Catchers: A View from the Mound

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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    In college, I had one game where I entered late in the game, late-season game. I go to my catcher to figure out 1,2,3,4 and he says, "You know what, you throw it, I'll catch it. I'm not putting down any signs." My jaw dropped, but the funny thing was that the two innings I threw woke me up as a pitcher. I made the decisions on what to throw and when to throw it and damned if that catcher didn't do a good job behind the dish anyway. I think back about that, and at first i thought it was the sign of a guy who was simply tired of catching, but it actually opened my eyes about decision making as a pitcher. You can't just throw what the catcher puts down (Papelbon had a choice, harness, not just because Lavarnway put down a 1), you can do what you want if you have to, and you can pitch with your own designed plan. I would kill most any catcher since that time if they pulled that stunt on me, but at that particular moment it was one of the best things for me. Eye-opener.
    Posted by dannycater
    Holy smokes, Danny, if you had a good breaking ball, that catcher was a nut case. Ho.  Glad it worked out.
    My deal with a catcher, approved by the coach, was that if he put down "1," I could take something off the pitch on my own. But only if I threw the straight change, not the circle change, for which the specific signal was wiggling three fingers.  I could shake off the straight change to hint that I might prefer the circle change, but I could not throw it on my own.
    It helped that I was a senior and the catcher was a sophomore. When we were sophomores pitching a lot, mostly in relief, he was still in high school and attending our games. To him, we were the old pros. But I can report that our coach never let us think that we were, certainly not act as if we were.  

     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    Holy smokes, Danny, if you had a good breaking ball, that catcher was a nut case. Ho. Glad it worked out.
    My deal with a catcher, approved by the coach, was that if he put down "1," I could take something off the pitch on my own. But only if I threw the straight change, not the circle change, for which the specific signal was wiggling three fingers. I could shake off the straight change to hint that I might prefer the circle change, but I could not throw it on my own.
    It helped that I was a senior and the catcher was a sophomore. When we were sophomores pitching a lot, mostly in relief, he was still in high school and attending our games. To him, we were the old pros. But I can report that our coach never let us think that we were, certainly not act as if we were.

    How funny ex, I do the same thing, even today in my "senior" league. Guy puts down a fastball, I change speeds on it all the time. Sometimes I decide during the delivery itself. It's my way of saying, well I'm throwing you a pitch you can handle, catcher, but rather than shaking you off and giving away to a hitter that I might throw off-speed, I'll just turn it into a straight changeup altogether--for me it's just slowing down the end of the delivery just a little, takes 5 to 10 MPH off the fastball. I do it against the better hitters in our league...have to. Batters are all about timing---I agree on Papelbon. He got timed, no question about it. That O's hitter was looking for a high fastball away--he got it--GW hit.
     
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    Papelbon is going to have an a-ha moment...Rivera always understood the reasoning for never throwing a pitch the same way, same speed unless it was a pitch inside or outside--his cut fastball or slider. Papelbon has good stuff, just has no confidence in throwing the stuff..He thinks he can throw a fastball by everyone, always had. Well, maybe 90 percent of the guys he can do that too...it's that 10 percent that kills you....and it killed him in 2 giant, giant games in his career.
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    Good posts here, guys. I'm taking it all in.

    I do wonder if getting a top pitching coach can wake up a few of our guys on varying their pitches. I also wonder if VTek would have allowed 10 straight fastballs, and who can we find to replace VTek's knowledge behind the plate? Can a great pitching coach take up some of the slack of having a lesser catcher? What are we going to do about the conditioning of our staff? Something I hope.

    It's all about pitching: we know that.

    I hope VTek is back, but as a 35-40% catcher, he's not enough.
    I hope we get a great pitching coach.
    I hope for a lot of things.
    The chances we get all that I hope for is remote.
     
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    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    Boom does go on and on. Off-topic? HE introduced the topic of Baustista and PED's without qualification, like "but maybe other writers won't dial in the suspicions." Anything to soften the potential damage of his bare bones remark. I responded. He complains about the length of a thread in which he was more than a willing participant. ( He seems to miss this point, but then people who traffic in overstatement are not known for getting or using irony.) If he thought he was wasting his time, he should have shut up. If he'd done the right thing in his original post, there would have been no long quarrel. The thread would have been much shorter if his "last" post had actually been his last post. Same old bad habit of speaking for other people: "a waste... of everyone else's time who was reading it." Did you check with everyone else? Or anyone? Give a fool enough rope.... Boom gets rattled and lets fly in all directions, including at people like Harness, who didn't throw him a life preserver.  Here's the saddest irony of all. He whines that I ruined the Ellsbury thread. He comes on this thread with low-life remarks about my background. Scummy, dumb stuff.  But he didn't ruin this threat. A bunch of really good posters saw to that.
    Posted by expitch


    If you are going to quote me, at least come close will you? I mean remotely freaking close. You gave me 10 pages of junk postings over this post below. If you are going to talk about it more at least quote it accurately:

       
    That MVP year Jimmy Rollins had was incredible 38 doubles, 30 HR and 20 Triples, 41 steals. Playing SS. 88 XBH. 

