Swihart traded to Dbacks

HangingW/ScottCooper

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Showing my age here, but the Sox are doing this on a night Sale is pitching against the Yankees. Very reminiscent of the Sox re-acquring Mirabelli from SD in a "panic" trade and rushing to get him to the park in time to catch Wake against...the Yankees.

Both trades very early in the season as well.
I had the same exact thought. This is puzzling. Comparing it to Hanley doesn't make a ton of sense either because there was a major money component there. Part of me wants it to come out that there's off the field issues so that this makes some sense, but in reality I hope this is just a performance decision and he turns into Josh Reddick elsewhere.
 

RedOctober3829

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The only explanation? What about "Vazquez can't hit but is good defensively, Swihart sucks at both?"
What part of good defensively is Christian Vazquez? He has all 3 of the Sox passed balls this year in 91.2 innings behind the plate which is good for 3rd worst in the majors. What about the narrative that Vazquez has an unbelievable arm? Oh that's right, Swihart was 12th in MLB last year per Baseball Savant with a 1.97 pop time while Vazquez's was 55th at 2.06.
 

moondog80

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He had a decent rookie season in 15 in the majors. Since then, he's not been given the sort of consistent at-bats to make this sort of statement
How big a sample are you looking for?

The decent rookie season (four years ago) was 309 PA where he hit 274/319/392.

Since then he's had 317 PA in the majors at 235/309/337, and 334 at Pawtucket where he hit 209/281/298 (rough but very close close estimate from weighting the two batting lines by PA, didn't feel like summing up the 1B, 2B, etc.)

It has been a long time since he's displayed major league skills. He was a 1st round pick in 2011, but 1st round picks, especially in the 20s where Swihart was drafted, turn out like this a lot more often than they turn into good big league players.
 

SoxinSeattle

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I think this is simple. If neither Swihart or Leone are going to hit why not go with the one that calls better games? I'm rooting for Blake but he's not proven to be very good at baseball.

Edited to remove bad math
 

chrisfont9

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Swihart career (573 AB, 146 hits): .255/.314/.365, OPS+ 82, 0.3 WAR
Vázquez career (963 AB, 235 hits): .244/.294/.632, OPS+ 69, 1.0 WAR

There's not much difference there in hitting ability but Swihart has the edge in two categories in basically half as many ABs. He also has 9 career HR in that span vs. Christian's 12.
Swihart is a negative dWAR, Vaz a positive one. Vaz is replacement level at bat, Swihart slightly above.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Leon was 19 for 170 the last 3 months of the year. 9 for 100 the last 2 months. If he is that poor in 2019 you are playing every American League game with a National League lineup; and having two pitchers in the lineup in NL parks.

I just don't see how you can accept that in exchange for (alleged) better pitch calling. That's not putting a bad hitter in a lineup, it's conceding outs. There's a difference.

And having no third catcher means you can't pinch hit as much.
Having a third catcher last year was great. The Sox offense and pitching supported it. But the team is different now. How would you make room for a third catcher this year? I don't think it can be done. A six-man bullpen like last year is just not an option. Not right now at least. Not long term.

It had to be a choice between Swihart and Leon. Yes, Leon's hitting was poor for parts of last year. But the rest of what he gives you is a known quality. Hoping that Swihart was going to get back to a decent hitter was just a hope and although 207 ABs last year was not exactly a huge sample it was a sample. He was awful too. If the problem with Swihart is that he's not getting enough consistent at bats, the problem of course is that he's a catcher. The job is never consistent. He's not going to get 500 ABs unless you play him at other positions and that's not going to happen.
 

joe dokes

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Do we really think this was a hasty, overnight decision? Sox mgmt aren't just a bunch of baseball bloggers and fantasy players. I'd guess they were trying to get something for him and wanted to showcase his bat early on, but other teams figured it out so it came time to move on. I'd also guess that the feedback they are getting from pitchers on his receiving isn't good, as in he hasn't made needed improvements. Just guessing though, along with the people who are assuming it was a hasty decision. Maybe we will find out more as the day goes on.
It seems that Drellich is being at least as reactionary as he is assuming Dombrowski is.
 

E5 Yaz

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How big a sample are you looking for?

The decent rookie season (four years ago) was 309 PA where he hit 274/319/392.

Since then he's had 317 PA in the majors at 235/309/337
I don't think you can equate 309 PA in one season with 317 PA over the next four combined.

