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Swihart v. Vazquez: The Value of Framing

Discussion in 'Red Sox Forum' started by dhappy42, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member

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    I like them both, but considering the relatively new emphasis on the value of catcher framing and its effect on improving a team's overall pitching, can Blake beat out Christian for the starter's job, assuming Vasquez's post TJ arm is good to go?

    According to StatCorner's catcher report, Vazquez was 12.2 Runs Above Average in 2014. Swihart last year was -1.8 RAA. Hanigan was 5.9 RAA. And that's just for framing. It doesn't take into account blocking and throwing out base-stealers.

    http://www.statcorner.com/CatcherReport.php

    Understand that Swihart is still on the steep slope of the catching learning curve, but giving up 2+ WAR to Vazquez defensively is a lot to make up with the bat in the meantime. Steamer projects 1.1 WAR from Swihart over 75 games next year. Vaz earned 0.6 WAR his rookie year in 55 games.
     
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member SoSH Member

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    Not that Vazquez isn't a good receiver, but I would be extremely skeptical of extrapolating those numbers over a full season. That would basically be an extra 3 wins hiding in his glove, which seems unlikely, at least as a consistent level of talent.
     
    #2 Pilgrim, Dec 15, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  3. SydneySox

    SydneySox A dash of cool to add the heat SoSH Member

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    Assuming Vazquez has no ramifications from the massive, season-ending and career threatening injury he suffered a year ago, it's all good.
     
  4. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    How do we know that it's unlikely, though? Seems like we're still in the infant stages of measuring this kind of stuff. Think about some of the great pitching staffs of the past, some of them made up of pitchers who seemed to get better results than their raw stuff promised. Maybe they were that good because their catchers were that good. I wish we had the framing numbers for Etchebarren, Hendricks and Dempsey in all those years when Baltimore always seemed to have a great staff, or Fisk in 1983 with that overachieving White Sox staff, or Steve Yeager with those late-70s Dodgers teams.

    I prefer Swihart because he seems to be a good defensive catcher too, and has more offensive upside. But I wouldn't dismiss the idea that receiving skills may be a much bigger deal than we used to think.
     
  5. iayork

    iayork Member SoSH Member

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    Well, the consensus is that an elite framing catcher (which Vazquez is) is worth about 20-30 runs per season from framing alone, over a neutral catcher (like Swihart). 20-30 runs translates to about 2.5-4 wins, so 3 wins is right in line with expectations for Vaz.

    On the other hand, assuming second-half Swihart is a reasonable approximation of his offense going forward, he is about .200 points of OPS higher than Vazquez (.805 second-half OPS vs. Vaz .617 in 2014). I'm too lazy right now to convert OPS to runs, but I think it's not a slam-dunk either way.
     
    #5 iayork, Dec 15, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  6. MR BIG STUFF

    MR BIG STUFF lurker

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    Who's consensus?

    Do you think a major league GM would sign this guy for $20M aav based on pitch framing?
     
  7. Darnell's Son

    Darnell's Son He's a machine. Dope Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member SoSH Member

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    I think my issue is less with the fact that elite catcher framing can be worth that many runs in a season (which is a pretty extraordinary claim, but is backed up by the research of a lot of smart people) and more with how much those numbers mean in a single, or partial, season.

    Like, the home run leaderboards in a given year might feature a bunch of guys who hit 35-45, but most of their true talent is more like 25-35. So I don't know what to make of the catcher framing leaderboards, where the year to year information seems to vary even more.

    If Vazquez is a great framing catcher, does that mean he is worth ~25 runs with small error bars, or ~15 runs with large error bars? If its more like the former, I'm ecstatic to hear it, but I don't know what to think of this yet.

    Coming off a 141 wRC+ season with a consistent run of great framing numbers... I think that if anything Martin proves teams weren't paying for pitch framing yet.
     
  9. MR BIG STUFF

    MR BIG STUFF lurker

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    .290 .402 .430

    So did that $16M come from pitch framing or from Poseyish production.

    We'll never truly know but I feel comfortable saying the bat brought the money.
     
  10. Darnell's Son

    Darnell's Son He's a machine. Dope Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Well, before his one good season in Pittsburgh, he hadn't had a season like that. If you read the article, his value was mostly seen coming from behind the plate. Pitch framing is a market inefficiency right now, assuming the numbers are correct, which I think they are.