    The pitching bias against starters in the mvp ballot will preclude Verlander IMO. Granderson's defense isn't in the same league as Ellsbury's this year. See:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/curtis-grandersons-defense-and-his-mvp-prospects/

    I think the competition is between Bautista and Ellsbury at this point. Bautista looks so tainted that I think he might not get some votes for that reason alone. He doesn't play for a contender and Toronto is a launching pad. And his defense isn't comparable to Ellsbury's this year. 

    If the vote happened right now, I think it's Ellsbury!


     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    somebody referenced Varitek as a future manager. Let's say he was, what does it say about his "Captain" job if the clubhouse was a joke, and he never once called a "Player Only" meeting to get on the rest of the squad. It's happened before, Players Only meeting and if I read this right over the last few months, it never happened with the Sox....Tito I'm sure would have been feeling good if that occurred. So I'm openly questioning Varitek's leadership as a reserve part-time catcher. I think there was a time he voiced an opinion, but my feeling was Millar and Schilling set the tone for the 04 squad and 07 was dictated by the on-field display of Manny/Ortiz with the leadership coming from Lowell/Tek/ and a few others. Varitek's captaincy seems to be transparent based on this past season. This has nothing to do with his ability to catch or performance as a player...This is clubhouse stuff.
     
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    Tek as captain is largely ceremonial anyway IMO. He does appear to exemplify the role and I have no complaints. It's just that are guys on 5 year, $90 mil deals going to really listen? When it comes right down to it the role is largely ceremonial. It's an honor with little teeth.
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound : If you are going to quote me, at least come close will you? I mean remotely freaking close. You gave me 10 pages of junk postings over this post below. If you are going to talk about it more at least quote it accurately:       That MVP year Jimmy Rollins had was incredible 38 doubles, 30 HR and 20 Triples, 41 steals. Playing SS. 88 XBH.  The pitching bias against starters in the mvp ballot will preclude Verlander IMO. Granderson's defense isn't in the same league as Ellsbury's this year. See: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/curtis-grandersons-defense-and-his-mvp-prospects/ I think the competition is between Bautista and Ellsbury at this point. Bautista looks so tainted that I think he might not get some votes for that reason alone. He doesn't play for a contender and Toronto is a launching pad. And his defense isn't comparable to Ellsbury's this year.  If the vote happened right now, I think it's Ellsbury!
    Posted by Boomerangsdotcom
    The quote speaks for itself. You say in your own voice "looks so tainted" (again, that's you speaking ) that, in your mind, it might cost him votes with some writers. That is what I reacted to. Thanks for posting your original statement again. Forget the "ten pages." I jumped on the language I saw on the page.

     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    I don't know the virw from the mound. I was behind the plate. The catcher calls the pitches, positions the players, reminds them of the situation and the options. He is the field general. The pitchers I caught for threw what I called. That was one less thing for them to think about. They concentrated on my glove.
     
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    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    I don't know the virw from the mound. I was behind the plate. The catcher calls the pitches, positions the players, reminds them of the situation and the options. He is the field general. The pitchers I caught for threw what I called. That was one less thing for them to think about. They concentrated on my glove.
    Posted by JohnTAlouette
    The view from the mound sees good catchers doing exactly what you say.

     
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    It's a joke that people like softy think that because the pitcher can shake off a call, that the pitchers are the ones who plan the game and decide every pitch type and location.

    Too many posters think CS% , amount of PB/WPs, and offensive numbers are the most important parts of a catcher's game. Not only do many posters discount the intangibles all together, I would rank all of those areas behind the area of "getting the most" out of their staff, which includes homework on the opponents, pitch calling (type and location), setting a target, limiting extraneous movements, framing the pitch, working the ump, calming the pitcher (when needed), lighting a fire under a pitcher's azz (when needed), establishing comfort levels, and noticing a pitchers flaws and and tendencies. I'm sure there is even more I have left out. 

