Thursday, February 17, 2005


Barrett vs. Bako vs. Blanco vs. Old Lady with Cane

Last year the Cubs employed an effective catching tandem in Michael Barrett and Paul Bako. Barrett's main assett he brought to the game was a pretty good stick (no giggling) and Bako's best feature was that his last name rhymes with Taco. Bako was brought in as personal catcher/caddy for Maddux and proceeded to be out-slugged by Carlos Zambrano, Glendon Rusch and the entire Lakeview "Senior Living" Slow-Pitch Softball team.

His main assett was his defense...apparently. I mean, it pretty much had to be. He did throw out a whopping 29.4 % of runners that attempted to steal, just slightly below league average. Actually, this is not too bad considering he was catching Maddux most of the time. He only had one pass ball, which is nice, but then again he was catching Maddux, the patron saint of control. Barrett, on the other hand, threw out only 25% of runners and committed 8 passed balls. He also had an OPS of 826 as opposed to Bako's 571. Without doing a sophisticated analysis, it seems to me that Barrett is pretty alright, and Bako is...not. But that is why Bako is the backup and Barrett is the starter.

But my main concern is that people will be too down on Barrett because of a magical time period where Bako caught Mark Prior. During this stretch (coincidentally, also during "the stretch") Prior was on fire, with an era of 1.somethinglow and a bagillion or so strikeouts. He was quite impressive. Prior, I mean, not Bako. Prior could have been throwing to the late Abe Vigoda and he would have been fine. The fact that Prior started missing bats by locating his fastball and finally snapping off a few curves can be attributed more to the healing process, I think, than the healing words of Gabor.

The Cubs' new backup catcher, Henry the White, will hit about as well as Bako and has a strong arm to boot. I don't have much to say about him except that it is nice to still have someone around to make us appreciate Barrett's offense.

The point of this exercise is to point out that, unless it's Maddux's day to play catch, Barrett should be catching. Having a Blanco-esque bat in the linuep more than once a week is simply too much. Prior should be fully healthy at the beginning of the season, and unless he starts the season out more like Mark Clark circa 1999 than Mark Prior circa 2003, Barrett is the man.

...personally,I would prefer a backup catcher that can do some real damage, someone with some real veteran presence, someone like...Betty

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