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princeton
08-21-2008, 02:14 PM
I was reading article on Little Leaguer who played against Danny Almonte, and was struck by the following passage since a conversion to catcher is pretty much what I'd always been thinking for another great Little Leaguer, Todd Frazier:

At the Cubs' pre-draft camp, they pointed Cerda toward home plate, and -- just as on the night his teammate wouldn't wear a cup -- he blurted: "I'll do it. I'll catch. I'll play anywhere." It was his first time in a chest protector since the Almonte game, and he then took BP off of the Cubs' scouting director Tim Wilken, spraying balls everywhere. Wilken was semi-awestruck. The Cubs' organizational philosophy is to take wicked hitters with average speed and high baseball IQs, and turn them into backstops. Geovany Soto, Henry Blanco and Koyie Hill were all converted to catcher at one point -- by the Cubs or someone else -- and Cerda fit the blueprint. When he left the pre-draft camp, the book on the kid was clear: great bat, better head.

"We never want to push someone to switch positions like that, but he jumped in, hook, line and sinker," Wilken says. "He swung the bat, had a real good arm and had the kind of makeup you can't coach. It just looked like a glove that had a chance to fit."

The Angels also remembered him from the Almonte game, but they never thought "catcher." The Red Sox, Giants and Astros also were hovering, so it was just a matter of who was going to bite first. On draft day, Cerda took his high school civics final in the morning, then parked himself by a phone. Sure enough, the Cubs called, saying they wanted to scoop him up in the third round. They said they'd be offering a $500,000 bonus, and Cerda, whose fallback option was the University of San Diego, exhaled and said, "Take me."

But, when the third round arrived, the Cubs took a pitcher who'd unexpectedly slid down to them, Chris Carpenter. Cerda began to pace. The Angels called next, as the fourth round was revving up, but their offer was decidedly lower than Chicago's, and Cerda had the guts to tell them he preferred college. Then the Cubs called back, offering the same $500 grand in the fourth -- $115 grand more than they had offered Carpenter in the third. Again, Cerda told them, "Take me." When they did, the whole family wept, and then went to hang a Cubs flag on their front porch. Tiny Matthew Cerda was the 131st overall pick, at the surreal age of 17.

link: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=cerda&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos1


I also liked the in-draft negotiating

rotnoid
08-21-2008, 02:28 PM
That's an interesting philosophy. I've always heard it said, Bob Boone notwithstanding, that catchers make the best coaches. I don't have any data to back it up, but in my experience, they usually have at least near the most baseball knowledge on the field. Antecdotal evidence for sure, but it worked with Blanco and Soto.

westofyou
08-21-2008, 02:50 PM
That's an interesting philosophy. I've always heard it said, Bob Boone notwithstanding, that catchers make the best coaches. I don't have any data to back it up, but in my experience, they usually have at least near the most baseball knowledge on the field. Antecdotal evidence for sure, but it worked with Blanco and Soto.

2 seasons ago this was the breakdown.


30 of the current managers in baseball, 13 were catchers (43%), 7 outfielders (23%), 8 infielders (26%) and 2 1st basemen (0.66)

I suppose it's still in that neighborhood.

Catchers tend to see both end of the game, pitching and hitting, they also know the nuances more than the other players because they face them all head on day in and day out.

Pitchers as managers tend to do approach hitting/pinch hitting differently, Fred Hutchinson was not shy of pulling bats and PH anyone at anytime, guys who used to be regular field players don't do that much, they wouldn't have wanted it to happen to them.

Former IF's like Tony LaRussa or Bobby Cox seem to really value defense in IF's first and foremost and often don't chase big bat guys in key defensive positions.

Casey Stengel was platooned religiously and when he managed he too used that tool, Gene Mauch would start the worst lineups at times and Bob Boone followed that method religiously as well... as we all can remember if we drink enough to uncover that repressed reality.

Chip R
08-21-2008, 02:58 PM
I was reading article on Little Leaguer who played against Danny Almonte, and was struck by the following passage since a conversion to catcher is pretty much what I'd always been thinking for another great Little Leaguer, Todd Frazier


It's an interesting thought. Especially for a guy like Frazier who seems to be a guy without a position. I know Dragons hitting coach Darren Bragg really likes him and his mentality. He sounds like he has all the mental tools for a catcher. However, if they would convert him, he'd pretty much have to start over again and that would delay his arrival in the big leagues. Plus he'll have to be protected on the 40 man in a year or two. You have to ask if his bat projects to be at the big league level in a couple of years, do you want to keep him in the minors learning a new position?

Rojo
08-21-2008, 03:34 PM
It depends the ceiling of the bat, I don't want to stifle (injure) a high one with catching.

princeton
08-21-2008, 05:23 PM
It depends the ceiling of the bat, I don't want to stifle (injure) a high one with catching.


right, I think that's the key point. often guys are put at catcher because of their tools plus their weak offense, and on rare occasions those guys hit a lot more than expected and teams feel inclined to re-move them

aren't a lot of Craig Biggios out there, but Frazier could be one. Adam Rosales, OTOH...

