Will Montero Catch? These Two Q's Will Decide (part 2)


=== Picture's worth 10,000 Words, Dept. ===

It's true that throwing, blocking, and framing don't add up to that much.  But!  That's assuming a certain minimum standard - a standard of excellence that all ML catchers have actually passed.  If Dr. D or Silentpadna played catcher for the Mariners, the runs would add up not to -10 or -15, but to -300.

The catchers in the big leagues all have certain critical-mass standards they have to hit.  Maybe that's what Law is saying?  That you put Jesus Montero behind the plate, and the Mariners give up 500 stolen bases on the season?


Watch this video.  It's a 78 mph slurve, low on the outside corner, the worst possible pitch to throw on, except a knuckleball or wild pitch in the dirt, of course.  Remarks:

  1. Montero does not move "explosively" or "suddenly."  This criticism sticks.
  2. He moves smoothly.  In these two points he actually resembles Bench, who I saw.
  3. His feet travel short distances.
  4. His CG is low and dynamic throughout (which I guarantee you bloggers have not noticed).
  5. His glove path, to the transfer, is excellent.
  6. Montero gets rid of the ball with a short, flicky arm motion.
  7. The throw itself sails a bit, too high, but is accurate (he's focusing on pop time).

True, Montero's average "pop times" (ball from C glove to SS glove) are, right now, mediocre by ML standards.  But you judge for yourself whether Montero's throws are catastrophically bad, below "critical mass" for catchers. 

The fact is that a lot of pro's put much more emphasis on CS% than it warrants. We saw it with Johjima.  People make a big huge hurkin' deal out of 5 runs a year.


=== Dr's Diagnosis ===

I love the way that Montero carries his CG.  It's quite low throughout; Montero doesn't stand up to throw and he gets harmonious drive off the back leg.  The CG accelerates forward effortlessly, and his body is organized around his belt buckle.

An aikido sensei would give him a black belt for this sports movement.  ... true, the mammoth Montero doesn't FLY out of his crouch like a jumping bean and Montero doesn't move explosively.  But I think that factor has caused people to overlook the CG factor and general power and compactness in his motion.

This is a guy with a very cool throwing motion.  You don't like the look of that pic above?  :- )


=== Cumulative Effect ===

Now, let's say that you had a catcher who was indeed the worst in the league at each aspect of catching.  Let's say that Mike Piazza or Mike Napoli or Jesus Montero was:

  • Minus 10 runs pitch framing, AND
  • Minus 10 runs pitch blocking, AND
  • Minus 10 runs throwing.

That would make him -30 runs ... exactly the positional adjustment between C and DH.  In this scenario, Montero would defensively give back the whole 30 runs' position scarcity bonus and he might as well focus on DH'ing and hitting.

The problem is, you can't find catchers who are -30 runs defensively, season after season.  If there were such a catcher -- such as Mike Napoli, maybe -- then Jack Zduriencik would be the first to tell us.

If Montero's defense dropped to, say, -25 runs, then they'd have moved him off catcher long before.  ML org's don't tolerate catchers being a joke out there, as Napoli was for a short time.

"Montero IS a joke out there!," sniffs the blogger, but that's just hyperbole.  Here, let's address that ...




give Montero a chance to catch.  With Ted Simmons in the FO now, the M's will have a classice example of an offensive catcher with poor catching skills as a young man.  Simmons was the Cardinals regular catcher by 21.  He came up with a reputation as a serious talent who could work his way into becoming a competent catcher.  Each year you could tell he was more comfortable and became quite good at managing a game although he will never be known as a technically strong catcher.
Simba was a stud with the stick though and was very much a favorite with the fans. Interesting that he really didn't win until he went to Milwaukee when  his offensive skills were declining but he was much praisedhow he handled the pitching staff.  
I see Montero going the same route minus 50 to 70 games catching, due to the DH.  Montero just needs to improve year to year defensively, which is pretty much a guarantee for a 22 year old catcher. Varitek was pretty much a train wreck early on as well when he was with the M's.  
Olivo has one more year on his contract and could definately see him mentoring Montero. Then the M's can have a strait job share with Jaso and Montero starting 2013.  I never see Montero starting much more than 100 games though just to keep his bat as sharp as possible. 

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