CYWNPTP dept: Miguel Olivo in 2013?
M's catching situation rests on a hair-fine judgment


=== Linkage ===

Excellent article at Prospect Insider that analyzes the M's catching situation next year.  For many baseball purists, the position runs:  Jaso is a fringe defensive catcher, Montero not a very serious catcher, Zunino not a factor for 2013 -- ergo, the M's need some glove-first catcher to play 3+ games per week in 2013.

Using process of elimination, he gives Gerald Laird, Jose Molina and the trade market as the reasonable possibilities.  The article is worth the price of admission for the short-list, and disposal thereof, alone.


=== 2013 Options ===

SSI would take this question -- do the M's need an MLB(TM) catch-and-throw guy next year? -- to be a sort of inkblot test for where you are on roster construction.  Certainly there are good ballclubs who have bat-first catchers.  Just as certainly, ex-catcher Eric Wedge would be verrrry uncomfortable without a Real Weapon on his roster to use behind the plate against running teams like the Angels.

However, Jay-Z seems to have gently steered the ballclub further and further away from absolutes on this question.  In March and April, the games started by catchers were:

Catcher Games Started
Olivo 19
Montero 5
Jaso 0

John Jaso is now Felix Hernandez' personal catcher.  Always catches when Felix starts, including games where Mike Scioscia intends to steal seven bases.  That carries a whale of a lot of street cred.  If Jaso is good enough to catch Felix, pal, he's good enough to catch you.  Felix' call for John Jaso would have turned the org's presumptions on their ears.

Jesus Montero was given no chance -- zero -- to become a serious catcher by many people.  Give Sgt. Wedge some credit:  he certainly backed Montero up as to Montero's future.  "He's got a whale of a long ways to go to get to that point," Wedge said, referring to Number One Catcher as being "that point."  But Wedge did see Montero as a catcher.

SSI is still mystified as to why Montero hasn't gotten more credit than he's gotten.  He caught 54 games (!) this year, with a perfectly decent CERA and perfectly acceptable SB/WP/PB total.  Obviously Montero can improve; other catchers are in the minors at his age.  I can't imagine why people won't give him a chance -- the Mariners are doing so.


=== 2013 Options ===

James reminded us that real GM's use their AAA teams as taxi squads, to a considerably greater extent than fans assume they do.  If, in 2013, Jaso gives up 5 SB's on a Friday night, then Guillermo Quiroz can be in uniform Saturday night.  He will be in the lineup just as quickly whether he was in Seattle or Tacoma during Jaso's Friday night game.  What's the difference between moving him from the Safeco bench to the M's starting lineup, and moving him from Tacoma's bench to the M's starting lineup?  Not a lot.

We mentioned a hair-fine judgment in the subtitle, that being, do the Mariners need:

  • A catch and throw guy as a safety net (therefore in Tacoma)?
  • A catch and throw guy to play 3+ games per week, managing the pitching staff (therefore in Seattle)?

Well, I dunno.  Olivo started only 27 games in the second half of this season.  You would presume that if Montero developed any during 2012, he could increase his workload from the 56 games caught this year -- and how many more would he need to be the #2 to Jaso?  ... but of course the premise is that Jaso isn't actually a feasible #1 catcher, the way Tampa had him in 2010.

But we don't doubt that ex-catcher Wedge will argue hard for a Catch And Throw Guy (TM) on his roster in 2013, even if it's just until Zunino gets here.  If it's me, I think I use the Tacoma taxi squad and let Jaso and Montero play.  But if you want a 3rd catcher, why not Olivo?  He's a whale of an org loyalist and coughing up the $3M is a Mariners-"Brand" move that could repay itself many times over.

My $0.02,

Dr D


IcebreakerX's picture

Interesting that the Jaso/Felix situation is sort of reverse of when Greg Maddux almost always refused to pitch to Javy Lopez.


than the 2nd half of this year. I think someone mentioned that he'd been unhappy with his reduced role, but I never read that report. I think some of the value Miguel Olivo presents is hidden by his miniscule walk rate combined with awful K rate. Miguel Olivo is the 63rd most likely person in the AL (out of 404 batters) to hit a home run in any given situation. In Safeco. He is the second most likely Mariner after Eric Thames. So, while I wouldn't like Olivo to start more than say, 25 or 30 games at catcher next year, I wouldn't mind having him on the team.