I suspect the Cubs got into this business because the catcher market's terrible and because it's not a baserunning era. Those things could change, but Reds ought to try it out as well.

Big Klu
08-21-2008, 06:00 PM
2 seasons ago this was the breakdown.



I suppose it's still in that neighborhood.

Catchers tend to see both end of the game, pitching and hitting, they also know the nuances more than the other players because they face them all head on day in and day out.

Pitchers as managers tend to do approach hitting/pinch hitting differently, Fred Hutchinson was not shy of pulling bats and PH anyone at anytime, guys who used to be regular field players don't do that much, they wouldn't have wanted it to happen to them.

Former IF's like Tony LaRussa or Bobby Cox seem to really value defense in IF's first and foremost and often don't chase big bat guys in key defensive positions.

Casey Stengel was platooned religiously and when he managed he too used that tool, Gene Mauch would start the worst lineups at times and Bob Boone followed that method religiously as well... as we all can remember if we drink enough to uncover that repressed reality.

Former Royals manager Tony Muser really valued 1B defense. You guessed it--he was a slick-scooping, weak-hitting 1B for the Orioles in his playing days.

Rojo
08-21-2008, 06:48 PM
right, I think that's the key point. often guys are put at catcher because of their tools plus their weak offense, and on rare occasions those guys hit a lot more than expected and teams feel inclined to re-move them

And I understand that inclination. You slow a good bat like BJ Surhoff or Todd Zeile, you don't get the maximum production in the cheap years and still don't end up with a good catcher.

I like the idea of putting a high IQ, atheletic player behind the plate. But I'd target fringe bats (as opposed to weak ones).

15fan
08-21-2008, 08:28 PM
I'd like to see the behemoths like Adam Dunn get behind the plate. They'd never lose colisions at home. Plus, if a batter ever charged the mound, the 6'6" catcher could just grab the guy by the collar and pull him to the ground before he ever got close to the mound.

vaticanplum
08-21-2008, 09:05 PM
Catchers tend to see both end of the game, pitching and hitting, they also know the nuances more than the other players because they face them all head on day in and day out.

Catchers are also forced to communicate whether it's a natural ability for them or not. And they often, no doubt, have to learn to communicate the exact same thing in five different ways to ten different people. This is notably different from what anybody else on the field has to do, and I have to think it's an invaluable trait for a manager.

George Anderson
08-21-2008, 09:53 PM
Catchers tend to see both end of the game, pitching and hitting, they also know the nuances more than the other players because they face them all head on day in and day out.
.

Ex catchers also for the most part make great umpires. A couple guys I ump with were either top notch HS or College catchers and they are outstanding umpires. It has alot to do with seeing so many pitches and having a good idea where the strike zone is.

Benihana
08-21-2008, 10:07 PM
I've been saying it for a while, Juan Francisco is the best candidate to convert to catcher. Good bat yet needs a lot more time in the minors to refine plate discipline, solid build, strong arm, no real position.

chicoruiz
08-22-2008, 07:34 AM
Or Waring, or even Soto...we're loaded with guys with strong arms but not quite the range for a middle infielder. The key is finding one who would embrace the change as a faster route to the bigs.

camisadelgolf
08-22-2008, 08:41 AM
This is part of the reason we see a lot of Latin catchers. They are told that if they convert to catcher, they will reach the Major Leagues more quickly.

George Anderson
08-22-2008, 08:43 AM
They are told that if they convert to catcher, they will reach the Major Leagues more quickly.

Ted Bench told young Johnny that the quickest way to get to the top was catcher.

Cooper
08-22-2008, 10:44 AM
2 thoughts:

1. Wasn't Votto a catcher before being switched to 1st base? I am guessing he may have gotten switched because of his lack of defense(?)...is that true or am i getting too old to remember what happened? Or both.

2. If the organization takes the approach that they are going to call much of the game from the bench then i think it could be done with much more ease. You call the game from the bench and you don't have to live with a Bako as your catcher. Bako probably calls a good game and that's his biggest strength. IIRC, LaRussa and his coaches call the game from the bench and i got to believe that makes it easier on catchers. It also makes it easier on their relationship with each other. Half of Cueto's problems earlier in the year had to do with him not following his catcher's advice. If that's the case--take it out of the catcher's hands and address the problem straight on.

3. Princeton -it's a dang good idea. You have to have the whole organization on board to make it work -and as of right now -there's just too many different agendas (Baker's).

4. Anyone believe Baker could call a game from the bench? He gets out managed on a strategy level every game and i'm guessing he doesn't handle 20% of what LaRussa handles.

princeton
08-22-2008, 11:32 AM
2 thoughts:

1. Wasn't Votto a catcher before being switched to 1st base? I am guessing he may have gotten switched because of his lack of defense.

right, Votto was drafted as a catcher, but M2 recently pointed out that he switched positions within a year. Sometimes guys get switched due to poor tools, sometimes because their bats project well and are very ahead of their defense.

but the market was different back then, too. there were catchers in baseball back then, or at least more than there are now.