Vinnie declares victory at 3B


=== Big Cat, Dept. ===

Vinnie declares victory at 3B.  Rather, Wedge declares it for him.  Condotta quotes him thusly:

And of Catricala's defense he said: "He's surprised a lot of people at third base. We wanted to give him every opportunity to play third base as much as we could this spring and he's shown himself well.''

Which is exactly what they said about Dustin Ackley playing second base, at this same point.

Ackley's naysayers had that tone to them, the "Come on, don't be silly" tone.  The, it's not up for discussion tone.  And then Ackley shows up and you're like ... WHHAAAaaaaaaa ?!  Where did that even come from, that this guy can't play the infield?  

Same with Vinnie. "Catricala is a DH, as any accredited analyst would realize.  Let's talk about serious baseball matters.  Now, it could be that Casey McGehee could provide some legit defense for us ... "

OK, fine.  ::shrug:: if he's that bad, he's that bad.  He still looks good at DH..... and then Vinnie shows up and I'm like WHAAAaaaaa ?!  The last two days, if I hadn't been told that there was a controversy over his glove, I certainly would never have guessed that there was.  


Wedge's polite In-Yo-Face is a disclosure as to where Wedge himself has been on this internal debate.

The amigos who went "Catricala has no batspeed and is a DH" can go join the line over there with Ackley's.  And we're sure they've got big smiles on their faces that they were mistaken.  There were Mariners employees who went on the radio and man'ned up about Ackley.  "I was a real doubter," one of them said.  "I had no idea he could get this good, this fast."  Good on him!  Like Craig Wright said, if you're right 60% of the time and mistaken 40%, you lead the field.

Similarly, it's not the problemo that people have hung the DH tag on Catricala.  However, they need be just as quick to get on board when he proves otherwise, and when that's what's best for the org.


Yesterday, we said that the dive to the foul line was the play we'd want to see.  Wouldn'cha know:  it seems to be the play for which he's known.  Here's the video.

Catricala gets over to the ball with nice body control and above-average agility for a tall guy.  He doesn't hop up karate-style:  while lying on the ground, he takes one foot, back to the first baseman, then simply swirls, takes the slightest crow-hop, and flings to 1B.  Very time-economical.  A fast runner was wayyyyy out.

He zings the ball across the infield effortlessly, the ball hitting the 1B head-high, despite a low trajectory.  He doesn't muscle the throw, just flings it.  After the play, Blowers said "there's that arm he's known for" or somesuch.

Vinnie, you got third.  Right now.


=== We Can Dream ===

If you give Montero (say) 100 games at DH, and 60 at catcher backing up Olivo, you can have the dream bench of:

  1. Wells, OF
  2. Catricala, 3B/DH
  3. Seager, 3B/2B/SS
  4. Kawasaki, SS

Right away, Catricala takes away a bunch of Olivo's AB's.  Figgins backs up in the OF, clearing AB's for both Catricala and Seager.

Talk about a lineup.  Besides the Big Four, you'd have Catricala at 3B or DH, and Saunders in CF ... who else?  Oh yeah.  Ichiro.  When Kawasaki's in there, the WBC stars are the two weak sisters in your lineup.  Murderer's Row in Seattle :- )

I guess Figgins has to play for a while, doesn't he.  Right, he can play 3B when Montero's catching and Catricala's at DH, and he can play either CF or LF against lefty pitching.


If you absolutely had to have Jaso - who's not playing much, I notice - you could run 11 pitchers, and 5 bench players, until Ryan gets hurt and Kawasaki becomes the SS, with Seager the utility infielder.  