The minor league stats have as much to do with coming back from injury and being on the shuttle as anything else

I'm not saying Swihart will ever be a great player. But to suggest he was given a legitimate trial by the team is questionable
 

chrisfont9

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What part of good defensively is Christian Vazquez? He has all 3 of the Sox passed balls this year in 91.2 innings behind the plate which is good for 3rd worst in the majors. What about the narrative that Vazquez has an unbelievable arm? Oh that's right, Swihart was 12th in MLB last year per Baseball Savant with a 1.97 pop time while Vazquez's was 55th at 2.06.
Well nonetheless Vaz has a 41% CS% and was top ten among regulars in the ML last year. For his career Swihart's is 27%. Pop times are nice but the result is what matters.
 

DrewDawg

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“Find someone that has the confidence in you that SoSH has in Blake Swihart.”
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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What part of good defensively is Christian Vazquez? He has all 3 of the Sox passed balls this year in 91.2 innings behind the plate which is good for 3rd worst in the majors. What about the narrative that Vazquez has an unbelievable arm? Oh that's right, Swihart was 12th in MLB last year per Baseball Savant with a 1.97 pop time while Vazquez's was 55th at 2.06.
I admit to not really knowing too much about advanced metrics for catchers' arms but the eye test certainly suggests that Vaz is a much better catcher with respect to holding runners on and throwing them out than Swihart has ever been. And the typical counting stats do seem to back that up -- over their careers Vaz has been run on much less than Swihart and has thrown a significantly higher percentage out.

Swihart was actually a competent catcher when it came to catching basestealers but Vaz is above average.
 

RGREELEY33

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Wow, the reactions in here are pretty aggressive for a guy with 600 plate appearances that has 9 HRs and a .679 career OPS.

Whether or not he has been dicked around by Sox management the last 5 years or not, he has not been a very good baseball player, and the Red Sox cannot carry 3 catchers again this year. Unless there was something +else+ involved here, I doubt they would have made this move without shopping him around a bit. He is 27 years old, and so far, kind of has stunk at baseball — and it seems, nobody else wanted him at any sort of player cost.

We’re on to Sandy. . . . . .
 

simplicio

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I’m not reading all 81 posts but isn’t the answer here that they think Vaz is coming up short but that Leon is better positioned to take Vaz’s load than Swi?
Quoting this for emphasis. I think Leon's the new primary catcher till Vaz figures something out.
 

Bosox1528

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Not sure why people are upset. Swihart is 27 years old and a bad baseball player. Late bloomers exist but are extremely rare, and Swihart is a terrible defensive catcher and not a good hitter either. The idea of Swihart having 4 WAR seasons is absurd.

People are still holding onto the idea of prospect Swihart, who just busted. Busts happen, don't be surprised. Also, I don't really buy the idea that the Sox mismanaged him. He was pretty clearly just always a shit player. He sucked as a defensive catcher and hasn't been a good hitter since AA in 2014.
 

Bosox1528

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He had a decent rookie season in 15 in the majors. Since then, he's not been given the sort of consistent at-bats to make this sort of statement
He had an absurd BABIP fueled hot streak that still left him as a below average hitter. When the BABIP inevitably came down he fell off a cliff. If you're expecting Swihart to keep up a .359 BABIP, I have a bridge to sell you
 

Bosox1528

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What part of good defensively is Christian Vazquez? He has all 3 of the Sox passed balls this year in 91.2 innings behind the plate which is good for 3rd worst in the majors. What about the narrative that Vazquez has an unbelievable arm? Oh that's right, Swihart was 12th in MLB last year per Baseball Savant with a 1.97 pop time while Vazquez's was 55th at 2.06.
Using a pop-time to illustrate Swihart's defensive prowess is like saying that Wily-Mo Pena was one of the best hitters in baseball because he had a great exit velocity in batting practice. Pop-time is a means to an end, not the end itself, which is catching runners stealing. At that, Vazquez is far better than Swihart. 59 career CS to 86 SBs for Vaz compared to 23 and 63 for Swihart. Vazquez's career DRS is +32 while Swihart's is -19.

Vazquez has also historically been ranked as one of the best framers in baseball where Swihart is about average
https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/card/58767/christian-vazquez
 

dhappy42

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I admit to not really knowing too much about advanced metrics for catchers' arms but the eye test certainly suggests that Vaz is a much better catcher with respect to holding runners on and throwing them out than Swihart has ever been. And the typical counting stats do seem to back that up -- over their careers Vaz has been run on much less than Swihart and has thrown a significantly higher percentage out.

