Last night in the second inning Miguel Olivo let an errant Blake Beavan curveball squirt away from him, allowing Michael Young to advance from second to third base. He would score on an infield single, which is to say he might not have scored had Olivo managed to keep him at second base.
Olivo probably should have kept the pitch in front of him. With a runner in scoring position in a tied game, Olivo should have been anticipating a ball in the dirt even if the plan was for Beavan to throw it for a strike. Instead he reacted late, stabbing at the pitch and allowing it to run up his arm and get behind him. You'll see better fundamentals in Little League.
To be fair, the 1-0 loss shouldn't be pinned squarely on Olivo. Young only had the opportunity to advance to third base because of poor execution by Kyle Seager during the preceding Adrian Beltre pickle. And it's not like David Murphy would have had the same at bat with Young on second or first rather than third. In that alternate reality he probably doesn't hit a ball that Munenori Kawasaki keeps in the infield with a spectacular diving stop. For all we know he would have knocked a pitch into the right field seats. Furthermore, the offense only managed four singles between two hitters, which is unacceptable even when facing Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan. Teams can't win 0 to -1. But Olivo certainly didn't do anything to prevent the loss and it's nothing new.
Strictly from on offensive standpoint, he's only registered a positive Win Probability Added in 51 of his 136 games since rejoining the Mariners; if we factored in defense we'd expect be an even lower percentage. He's one of the very worst defensive catchers and very worst hitters by the numbers. He can throw a little bit, he has some power, and some believe he calls a good game, but those three things don't make a Major League baseball player when everything else grades out somewhere between below average and oh my god you can't be serious. The only explanation for his continued playing time is the intangible value manager Eric Wedge surmises he adds by being a veteran presence or good teammate or fiery competitor or whatever. I'm not one to get stuck on the numbers, but there is no way that Olivo is such a magical human being that he recoups all that is missing on the back of his baseball card.
The alternatives -- John Jaso and Jesus Montero -- are known for being pretty terrible defensively as well, but at least they should be able to provide some offensive value. Jaso slumped in 2011, posting an on-base percentage 74 points lower than what he did in 2010. -74 points was still good for +20 points on Olivo's career mark, +45 on Olivo's 2011. You know the expectations for Montero. Jaso and Montero would hit better than Olivo, period.
The Mariners need (or believe they need) a third catcher with Montero DHing most games. Olivo seems to be a perfect fit for that role. He can continue to be that veteran presence blah blah blah without hurting the Mariners' chances of winning on a daily basis.
This is not about Jaso. This is about Olivo killing the Mariners and any change being a good change. Let's see Jaso get a few starts per week. Let's see Montero get a couple starts per week. Hell, I wouldn't mind giving Adam Moore one last shot at some point this season.
Anything but Olivo.
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