2011 Reds

Behind The Plate

Where does Corky's mustache fit into the mix? (The Enquirer/Michael E. Keating)

With a couple of big-time catching prospects named Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal waiting in the wings, the Cincinnati Reds are as loaded behind the plate as any club in baseball. (And let’s not forget the most productive mustache of the group, Corky Miller.)

The big league squad is in good hands behind the plate, as well. Reds catchers Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan were among the most productive in baseball in 2010, and those two were one of the big reasons for Cincinnati’s success. Dusty Baker talked today about those catchers, and about his plan to divide up the playing time between them in much the same way as he did last year.

Certainly, they were both very good last year, so you can’t fault Dusty for wanting to aim for a repeat:

“They’re both productive,” Baker said. “There (sic) both strong. They both caught well. That’s about a good a tandem as there is in baseball. They get along well, which helps.”

There has been some discussion below about this. I think it’s imperative that Ryan Hanigan be the primary catcher. He’s better defensively and he’s going to get on base more — enough, in fact, to be a legitimate #2 hitter in the majors, in my opinion.

That said, however, Hanigan can’t play 130-140 games. It isn’t good for anyone. Hanigan needs to be playing four times a week, with Ramon playing three, roughly. That seems to be the sweet spot for keeping everyone healthy and productive.

Before you complain — But Chad! Dusty played Hernandez as the primary catcher each of the last two years! He won’t let Hanigan play more than the veteran! — settle down. Many people forget this, but just before he was injured last year, Dusty had recognized Hanigan’s value and was actually starting him more often than Ramon. Then, Hanigan went and broke his thumb and missed six weeks.

That’s to say, I trust Baker.* If Hanigan is playing as well as he did last year (and the year before), he’s going to get the lion’s share of the at-bats.

*Someone bookmark this post. I can’t believe I typed that.

19 thoughts on “Behind The Plate

  1. it is the effect of the dark side(posting on ESPN), the corruption has begun. Soon he will be debunking walks and how they just clutter up the basepaths.


    Go 2011 Reds!

  2. “I trust Baker” Wow! Those solar flares truly are messing up communications. Chad, what did you REALLY say?

  3. I’m not totally convinced that Dusty will do the right thing here. I wonder where those numbers would be if Arroyo didn’t insist on Hanigan. Fortunately for Hanigan, Bronson is the most durable pitcher on the staff, which helps skew the numbers for Ryan.

  4. That being said, I agree totally with the 4:3 split in favor of Hanigan. Really it should be 4:2, since most weeks are six games. This would work out perfect if Hanigan catches the white guys and Hernandez catches the Latinos. And Give Hrnandez a spot start here and there with Homer or Wood.

  5. By July 1st, we’ll all be saying “Ramon who?”. He’s exactly the sort of veteran backup that contending clubs acquire–cheap, veteranny. Unless Mez falls on his face, he’ll be up mid-season. Who knows, maybe we use Hernandez to fill a need. I hear we could use a 7th left fielder—you know, organizational depth.

  6. I’m ok with the 4 days Hanigan, 3 days Ramon–or vice versa. But in my humble view, some folks here are going way too far. There is an offense advantage to having Hanigan when he gets 200 ABs versus Ramon’s 300 ABs, but it’s not a giant one. Hanigan went .405/.429/.834, Ramon went .364/.428/.792. Raise your hand if you think Hanigan has an OBP over .400 in 2011 if he has 400 ABs instead of 200 ABs. (My hand is not up).

    I’m not knocking Hanigan–he is a prototypical put-the-ball-in-play type guy (no wheels, though–I see DPs in his future as a #2, frankly unless Dusty screws around too much with hit-n-run, run-n-hit and stuff like that). I think it’s been largely shown that the main advantage to lineups is the guys who hit at the top get more PAs over the course of the year and then there is the ability to go right-left-right and screw up another team’s pen. That’s about it.

    For those talking Mesoraco, but he and Grandal out of your mind for 2011. Ramon is on the backside of his career so his shelf life is short, but he’s not Henry Blanco. If Ramon gets hurt (and he could easily) it will hurt Hanigan’s productivity too.

    Mesoraco has some real easy power–like his future–but want to see him consolidate his gains this year rather than take a step back and want to see him improve his receiving skills (he has a great arm). Grandal is a ways away–let’s see something good this year before we get too excited.

    Ramon is not chopped liver and he’s not Henry Blanco. For 2011, I’d take the minority view that the even split with Hanigan and Ramon works far better than (1) mostly Hanigan and (2) most other team’s catcher situations.

  7. Keep Corky in Louisville. I love his attitude…almost like an extra coach. He can help the young catchers who are on their way up. Corky will make a great manager some day.

  8. It’s not how many days each week each catcher plays, it’s which pitcher is pitching. Hernandez will be catching Cueto and Volquez and Hannigan will be catching Bronson and Homer. The toss up is Leake or Wood and who they prefer. Day games after night games and all that other fun stuff Dusty deals with will come into play as well. Barring injuries I see the time split almost evenly down the middle.

  9. I agree that it’s probably hard to quantify the exact difference, but I don’t think there’s much question that there is a difference at this point in their respective careers. BTW, the only time Hernandez is mentioned in that first link is as having one of the 15 worst defensive seasons in the last 10 years.

  10. Yeah, I saw that year too. Defenders have good/bad years just like batters do, and I think that’s what that year represents. I’m not disagreeing with you (much), in truth, we just differ on what we think Hanigan > Hernandez on D is worth.

  11. I seem to remember several posts last season about how much better the pitcher’s ERA’s were when Hanigan caught versus Hernandez catching. Not sure if there was a large enough sampling size to make a good comparison. Shouldn’t this also factor in Hanigan’s better defensive rating, or overall ability to prevent runs?

  12. Let’s just carry three catchers again and keep everyone fresh! (preach ducks).

    “I trust Dusty.” Wow. You know that’s going to come back up during a few game threads, right Chad?

  13. I expect the cybernetic organism know as “Hernanigan” to have similar offensive numbers as last year.

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