The April schedule is broken up, and Beavan-Furbush serve as #6 and #7 starters, chewing innings in blowouts.  No problem.



use the term "matador defense" when the team just stood and watched as opponents drove past them to the basket.
My impressions from what I had read about Catricala led me to expect to see him play matador defense at third. The kind of defense that has no appreciable range, timid and uncertain, only able to field routine plays and botching even them way too often. More "whoops!" than "we got this one covered!" Greg Luzinski at the hot corner.
That tells me two things. I probably wasn't paying enough attention to exactly what criticisms there were of Vinnie's defense, leading me to false impressions. Also, whatever you hear about someone, wait until you actually see them in action before you let your impressions gel.
The Jack Zduriencik talent pool is becoming amazing. Jim Bowden let the cat out of the bag nationally. But even with that, most people around the country are hearing about the Big Three pitching phenoms. Like a dam and a reservoir, they don't have a clue about the hitting talent straining to be unleashed in Seattle. They think it's just Montero and some guy with a name that makes them think of "Mars Attacks!" And even when they begin to see the sluicegates open, they won't have a clue about the huge trading potential that's accumulating behind the dam. 


Based on what the "conventional wisdom" had been, I was expecting somebody like Russ Davis (clank!) - somebody very stiff, a "knock-it-down, pick-it-up, and hope you can get the runner" type 3rd baseman. At the outside, maybe somebody like Blowers - big, definitely bat-first, some agility, but very little range - not because he didn't try, but just a kinda big guy - like I expect Trumbo will be.
Catricala is not that; in fact, considerably better. He's a bit ungainly, but seems to be fairly quick. And the arm makes up for a lot. Bravo to those who have been saying to wait and see.


It was 12 errors in 53 games in '09, then the org getting him time at 1b and LF, then 14 errors in 54 games in '11.
The numbers were reinforcing the scouting reports.  I'll admit that's what gave me pause.
But Vinnie says he didn't get himself fully focused on defense until this off-season.  I have a feeling the word came down that 3b was where the team needed him, and he would get a shot there if he worked at it. Don't forget, Z was talking him up as a 3b option back in January.


DL Ryan, put either Kawasaki or Seager at SS/lead-off depending on the situation and let's go. Chone is not showing a reasonable chance of repeating his 2009 or anything close. If he clears waivers, let him choose Tacoma or finding his own way. If he doesn't, well, mission accomplished.
Olivo and Millwood apparently provide clubhouse value, so fine -- Jaso and Moore catch in Tacoma for now, Beaven and Ramirez pitch there, Noesi is a swing man for now (valuable on the Japan trip for sure) on a 12 man staff (with Furbush also in the pen) and we see how everything shakes out. Take Jaso and Ramirez to Japan as part of the extra 5 if it eases your mind.
If we get to mid-April, when we need a 5th starter, you either call up Beaven, or Ramirez, or move Noesi into the rotation. If Iwakuma falters, Noesi and Furbush are right there to pick up the innings. If Guti and/or Ryan are ready to come off the DL, after a Tacoma rehab, then the decision on 11 or 12 pitchers will need to be made at that point. If Iwakuma needs someone to pick up 3+ innings every start to get to League, then 12 it is. If the starters are going 7, go 11 until we get a good offer on somebody.
Doing this lets us cycle through Trayvon, Peguero, and Liddi in 15-20 day cycles to let them "show what they got".


That's exactly what I was picturing:  Russ Davis, try to get in front of it and take it off your chest.
Or Daddy-O's "ole" defense, trying to play them all off the hip.
Then he gets here, and he's fluidly getting his belt buckle over and down to the ball like he was a second baseman.  The label just wasn't fair.


From Baker:
--- Alex Liddi has played first a few times of late, but Wedge said he will be at third tomorrow and Saturday. He said part of the reason he has played first is "just to get him in the lineup. We are a little thin on first basemen here in camp and I want him to get comfortable over there and he has. That ball (he made an error on) was scorched yesterday but I mean he's getting different types of plays over there that will help him get more comfortable over there. It's only going to help him now you've got a guy can go first and third and (Vinnie) Catricala can go third and left field. It's just a positive. We still look at him (Liddi) as a first baseman and Catricala as well.''
--- Asked how Liddi has improved at the plate, Wedge said: "He's shorter with his swing and he's seeing the ball a little bit better. The ball really jumps off his bat as it does with Catricala. .. and I like the way he's moving at third base, too.''