    ETA: His 2007 season was similar to last year, but through his late 20s he wasn't putting up those numbers.
     
  11. Spelunker

    Spelunker Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Either way, we can all agree that the Yanks fucked up. And that's always fun.
     
  12. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Don't get why pitch framing is considered the most important impact (in combination with blocking and throwing). I keep reading about pitchers who praise a catcher's ability to assess a batter, oftentimes pitch-to-pitch, and call for the appropriate response -sensitive to what the pitcher has working for him at that point in the game.

    I think Molina is held up as the poster boy for this talent. It makes some sense because an astute catcher, squatting 2 feet from the batter, has a huge amount of information at his fingertips if he's talented enough to use it. Maybe Varitek was praised for this also.
     
  13. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member

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    Swihart was a SS-3B in high school. Is there a reason the Sox moved him to catcher? He's 6'1" and athletic. If he's a minus 3B, could he still be a plus at 1B after the inevitable HanRam failure there? Can't imagine how he could be worse.

    Or are one of Swihart and Vazquez destined to be traded? As I said, I like them both, and hope the Sox keep them both, Swihart's bat and Vazquez behind the plate.

    Aside: anyone else here still miss Julio Iglesias? Imagine a team made of Vazquez (c), Swihart (1b), Pedroia (2B), Iglesias (ss), Bogarts (3b), Castillo (lf), Bradley (cf) Betts (rf) and Ortiz (dh)... and $40M a year more to spend on pitching.
     
  14. iayork

    iayork Member SoSH Member

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    I don't think anyone deprecates game-calling and pitcher-managing, but no one has managed to put believable numbers on those yet, so it's hard to say how much they're worth.

    In general, the numbers are surprisingly consistent year to year, but there are definitely error bars. I don't know of anyone who has tried to calculate the variance year to year, but my gut feeling is that 3/4 of a strike per game is in the right ballpark. That is, if Vaz got an extra 2 strikes per game in 2014, it's very realistic to expect him to be somewhere between 1.25 and 2.75 strikes per game in 2016. (Two strikes per game translates to about 30 runs per season.)

    I wrote a bunch of articles about framing on the .com over the season. I think this one (which covers Vazquez's framing) links to most of them, if you want to see how I generated the numbers. It's a slightly different approach than StatCorner or Baseball Prospectus, but everyone ends up with pretty similar numbers, which is reassuring that it's a real thing.
     
  15. LondonSox

    LondonSox Robert the Deuce SoSH Member

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    Except that is a poor use of resources, potentially. Swihart would likely be a poor 1B (relative hitting to peers), though he could also catch part time. Having a good catcher play first base is a huge waste of talent, Swihart's value is that he's good a\t hitting AND a catcher. It's not the end of the world for a year if needed or to check Vazquez is back but long term they both are likely starting catchers and those are rare enough to be valuable. While they're cheap isn't not a huge issue, but of course cheap startering years you don't use or sell are a waste too.
    I would imagine next year they need to decide.
     
  16. swingin val

    swingin val lurker

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    Is this grossly exaggerating the impact of Tommy John surgery? Has a 23 year old position player ever had a career end following a first TJ surgery?
     
  17. iayork

    iayork Member SoSH Member

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    I can't find the link (on mobile) but someone looked at TJ outcomes for catchers and found them surprisingly bad. There aren't many cases, I think they found 23 total and maybe 10-12 that were roughly comparable to Vaz, but the return to effectiveness was on the order of 50%. Probably that's low balling it, what with modern outcomes improving and Vaz being younger than most, but it's definitely a concern.
     
  18. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    Here's one shot at it. This is a rough, drawn-on-a-napkin kind of argument, but FWIW....below are last year's AL OPS splits for pairs of counts, each pair reflecting the potential difference between a strike or a ball on a preceding count (in parens):

    (0-0) 0-1, 1-0: .810, .910
    (0-1) 0-2, 1-1: .421, .865
    (0-2) K, 1-2: .000, .430
    (1-0) 1-1, 2-0: .865, 1.036
    (1-1) 1-2, 2-1: .430, .876
    (1-2) K, 2-2: .000, .478
    (2-0) 2-1, 3-0: .876, 1.717
    (2-1) 2-2, 3-1: .478, 1.359
    (2-2) K, 3-2: .000, .805
    (3-0) 3-1, BB: 1.359, 1.000
    (3-1) 3-2, BB: .805, 1.000
    (3-2) K, BB: .000, 1.000

    The average OPS of the first (pitchers') group of counts is .465. This is slightly better than the career OPS of Tom Glavine. The average for the second group is .956, the career OPS of Jim Thome.