Swihart was actually a competent catcher when it came to catching basestealers but Vaz is above average.

Here are the non-advanced metrics stats from last year:

INN/SB/CS/PB

Leon 686/26/9/13
Vazquez 604/22/13/11
Swihart 154/14/5/0

CS%
Leon = 26%
Vazquez = 37%
Swihart = 26%

Only seven MLB catchers had a higher CS% than Vazquez.

And you’re right about running on Swihart. 19 attempts in 154 innings is a lot, but that might be expected against (a) the 3rd-string catcher and (b) considering many of Swihart’s innings probably came late in games when teams are more likely to steal. (I think. I can’t find SBs by inning.)
 

Trautwein's Degree

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Wow, the reactions in here are pretty aggressive for a guy with 600 plate appearances that has 9 HRs and a .679 career OPS.

Whether or not he has been dicked around by Sox management the last 5 years or not, he has not been a very good baseball player, and the Red Sox cannot carry 3 catchers again this year. Unless there was something +else+ involved here, I doubt they would have made this move without shopping him around a bit. He is 27 years old, and so far, kind of has stunk at baseball — and it seems, nobody else wanted him at any sort of player cost.

We’re on to Sandy. . . . . .
I think this is the right answer. The Red Sox under Dombrowski have been well run. It's like when Belichick cuts a guy - he knows more about football than guy on the internet. It reminds me of when they dumped Hanley early last season. There's some story related to performance (which we know) and off the field issues which we may never know.
 

Hee Sox Choi

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This is going to haunt us like the time we cut Ryan Lavarnway!

I don't see much in Swihart's lifetime stats except a couple of decent seasons that were buoyed by high BABIP ('13-15).
 

CoffeeNerdness

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He didn't really look like a Major League catcher to me. His relatively small frame + the way he wouldn't square his body to the pitcher looked like it made for a bad target. He looked passable at best back there. I'll eat my hat if he's catching in the Majors next year.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The striking thing to me isn't the question of whether or not cutting Swihart is a mistake or if they dicked him around with the position changes and burying him on the bench for much of last year. It's that three weeks ago, management decided to keep Swihart and lose Leon (or more accurately, risk losing him to stash him in Pawtucket). Now, three weeks later, Swihart is gone and unlikely to be stashed in Pawtucket and Leon is back. And nothing really happened in those three weeks to make it glaringly obvious that this had to happen.

The pitching has been a mess, but most of the pitchers that are a mess haven't been throwing to Swihart so it's hard to pin that on him. I suppose that makes the argument that the mess is attributable to Leon's absence and they needed to find a way to get him back on the roster. The question in my mind is did that need to happen today and is dumping Swihart the most effective way to get Leon back.

I'm wondering how Pedroia fits into this. He understandably didn't play the field yesterday with the rain and threat of more. But he's not playing at all tonight. That's three days in a row he's not taking the field. Fair to question if he may not be destined to go back to the DL or are they still being extremely cautious with his playing time?
 
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With rosters expanding to 26 men next season, Swihart will be the type of asset that many teams will covet. A switch-hitting, multi-positional utility guy who can actually catch and run, will provide plenty of value.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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With rosters expanding to 26 men next season, Swihart will be the type of asset that many teams will covet. A switch-hitting, multi-positional utility guy who can actually catch and run, will provide plenty of value.
Who cares if he is a switch hitter if he can't hit? I understand he's been one of SoSH's biggest binkies ever...but he is 27 and simply can't hit . The Sox may have had a role in helping that suckitude...but he still sucks. 6 year veterans rarely just figure out how to hit.
 

nvalvo

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It's certainly true that the roster doesn't make a lot of sense. Things I would have done before this move:
  • Returned Pedroia to the IL. He needs to post an .800 OPS in a meaningful Pawtucket rehab stint before I want him back with the club. Having him rehab as the major league team's DH is a luxury we simply cannot afford.
  • DFA'd Núñez. He's doing exactly nothing well.
  • Promoted Lin. We need someone who can play 2B/3B/CF on the roster.
  • Acquired a minor league OF with options. Like... anyone with any kind of upside whatsoever. A classic 4th OF.
  • Stopped playing JDM in the OF, where he's been awful. I know small sample defensive stats aren't worth anything, but... his are real gross, and correspond with the visual impression. Except in emergencies, he shouldn't be out there.
  • After all that, think about the catchers.
 

simplicio

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I thought JDM had been in the outfield more cause JBJ is down with the flu?
 

sodenj5

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I think most people, myself included, are more upset at the squandered opportunity that Swihart presented.

