Re: Time to Bench Salty
posted at 8/19/2012 10:55 AM EDT
The scouting report is the foundation of how a particular pitcher is expected to pitch to a particular batter. But things don't always work out according to plan. Batters make adjustments that catchers should notice and then make their own adjustments. In a given game, the pitcher doesn't have the good breaking that the report says will retire batter B. And on and on.
Thus the game of cat and mouse. The catcher initiates the game.
Catchers are largely responsible for helping the pitcher maintain focus.
Catchers try to set a pace and rhythm that will best serve a pitcher in a particular game.
Some catchers have a better "feel" than others for what the position requires.
Exactly, and because this "feel game" can never be quantified with stats or metrics (even CERA with it's many limitations can only partially capture a piece of it) many posters and fans choose to ignore it, minimize its influence in most games, or deny it all together.
"A pitcher can always shake of the catcher until he gets what he wants to pitch", they say. They assume this means the pitcher always...
1) Pitches the type of pitch and location where he wanted.
2) Thought of every pitch he wanted beforehand.
3) Never is influenced by a catcher to change a pitch type or location.
This only addresses pitch choice and location. As ex points out, there is much more to it than even that... pace and rythym, comfort level, adjustments, focus maintenance, etc...
Also, some catchers, such as VTek, were legendary for accumulating and adjusting data on plans of attack on each and every batter in MLB. I know with the advent of advanced technology, many might feel this will become a needless art of the catching position, and future catchers will only need to consult the computer data before each game, but I think the human element of the game can never be captured by numbers.
We don't know where Lava is in this phase of the game. We won't know for a while. One game, one week, or one month sample sizes are not large enough to know for sure about anything in baseball, let alone an area of baseball so full of intangibles and variables. We barely can come to an agreement on this board that Salty has improved in this area over the past 4 months (4.05 CERA since April 25th). I seriously doubt any consensus will be reached after 7 weeks of watching Lava play sporadically as our catcher, or even if we now begin to play him FT.
This is not a knock on Lava. I have great hopes for him as our catcher of the future or, at worst, as a trade chip for a significant starting pitcher. I guess what I am trying to say is that we should be cautiously optimistic, and not neglect to view the complexities of the catching position as a whole. Throwing all our chips in the Lava basket, and totally discounting the fact that we have another young 27 year old catcher with somewhat limited experience behind the plate for someone in professional baseball for almost 10 years, who has improved immensely in a key area of his game (pitcher-handling) could be huge mistake.
There is a significant possibility we end up trading Salty this winter. There's also a pretty significant possibility that Lava takes a long time to even get to where Salty is today in the areas mentioned above. He may also never amount to the offensive weapon many of us feel he will become in MLB, while Salty may come into his own at then normal age for catchers to do such (ages 28-30) for another team. I can just hear the Ben bashing if that happens. I hope that never happens, but my main point is that it is too early to give up on Salty, but the Lava/Salty clash was bound to happen. Lava appears to be ready for a major league test at the same time Salty is in the middle of his test. One appears to need to give way to the other. It is hard to keep both tests going, especially when and if Papi returns.
I hope we make the right choice.