    So you could say that the ability to steal strikes is the ability to turn hitters, as a group, from Jim Thome into Tom Glavine. Let's say being really good at stealing strikes means that you get two more strike calls per game than the average catcher would (caveat: I have no idea how close to the real number that is). If you catch 120 games, that means that you have given your team an advantage over the average catcher that's worth being able to force your opponents to pinch-hit Tom Glavine for Jim Thome 240 times per year. That seems likely to be worth a few runs.
     
  19. SoxFanForsyth

    SoxFanForsyth Member SoSH Member

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    I love Vazquez. I mean I LOVE Vazquez. His arm and pitch framing and defensive skillset to go with Bogaerts, Pedroia, and JBJ up the middle would be insane.

    But Swihart posted a 118 wRC+ in the 2nd half last year. That was the best in the AL by a long shot (min 140 PA), as Russel Martin came in 2nd at 109. It was boosted by a .391 BABIP, so there is some regression likely, but at the same time, you expect some natural progression to take place as he adjusts to the league as well.

    I understand Vazquez is an elite elite defender, but to me, the offensive advantage that Swihart brings to C (Lg Avg C had an 85 wRC+; AL league average C had an 82 wRC+) is large enough that I start him over Vazquez.

    That being said, if Swihart underperforms, I think projecting Vazquez to be a *league average* offensive player (i.e. 80-85 wRC+) with elite level defense would be a more than acceptable plan 1b.
     
  20. Hank Scorpio

    Hank Scorpio Member SoSH Member

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    It's pretty cut and dry that you simply can't go into 2016 with the expectation that Christian Vazquez is the answer to anything this season. Maybe he'll be fine, but I'm not about to deal Swihart or Hanigan (who is a very good backup) to make room for Vaz.

    If it becomes clear that Vazquez has returned to form, then I think in 2017, maybe you look at giving him the starting C job, with Swihart possibly being an option at a corner infield position.

    But right now, Swihart should be the long term plan at catcher, until and unless Vazquez forces their hand.
     
  21. PaulinMyrBch

    PaulinMyrBch Don't touch his dog food Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Don't overlook the fact that the pitchers have a say in this as well. There is not a pitcher in the world (unless Swihart has a brother who is a pitcher) that given the choice would choose Swihart to catch his game over Vazquez. Now that is assuming a few things. Mainly that CV returns to pre-surgery form. But if he's a go on opening day, I'd be shocked if he's not catching 24.
     
  22. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    I'm a little confused as to how he even gets on the roster on Opening Day. Are we sending Swihart back down after the second half he had? Trading Hanigan? Going with three catchers?
     
  23. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    I am more than ok with keeping them both and splitting time for at least this season. Maybe Vazquez takes three pitchers and Swihart takes two and plays a game a week at 1B against a tougher righty to spell Hanley (or a lefty if Ortiz takes a day and Hanley DH's). The bat isn't good enough yet for Swihart to hold down another position but that could change by the end of the year.

    Keep Hanigan around until May or so assuming Vazquez is ready at some point, and then move him to a team that needs to fill an injury hole.

    There also has to be some extra value in keeping them both fresh too, but that's hard to quantify since it's rare that two catchers with elite upside would split time very often.
     
  24. HomeRunBaker

    HomeRunBaker bet squelcher SoSH Member

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    Yeah I don't understand why so many posters are rushing to judgment when you have two young cost-controlled catchers to where you want to rush the guy returning from TJ when you have two ML catchers already on the roster. It looks to be a no-brainer Swihart is your starter with Hanigan behind him as Vazquez begins the season in Pawtucket. This is such a position of depth and ridiculously cheap while Swihart's offensive value is greatly tied to playing the catcher position......he isn't losing the starting job he earned last season to Vazquez unless he really bombs out of the gate.
     
  25. benhogan

    benhogan self-effacing SoSH Member

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    This is exactly what you want the catcher position to look like, this isn't an "either or" or "VS." situation. A veteran backstop (RH) plus 2 youngsters with options.