    Anecdotal evidence is plenty. Nearly every single pitcher will tell you the catcher matters. Managers will say the same. CERA, opponents OPS, W-L records will also tell the same tale over large enough sample sizes. Still, the same clowns want to minimize or dismiss the issue completely.

    Why would pitchers lie about the importance of the catcher? No offense, ex and others, but most good to great pitchers I knew had big egos. It's not easy for them to give credit for their successes to others, so when they credit certain catchers and not others, it speaks volumes to me.
     
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    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    It's a joke that people like softy think that because the pitcher can shake off a call, that the pitchers are the ones who plan the game and decide every pitch type and location. Too many posters think CS% , amount of PB/WPs, and offensive numbers are the most important parts of a catcher's game. Not only do many posters discount the intangibles all together, I would rank all of those areas behind   the area of "getting the most" out of their staff, which includes homework on the opponents, pitch calling (type and location), setting a target, limiting extraneous movements, framing the pitch, working the ump, calming the pitcher (when needed), lighting a fire under a pitcher's azz (when needed), establishing comfort levels, and noticing a pitchers flaws and and tendencies. I'm sure there is even more I have left out.  Anecdotal evidence is plenty. Nearly every single pitcher will tell you the catcher matters. Managers will say the same. CERA, opponents OPS, W-L records will also tell the same tale over large enough sample sizes. Still, the same clowns want to minimize or dismiss the issue completely. Why would pitchers lie about the importance of the catcher? No offense, ex and others, but most good to great pitchers I knew had big egos. It's not easy for them to give credit for their successes to others, so when they credit certain catchers and not others, it speaks volumes to me.
    Posted by moonslav59
    Offense, heck no. I mentioned that an SC pitcher loved his catchers. I loved most of mine too -- and relied upon them heavily. Only a foolish pitcher would not rely on a good catcher -- and give him credit. 

     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    You don't get it at all.

    Just because we say a catcher has a lot of influence over what a pitcher does, does not mean they are everything, or that every tiny sample size will demonstrate the position we hold. 

    It's the same as you saying Pujols is a great hitter, then me saying, "he just struck out, you are wrong".
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    I don't know the virw from the mound. I was behind the plate. The catcher calls the pitches, positions the players, reminds them of the situation and the options. He is the field general. The pitchers I caught for threw what I called. That was one less thing for them to think about. They concentrated on my glove.
    Posted by JohnTAlouette


    That is pretty much what I want out of a catcher too...that and framing the pitches for me.
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    Good posts here, guys. I'm taking it all in. I do wonder if getting a top pitching coach can wake up a few of our guys on varying their pitches. I also wonder if VTek would have allowed 10 straight fastballs, and who can we find to replace VTek's knowledge behind the plate? Can a great pitching coach take up some of the slack of having a lesser catcher? What are we going to do about the conditioning of our staff? Something I hope. It's all about pitching: we know that. I hope VTek is back, but as a 35-40% catcher, he's not enough. I hope we get a great pitching coach. I hope for a lot of things. The chances we get all that I hope for is remote.
    Posted by moonslav59


    Well, Lester's repertoire was basically reduced to two pitches from 4 on Young's watch. So, I gotta believe the opposite will hold true.

    I got the impression Paps called his own game with Lavernway.
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    You don't get it at all. Just because we say a catcher has a lot of influence over what a pitcher does, does not mean they are everything, or that every tiny sample size will demonstrate the position we hold.  It's the same as you saying Pujols is a great hitter, then me saying, "he just struck out, you are wrong".
    Posted by moonslav59
    Good analogy, Moon.
    Your sample sizes seem good enough to me, though I make no claim to deep knowledge in that area.
    Moreover, you are being backed by the testimony of pitchers on this forum.
    Here's one more, from Sandy Koufax. It's only one example, but what an example. How about influence on a career. Maybe the decisive advice.
    Norm Sherry was often behind the plate during Sandy's wild man days. One day, perhaps fed up with turning himself into a pretzel trying to catch Sandy, he went to the mound, and said, "Work easier. At 75%, your stuff is more than good enough to put these guys away." The rest is...

