So, How Many Games Will Jaso Play?


Q.  Is Jesus Montero really a catcher?

A.  We were told often, and emphatically, and for a long time, that "Montero, C" was a joke.   It is now impossible to wipe the smirks off our faces when Montero's position comes up.

We haven't shaken off the icky of that.  But if we want to analyze the Mariners' future, we'd better get it through our heads that Jesus Montero is a catcher.  The Mariners have been clear from the start, and they are even clearer now.  Miguel Olivo serves the function of team captain right now, so you hear the expected noises about Olivo being the man.  But as soon as Olivo is gone, Montero is in there.

The Mariners and Yankees never said that Montero couldn't catch.  That was folks on the internet saying that.


Q.  How many games will Montero catch in 2012?

A.  That's up to Wedge, obviously.  He has signalled, we think, that Montero will catch about 40 games.  

If Montero is going to be a fulltime catcher, as Wedge says he is, he'd better get some time behind the plate.  It would be self-contradictory to anoint Montero the catcher of the future, and give him all this spring training time, and then --- > DH him 150 games and catch him 10.

For the M's to be at all consistent, Montero will have to catch a minimum of 30-40 games.  Preferably more like 50 or 60.  If that's their plan.

Montero's a free agent after six years.  They don't have forever.  They can't burn 2012 and just give him a year off catching.


Q.  How many games will Olivo catch in 2012?

A.  Olivo is an everyday catcher in every sense of the word:  he's a team leader; he is networked with the pitchers; his CERA's look great; he wants to play literally every day; he's physically invulnerable.  This is an everyday catcher.

In 2011, Olivo caught 70 of the M's first 80 games.  In June, he caught 23 of 25.  It's not Jeff Clarke who sees Miguel Olivo as "the man."  It's Eric Wedge who does.


Q.  Leaving John Jaso where?

A.  You tell me.  Tell me exactly how Jaso gets enough time to stay anywhere close to sharp.  Jesus Montero needs ALL the games Miguel Olivo sits out.  And those won't be enough.


We do remember that, just in 2010, Jaso posted an OBP of .372 and led off for the Rays.  A catcher leading off!  Jaso's an exciting component in his own right.  That .372 would have been #11 in the American League, if he'd qualified.  You think the 2012 M's will have anybody in the top 11 in OBP?  Jaso was.

This spring, he hit .071 with an .071 SLG, albeit with 3 BB's vs. 1 K.  Casey Kotchman syndrome:  great control of the strike zone with a decelerating bat trying to defend it.


Q.  Could the M's play without Jaso on the roster?

A.  If you're just joining us, Sandy-Raleigh pointed out that last year's Tigers played with no backup catcher other than Victor Martinez, who was their starting DH.

Martinez DH'ed 100+ games, and caught 20+, and this cost the Tigers zero (0) at-bats in which they lost the DH.  The issue of a foul ball off Alex Avila never came up.

Even if it did, you're talking about 1-2 AB's and then you call down to AAA for a catcher, the very next game.  It's a greatly-exaggerated issue, the "problem" of "burning" your bench catcher in the DH slot.


Granted, it's a comfort-zone issue for Wedge.  It's his call, and we suppose he's going to keep Jaso around for insurance.  I don't like it, but I don't matter.


Q.  Where is SSI on Vinnie Catricala, this week?

A.  That's the thing.  Two weeks ago, SSI coveted John Jaso's spot so that Vinnie the Cat could get 350 AB's at DH, 3B, etc.  You'd get Montero extra games at C, and Catricala got all those DH AB's.

What's changed?  What's changed is that Kyle Seager has looked like the MVP version of Carlos Guillen, slugging .650 on the spring and that's with a couple of homers called back due to hail and intrasquad games and stuff.  

You might question what spring training stats mean.  Fine, but one thing is clear.  Kyle Seager is hitting the ball a lot harder this year, period.  That is the number one thing orgs are looking at, in March, with position players.  Is anybody hitting the ball harder this year?  Answer:  yes.  Kyle Seager is.  Check him out.

American League managers play their regulars.  If Seager's now the Big Bat off the bench, and Casper Wells is Big Bat #2, and Munenori Kawasaki can out-hit Brendan Ryan ... well, the emergence of Seager-Wells-Kawasaki, in addition to the starting 9, has pushed Catricala to the back burner.


Stage 1 strategy:  you gotta have three catchers, if one DH's.

Stage 2 strategy:  you could go with two catchers, if a player like Vinnie Catricala outweighs the possible loss of DH at-bats.