    Take it slow with Vaz, let him work out the kinks (season off/TJS), have him start the season off at AAA. Let him gain some confidence with the bat against inferior pitching. Sox continue to closely monitor his framing skills at AAA.

    We see if Blake's 2nd half bat is real and continues to improve defensively with his comfort level with the staff increasing.

    The catcher position needs depth on the Major League roster, nobody wants to see Sandy Leon's bat. It also seemed at the end of Tek's career he had a tendency to wear down offensively by the end of the season.

    Also wouldn't mind seeing Farrell get aggressive with using Blake as PH for Hannigan or Vaz late in games versus tough RH relievers.

    Two starter caliber catchers, on the cheap, works. If we find both Vaz and Swihart are so good (nice problem) that there is tremendous demand across MLB then we deal from strength.
     
  26. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    Thinking out loud a bit, but down the line (2017-18 or so) if Swihart eventually does go the Buster Posey route and cedes playing time at catcher for 1b, wondering if he could also take grounders at 3B. He is supposedly really athletic. If they indeed go with 3 catchers for a bit, and he's no longer completely overwhelmed by getting the bulk of the playing time, maybe they see if he can play 3B competently enough to spell someone at the corner to improve his flexibility. Something similar to what the Indians did with Carlos Santana.

    It's not for every catcher, but Blake is only 175 lbs and quicker than most at his position.
     
    #26 grimshaw, Dec 16, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  27. HomeRunBaker

    HomeRunBaker bet squelcher SoSH Member

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    I'm not saying this isn't an option down the road and there is a slippery slope......do you keep Swihart behind the plate for his offense at this position or do you move him to maximize his offensive output without wearing down from catching?

    We saw this with Craig Biggio who had an almost identical frame as Swihart relative to players of that time and after catching his first three seasons saw his offensive numbers skyrocket once he got out from behind the plate. He turned out pretty good. My point is that there is no rush and certainly no rush for 2016.......should Swihart continue improving with his bat while Vazquez shows enough offense you can always consider moving Swihart to another position in a year or two.
     
  28. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    Don't disagree with any of that. It's more that I'd like to see if he could do it, and the timing for experimentation with 3 solid catchers on the roster sets up uniquely for this year.

    Slightly off topic, but the flipside of the Biggio thing is Joe Mauer who was elite defensively before they moved him to first and his bat turned to (comparative) mush by the time he hit 30. It's hard to say if it was from the wear and tear earlier in his career or not, but you have to wonder whether it was worth them moving a guy who was still fantastic behind the plate with a 7 hit tool in order to preserve him for the length of his contract.

    Edit: Mauer did have concussion issues which contributed to full time 1B in 2014 - but had already split time before then after signing his contract in 2011
     
    #28 grimshaw, Dec 16, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  29. chrisfont9

    chrisfont9 Member SoSH Member

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    There can be a consensus on WAR without a consensus on actual market value. Since when are contracts tied directly to WAR projections? Market dollars are more likely to track some nonsense like HR totals.

    [Edit:] Uh, that was supposed to be a reply to Mr Big Stuff. Not sure why that didn't happen.
     
  30. chrisfont9

    chrisfont9 Member SoSH Member

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    bREF lists him at 205. But he's still pretty athletic.
     
  31. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    This is the Sandoval career path, FWIW.

    Edited to add: You'll notice the Giants keep doing this, but part of that is that they've been hugely productive at developing catchers. Sandoval-Posey-Sanchez-Susac is a pretty impressive run of home-grown catchers in a seven year period. It makes sense to move Sandoval off catcher when you have Buster %$#ing Posey breathing down his neck in the high minors.

    Hector Sanchez' career seems to have been derailed by concussions, unfortunately.
     
  32. themanwithoneredsock

    themanwithoneredsock lurker

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    what's interesting to me is that even ignoring pitch framing, vazquez (and hanigan) have both racked up a better recent war rate than swihart (and both project for a better war rate in 2016 too), and that's even with blake sporting a likely unsustainable babip. that's mostly because swihart just was flat out poor to very poor defensively.

    personally i've always been suspicious of swihart - i think scouts have been seduced by his athleticism, and have relied too much on that athleticism to project both his defensive and power upsides. Fact is vazquez is clearly much better than him defensively, and as far as offense their milb numbers weren't all that different, and the small sample mlb difference may simply be a function of babip.

    and then we can add the pitch framing factor on top of that.
     
