Monday, September 20, 2010

Butera vs. Morales

I was asked recently by a follower on Twitter (seriously guys, I'm on Twitter.  Follow me and all your greatest dreams will come true) to do a breakdown of Morales vs. Butera.  I'm assuming the question is "who should make the postseason roster as the backup catcher", because it's pretty clear Morales is a far better hitter while Butera is a defensive whiz who, HR against the Phillies not withstanding, might as well go up to the plate with a whiffleball bat.  Frankly, this one is easy as well:  there is zero reason to have Butera on the postseason roster.  Zero.

First, just to explain how bad Butera is at the plate, remember that I mentioned in a post last week how his OPS is one of the ten worst in the entire league.  His .185/.220/.294 isn't just anemic, it is laughably bad, and registers as an OPS+ of 34.  For some perspective, in Nick Punto's worst season he posted a 53 - 56% higher than Butera.  That is the same jump you see going from Denard Span to Danny Valencia or J.J. Hardy to Joe Mauer - it's a big difference.  Any time you are that far from Nick Punto's worst season, you have issues.  Morales isn't exactly hitting the crap out of the ball so far this year, but we saw last year in the time he was up that he is a good (at worst average) hitter, and somebody you could easily use as a PH.

Ok, fine.  That much was already clear, we know Morales is a better hitter.  So why would we consider Butera?  Three reasons:

1.  He's an awesome defender.  Yes, yes he is.  I mentioned this last week, but he's one of the best in the league at throwing out would-be base stealers, and has done the majority of his work with one of the slowest pitchers to the plate in all of baseball.  He's phenomenal, really.  But it doesn't matter.
Mauer doesn't need a defensive replacement in the late innings.  For one, he's a pretty good defensive catcher on his own (which I will likely repeat over and over in this post) and two, there's generally no such thing as a late inning defensive replacement at catcher.  This isn't like putting in Jason Repko for Jason Kubel.  Plus you would never, ever take Mauer's bat out of the lineup in any game close enough to warrant needing an upgrade on defense - just in case you go into extras.

So we can pretty much rule out Butera getting any PT in this situation. 

2.  Morales isn't good enough to fill in for Mauer behind the plate when he needs rest.  Well, he's 0-2 throwing out base stealers this and although he was a respectable 8/18 last year he also allowed 5 passed balls in just 29 games, or one fewer than Mauer and Butera have allowed combined so far this year and is nowhere near Butera (or Mauer) in terms of overall defense.  But, again, it doesn't matter.

This isn't the grind of the regular season, this is the slow-it-down dog-and-pony show playoffs, where you frequently have a day off between games and sometimes "travel day" really means two.  There's a reason why teams with a strong front of the rotation have such an advantage in the playoffs, and that's because the games are spread out you never have to go more than four hurlers deep and often only need three.  That same extra rest and logic would dictate that Mauer won't need a break for his aching knees or back or shoulder or heel or locusts or whatever current ailment is plaguing him.  There will never be a need for Butera (or Morales) to start a playoff game, and if there is, it's already over.

So we can pretty much rule out Butera getting any PT in this situation. 

3.  He's Pavano's personal catcher.  I have seen situations where there is a true need for a personal catcher, whether it's personal or strategical, but that isn't the case here.  Once again, although Butera may be better at throwing runners out than Mauer, it's not like Joe is Brian Harper back there - he's still one of the best catchers in the league and will be just fine.  Not to mention Pavano came out and said that the whole Pavano's personal catcher thing was just as much to give Mauer a regular day off as it was for any strategic reasons.  This one doesn't matter either, and we can once again rule out Butera getting any PT in this situation.

So there you go.  There is absolutely zero reason for Butera to be on the playoff roster because there is absolutely zero situations where it would make sense for him to actually play.  Morales would likely not see much of the field either, but he can at least give you an at-bat here and there where needed and you know it's not wasted - you can't say the same for Butera.

Really, the only arguments for letting Drew play would include words like gamer, gritty, warrior, chemistry, good teammate, and "he's been here all year", the types of arguments that writers like the Fire Joe Morgan guys have shown to be essentially meaningless cliches, clung to by aging sportswriters as the game and logic pass them by.

In other words, this sounds exactly like something Gardy is going to be all over. 


rghrbek said...


You are 100% right on this. You are also 100% right that Tardy will leave him on the roster.

WWWWWW said...

Someone is stealing my bits!

And also the New Yorker is stealing my ideas.

Tired of Rghrbek Guy said...

Tardy, Cruddy, Sperm?

I didn't know 2nd grade classrooms have internet access. Better run along to morning recess RG!

rghrbek said...

Tired of Rghrbek Guy...

I love me.