What To Do at Catcher?
don't tell me you're going to show that swing on TV, dweeb



Obviously has the glove of a 1st-string catcher.  Obviously has shown flashes of easy power.  Obviously is well-liked by teammates, pitchers, and coaches alike.  Obviously is working with one whale of a Cirque Du Soleil net, as far as the Mariners are concerned.  Does this make his 3rd or his 4th turn in Tacoma dry dock?

Jerry Dipoto just gave Zunino a 72-hour leave of absence before his Tacoma report.  This means he is probably sincere about repairing Zunino (again) as opposed to head-faking his fellow GM's.  Besides that, it was just a great human thing to do.

But the M's have a serious problemo:  if not Zunino, who?  Tuffy Gosewisch is going to hit about .140 and Carlos Ruiz simply can't get into a squat for nine innings, more than about three times a week.   The word "crisis" gets thrown around a lot, but ...



Billy sez,


If you want a major league catcher, you are going to have to give up more than a bottle of rye.

I would prefer to give up Marteen or Powell or Volksenburger ... but, how "decent" a guy do you want?

If you want someone that can frame, call games, and manage .250 or better at the plate, you are going to have to find a budget based club that has someone about to pop a big contract number or is absoluely blocked.


I was ready to cry, sigh, or take a good poke in the eye last year when they didn't go after Lucroy.

Supposedly the Jays have been trolling for what's out there with R. Martin's shoulder situation not closely defined.


G. Money was on the money when he said Zunino's time here is done done.  Each year the babysitting has failed.  Neither Edgar or Brosius can get anything to stay stuck in his brain.

Get something while you still might be able to.

Here's another two step trade for DePoet ... depose Zunino for ???? just to move him and replace him the next day with ???


But, you're going to have to give up one of the talented OF's (or Motter for that matter) to do so.

Notice that DePoet said yesterday they are gonna ride with the SP's. 

That translates to "Surprise".




Zunino has played three games in Tacoma and gone 5-for-10, two homers, a walk, no strikeouts.  There is SOMETHING big league pitchers are doing to him that he can't deal with.  Tough to believe it's as simple as good heat on the hands followed by sliders off the plate away; that was John McGraw's tonic for enemy cleanup hitters back in 1920.  Besides, not every ML pitcher can throw good heat.  At least not all of ours can!

The Mariners are apparently going to try One! More! Time! to get a 70 OPS+ out of their likeable young pitch framer.  No word on whether they're going to try the Think Tank's idea of a 40-ounce bat.

Here is a light compilation of possible trade targets, including Billy's coveted Jonathan Lucroy.  Hey, maybe we got a shot at Wellington Castillo or Chris Iannetta.


Dr D




But I don't want him being worried, 24/7, about something mechanical.  I want him in there for the way he handles a staff (especially the spaghetti we're rolling out there onto the mound), frames pitches, does all the catcher-y things.

Any batting adjustment has to be simple and non-cerebral.  I don't want him thinking about THAT.  I want him thinking about the next 4 batters the bad guys have coming to the plate.

A Mongo-sized bat?  I'm good with that.  But mostly I would have him choke up 2 inches on the bat, stand at the back of the box, and wait. And I would have him watch Pete Rose videos.  I am convinced there is an innate tendency to shorten up, slow up, and look for solid contact when you choke up on a baseball or golf lever.  I'll bet RockiesJeff would corroberate.  It's why every coach in history, up until a decade or two ago, instructed players to choke up with two strikes. Rhythm completely shot on the golf course?  Choke up and shorten up.

The biggest benefit is that such an approach is simple and non-cerebral. 

As a young man, Pete Rose was hitting a dozen homers a year with that short stroke, back of the box approach.  Mike Zunino bench presses Pete Rose for breakfast.  He can't hit 12 homers a year that way?  At age 45, in a walker, wearing tri-focals and mainlining Geritol, Pete Rose had a .394 OBP and an 86/35 Eye.

I want Mike Zunino to bring the shortest, most simple and least "neuron-ic" approach to the plate that he can.  As a fast-twitch, tater hitting masher, he's overmatched vs. MLB throwers.  It isn't mechanical: In his "hot" 2nd half of '16, he still only hit .204 and K'ed in 34.8% of his PA's.  

Mike Zunino is too valuable to power-flush and I think DiPoto knows it.  But Zunino as Gary Carter doesn't work and never will.  Have him choke up, shorten up, simple up and square-it up.

It's probably the one thing we haven't tried.  


Your comment also reminds me of something Nicklaus once said.  When his swing got out of sync, all he did was concentrate on where the clubhead felt like it was through the entire swing.

100% feel.

Does it get any simpler or more zen-like than that?

Stop 'fixing' Zunino and figure out a way for his innate talent to show up.


 Who do I make the check out to? For the weekend seminar? 

Only question moe ... What is your comment on a person who winds up "feeling" for the ball in the zone, poking at it with a deceled swing?



Just keep him.  I'm fine if he hits .200.


Last night De Jong is up 2-1, two quick outs in the fifth, 1-2 count on Pillar.  

Next pitch is a slider away  Fine, tried to get him to chase.

Next pitch?  The same slider down and away that he didn't fish for the first time.  

So it's 3 an 2, you've got a young and no doubt nervous pitcher on the mound, a batter at the plate who is below average in exit velocity in the first place, and even more so up and in.  Plus, you've now got him leaning. So the obvous call is a fastball on the inner half.

