Football fans tend to love the backup quarterback, especially when the starter is struggling, throwing interceptions, not touchdowns. And baseball fans love the bench player, especially when he hits and the regular doesn’t.
Which is why Mariner fans wanted to see John Jaso behind the plate after going 3-8, a triple and homer, while Miguel Olivo was trying to raise his average to .150. The Mariners have three catchers when you include Jesus Montero, whom the Mariners want to give more time behind the plate.
Olivo, 33, has gotten a reputation for running to the backstop chasing balls he can’t catch. In 957 games he has 93 passed balls. In addition he was unable to block 364 wild pitches. While you can not always blame a catcher for a pitchers wildness, good catchers block pitches, something Olivo has had problems doing. That is offset by Olivo’s throwing out 34% of would be base stealers.
Jaso, 28, has only played 181 games with 11 passed balls and 57 wild pitches charged to pitchers. He has thrown out only 19% of base stealers. Jesus Montero has no passed balls, 3 wild pitches, but he has only played six games as catcher and has thrown out 1 of 7.
Defensively the advantage might be to Olivo, despite problems with passed balls. Throwing out runners is a priority for most managers.
Offensively Olivo has a .242 lifetime average, Jaso .246. Olivo has a little more power, but not much difference between the two with the bat. Olivo, however, hit .224 in 2011 and has never hit well at Safeco Field.
While Montero needs to work into the position, if Olivo continues to struggle, manager Eric Wedge will have no choice but to play Jaso, who like the third string quarterback, is just hanging around.
Wedge likes Olivo, so he gets the nod. He will hit better. How much better is the question. He was brought in last season to help mentor Adam Moore, thought to be the Mariner catcher of the future, but Moore had a season ending injury shortly after the season started and he has recently suffered another serious injury playing in Tacoma. Some players are injury prone and Moore has litle to no future as a catcher.
Now Olivo is mentoring Montero. All Mariner fans hope he is a quick study. Meanwhile Jaso holds a clipboard.