-game–praising Miguel Olivo with countless “there is no one tougher in the game” and endless “he gives it all he’s got”. The classic gritty veteran treatment.

    And I’m sure there are those for whom Miguel Olivo “passes the eye test”–and “does countless unquantifiable things that make this team better that stats just can’t measure”…and probably “the coaches know better than we could ever know as far as what a player brings to the field and how they help the team.”

    …but I’m with most of you. I’m beginning to dislike the days when Olivo hits home runs–because that will surely lead to seeing more “Olivo runs to the backstop to pick up the ball” plays in the future.

  39. stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2012 4:19 pm

    Journalists, especially those with ROOT, aren’t ever going to criticize a player the way they deserve. They’ll talk about their strengths and dance around their weaknesses. They’re trying to keep the fan base positive. You just have to read between the lines. I have no doubt that guys Blowers, or Krueger, are well aware of how terrible Olivo really is.

  40. nathaniel dawson on September 28th, 2012 5:56 pm

    Pitches that bounce in the dirt are almost automatically scored as Wild Pitches….even if the catcher probably could’ve blocked it with a reasonable effort. This is no way offering up a defense of Miguel Olivo — he’s a horrid catcher and made little effort to keep this ball from getting by him — just pointing out that the official scorer’s decision is consistent with how this play is usually called.

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