Monday, September 13, 2010
What to Do? Who Catches Pavano?
It seems like something that has been debated for months already. Sometime in late May or early June, Drew Butera became the personal catcher for Carl Pavano. Pavano went on a very nice run of good starts and gave a lot of credit to the defense of Butera. But as the Twins are set to start a three game series in Chicago, and Pavano is scheduled to start on Thursday night, the question has to be asked. Who should catch Pavano?
Let’s take a quick look at how Pavano has done with the two catchers this year:
Caught by Drew Butera:
· 14 games, 102 Innings.
· 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .683 OPS
· 13 SB in 19 attempts
· 0.53 HR/9
· 4.9 K/9
· 1.67 BB/9
Caught by Joe Mauer:
· 15 games, 95 Innings.
· 3.79 ERA, 1.08 WHIP .691 OPS
· 16 SB in 18 attempts
· 1.04 HR/9
· 4.45 K/9
· 1.13 BB/9
From May through August, I thought the move made a ton of sense. With the amount invested in Joe Mauer, both in years and in dollars, they must force themselves to give him adequate time off. Giving one of the pitchers the backup catcher, in my mind, is a decent way of doing that. When the backup catcher is as good as Drew Butera is, it doesn’t hurt. I think we can all admit now, even if you couldn’t earlier in the year, that Butera does a tremendous job behind the plate. I know some may disagree, but the idea of having Joe Mauer catch every day is just not smart. I think everyone understands that.
However, now we are in mid-September. The Twins play three games in Chicago with a chance to dash the hopes of the White Sox. Carl Pavano is scheduled to start on Thursday night. Who will catch him? Will it be Drew Butera again, or will Joe Mauer get to catch the Twins righty? Is Pavano slightly better when Butera catches him? That argument could be made. But is that slight difference worth the offense lost by having Butera catching and batting ninth in the lineup, or Thome DHing and batting in the middle of the order?
I am of the belief that if (WHEN!) the Twins make the playoffs, Joe Mauer will be behind the plate, catching Pavano and the rest of the Twins starters. I would be completely shocked if Butera caught in the playoffs, and I think we all know that he won’t.
So the biggest question is… How important is it for Mauer and Pavano to work together in a game situation before the playoffs? I’m of the belief that it isn’t as important as many want to think. Mauer caught Pavano a lot earlier in the season. He caught Pavano last year when he came to the team in August. Before each series, all the pitchers and catchers meet together to discuss the plan of attack on the opponent’s hitters. Mauer and Pavano are both in the meeting and hearing the same information. I have zero concern about Mauer and Pavano working together. Would it be nice for them to get a couple of starts together before the playoffs? Sure. Is it vital? Not necessarily.
So, what happens on Thursday night? Maybe it depends upon what happens in the first two games or maybe now is the time to make the transition. The Twins have a little leeway here. Having Mauer healthy is much more important in my mind than having him play every day and catching Pavano during the regular season.
But that’s just my opinion… what do you think? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.
By the way… last night, I co-hosted Fanatic Jack’s Twins podcast, so be sure to listen to that here. Darren “Doogie” Wolfson and Andrew Bryz-Gornia were guests of the show.