I mean, sure, Wedge might beg for a defensively minded catcher, but the thing is that Miguel Olivo is not that catcher. He's not a glove-first catcher or even a defensively solid catcher. He's led the league in WP+PB, what, five times now? Anyone else remember the game just this last week against the Angels where Pryor uncorked a "wild pitch" that any other catcher would have easily blocked, it moved over a runner and the runner scored on a bloop single? He's not good at pitch framing either.
Miguel Olivo has two skills: catching base-stealers and hitting home runs. It's true that these are valuable skills. Some players get by with two skills, if they're just "below average" at everything else. Miguel Olivo isn't just "below average" at everything else, he's downright atrocious at pretty much every other aspect of the game. He cannot block pitches, he cannot take a walk, he cannot hit for average, he strikes out way too much, he cannot frame pitches and there's zero evidence that he "calls a good game". He's bad. Really bad. I do not, under any circumstances, want Miguel Olivo starting three games a week next year.
I like the AAA bench idea. Let Jaso and Montero catch all of the games: 2/3 Jaso, 1/3 Montero. If one of them starts wearing down or playing really bad catcher defense, call up Quiroz or whoever. Then at the All-Star break hopefully Zunino is ready and you're all set. No need to spend $3 million on a catcher you won't use most of the year, then tempt Wedge to give too much time to one of the worst players in MLB.


Olivo gets out into the cold (after a declined option), finds Jay-Z negotiating with Laird or whoever, a few days' contemplation could change the sense of "look at all I've done for this org" if that be the mindset...
Couldn't agree more:  if they want him for 30 games or something, I'm good.  Although this team is pretty stacked with young players wanting the airtime...


I'm witchoo 13 ... doesn't seem to me that Olivo's defense is all that indispensible even if you grant Sgt. Wedge's premises...
Thing is, there probably isn't a scout in all of baseball who wouldn't sign off on Miguel Olivo having an Authoritative Presence behind the plate, and John Jaso not having such... when it looks to you and me like the whole world is crazy and we're the only sane ones, it's time for a reality check :- )


I mean, you can't really value game-calling, mathematically speaking, with the data we have now. There just isn't the sort of volume of data with sufficient controls available that you'd want to do that. That said... while Olivo may have "presence", Jaso strikes me as better at pitch sequencing. I know the studies about viewers describing white players as "intelligent and hard-working" and other players as "physically talented", but I'm pretty sure that's not what I'm doing here. I think Jaso is quite likely actually among the smartest guys on the team. He was a math major, right, before getting into baseball? Everything about his game, the plate approach, the way he calls at bats, even the interviews suggest to me that he's one smart dude. Having watched 'em both for an entire season, my analysis is that Jaso's the better game-caller. But hey, I'm no expert.

M's Watcher's picture

Felix may just be diplomatically requesting Jaso for his bat, with the likelihood that Montero would also play DH. It's mighty tough to win a Cy Young with 13-14 wins when others are approaching 20.
On another note, V-Mart missed the season with an ACL tear, and is owed $25M over the next two years. If we traded for him, could he possibly catch enough until Zunino is ML-ready, then become our primary 1B-DH. Or is it likely he's done catching? I'd love his bat in our lineup. However, I think Detroit sees him as their 2013 DH, with Delmon Young leaving as a FA. On the other hand, they could move Cabrera to DH if we sent them a MLB 3B glove.


If you believe in Carp and Smoak, then you've already got too many guys bunched up a 1b/DH/C without even factoring in Olivo or bringing in V-Mart or figuring on Zunino near-term.
Montero-Jaso-Smoak-Carp is four guys for three lineup slots before you add in any other guys.  Wedge forecasts more 1b for Montero, so that's even fewer openings for Smoak and Carp.  (And Montero or Jaso at 1b won't cost you the DH if your starting C gets hurt.)
Point being, at this stage we don't really need to be thinking about adding catchers and DHs.  We need outfielders.
Carp's injuries and the apparent resulting inability to put him back in the OF were a big deal this season.


Watch me 3-jack from there! :)
With Zunino riding a rocket to Seattle and Jaso/Montero perfectly serviceable (at worst), not to mention a ton of cheap easily gettable catchers out there, there is not one reason to sign Olivo.
Alas, we probably will. We all have man-crushes about some players and what they just might bring. Mine is with Carp. Wedge's (it seems) is with Olivo. Clearly, though, his pulls rank.

M's Watcher's picture

You're right on with this call. Carp is out of options and seemingly can't stay healthy in the OF. Will the Sept Smoak show up at ST or will it be the other one? Can Montero/Jaso be better than butchers at 1B, and more than a platoon hitting combo? All are questions for 2013.
As for Zunino's readiness, what does he hit in the majors in 2013 if he's not ML-ready, .220? That's no worse than Olivo hitting, and better behind the plate. Plan for him wearing the gear and grabbing a bat.
Excited to see the off-season moves.