The two bolded sentences don't really make sense together.  "Vinne and Alex can both play positions other than 3B to increase their overall comfort and get them both in the lineup together.  BTW, both are viewed as first basemen."
I feel like that's gotta be a misprint or a mis-statement, because it makes much more sense that both are viewed as 3B.
Especially since Vinnie is almost exclusively playing third.


we could have:
Kawasaki          SS
Ackley              2B
Ichiro                RF
Montero           DH/C
Smoak              1B
Carp                 LF
Catricala          3B
Saunders          CF
Olivo                C/DH
Jaso                 C/1B
Seager             IF/DH
Liddi               IF/DH
Robinson rotation  OF
Wish it could be so. It would really be fun to watch - especially if Robinson and Peguero both do well and Wedge tries putting Jaso and Moore into rotation also. Space the call-ups at 3 series per, and have a go (injuries always allow immediate callups).


"Uh, Chone.  We''ve got a problem.  You know, we really appreciate the terrific attitude.....cough.....that you've shown here in Seattle but there's this kid, see.  And this kid seems like he might be some kind of a Tony Perez, see......and well, it seems like we might not have a current use for your esteemable.....cough.....skills.   So, I's see ya."
Who do you bat lead-off in that situation?  Who cares, really.
You put Ackley, Carp, Smoak, Vinnie and Montero in the same neighborhood in the order and you'll score runs...even if Ichiro performs as he did last year (which he won't).  Oh...add a reborn Condor and Seager's 35-40 doubles.  Damn tootin', that's an offene.
Over the lat two weeks, and expecially the last two nights, Vinnie has forced Z's hand.
Now it's a Vinnie or Chone or Olivo choice, really.  Heck, if he was really bold, both Chone and Olivo would go.
Be bold Jack, be bold.
(Although....I suppose we could see the Ryan DL move and the Wells demotion, which leaves Figgins as a 4th OF and sometimes IF)

Auto5guy's picture

The slow mo on that is awesome.
He has excellent body control. As he starts to lunge it looks like the ball hops up higher than he expects. Raises his arm up to meet it perfectly, quick to his feet, the turn and throw was just buttery smooth. And G is right it was a frozen rope, looked effortless and beat the runner by 5 feet.
He may not have elite range but if he can handle everything within his range like that he's a major league starter. Pencil him in.


Ethically and morally I find it hard to cheer when a player gets injured, but...
Could this be a opening to let the Phillies have an experienced utility/3B guy almost free in exchange for some random LH bullpen arm like, say David Purcey or Jeremy Horst? They wouldn't have to pay him 'til next year! And even that might be negotiable. Call it a "change of scenery" trade. The view of Vinnie is much better.


Just give us any of those guys, heck Joe Savery, De Fratus, anybody.  We'll pick up most of this year's salary no problem.  Get him OUT of here. ;)  If anybody needs infield depth it's the Phillies.  They have ZERO.
They're the sort of team I could see swinging a Seager trade to.  With Utley's health problems and now their 3B issue, he could be some nice glue for them.  If they believe he's worth something, anyway.  I like Seager - no way do I give him away for nothing.
Rather dump Figgins if possible though. I give two thumbs up to this idea.


Jerry Brewer (surprisingly) in an interview with Catricala (article link  ) tells us two things I didn't know about Catricala.
Six years ago, Vinnie Catricala was a lanky third baseman with a nice glove...He even smiles about his defensive shortcomings. In high school, he was known for his glove. Over the years, he says, he has emphasized hitting so much that he slipped. But he has the athleticism to be a good infielder, and he thinks if he can stay at his natural position, third base, he could improve greatly.

Hawaii's Les Murakami Baseball Stadium is notoriously challenging for hitters because of its heavy air and trade winds that make it near impossible for sluggers to hit home runs to left field. But Catricala, who is now 6 feet 3 and weighs about 220 pounds, hit 13 homers as a junior (fourth most in school history), and when he started launching balls over the left-field fence at Les Murakami, Trapasso knew the kid had developed into something special.
"Some days, no matter how hard you hit it, you're not going to hit it out of there," Trapasso said. "And yet Vinnie was hitting homers out to left field."
So, he should have no problem dealing with pitcher-friendly Safeco Field then.

Either I haven't heard these things, or I don't remember hearing them. But they seem to be significant to this baseball fan unskilled in the following of prospects.

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