07-22-2012, 03:34 PM #1
In Defense of Drew
Watching the Samuel Deduno's performance today is just a reminder of the value that Drew Butera brings to the Twins roster.
I know. I know. He can't hit. And that's fine. That's certainly not his role. His role is to allow Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit to be on the field at the same time.
And his primary role appears to be working with struggling pitchers. It it clear from watching Deduno's first couple of starts that he has some "stuff." He just had no idea from pitch-to-pitch where the stuff would go. Enter Drew Butera.
This is no knock on Joe Mauer (who has won Gold Gloves, for what that is worth) or Ryan Doumit (who has been much better defensively than I would have thought coming into the season). But defensively, neither comes close to Butera. And that makes sense because those two need to hit, they need their legs. When it comes to blocking balls in the dirt, Butera is the best.
But the things that he does so well, in my opinion, that help a struggling pitcher are a little more subtle.
First, he is more talkative and energetic behind the plate. He appears to be very encouraging and uses his hands and glove very well. He seems able to find little things that the pitcher is doing and quickly visits the mound to discuss or encourage. That's the leadership.
The other is probably even more subtle, and I'm not going to look into the stats, but I think that Butera is more willing to call different pitches. When Mauer or Doumit are behind the plate, it is generally a lot of fastballs, and when the pitcher is struggling with control, they call even more changeups. Butera isn't afraid to call curveballs and offspeed pitches. He definitely seems to think more outside the box with his pitch calls. That is a good thing.
When Francisco Liriano was at his low point and being used in the bullpen and then came back to the rotation, Gardenhire had no problem putting Butera out there to work with him. Sure, now that Liriano is back to his old self, which catcher goes with him doesn't really seem to matter much, so they might as well use the one that hits more.
I know many will disagree with this thread, but it is clear in my mind what the value of Drew Butera is to a team beyond just letting Doumit and Mauer play almost every day.
07-22-2012, 03:41 PM #2
But he also gets 4-5 at bats, right? So his role does involve "hitting". So you are saying he's better than Mauer as a catcher?Win Twins.
07-22-2012, 03:51 PM #3
I have issues with Butera getting credit for Liriano's success when Francisco's best season came with Mauer behind the plate in 2010. Liriano is a better pitcher because he's throwing his fastball harder and he's throwing more sliders (which is more of a "game plan" decision, not one a catcher should be winging behind the plate). Why do guys like Butera get credit for being behind the plate when a pitcher does well but none of the blame for when a pitcher falls on his face?
And there is no denying that Drew Butera is one of the worst (and often, the very worst) MLB player with the stick. He'd have to literally work magic behind the plate to offset his horrendous hitting and I have yet to see him turn an opposing batter into a frog so I'm skeptical that's within his skill set.
07-22-2012, 03:53 PM #4
07-22-2012, 04:01 PM #5
Also, it should be noted that Drew started nearly half of this team's games in 2011 (and played in well over half) and the pitching staff was 29th in ERA.
07-22-2012, 04:03 PM #6
The good thing is that he is being used appropriately this year -- as a 3rd catcher. Not someone who is out there 3-4 days a week.
I wish he would hit better (although he is marginally better so far this year than in the last 2 years). Limiting Mauer's catching duties seems to be keeping him fresher at the plate -- and that's a good thing.
If Mauer can catch 3-4 times a week, Doumit 1-2 and Butera 1-2, that would be a good combination. There's room for Doumit at other positions so they can keep his bat in the line-up. Mauer hasn't quite hit that target this season but I have to think that the Twins are being extraordinarily cautious with him given last year and the team's overall performance this year.
All-in-all, having 1 defensive catcher on the roster isn't bad as long as you limit his at bats over the course of the season. And yes, Butera does seem to have some 'indefinable intangibles" in working with pitchers. Pavano has been at this a long time -- I have to think that there was a reason he preferred Butera.
07-22-2012, 04:06 PM #7
I've felt all season that he's gotten a raw deal from posters. I think it is clear he's the best we have defensively. Yes, hitting is a weak spot, but even that is improved over last year. I think a lot of people gave up on him based on previous years' performances and haven't given him a shot this year.
07-22-2012, 04:11 PM #8
07-22-2012, 04:15 PM #9
07-22-2012, 04:16 PM #10
FWIW he has shown some improvement at the plate this year, while a .634 OPS, 75 OPS+ isnt going to turn any heads it should be noted you CAN live with that sort of production from a back up/3rd catcher, especially when said catcher is:
1. Excellent defensively, Butera might be the best defensive catcher in baseball.
2. There is nobody better to replace him with. (Towles has struggled and everyone else is too far away)
3. It's not like he is keeping someone off the bench, i.e. when Parmelee was on the roster he was basically rotting on the bench.
