Berra - Howard Dept.

Quoth the brainy new manager to Mr. Hickey:

"We could go without a third catcher, yes," Wakamatsu said. "But would we be comfortable in that situation? No. If we could sign a Willie Bloomquist-type (utility player) who could back up a lot of positions in an emergency, that would make it easier to carry a third catcher."

This is a quite remarkable thinking-outside-the-box statement by D-Wak.

Last year we were throwing crumpled paper cups around as to whether the Mariners could ever, for a single game, start Clement at DH when he was the only other catcher on the roster.

Note well that D-Wak is talking about the possibility of going with no third catcher in the 2009 scenario in which Johjima-san and Clement are usually starting in the same game. Mull that one over for a minute. That doesn't sound crazy to a purist; it sounds simian. Do we need one of those 1x4x9 Monoliths to help D-Wak leap forward an evolutionary plateau?

Nah, it's not crazy, just awkward.

1. Clement would frequently be playing 1B, so if Johjima came out of the game, Clement could move from 1B to C. This switch is unusual but not at all uncomfortable.

2. When Clement did play DH, if you ever did move him to C -- late in the game, now, kiddies -- all you lose is (at most) one AB (because it would have to be taken by the pitcher). Plan this right and that lineup slot wouldn't usually have to come up.

3. Notice that in the AL, you almost never pinch-hit. And it's not like the Mariners are going to have Terry Crowley or Gates Brown on the bench. And if you did, you could pinch-hit for umpteen other well-qualified Mariners.

So if it's worth talking about, to play the season with only two C's, and both of those usually starting together, what's the big deal talking about doing it every now and then?


=== Keeping Roster Messups Out of Our Hair ===

As Wakamatsu points out, this ...

Johjima C

Clement 1B/DH

No other catchers

.... would be "uncomfortable." As a tonic, he recommends a two-in-one utility player, who would then make it possible to carry 3 catchers and 12 pitchers. More on this in the Jerry Hairston Jr. post below...


=== Dr's R/X ===

Now, if Jeff Clement is mostly a bench player, then I've got nothing against skipping the 3rd catcher. No worries about the odd game in which you bat the pitcher once. The pitcher hitting once is a single consideration to be weighed against other considerations, not a baseball embarrassment to be viewed as an absolute.

But if Clement's a starter, even I'm not crazy enough to carry Johjima C, Clement DH, and no other catchers. Though I'd be thrilled if the Mariners tried it. :- )

Much as I love to kick over the traces of baseball purism, here's one that we have to toe the line on. Guess you need another catcher if Clement's playing.


Besides, doesn't Rob Johnson more-than-deserve it?

For those keeping score at home, Johnson is looking at his fourth (4th) season in AAA next year. His MLE's were .275/.333/.380 -- in other words, about as good as the bottom 5-10 catchers in the majors, most years. Johnson is a defensive specialist and was ready to back up in the majors the day before yesterday.

Unfortunately, a lot of other guys were ready to back up a long time ago, too, like Jamie Burke. It's the kind of decision in which they allow themselves the luxury of weighing personalities heavily.

Like D-Wak says, pick your C benchie, find a versatile glove man like Hairston, and let Clement play.


=== Hey, It Says Right On My Application I Wanted Some WORK ===

But if Clement isn't starting, then you can skip the 3rd catcher as long as the manager isn't lazy during games.  That's what D-Wak meant by "A lot of it is going to be determined by how well Jeff swings the bat."  If Clement doesn't "win" a starting job, apparently Wakamatsu is prepared to step lively around the pitcher-hits-as-DH minefields.


Dr D



Rob Johnson is a great fit for a third catcher. Not only is he a good defender with a developing bat, but he has solid average speed and can play the outfield so there is no need to get get a guy who can play both infield and out. A standard utility infielder is perfectly adequate. Our outfield consists of Ichiro, Gutierrez, Chavez and Wlad. That's three guys who can play center so there is absolutely no reason why that should be a concern. In the very rare instances where we would need a fifth outfielder for an inning or three, Johnson is up to the task. That just means we need a backup/platoon first baseman and reserve infielder, and for the latter role we already have the perfect player. Tug Hulett not only can play each position, but he's a genuinely solid hitter who also bats left-handed which means he's a lot more than warm body. Going with Bloomquist 2.0 instead of him would be extremely foolish and a repeat of the M's previous hyper-conservative ways.
Come on Seattle, think big here: don't hamstring yourself for 160 games just so you don't have to make a tough decision in the other 2.

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.