Shoppach to Mariners, Finally

marc w · January 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The seemingly inevitable deal is apparently done. We still may not know exactly how to measure catcher defense, but we know who’ll likely be doing some defending for the 2013 Mariners: veteran back-up Kelly Shoppach.

Unlike the Ronny Paulino deal, I’d assume this is a major league contract, meaning that the M’s have another 40-man decision to make. Yoervis Medina may sleep a little less soundly tonight, and I can’t imagine Carlos Peguero is safe either. They could also choose to drop someone a little more prospect-y but further from the majors – Julio Morban or Francisco Martinez come to mind.

Shoppach is a three-true-outcome hitter – he couples Olivo-like contact and with above-average power with decidedly non-Olivo-like walk rates. His batting average and strikeout rates are going to require some patience, but he’s put up very nice wOBA’s in his short stint in Boston last year and in more regular duty in Cleveland. His manager with the Indians was Eric Wedge, and it’s easy to assume that Wedge had a hand in picking Shoppach. Given the talk this winter about changing the nature of the veteran presence in the clubhouse, it makes sense that they’d find some guys they’re familiar with.

His defense is a bit harder to get a handle on. He’s generally rated poorly in the defensive metrics at fangraphs, where some solid work throwing out runners is undone by pitch blocking. The Mariners FO clearly thinks a lot about catcher defense, but looking at the succession of catchers who’ve played for the M’s (Rob Johnson, Adam Moore, Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero, John Jaso, now Kelly Shoppach), it’s glaringly obvious that they don’t much care about passed balls/wild pitches. I’m not saying they’re wrong to see it as a minor element of a catcher’s overall worth – it’s just an interesting and very consistent pattern.


19 Responses to “Shoppach to Mariners, Finally”

  1. stevemotivateir on January 29th, 2013 5:32 pm

    But can he play 1B?

  2. r-gordon-7 on January 29th, 2013 5:48 pm

    Maybe they need to move in the backstop even more than they needed to move in the fences… 😉

  3. Steve Nelson on January 29th, 2013 5:48 pm

    Maybe the Mariners think they’ve found a new market inefficiency – overvaluing preventing WPs/PBs. \snark

  4. MrZDevotee on January 29th, 2013 6:36 pm

    Pretty cool that he led the majors in Caught Stealing % one season– at 40%. Hopefully in the dreamland where wily veterans make the young guys better, Montero can get some pointers on getting his throw off a little quicker.

  5. djw on January 29th, 2013 7:24 pm

    If Peguero is off the 40-man and goes away forever, I like the deal. Otherwise, it’s hard to get exciting about the half a WAR he gives us other Paulino.

  6. Slats on January 29th, 2013 7:32 pm

    Gone by June when Zunino is called up.

  7. BackRub on January 29th, 2013 7:37 pm

    I know it was just an aside, but no way in the hell should the M’s think about DFAing Morban. He’s a legit prospect, who has a case for the back-end of the M’s top ten. Yes, he has trouble staying healthy but played very well this year when he was on the field and didn’t show the home-road splits common for High Desert mirages. Not to mention that he is the 4th CF, maybe the 3rd, on the 40 man. Considering Guti’s likely lengthy stays on the DL, if Morban takes a step forward he could be backing up Saunders. Not that he should be doing that(yet); M’s need to keep Casper around or add another minor league CF. However, as it stands Morban is important for M’s near and not-so-near future

  8. Sports on a Shtick on January 29th, 2013 7:45 pm

    I guess the big offseason acquisition for the M’s is the new scoreboard.

  9. jwgrandsalami on January 29th, 2013 7:47 pm

    While Francisco Martinez certainly had a disappointing season, in 2012, showing even less power than he’d displayed in previous seasons, I would doubt the Mariners would risk losing him at this point.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that he just turned 22 in December and he’s only spent one full season in the organization. On top of that since Martinez was acquired in a trade where none of the other players have yet turned into anything more than a serviceable left-handed reliever (C Furbush) you have the organization’s natural disinclination to cut bait on F Mart so as to make the trade of Doug Fister look worse.

  10. Flaco on January 29th, 2013 7:49 pm

    Bay, Ibanez, Morales, Paulino, Morse, Stoppach…not the names I was hoping to see this offseason.

  11. Westside guy on January 29th, 2013 8:22 pm

    .734 OPS last season… And a 36% strikeout rate. He’s Jack Cust with a catcher’s mask! But I’d take him over Olivo any day of the week.

    However I really don’t get the lack of concern over passed balls and wild pitches. It seems at first glance like those would hurt the team more than throwing out base runners helps.

  12. spankystout on January 29th, 2013 8:46 pm

    Shoppach had a .352BABIP and a K% of 36.3 last year, Yikes! Can he frame at least?

  13. ivan on January 29th, 2013 8:54 pm

    People joke about Yoervis Medina. But I have seen him pitch briefly, and he has a major league curve. Think of him as a poor man’s Wilhelmsen.

  14. msfanmike on January 29th, 2013 9:23 pm

    Yoervis Medina seems to be the obligatory player mentioned anytime a roster move needs to be made … over the last 2-3 years. He actually had a pretty good year last season, but if he were the one to be released – nobody would care.

    Free Yoervis Medina!

  15. marc w on January 29th, 2013 9:46 pm

    I didn’t say it’d be a good idea, er, BackRub, just that I could see them trying to slip someone Morban through waivers.
    And I’m with you Jon that cutting bait on Martinez would be odd. I think he’d be more likely to get snapped up by another team than Morban, but you never know. I mean, 2012 was a BAD year for Martinez.

    I like Kelly Shoppach, and think he might add some value, esp. Compared to Olivo, but his contact rate is Peguero- esque. He had a 40% CS% once, but he’s lived below 30% for much of his career. I like him, but I’m just struggling to see a coherent process at work; Jaso was a problem and Shoppach solves it? Add that to the fact that all of Paulino’s positives mirror Shoppach’s and I don’t get what’s going on. We’ll have a starting C who can pound lefties, and then, if he gets hurt, his back up can pound lefties too. And if HE gets hurt? The third-stringer can pound lefties too! AL West champs! Depth!

  16. Westside guy on January 29th, 2013 10:12 pm

    This is sheer speculation, but I suspect Wedge asked for some of these specific guys. There certainly doesn’t appear to be a lot of thought behind some of this, and I’m thinking there really wasn’t.

    I don’t mind this signing, but given there are more right handed pitchers than southpaws it’s hard to argue we’re not worse off behind the dish than we were last season.

  17. californiamariner on January 29th, 2013 10:31 pm

    Speculating here, but I have a bad feeling this will be Wedge’s new pet that plays way too much.

  18. maqman on January 30th, 2013 2:33 am

    Montero’s passed ball/wild pitch rate is better than league average actually.

  19. bookbook on January 30th, 2013 6:23 am

    FMart will never make it to the majors as more than a 5th OF, emergency 3b type. They won’t DFA him yet, but in a year they’ll have better assets to protect or we’re probably in trouble.

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