It never felt like he was given a fair shake at staking a claim to any position, and ultimately it seems the Red Sox botched the development of a player that seemed to have a high ceiling at one point.

There’s no question that Swihart wasn’t exactly blowing people away so far this year, but I think we know exactly who/what Sandy Leon is, whereas I don’t think we’ve really seen what Blake Swihart can be given regular playing time and consistent at bats.
 

joe dokes

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The striking thing to me isn't the question of whether or not cutting Swihart is a mistake or if they dicked him around with the position changes and burying him on the bench for much of last year. It's that three weeks ago, management decided to keep Swihart and lose Leon (or more accurately, risk losing him to stash him in Pawtucket). Now, three weeks later, Swihart is gone and unlikely to be stashed in Pawtucket and Leon is back. And nothing really happened in those three weeks to make it glaringly obvious that this had to happen.

The pitching has been a mess, but most of the pitchers that are a mess haven't been throwing to Swihart so it's hard to pin that on him. I suppose that makes the argument that the mess is attributable to Leon's absence and they needed to find a way to get him back on the roster. The question in my mind is did that need to happen today and is dumping Swihart the most effective way to get Leon back.

I'm wondering how Pedroia fits into this. He understandably didn't play the field yesterday with the rain and threat of more. But he's not playing at all tonight. That's three days in a row he's not taking the field. Fair to question if he may not be destined to go back to the DL or are they still being extremely cautious with his playing time?
Whatever the reasoning, I think the team thought -- as did most here -- that the risk of actually losing Leon right around Opening Day was minuscule.
 

joe dokes

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It's certainly true that the roster doesn't make a lot of sense. Things I would have done before this move:
  • Returned Pedroia to the IL. He needs to post an .800 OPS in a meaningful Pawtucket rehab stint before I want him back with the club. Having him rehab as the major league team's DH is a luxury we simply cannot afford.
  • DFA'd Núñez. He's doing exactly nothing well.
  • Promoted Lin. We need someone who can play 2B/3B/CF on the roster.
  • Acquired a minor league OF with options. Like... anyone with any kind of upside whatsoever. A classic 4th OF.
  • Stopped playing JDM in the OF, where he's been awful. I know small sample defensive stats aren't worth anything, but... his are real gross, and correspond with the visual impression. Except in emergencies, he shouldn't be out there.
  • After all that, think about the catchers.
Holt having his eye re-installed should address some of this.
 

DeadlySplitter

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nice panic move.

this isn't necessarily the wrong move, but to do it this early is panicking. and I still think Swihart gives more upside as an overall player than Vaz, but that fucking extension he's on.

someone like the Royals will claim Swihart I think, he won't get too far down the trail.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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You can't just send a guy who just completed a rehab assignment back to the IL like that.

(edit - re: Pedroia)
 

tims4wins

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Can everyone stop comparing this to Mirabelli? That move actually required the Sox to give something up, something potentially valuable. The Sox aren't giving up anything to do this. Hell Swihart may even end up back in Pawtucket.
 

joe dokes

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nice panic move.

this isn't necessarily the wrong move, but to do it this early is panicking. and I still think Swihart gives more upside as an overall player than Vaz, but that fucking extension he's on.

someone like the Royals will claim Swihart I think, he won't get too far down the trail.
It's either panic now or wait too long later. Just depends on which kind of second-guessing they prefer.
 

mauidano

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I think most people, myself included, are more upset at the squandered opportunity that Swihart presented.

It never felt like he was given a fair shake at staking a claim to any position, and ultimately it seems the Red Sox botched the development of a player that seemed to have a high ceiling at one point.

There’s no question that Swihart wasn’t exactly blowing people away so far this year, but I think we know exactly who/what Sandy Leon is, whereas I don’t think we’ve really seen what Blake Swihart can be given regular playing time and consistent at bats.
I'm not sold on Sandy that he is the game changer. If so, why was HE released and NO ONE picked him up? Ultimately he is gonna have to hit and the moment Chris Sale goes South, do we blame Sandy? I find it real hard to believe that the lack of Sale's success is "the catcher". So swapping out one shitty player for another.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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nice panic move.

this isn't necessarily the wrong move, but to do it this early is panicking. and I still think Swihart gives more upside as an overall player than Vaz, but that fucking extension he's on.

someone like the Royals will claim Swihart I think, he won't get too far down the trail.
Yep. This organization just panics at the first sign of trouble. I'm not sure why you are surprised anymore!
 

