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Monday, March 27, 2017

Silverman: Christian Vazquez deserves starting catcher job | Boston Herald

He can catch but can he hit?

Jim Furtado Posted: March 27, 2017 at 07:08 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 27, 2017 at 08:25 AM (#5424009)
A team that has Swihart and Vazquez that decides to start...Leon...is making a big mistake. I don't know that Vazquez will ever be much of a hitter, but I know that Leon can't hit much, either. Leon had about 150 ABs where he was super hot at the plate - and then, right through the playoffs, he struggled to hit .200 with no power and no walks. This is much closer to his past performance than the 150 AB sample earlier in the the 2016 season.

Vazquez is a remarkable defensive catcher. The arm is crazy. The pitch framing is crazy. The relationship he develops with his pitchers (just read their quotes, veterans or rookies, doesn't matter) is so positive, so quickly. He costs nothing in salary, but his value to other teams in a trade is likely not that high.

Swihart is a great athlete, and he clearly has more upside as a hitter than Vazquez. The team should play these two guys, see definitively what they have, and then figure out a way to maximize the trade value of one of the two young guys. With Vazquez, we know he is an outstanding defensive player, so why make this difficult? The Red Sox are making this a lot harder than it has to be, and if they are not careful, they are going to take a position of depth and strength, and turn it into a weakness.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 27, 2017 at 09:24 AM (#5424018)
I'm skeptical that catcher defense can make up for an awful bat. Zips projects Vazquez to -14 runs on offense in 357 PAs. I don't think he can make that value back with his glove.
   3. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: March 27, 2017 at 09:35 AM (#5424024)
I'm a big believer in Swihart but I'm not in any rush to start him in MLB. Given that he has options I think rolling with Leon/Vazquez and then if someone gets hurt or sucks it's easy enough to bring Swihart up. Catchers get hurt enough that having a third useful catcher is probably worth it in the long run.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: March 27, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5424044)
They sent Swihart down.
   5. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: March 27, 2017 at 11:23 AM (#5424104)
[3] totally makes sense, making use of the option totally makes sense.

Nonetheless the quotes I read from Farrell make me worry that this is going to turn into a Scioscia/Napoli situation, with Swihart getting squeezed out so that Farrell can make some philosophical point about the importance of catcher defense.
   6. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: March 27, 2017 at 11:27 AM (#5424106)
Nonetheless the quotes I read from Farrell make me worry that this is going to turn into a Scioscia/Napoli situation, with Swihart getting squeezed out so that Farrell can make some philosophical point about the importance of catcher defense.


I don't think you're wrong about that. It's seems pretty clear that the Sox (and I don't think it's just Farrell) are of the opinion that catcher defense is vital. I tend to share snapper's skepticism though Vazquez is so ####### good...
   7. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 27, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5424119)
A team that has Swihart and Vazquez that decides to start...Leon...is making a big mistake. I don't know that Vazquez will ever be much of a hitter, but I know that Leon can't hit much, either. Leon had about 150 ABs where he was super hot at the plate - and then, right through the playoffs, he struggled to hit .200 with no power and no walks. This is much closer to his past performance than the 150 AB sample earlier in the the 2016 season.


I think at this point Leon has enough of a shine on him that if the Sox designated him someone would claim him. By letting him attempt to hit a few times other teams will realize Leon is in fact not a starting C option and the Sox can then try and stash him in AAA. As #3 notes, and as the Sox have definitely learned the last couple of years, having a cromulent 3rd C option in AAA is an important piece. Say what you want about Leon, but he's better than Dan Butler.


ETA:

Nonetheless the quotes I read from Farrell make me worry that this is going to turn into a Scioscia/Napoli situation, with Swihart getting squeezed out so that Farrell can make some philosophical point about the importance of catcher defense.


I think all the talk now is to bolster Vazquez because Farrell knew Swihart was starting the year in the minors. Why slight Vazquez with talk about how he can't hit or about how Swihart is the future at C? Once Leon gets dropped and Swihart is back in the majors then we can see who plays. All talk before Farrell actually has a decision between Vazquez and Swihart is just that, talk.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: March 27, 2017 at 12:12 PM (#5424128)
Forgive my ignorance, but this has been bugging me for a while. What is it about Swihart that makes people so damn high on him? Looking at his numbers, I don't see some kind of tremendous bat that makes the choice of a vastly superior defensive catcher such a Mathisian mistake.