     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    It's a joke that people like softy think that because the pitcher can shake off a call, that the pitchers are the ones who plan the game and decide every pitch type and location. Too many posters think CS% , amount of PB/WPs, and offensive numbers are the most important parts of a catcher's game. Not only do many posters discount the intangibles all together, I would rank all of those areas behind   the area of "getting the most" out of their staff, which includes homework on the opponents, pitch calling (type and location), setting a target, limiting extraneous movements, framing the pitch, working the ump, calming the pitcher (when needed), lighting a fire under a pitcher's azz (when needed), establishing comfort levels, and noticing a pitchers flaws and and tendencies. I'm sure there is even more I have left out.  Anecdotal evidence is plenty. Nearly every single pitcher will tell you the catcher matters. Managers will say the same. CERA, opponents OPS, W-L records will also tell the same tale over large enough sample sizes. Still, the same clowns want to minimize or dismiss the issue completely. Why would pitchers lie about the importance of the catcher? No offense, ex and others, but most good to great pitchers I knew had big egos. It's not easy for them to give credit for their successes to others, so when they credit certain catchers and not others, it speaks volumes to me.
    Posted by moonslav59


    I can't argue with this. People in control will have ego's. It is often an essential part of the human make-up and goes with the territory. Pitchers are no exception.

    I respect Schilling as a great pitcher and a very intelligent man. He can tell you all you need to know about the impact of a catcher...and he'll break it down.
    Those that doubt it need to listen to him.
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    That was my point harness, well put. It's not easy for some egomaniacs to give credit to others, so when nearly every pitcher who ever pitched in a meaningful way, gives kudos to certain catchers (and not others) it tells me a lot.

    When's the last time you heard a pitcher say, "my stuff was always so good, it didn't matter who my catcher was..." 

    (Actually, it would be a first time for all of us.)
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    The problem with analyzing a game like baseball is that isolating it by numbers or by perception isn't necessarily gonna bridge you to the truth...anymore than trying to pinpoint conflicting personalities will explain an historic collapse.

    A marriage goes bad, and despite all the finger-pointing, the truth can still be quite illusive.
     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    There's a line, sometimes a thin one, between an egomaniac on the mound and basic psychological requirements for the position: wanting to be on the mound, believing that you belong there, and thinking that with the help of your teammates -- including that lug behind the plate -- you can get batters out. By "wanting to be on the mound" I mean even when, perhaps mostly when, the going gets tough.
    A lot of this shows early. Other times it remains obscure until after high school, because many HS pitchers blow away the opposition and scarcely encounter rough going until they play college or pro ball. College recruiters and pro scouts may have hunches or "feelings" about what a very talented kid will do when really challenged, but you never really know until the test is made. 

     
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    Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound

    And quite often ego goes hand-in-hand with those who want the ball and have a track record of rising to the occasion.
     
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    In Response to Re: Catchers: A View from the Mound:
    And quite often ego goes hand-in-hand with those who want the ball and have a track record of rising to the occasion.
    Posted by harness

    It's hard to be a good pitcher and not have self confidence...a lot of it. I didn't mean to imply that all pitchers are egomaniacs or selfish, only that it may be harder for some of them to give credit elsewhere and be humble. (SOME not all).

    I know it's a pretty standard line for athletes to say "I couldn't have done it without the help of my teammates" even if they don't fully mean it, but I'm talking about pitchers long since retired, with nothing to gain by lying saying how important their catcher(s) were to their success. Sox pitchers have greatly appreciated the massive amount of homework and research VTek has done, but that is just one part of what VTek has brought to his role. We may never know all the reasons why almost all pitchers do better with Vtek almost every year, but the fact is indisputable. They do. They recognize his valuable input in words and in better performance. The trend is real.

    Most of the articles that bash CERA are using the stat wrong or are attacking aspects of the stat that have nothing to do with the way harness and I have used it. We know all about the fact the wide variances in IP with one pitcher can effect  and distort the team CERA numbers. That is why were have been careful to list CERA and other numbers pitcher by pitcher. Comparing how VTek and Salty, or VTek and VMart, or VTek and catchers from the past did with each individual pitcher is still not a perfect science either. We never said it was. There are so many variable involved with every stat in baseball. That is why we seek large sample sizes, either within each set of individual pitcher's  numbers, or by using the long list of individual small sample sizes over many years that a vast majority all go the same way: towards VTek getting the most out of most pitchers most years. Nobody can deny it has happened. You can deny he had anything to do with it. You can deny he had a large part in the events, or you can choose to believe he played a major role in bringing about these results, maybe not 100%, maybe not even 50%, but if you believe he had just 25-33% of the credit, the impact that makes is staggering. Even if his impact was just 10-20% of the CERA disparities that have occured, we're talking many many runs saved over a full season, so many that it would take 50-100 more RBIs (or runs created on offense) over what Vtek "creates" on offense to just bring them even overall. If the number is more like 50% (or 0.50 to 0.75 ERA differential) then even Ted William's numbers would not make up for the disparity. 

     
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