Stage 3 strategy:  you go back to three catchers, if other "big bats" on the bench have stepped up.  You're now looking for Seager AB's.  That's the priority.


Vinnie is every inch the prospect we thought he was two weeks ago.  But it turns out the M's need him less than it looked like they would, and he hit a little patch of confusion.  Okay, plan B.  We're good with that.  With three other bench bats looking so good, fine, bring on John Jaso.  You've got that luxury now.


Dr D 




a LOT of sense.
Seager could very well force his way into a permanent, ongoing roster spot (or fabulous trade chip) without being a regular at a position. He's the kind of guy that would be invaluable as a super sub in the IF, an occasional DH against certain kinds of pitchers, ready on a moment's notice to step in at 2B, 3B, or even SS if necessary, in fact, I bet he could handle LF for a stretch if need be.
And he just might look so good that you have to consider whether it's best to get him 400 AB off the bench or hand him a job somewhere as a starter (or, as alluded to earlier, sell him off).
Seager might not become all that this year. But then again, he might.


then when you need the extra roster spot, put Vargas in the pen. Anytime the DH gets blown, he comes in to pitch (and bat). Then when Hultzen comes up, simply let him hit and Montero catch on his turn. If they hit regularly, both those guys could probably handle it.


Ive got it pretty well refined now.
Jaso and Olivo both have serious platoon issues, carrying both in addition to Montero lets you pinch hit for either.
None of the catchers are fast, Olivo and Jaso run well for catchers, but theyre catchers, it eould be handy if you could pinch run for them.
Olivo isnt as young as he used to be. He wore down for Wedge last year and he wore down for the Rockies the year before. You don't have to remove the catcher only in emergencies, there's extra inning games and even the 7th inning just because it keeps Olivo at a .725 OPS instead of a .550 OPS.
This still shakes out where Montero gets 40 starts, Olivo gets 100 or so and Jaso gets 20ish, but another 60 or 70 late game appearances. He still provides a lot of value in that role, including letting Seager get more PAs via pinch hit


That observation is far too brilliant and outside-the-box to have any chance, gov'nah...
But if they ever gave Danny Hultzen an honest chance to out-hit Miguel Olivo, that would be a whale of a contest...far more entertaining than most ML games, for sure ...


If that's what they were going to do?
M's down 4-3 in the 6th to Jered Weaver, and two men get on, and then you bring in John Jaso or Kyle Seager to hit for Miguel Olivo?  Then, absolutely.  You'd be leveraging your bench bats beautifully.
Let me know if you ever SEE that pinch-hit decision.  M's had 51 total pinch-hits last year,  most of them just procedural substitutions in the 9th inning of ballgames already lost.  
Down three runs in the 9th?, okay Carlos, you can go see if you can hit a home run.  That was most of those piddling 51 pinch hits.
I don't know when AL pinch-hitting became an insult to the starter, but it did.
They're going to keep Jaso, evidently, so we can only hope that it does lead to the kind of meaningful pinch-hitting you propose.  If it does, that will be a wonderful surprise.


During his time with the Indians he used pinch hitters more than 100 times in several seasons. Make it easy to replace the catcher and give him a bench with real hitters and I think you would see a pinch hitter maybe 150 times, usually Seager, Wells, or Carp I would imagine.


Your twin points there --- > resolve the argument in your favor.  As to the question of whether Jaso could be a strong contributor with this roster.
Jaso has been a good hitter, and it looks like a good strategy going into the season to bring Jaso off the bench against tough RHP's ... for instance, against Brandon McCarthy.
Let's see if your hunch is right this year.   :daps:


Take a look at Vargas - at the major league level, with Florida, he OPS'ed over .720, albeit in limited action. Olivo has a .700 lifetime; lower BA/OBP, higher SLG. Like Owings, Ankiel (when he was pitching), and a few others, it wouldn't hurt to use Vargas once in a while as a pinch hitter to keep his hand in. He hasn't done much in interleague, but if you told him (and Hultzen) it was part of the plan to keep Montero in the lineup, I could see him brushing up on his Shakespeare real fast.


If "Saunders version 3.0" survives major-league pitching (he had a hit this morning) and gives you another LH OBP bat . . . then demote Jaso when Guti is back and I won't object.
At that point Saunders (or Guti) becomes the 4th OF, and it's between Wells and Jaso for the last spot.  Saunders and Seager would already have reserve roles, and it makes sense to keep one RH basher on the bench.  (I like Wells as a role player, not as an everyday guy.)
OTOH, if Saunders is going down upon Guti's return, then I would keep Jaso.

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