  33. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Well, Swihart struggled with blocking, which is likely the easiest thing to measure. I think there's justifiable optimism that he could see improvement in that dimension of his game.
     
  34. BCsMightyJoeYoung

    BCsMightyJoeYoung Member SoSH Member

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    The only aspect of his defense that was noticeably deficient, IMO, was blocking balls in the dirt. Other than that he seemed solid - so I'm not sure about the bolded.
     
  35. themanwithoneredsock

    themanwithoneredsock lurker

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    Rookie Year:

    Swihart (23): 309pa, 1.5fwar, 0.4bwar, 1.0avg, 1.4avg/450pa
    Vazquez (23): 201pa, 0.6fwar, 1.1bwar, 0.9avg, 1.9avg/450pa

    Steamer600 for 2016

    Swihart: 450pa, 1.7war
    Vazquez: 450pa, 2.2war

    That doesn't even include pitch framing.

    and iirc Swihart's first ~200pa were no better than Vazquez' at the plate, either.
     
  36. iayork

    iayork Member SoSH Member

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    Not really fair. Swihart did have a ton of passed balls, but almost all were with Stephen Wright pitching. You need to take those out, or at least heavily deprecate them, to properly evaluate his catching (and no simple number you can get online will do that).
     
  37. Buzzkill Pauley

    Buzzkill Pauley Member SoSH Member

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    So we're back to comparing fractional WAR differences, based on less-than-single season defensive data??

    And that doesn't even include pitch framing.
     
  38. PaulinMyrBch

    PaulinMyrBch Don't touch his dog food Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Once CV is a go medically and has enough AB's to knock the rust off, he's on the roster. Period. Once that happens, opening day or whenever, someone is getting moved or we'll roll with three for a short period of time while things sort themselves out. I'm willing to bet Swihart spends at least some time in Pawtucket this year that is not rehab related. $50 to Jimmy if anyone wants a piece of that action.
     
  39. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    Why, if there are already two catchers on the roster who are both healthy and playing well? Vazquez is a framing ninja, sure, but he also has yet to show that he can hit in the majors. And he's just 25, which is not all that old for a catcher. He might still need some development time in AAA offensively, TJ or no TJ. If Swihart struggles and Vazquez is healthy, then it's very possible the Sox swap the two. But if Swihart picks up where he left off in the second half of 2015, then Vazquez isn't seeing the major league roster till they can find a new home for Hanigan.
     
  40. phenweigh

    phenweigh Member SoSH Member

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    Although I have less certainty than you, I agree that Blake could spend time in Pawtucket. I could even see some time with 3 catchers on the rosters, with Travis Shaw off the Boston roster. BROCK HOLT! can back up the corner infield positions.

    Put another way, the likely scenario of Vazquez in Pawtucket to start the season doesn't have to stay that way, even without catcher DL stints.
     
  41. Hank Scorpio

    Hank Scorpio Member SoSH Member

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    I think it's possible Swihart struggles enough to lose the starting job to Hanigan early on, but I also think it's low-likelihood we see Vazquez before June or July, barring an injury. I think though, the most likely scenario is Swihart holds the starting job all year, and Vazquez maybe gets a later-in-the-season call-up, with a reevaluation of the catching situation after the season.

    I'm not 100% confident that Swihart won't get set down due to struggles, so I hesitate to take the bet, but...

    a) the Red Sox have shown to be patient with young talent struggling (Pedroia, Middlebrooks '13-'14, Bogaerts '14, Betts early-'15), and it's often been rewarded.
    b) I think Swihart is more likely to be an all-star than in AAA for any significant stretch.
    c) Good cause, regardless.

    So I guess I'll take that action.
     
  42. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member

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    I'll be shocked if CV is on the starting day roster unless Swihart or Hanigan are hurt. I expect to see Hanigan catch Price on Swihart's off day. They were both on the Rays in 2014 when Hanigan caught as many games (84) as J.Molina (80.)
     
  43. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member

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    2,471
    Why is blocking easiest to measure? Framing seems to me easier to measure now that there's universal PITCHF/x data.
     
  44. BCsMightyJoeYoung

    BCsMightyJoeYoung Member SoSH Member

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    Of the two one assumes CV to have much more need of AAA development time. He has to prove he has recovered from the TJ surgery and that his defensive chops are still intact. More to the point he has to prove that his bat will play in MLB. 150 Abs in Pawtucket should do the trick - at least from the TJ recovery viewpoint. Quite frankly he could spend the entire year there developing the offensive part of his game. People forget how bad - as in JBJ bad - his 2014 actually was.