I'm not the largest fan of "personal catchers", however its hard to deny his success with Liriano and no DeDuno, perhaps he is the latin pitcher whisperer after all?
Either way, I will root for the guy, he is a master of his craft defensively and has made it to the bigs for 2+ years now possesing hitting skills the majority of NCAA players could match, its kind of a neat story.
If he can somehow continue to post an OPS+ above 70 (I'm not saying he will) then he is an acceptable back up catcher in the major leagues.
07-22-2012, 04:22 PM #11
Francisco Liriano made 24 starts in 2011. Drew Butera caught 10 of them, more than any other catcher.
Liriano posted an ERA+ of 80.
07-22-2012, 04:25 PM #12
I still think Liriano's resurgence is due more to his ability to throw his faster 3 MPH faster since the demotion and his ability to throw the slider more often.
Is Drew potentially calling for the slider? Perhaps.
Though most of the credit should be given to Anderson for fixing whatever he did with Liriano.
07-22-2012, 04:47 PM #13
People are quick to bash Anderson for a myriad of perceived failures but are often unwilling to give him credit when something goes right.
If you honestly believe a pitching coach has that much influence over how a player performs on the field, you can't have it one way but not the other. Anderson deserves credit for Liriano and probably deserves a little credit for Diamond as well. Not to mention Perkins, Burton, Burnett, and the rest of the Twins pen this season.
07-22-2012, 04:49 PM #14
Butera is not a #1 catcher, that's clear. He was thrown into a position last year where he was waaay over his head. But the role he is in now is fantastic. Coincidental or not, Liriano has done great with Butera. Deduno did great with him today. Thanks to the position flexibility of Doumit and Mauer, his catching isn't keeping them out of the lineup, but it DOES allow Gardy to keep those two in the lineup and/or PH them more readily in close games, knowing that he won't have to throw a mask on Mastorianni if the game goes 18 innings.
If the twins can get their starters to the point where we can go back to a 4-man bench, that would be ideal of course. But I for one am very comfortable with having Drew on our 25-man roster.
07-22-2012, 05:11 PM #15
Maybe that's another good point. With the temps in KC around 100 today, I wouldn't have wanted Mauer or Doumit behind the plate today.
07-22-2012, 05:24 PM #16
07-22-2012, 05:31 PM #17
I don't know if Butera is a better defensive catcher than Mauer. I doubt if that is the point. He is clearly a solid defensive catcher with a good arm. Since he doesn't hit well, if he is going to stay in the majors, he must do the little things well. One of those little things is perhaps to spend a little more time preparing for his limited catching opportunities. His legs are likely fresher than either Doumit or Mauer so he bounces around back there, maybe blocks a few more pitches in the dirt, perhaps runs out to talk to his pitcher a little more often. It is what backups do. I suspect it is a good thing if he can help Liriano with his mechanics or his confidence.
None of this is or should be a knock on Mauer. He has to be an anchor in the middle of the lineup. While I doubt if he neglects his catching duties, he certainly can't devote as much time to them as Butera likely does.
While there is a lot thought and blog space spent on what a waste it is to have a Butera on your 25 man roster, I believe most people have that wrong. Butera is exactly the kind of player you need on the bench. Since benches are so short nowadays because of the extra pitchers, it is important to select your bench people carefully. You are never going to have backups as good as starters so what you do is select guys with specialized skills.
When one of your backups has to play, at least then there won't be a drop off across the board at that position. Usually that skill will be defense, though you can justify a left handed masher like Thome or even the ability to play many positions. Right now as pointed out by a previous poster, Butera is not blocking a potentionally more useful backup from being in the majors. He also appears to be doing well in his limited appearances. Perfect.
07-22-2012, 06:00 PM #18
why do the twins need 3 catchers?if mauer is the dh and doumit gets hurt, then we lose the dh ...not forever , just for the rest of that game.... 13 pitchers and 3 catchers?wow just friggin wow this stupidity is not only allowed but some of the kool-aid drinking bloggers actually believe this is a way to improve our team ....
07-22-2012, 06:12 PM #19
07-22-2012, 06:24 PM #20
Or perhaps your concern is only applicable to one discrete situation.
Your point is not well thought out, your grammar, syntax, and writing style are atrocious, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.