Saturday, April 08, 2006


Respect the Barrett!

No offense to Death's post on benching Barrett over at Goat Riders, but he makes a statement that is impossible to defend. Not to worry, he's not the first person to say this and he's in some good company (Andy from Desipio comes to mind). He quotes (indirectly) the Catcher's ERA stat that says that pitchers had an ERA of 3.5 when throwing the Blanco and 4.5 when throwing to Barrett. The implication, of course, is that Barrett has been so bad on defense that he is causing pitchers to give up an extra run a game.

Over the course of the season, that amounts to 162 runs. This is saying that Blanco is 162 defensive runs better than Barrett. Barrett has single-handedly cost the Cubs 162 runs. If we take a nice, even number and say that there are about 9 runs in a win (I'm being very conservative here since I'm not sure how WARP and such stats derive expected wins from runs) then that mean Blanco is 18 wins better than Barrett on defense. 18 wins. That means that the Cubs would have won 96 games last year with Blanco catching. Most MVP candidates contribute 8-10 wins to their team's success. Sooooo...Blanco for the HOF?

The point of this is to point out how ridiculous a stat Catcher's ERA is. It is possibly the most misleading stat in the game. Is Barrett a bad defensive catcher? Yeah, pretty much. He certainly isn't good. But all those runs he contributes on offense count and have to be weighed against the defensive runs he gives up. And let me tell you, folks, he doesn't give up enough defensive runs to make up for Blanco's enimic bat, especially if you figure that Blanco's unlikely to repeat last year's offensive performance. It's just not possible for one player to have that great a defensive impact.

And another thing, if Barrett calls such a bad game, don't blame him. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Larry Rothschild and Dusty Baker. Many, many teams call pitches from the dugout and there is no reason the Cubs can't do this. In everyone in the stadium knows that Barrett should call a waste pitch, then the folks in the dugout damn well should too and it is up to them to make sure it happens.

People should just be happy with what we have. An above average catcher heading sitting firmly in his prime.

It's true, I was inspired and influenced by Andy Dolan.

I realize that Barrett's defensive gaffs don't cost the Cubs EVERY game, and I'm sure that his hitting skills help out in the long run.

Yet, I can't help but wonder if he is overvalued at the moment. And, if he is, then maybe the Cubs SHOULD trade him and get more than he's worth. And, if they do, then I have to imagine that the guy they'd get in return is better offensively anyway, just at a different position.

It's sort of the same "intellectual" speculation that people used to do when Sammy was at his peak. I know Michael will stay a Cub, and he probably should. But let me ask you this:

We Cub fans are dying for talent. I think all Cub fans LOVE Derrek, and almost all love Aramis. Why? Because they're the most talented players we've had at their positions in YEARS - and in A-Ram's case, DECADES. Therefore, it's easy to deduce that if you give us a player who's better than anything we've seen for a good long while, then we're going to love and support him.

Yet, there doesn't seem to be as much strong fan support for Barrett. My question is: don't you think there may be a reason for that? Or are the fans just being duped by the naysayers?

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
I actually think you are right, he probably is a bit overrated. I just don't see who we could get (position wise) that would be enough of an upgrade over any of our other position players to make up for the offensive drop from Barrett to Blanco. You know, since Jones is unlikely to be replaced.

I would certainly trade him for the right package, although I still have a feeling that he's going to have a breakout year. Just a hunch.
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