    I expect CV will be in Pawtucket until June - then he comes up with Hannigan traded.
     
  45. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Member

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    Emphasis on "noticeably" as in what you can see as opposed to what data shows.

    Based on admittedly small half-year samples (2014 for CV and 2015 for BS) Vazquez is 14 runs/120 games better than Swihart defensively due to framing alone. That's a huge difference. Even if the small samples overstate CV's framing, he's at least one win better defensively (and maybe two wins worse, offensively.)

    Again, I love both these catchers, hope the Sox don't cash in on Swihart's value in a trade and figure out a way to keep them both -- no knock on Ryan Hanigan intended.
     
  46. Hank Scorpio

    Hank Scorpio Member SoSH Member

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    I was curious about this, so I checked it out.

    David Price pitched 170.2 innings for the Rays in 2014 before being traded to the Tigers.

    Ryan Hanigan caught three of those innings.

    Hanigan started 0 of Price's 23 starts, and came into several of them after Price had left the game.

    The only time Hanigan caught Price in an actual game was on 5/13/14, in the 8th and 9th inning - and on 6/15/14, in the eighth inning.
     
  47. BCsMightyJoeYoung

    BCsMightyJoeYoung Member SoSH Member

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    I think you'd be better off to just stop at the bolded - its meaningless information.
     
  48. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    FWIW Bradford on WEEI when he was at the Winter Meetings, said Vazquez would be down as though it were a fact - citing the step he was at during his rehab.

    The fact that Swihart stayed up when Hanigan was activated last year is enough to convince me he won't be sent down again unless he is terrible. I'm not buying that they won't just keep the best two catchers up if they feel he is more of an asset. If he's outplaying Hanigan by the time Vazquez is ready, they'll either move Ryan or keep three catchers. I don't recall any recent history of them keeping a positional player down in AAA when they have shown major league ability.

    This is more what I think the team will do, than what may or may not seem like the most logical step to us.
     
  49. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Taking an isolated look at Rookies of the Year who were catchers, and assuming that the award indicates a remarkably high future value for that player - it's interesting to note that every winner succeeded on the basis of offensive skills. The only one that looks like defense was also involved was Thurman Munson. My guess? When comparing the future value of Swihart to Vazquez there's no team in the majors that would choose Christian over Blake, including the Red Sox.

    Johnny Bench: .275 w/ 82 RBI
    Thurmon Munson: .302 with 51% of runners thrown out
    Earl Williams: 33 HR w/87 RBI
    Carlton Fisk: .293 w/ 22 HR
    Benito Santiago: .300 w/ 18 HR
    Sandy Alomar: .290
    Mike Piazza: .318 w/ 35 HR
    Buster Posey: .305 w/ 18 HR

    Now, it's true that the Baseball Writers were/are clueless about defensive ability and it's true that defense is probably something perfected after the rookie year, but try to think of some of the best defensive catchers you know (e.g., the Flying Molina Brothers) and envision a team taking one of them over the list above. There are a few that meet that challenge but all in all, I think teams value offense so much more than defense that Swihart vs Vazquez isn't even a question.

    Which is too bad, because I love Vazquez' defense to the point of over-valuing it.
     
  50. Rovin Romine

    Rovin Romine Johnny Rico Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    7,591
    This is so not a problem. There's no need to rush. Swihart is 23. Vaz is 25. Neither could be FAs until something like 2021?

    Vazquez starts in AAA to see if he's recovered from his injury. If he is recovered and plays so well that he's a no-brainer upgrade over Swihart or Hanigan, he gets called up. If the call-up is due to the fact that Swihart is having trouble, Swihart gets sent to AAA. If it's because Hanigan is awful (or only passible while Swihart and Vaz are excellent), Hanigan gets traded or DFA'd at some point.

    Worst case - injuries or suckitude from all.
    Likely case - we get a decent primary catcher and a passible backup from some combination of the 3.
    Best case - Swihart's second half is for real and he's a plus-plus-offense, average defense catcher; Vaz recovers and is an average offensive and plus-plus defensive battery mate for Swihart, and Hanigan turns in a solid season and becomes trade bait, fetching some help or a prospect as needed.
     

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