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Inside look at the intangibles of catching

Nov 12, 2009, 11:27 PM EDT

brent-mayne-091112.jpgMatthew broke down the free agent catchers last night, giving detailed predictions into where they are likely to go, and for how much money.

It all gets one to thinking about what you should value most in a catcher: Is it offense? Defense? Calling a game? Handling pitching staffs and dealing with umpires?

They’re the quarterbacks of baseball. Perhaps the most important — and often undervalued — position in the game.

Which brings me to a fascinating column on Baseballanalysts.com by former catcher Brent Mayne, who delves into the “Intangibles of Catching,” giving us a good look at what goes on behind the plate.

Allow me to explain and show you how I see it from a catcher’s perspective. For every pitch, you’ve got about eight million variables coming at you. Who is the hitter and how have I attacked him in the past? What is the game situation? What are your pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses? What is the game plan/scouting report? Who is the umpire and what is his strike zone today? What does your manager want? The list goes on and on. And you need to process all this information and put down the correct number…right now.

Mayne, who hit .263 in 15 seasons in the majors (1990-2004), goes on to write about his disgust for managers who call pitches from the bench (particularly in the minors and amateur ball), the importance of communicating with pitchers (that’s Mayne above trying to calm down Jose Lima in 2003), calling pitches and controlling the pace of the game.

It’s an interesting story. I suggest you check it out.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

  1. Old Gator - Nov 13, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    Fascinating indeed.
    Now just out of curiosity, who was it who once described catching a foul off the plate with your crotch “a cross between the fear of death and the fear of not dying”? Although it has Yogi-esque implications, the comment itself seems a little too self-consciuous for the sublime Mr. Berra. Anyone know?

  2. comeonman - Nov 13, 2009 at 12:35 PM

    THE OPPOSING MANAGER THEN COMPLAINS WHEN POSADA AND MOLINA GO TO THE MOUND A FEW TIMES IN A INNING DURING THE PLAYOFFS, THEY ARE
    THE ONES WHO CONTROL THE GAME FROM THE BENCH. THANKS BRENT MAYNE
    THE YANKEES ARE CHAMPIONS OF BASEBALL…AGAIN

  3. Rick2009 - Nov 13, 2009 at 8:53 PM

    I kind of understand what your getting at by all the intangibles and the possible duties that a catcher might have. The fact is though a great catcher can be very weak in calling games ,talking to umpires and several other of these so called skills if he is great defensively and knock the heck out of the ball. Heck, he doesn’t even have to know how to speak English. Many of the pitchers don’t know how to speak English. And many pitchers like to call their own game. They don’t want a catcher taking over their job. Did you ever watch the movie BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY. There was a good catcher who definitely wasn’t a field general.

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