What am I missing?
   9. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 27, 2017 at 12:38 PM (#5424138)
What is it about Swihart that makes people so damn high on him?


I've been mystified by this for a long time.
   10. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: March 27, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5424160)
He's a former high pick who had success coming through the minors. 2015 is really the cut off point for him, he was OK at Pawtucket but finding his way when the injury to Vazquez was compounded by Hanigan getting hurt. The Sox rushed him to the majors and he was AWFUL for about a month and then picked it up. From June 1 to the end of the year (yay selective end points) he hit .290/.339/.433 and even without the selective end points .274/.319/.392 by a 23 year old switch hitting catcher who by all accounts was rushed to the majors isn't bad.

Then came 2016 and I think the Sox screwed up. A couple of mistakes (albeit high profile ones) and he was in the minors and being converted to left field. Semi-predictably this resulted in him getting injured and a fairly important lost year.

Just to give you a bit of an outsider's view this is part of Baseball America's scouting report from the 2011 draft on him;

Swihart spent most of last summer with Team USA, and he led the team by batting .448/.492/.845 with six doubles and five home runs. The natural righthander picked up switch-hitting during his sophomore year of high school and started catching seriously just last summer. This spring he has split time between third base and behind the plate. Swihart is a good athlete who is an above-average hitter with average power potential....Swihart's athleticism shows up behind the plate. He receives well and shows good footwork. He has a strong arm and has shortened his arm stroke this spring. He obviously would have more value at catcher, but his athleticism and potent bat may tempt a team to move him to another position.


At this point the onus is on him. We are still dealing with a guy who is only 25 years old and while he hasn't been great he has been OK in 100 MLB games. The natural thing for a lot of Sox fans is the comparison to Varitek who by the end of his age 25 season had one (1) MLB game under his belt. I think it would be interesting to see Swihart's career with a more controlled ascent; the majority of 2015 at AAA then a September call up with a mid-season 2016 call up full time.
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 28, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5424773)
Leon hit two HR yesterday, and is now up to a .757 OPS this spring.
   12. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 06, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5449895)
It is still early in the season, but as of May 6th, Sandy Leon has an OPS+ of...33. You have an outstanding defensive catcher who is young, as well as a promising, athletic young catcher in AAA who has shown some evidence that he can hit, and his defense has improved over time. Why would you play Sandy Leon?
   13. Lars6788 Posted: May 06, 2017 at 04:18 PM (#5449907)
I would assume there is a comfort level with Leon as a back-up - he may get into 50 games and not hit anything but the coaches and pitchers trust him to call a good game defensively if Vazquez isn't catching.

Leon knows his role and the team isn't dealing with the uncertainty of needing to play a 24-year old kid every day when the kid has already experienced some problems as a catcher.
   14. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: May 06, 2017 at 07:41 PM (#5450004)
Swihart is on the DL and hasn't exactly been hitting in Pawtucket. I'd rather have Swihart here but it's not like he's earning a spot in Boston. I think Lars makes some good points about Leon as backup.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: May 08, 2017 at 09:32 AM (#5450576)
Sandy Leon has an OPS+ of...33
He's nearly triple that now.
   16. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: May 08, 2017 at 10:35 AM (#5450653)
Leon might be the streakiest hitter I have ever seen. When he is on, it looks like he can drive the ball at will. When he isn't... well it looks like he couldn't hit water falling out of a boat.

A couple of points though that haven't been mentioned, which might be influencing the Sox decision to stick with him. One, Sale is apparently super ####### high on pitching to him. And two, he does seem like he is gnuinely really liked by the other players. There have been quite a few dugout shots of people goofing around with him, and laughing it up.
   17. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: May 08, 2017 at 11:06 AM (#5450687)
Hell, Leon's not even the streakiest hitter on the team (Bradley). But yeah the difference between the highs and lows on him are pretty dramatic.
   18. covelli chris p Posted: May 08, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5450723)
i'm pretty happy with vazquez and leon as my catchers. i think it's about time to move on from the idea of swihart as the future catcher. if another team still believes in him as a catcher, you entertain that, otherwise, i'd like to see if his bat plays up a little when he's not catching every day. he has experience as an infielder, so maybe you get lucky and he's the bridge at 3b until devers is ready and then becomes a 3b/lf/1b/emergency catcher? i think he has a good shot to be eli marrero with maybe a ceiling of todd zeile?

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