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The Cubs snag backup catcher Max Ramirez from the Red Sox and it probably doesn’t matter

Jan 10, 2011, 4:53 PM EDT


Five days ago the Red Sox claimed backup catcher Max Ramirez from the Rangers. They’d wanted him since a trade of Mike Lowell for him fell through last year.  Guess they didn’t want him too bad, though, because they waived him today when they signed Hideki Okajima. The Cubs have now claimed Ramirez.

For anyone wanted to really plumb the depths of this move, please read McCovey Chronicles’ take on backup catchers from last week. Bonus: it was even about Max Ramirez.  Their take on him, in a nutshell: even if he’s a highly sought-after backup, he’s fundamentally interchangeable with every other backup catcher out there over the course of 150 plate appearances or so. His quality only matters if he’s going to fill in for the starter for a long time.  But, if your starter is someone as good as Buster Posey, your season is probably a lost cause anyway if he goes down, and that’s the case no matter how nice your backup is.

Geovany Soto isn’t as good as Buster Posey. But he’s good enough that, if he’s out for an extended time, the Cubs are kinda screwed. Whether the backup is Joe Schmo, Max Ramirez or the Molinas’ second cousin doesn’t really matter.

  1. hackerjay - Jan 10, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Posey might have a higher ceiling, but Soto was the better player last year by almost any measure.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 10, 2011 at 5:11 PM

      Aside from the playoffs and World Series…

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 10, 2011 at 5:12 PM

        Oh and I guess you were wrong on ALL measures, so never mind. See bloodysock below.

  2. spudchukar - Jan 10, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Isn’t Max Ramirez a stand-up comedian with current gigs in the Pocono’s?

  3. bloodysock - Jan 10, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    You’re kidding right?

    Soto: .280 BA/ 17 HR/ 53RBI/ .393 OBP/ .497 SLG
    105 games/322 AB’s/K’s 25.2%/ 62 BB’s

    Posey: .305 BA/ 18 HR/ 67 RBI/ .357 OBP/ .505 SLG
    108 games/406 AB’s/K’s 13.1%/ 30 BB’s

    And how did Soto perform in the playoffs?

    • spudchukar - Jan 10, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      Fast work Bloodysock, you beat me to it, and I too was going to emphasize that glaring KO disparity. So, Hackerjay when you made your claims about who was the better player were you talking about Baseball?

    • Ari Collins - Jan 10, 2011 at 5:33 PM

      Guys, are we really using RBIs and Ks? Really?

      On a rate basis, Soto beat him handily in OPS (.890 to .862). And OPS understates the difference, since it treats SLG equal to OBP. In a more complete offensive measurement, like wOBA, we’re talking a difference of .385 to .368.

      On an overall basis, though, it’s pretty even, thanks to fielding and playing time (though playing time was clearly not Soto’s fault). Soto beats Posey in bref’s WAR, but Fangraphs’ version of WAR is higher on Posey due to their metrics liking Posey’s D a lot. And I’m inclined to think both understate the difference in fielding, since catching defense is hard to quantify.

      Either way, though, it’s close, guys. And that’s no insult to Posey, who’s probably the better overall player going forward. So settle down, boys.

      • ja4ed - Jan 10, 2011 at 5:44 PM

        It’s pretty simple logic.
        Soto’s teammates sucked so he didn’t get to play in the postseason.
        Posey is a playoff God.
        Posey was better than Soto.

      • spudchukar - Jan 10, 2011 at 7:24 PM

        Really! Now I would be the first to agree that RBI’s alone should not be the only calculus used to define a player’s worth. However, although I too like OBP as a stat, it has its problems also and wOBA really doesn’t improve the stat much due to the influence each has on the other. The knock against RBI’s of course is it doesn’t bring opportunities to the equation. True. But OBP fails to include in measurement of clutch hitting. So taken together we get a clearer picture. And what do strikeouts imply. Besides the obvious, not moving along runners, not working the count, hamstringing your manager in running situations, it also implies that you can be pitched to. Invariably hitters who strike out alot are mistake hitters. Free swingers that intelligent pitchers with control relish facing in game situations. So who is better? Good argument. What isn’t meaningful are statements like “by almost any measure Soto is better.”

      • ja4ed - Jan 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        OBP has no problems. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It measures how often a player does not make outs. wOBA was not meant to improve OBP. They measure two different things. Finally, it’s good to know that Soto and his 16% walk rate – tied for second best in MLB, minimum 300 PAs – is a free swinger.

      • bobbcronin - Jan 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        Do you use OPS in fantasy baseball? The problem is that most people measure players the same way a fantasy GM would. Those statistics are Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBI’s, Stolen Bases, and Average. Sometimes, it would include Walks, Strikeouts and Fielding Percentage. Now, understanding that, Posey wasn’t even called up until a month into the season and his stats were consistent throughout the season. I believe his stats would clearly outplay Soto. Also, Soto started so bad that almost every fantasy GM dropped him. Posey was kept on teams even without playing. That to me clearly indicates that Posey was a better player.

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