And what do we get?  A curve ball--yeah, that'll fool him!

Except that missed, too...and I think everyone saw what happened from there.

I'm not going to jump on Gosewich too hard, because it woudn't surprise me if our genius pitching coach called that from the bench.

But I do firmly believe Zunino would have asked for the fastball there (and he doesn't need to check with Stottlemyre)...and chances are, we stay in the game at least for a while longer.  

Do we need our hitters to hit better...or our pitchers to pitch better?

I'm fine with Zunino  


With 1b now producing and the OF producing up with the best in the game if C is the one black hole in the lineup, so be it.  Of course I'd prefer more offense there but everything we can do to help the pitching should be considered.  If they've got a plan to muddle through a month while he works on something that might be more valuable but I can't see what that would be.  Any other ideas? 


The business end of a short lever more closely follows the path of the hands and has a shorter path to the ball.

Somewhere I once saw a hitting video with Tony Gwynn, made long after his playing days, when he was coaching college ball.

He was swinging some sort of wooden hitting-aid bat, one that had a much larger knob on the end and even bigger knob between the hands and the barrel.  I imagined that it was designed to change the weight distribution of the bat. A bat has almost all of its weight in the barrel, but by choking up on a biat you've "counter-balance" that weight distribution.  I think that batting-aid was trying to do something like that, in an exaggerated manner.

I apologize for going back to golf, but I think it can apply here:  When you choke up on a golf club, you've "counter-balanced" it.  Not only are you swinging a shorter lever but you have changed the feel of it, too.  That changed feel makes it really hard to "swing for the fences."  

For a long time I made my own golf clubs.  You know, buy the shafts, heads, ferrules, and grips.  Cut and epoxy kind of stuff.  Probably used 6 different drivers  that I built and 4 different sets of irons.  I go back and forth now between two home-built drivers (one shorter than the other), but being a dinosaur I've put back in my bag a set of Titleist blades I bought in '86.  When building drivers, you quickly learn that adding length (made doable by lighter composite shafts) adds "swing weight," which is an expression of the weight distribution of a golf club.  Two golf clubs of the same total weight, but of differing lengths, do not feel as if they are of the same weight.  The longer one feels heavier.  One of my two drivers is one inch longer than the other, but because the weight is a bit further from my hands, it feels as if I have to really get after it.  The difference between 45 and 44 inches "feels" significant. 

Shortening a driver by 1 inch changes its swing weight by 5 or 6 pts, which is a huge difference in terms of that "feel."

Some players have experimented with counter-weighting the club (using a grip with a weighted butt) to change the feel and reduce the swingweight.

The same must be true of a baseball bat. It is why choking up on a bat makes it feel so different.  

Per Doc, above: A shorter 40 oz. bat will have a similar "swing-weight" to a longer 34 oz. bat.

Get Zunino to choke up 2 inches and you've changed the feel, making it more "unnatural" to swing for the fence.  You've also created a shorter lever with a shorter path to the ball. A shorter lever is always easier to make solid contact with.  It's why hammers aren't 2 ft long.

I'm not trying to be a yahoo here. A simple fix for Zunino is a quick fix.  I want him back and I don't want him thinking about mechanics.


And would keep him in my plans as a share/backup even if seeking a starting C.  I see how it could help significantly for a simple fix

Sometimes it seems his biggest problem is in pitch recognition.  I don't think there's a simple fix for that. 


Pitch recognition is a big problem.  It's partly why a choke up, in the back of the box approach may just work.   


Right now, he uses (I believe) a 34-inch, 34-ounce bat. He's a big strong man so he doesn't need excessive bat speed to generate hard contact. So give him a 32-inch, 36-ounce bat and have him choke up two or three fingers above the knob and tell him to try to use a pepper swing unless he gets exactly the pitch he wants.

It doesn't have to turn him into a .250/30/80 hitter...I'd settle for .210 20 50


0 HR in 72 PA may be the most troubling thing.  Get on base close to .300 at least, everything else is ok in my book. 

The Other Billy Zoom's picture

and see the super glue used on this guy does not work.

Bard's bands helped ... for a month.

A demotion helped ... for a month.

Sitting him helped ... for a couple days.

But the merry go round has included change in swings, hand position, resin, instructors and yada yada.

There is that moment when brains and character have to be focused ... and Zunino cannot maintain that.

Then he just increases his own frustration letter.

Change his ... what next?   Hair? Dietary input? Religion?  Entertainment?

Maybe give him a new number to live up to.

I don't think anything is going to work as the past several years have illustrated.

Tony Gwynn's brother was not able to get improvement at the plate, but, then, Tony Gwynn's brother got a job with the M's because he was Tony Gwynn's brother who didn't give ZooRedNeck sass and that's how a lot of M's developed.

I find it quite possible that a new beginning will lead to wonerful things for Mr. Zookneenew, because he certainly doesn't seem like a bad guy. I would like to see him become successful somewhere else.

But some shadow in Seattle daunts him and chases his hitting across the river Styx.

By the way, Dr. Dl, you mentioned my first choice of a guy to trade for with the Cubs, and it wasn't Contreras or Montero.



J.P Arrencibia talking about bats and batting on Star Talk: https://youtu.be/gA0A4RsLLUU?t=23m5s

They go through the talk about bigger bats and also smaller, lighter ones and how it affected him.

Not always you get to hear this stuff from a player, so kinda fun.

Also didn't realize how much seams mattered for the hitter as much as the pitcher.

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