All I Want For Christmas Is My #2 Catcher

Well, sort of. I also want Guitar Hero: Van Halen and Con Air and a new laptop but that probably won’t happen and…wait, that’s not the point.

Mike Redmond’s contract is up, and soon he will become a free agent. The Twins also have a cheaper option in Jose Morales, and a mystery 3rd catcher that I’m going to throw into the ring that will cost nothing at all! Nothing at all! NOTHING AT ALL! So, here are the overviews of the three available catchers to the Twins that can be had for a million dollars or less per year.

Mike Redmond, 2009:

Offense and Baserunning

.237/.299/.289 with 0 HR and 7 RBI in 135 AB

Before 2009, Redmond had always been a good average but low power hitter (as evidenced by his low 2009 ISO of .052, or SLG – AVG. MLB average was .155). This past season, he was hurt by a poor BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .276 (MLB average around .300) so if he was retained, Redmond might be expected to have an improved hitting line for 2010. He also was just terrible against righties this year compared to lefties, but even if you factor in the small sample size, his career splits show that he’s going to succeed against lefties more often regardless.

vs. LHP ’09 & career: .320/.382/.380 & .327/.382/.423

vs. RHP ’09 & career: .188/.250/.235 & .268/.324/.326

Even Redmond himself knew he wasn’t as effective against RHP, as evidenced here (well, specifically against Fausto Carmona, but Joe Christensen expanded and pointed out Redmond’s splits) so really he should only play to give Mauer a DH day against a LHP. He’s always been a slow baserunner, even during his early years with the Marlins, so it’s almost a given that he’s not going to steal any bases, he’ll ground into quite a few double plays (8 in ’09…if he had 550 AB, that would project to 32 GIDP, 5 higher than Evan Longoria’s AL-leading 27), and the occasional triple is going to look very ugly.

Defense

0 errors, 35 SB/5 CS allowed (13% CS), 2 passed balls, 11 wild pitches allowed

Well Redmond still has yet to make an error as a Twin. That has to win him some award, right? But whatever award you give him for basically 200 consecutive games without an error when catchers already don’t commit many errors should immediately be rebuked for that stolen base allowed ratio. 13 percent!* Last year wasn’t much better with a 22% rate. Compare the caught stealing rates from his first 5 seasons in the majors with his last 7:

First 5 (All w/ Marlins): 43, 38, 34, 39, 42. That middle one is a bit low, but otherwise this looks very consistent.

Last 7 (2 w/ Marlins, 5 w/ Twins): 15, 22, 53, 33, 41, 22, 13. Holy variability, Batman!

What’s of largest importance to me is that his CS% has dropped significantly over the past few years. Redmond did complain about a sore shoulder in ’09, and I’m willing to bet two things: Either his shoulder bothered him all year and he just refused to admit it, or he really is losing his touch on throwing to 2nd base.

*Which was actually worse if you factor in pickoffs. There were 3 pickoffs when Redmond was catching, so his new CS% independent of pickoffs was 35 SB/2 CS, or 5.4 percent. Remember this number.

Value, Intangibles & Conclusion

From FanGraphs, Redmond was worth only 0.1 wins over replacement and $600,000, with his ’09 salary worth $950,000 according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts (scroll down to find Redmond). However, ’09 was also the first year he was worth less than his salary to the Twins, and his WAR was still technically above zero. Nevertheless, the significantly declining CS% and his age (38 now) is of concern for me. Gardy will still see Redmond as a leader and a positive for the clubhouse, and the media will never get sick of commenting on his Naked Walks, but I think it’s time to move on. I vote no on re-signing Mike Redmond, even if it only costs the Twins roughly less than $1 million per year.

Jose Morales, 2009:

Offense and Baserunning

.311/.381/.361 with 0 HR and 7 RBI in 119 AB

Again, a low ISO (.050, worse than Redmond!) is an issue here, but opposite of Redmond, Morales was actually aided by his BABIP of .381. He could certainly keep up his walk rate, but unless he continues to have good luck, I would expect his AVG to be around .270 or so, which is still pretty good for a catcher. There is no way he’s significantly over a .300 hitter in the long run, because if he was, he wouldn’t have been stuck on the bench so often. Morales faced almost entirely RHP, so that gives you an idea of how he split time with Redmond in ’09. Despite being a middle infielder for part of his career in the minors, Morales doesn’t have much more speed than Redmond, so don’t expect many differences in the baserunning department.

Defense

3 errors, 18 SB/8 CS (31% CS) 5 passed balls, 9 wild pitches allowed

Everything but the CS% is worse, but remember my comment earlier? Morales was also aided by 7 pickoffs, so his CS% then becomes 18 SB/1 CS orĀ 5.2 percent. Remember Redmond’s CS% independent of pickoffs? Yeah.

By the way, the AL average for CS% was 35%. *facepalm*

Value, Intangibles & Conclusion

From FanGraphs, Morales was worth 0.8 WAR and $3.1 million when he was only paid $400,000. No one’s talked about his leadership skills or ability to handle the pitchers, so Redmond would win in this category. Easily Morales is more valuable the Twins than Redmond, and the fact that he’s younger and cheaper is an added bonus, so he would be my pick over Redmond. But there’s a wild card still waiting in the wings that is just as cheap as Morales and is already on the 40 man roster. No, it’s not Wilson Ramos, but rather…

Drew Butera

It’s a bit harder to evaluate Butera (probably should turn to Seth Stohs for that) but I’ll do my best. Offensively, there’s no debate. He was so bad, Aaron Gleeman’s prediction on my birthday Bert Blyleven’s birthday Opening Day was right:

Jose Morales will have a higher OPS in the majors than Drew Butera has at Triple-A.

Morales: .742 OPS, Butera .560 OPS

From the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2009: “The Twins really like his catch and throw skills and his ability to call a game. He could be a very good backstop in the big leagues, but he will have to hit a little bit.” You think?

I like Morales, I really do. But the defense part really concerns me. These guys are competing just to be a backup, so it can’t be expected that any of them will play very often, especially with Joe Mauer as the #1. If Mauer misses a significant amount of time, I might change my mind on my final decision. But because of the lack of playing time and my hope that the Twins will significantly improve any two of 2B, 3B, and SS (especially offensively), I’m going to shock you all and say my #2 catcher choice for 2010 is Drew Butera. If you disagree, that’s fine. All I want for Christmas is not Mike Redmond.

Special thanks to Austin Vande Kamp from 1,000,000 TWINS FANS!!! for the inspiration for this post.

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4 Responses to “All I Want For Christmas Is My #2 Catcher”

  1. Blogging Milestones « Off The Mark Says:

    [...] just say that you’re fair game as well. Lastly, since it is Christmas, I’m going to leave a link to one of my first posts, which I think you will find appropriately named. Have a great Christmas or winter break to all of [...]

  2. Backup Catcher Situation Shaken Up « Off The Mark Says:

    [...] my first analytical post here at Off The Mark, I discussed the backup catching situation for the Twins. I purposely omitted [...]

  3. Notepad Scribbles, 7/25/10 « Off The Mark Says:

    [...] on the days that Mauer sits, but as I said back when Off The Mark was still in its baby stage, I would prefer Butera’s good defense and game-calling skills to Morales’ singles-centric [...]

  4. What Do We Do Now? / Twins Trade Jose Morales « Off The Mark Says:

    [...] they traded C Jose Morales to the Colorado Rockies for Single-A LHP Paul Bargas. Over a year ago, I stated that I liked Drew Butera more than Jose Morales as the backup for Joe Mauer, and as if giving Butera a full year on the [...]

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