The problem with bringing Zunino up too quickly is will be become like Ackley or OLIVO if you rush him up.
Some guys can handle it... some can't.
And since we have screwed up Ackley already, I have a hard time believing we would do it again so quickly, when we all know that any AAAA catcher will do for the 3 games a week max, which = 36 games until the All-Star break.


It's kind of like an NFL center who holds together the line by talking to the guards and tackles about their assignments.  Everybody who's played and coached tells you how important it is, but there never *will* be a way to measure the factor.
The whole baseball world tells you that if you have only "fringe" defensive catchers on the roster, things will break down left and right.  But there's no way to isolate the variable and test it.  If they went through next season with Jaso and it worked out, they'd go, well, lookee here, Jaso's a number one catcher, who knew.
I have the same impression of Jaso that you do.  Tampa had him #1 in 2010 and if there is some reason he's not a #1 catcher, it's beyond my perception.  I susPECT that we are only talking about Wedge's bias towards Authoritative Catching but have no way to know or find out.
To Wedge's credit, he got Montero and Jaso in there this year without a Hargrove-style internal civil war over his Entitlement issues.


If so, that might be a first in ML history ;- )  Pitchers are about comfort zones.  You know about Greg Maddux throwing a fit when his catcher wouldn't toss the ball back into his glove resting just off his left bicep....
With three talented young catchers who cost peanuts, to re-shuffle the deck and trade for an expensive one would be pretty unconventional, but Jack Zduriencik has never been bound by convention... 
He would immediately take over as the M's best hitter, along with Jaso, that's for sure.  Funny:  both look like .300/.380/.470 hitters with 1.0 EYEs, neutral park, with the caveat that Jaso's not yet certified at that level of performance.


You'll have to show me the evedence that Ackely was "rushed" along before he was ready.
He started in AA, which is not uncommon for guys that dominate in major college ball.
He hit .263 with a .389 OBP in 82 games. He was clearly not overmatched and he got moved up. In Tacoma he hit for a better averagewith more power than he had at AA. He walked less, but he was clearly not overmatched.
He started the next season ('11) in Tacoma again. He hit .303-.421-.487. Basically he dominated. With 900 MiLB PA's, 568 of them as a good or great AAA hitter he got the call to Seattle.
In his rookie season he hit .273-.348-.417 and OPS+ 120! Are you saying he wasn't ready because he was rushed?
This season he has slumped, but it's hard to blame that on his being "rushed" when you look at his MiLB success.....and his firsst year of MLB ball.


OK Moe. You are correct. Ackley should have been ready for this year.
Then my question to everyone then is ... what went wrong with Ackley?
Is Ackley the one Wedge was talking about in early August when Wedge said something to the effect... some guys just are not listening, and you need to listen to learn.
Or has Chambliss messed him up? Or is it Wedge? Or will Ackley never be a 300 / 380/ 440 type player?
It can't be Safeco, so I doubt moving in the fences will help him.


It's a given that Jaso and Montero are back in 2013 ... I think everyone knows that. So, if you go down the 3rd catcher route AT ALL, it will almost certainly be on the extreme cheap, defense-first guy. I don't know who that would be ... but Z isn't going to pay a lot of money for a guy who will sit on the bench more than 1/2 the season.
If there is a 3rd catcher, IMO, it is going to be a near repeat of the Jaso situation ... of picking up a part-timer looking for a job.
One thing to keep in mind is that while Z has let Wedge run the team w/o much interference, by and large while Wedge was married to the vets, Z systematically rid the roster of those options. By year end, Olivo and Ryan were the only "vets" left for Wedge to fawn over.
I think the 3-catcher mix this year was largely pushed by the fact Olivo was a guaranteed contract, coupled with the desire to bring Montero along slowly. I think it is important to remember that despite leading the club in OPS by a huge margin, Wedge remained judicious in his utilization of Jaso. He was viewed by Wedge as a TOTAL platoon player, (he started a grand total of FOUR games against lefties this season).
IMO, the question with Jaso is not about his glove. It is about whether he is viewed as someone "capable" of improving against LH pitching. The variable that pushes roster construction from my perspective is a viable RH DH option.
If nothing else the club has shown patience with players working on defense ... but also they have shown total acceptance after getting a good look. IMO, the club has already decided Montero is an acceptable catcher ... which means a more normal 100+ starts at catcher and DH time when Jaso is catching.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.