Harry Hooper

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McAdam's take is up at BSJ: A snippet:

The swiftness of this move – and what led up to it — has the distinct smell of panic for a team which has been unable to get out of its own way early in the 2019 season.
...
The organization insisted throughout spring training that it had full confidence in Swihart as a major league catcher, but today’s move belies that faith.
...
Leon, meanwhile, will be placed in the unenviable position of serving as staff savior, and while his presence will likely be of some comfort to Sale and Porcello in particular, it’s unfair to expect that the veteran catcher can help an underperforming staff execute an early-season turnaround.

Moreover, the Sox can’t expect to get much in the way of offensive contributions from him. Throughout spring training and early in the year at Pawtucket, he looked no more confident at the plate than he did last year, when he delivered just nine hits in the final two months — covering 35 games — of the season.

And given Jackie Bradley Jr’s all-too-familiar early-season struggles at the plate, the Red Sox again find themselves with a black hole in the bottom of the third lineup — the very same issue they experienced in the first half of last season.
 

nvalvo

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I thought JDM had been in the outfield more cause JBJ is down with the flu?
Yup, and this highlights the fact that we don't have enough real OF on the roster. We ended up with two games of a glove-first DH and a bat-first RF.
 

rhswanzey

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Swihart career (573 AB, 146 hits): .255/.314/.365, OPS+ 82, 0.3 WAR
Vázquez career (963 AB, 235 hits): .244/.294/.632, OPS+ 69, 1.0 WAR

There's not much difference there in hitting ability but Swihart has the edge in two categories in basically half as many ABs. He also has 9 career HR in that span vs. Christian's 12.
Vazquez has a substantial edge in strikeout rate; I'm surprised no one has mentioned that Swihart has struck out 161 times in his 626 MLB PA. He simply does not have the power or on base skills to carry that strikeout rate. He's been over 20% every year with a 24.1% for his career. Vazquez is at 17.9% for his career, and all the way down to 15.2% last season (even though 2017, not 2018, has been his best triple slash season). I think there's a reasonable argument to make here that Vazquez is at least on equal footing with Swihart at the plate.

This organization pretty clearly never bought into Swihart's defense at catcher. It's not going to come right out and say that about a player it controls, of course. The chart listing the pitchers Swihart has caught is illustrative. So is the 25th man role Swihart occupied last year - look what it took for the guy to get time behind the plate.

Not trying to dump on Swihart - his fate was sealed by resigning Pearce. That was the third catcher roster spot, and it makes sense. Pearce is coming off a WS MVP and is clearly a superior MLB hitter. Swihart is better against righties and therefore not suitable as a Moreland caddy. If Nunez isn't on this roster, he's got the 3rd catcher/some of everything role he had last year. Even then, Holt (when Pedroia is healthy) gets priority over Swihart against righties. There's not really a role for him without the 26th roster spot, which is coming a year too late.

I don't want to dump all over Swihart. He's at least passable as a catcher, and he offers some positional flexibility. He seems like about a .650-.700 OPS player vs righties; that's immediately of use to several teams as a catcher (look at the role Astudillo is filling with the Twins, on a roster with two other catchers). I'd be interested in picking him up for nothing as a team expecting to lose 90+ games this season.

But he's already 27, and as a poster noted upthread, his last real success at the plate came in 2014 at AA. His A+/AA numbers were strong but didn't really jump off the page. Then, his strikeout rate crept up considerably upon breaking into MLB, and his true talent level for K rate appears to look like a hitter with much more power than Swihart shows.

He'll stick as a utility guy for a few seasons and I liked having the guy on the roster last year, but a lot of people here are getting carried away with the realistic upside/outcomes here. Guys who can be useful back-end-of-roster guys in their late 20s hit the waiver wire often. We just saw two when Toronto visited, in Hanson (via trade, but earlier waiver claim) and Brito.

This team went, what, 26-1 in Leon starts last July/August with him hitting like a pitcher? You really don't think Leon has any effect at all on what happened? I don't know how something like that is predictive at all; it just seems silly to immediately discard synergy as an immeasurable. I'm glad "the computer" got us onto BB and K rates away from wins; triple slash away from RBI. I think we're throwing out part of the game, though.
 
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