Does it matter who the Orioles' backup catcher is?
Two days in a row you get a bar entry from me. Pretty impressive.
I think Cal Ripken Jr., may start getting worried about my streak.
The big news in Orioles’ camp Tuesday is the pending announcement that Chris Tillman will be sent to Triple-A Norfolk and David Hernandez is going to be the club’s fifth starter.
But we’ve already talked about that one.
The smaller news – whispers turning into a blip, really – is that Craig Tatum is getting the backup catcher job over veteran Chad Moeller.
Tatum is 27 and has played just 26 major league games (batting .162 with one homer for the Reds last year).
Moeller is 35 and spent parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues (a career .226 hitter with 29 lifetime homers).
The front-office thinking was obvious on three fronts: The Orioles are choosing the younger and cheaper player. And they are taking the guy with the better arm.
The belief is that the backup to Matt Wieters will play just once or twice a week, and that person is going to get run on – that’s a truism in baseball, run on the catcher who doesn’t get to throw in a game often.
And Moeller’s arm is not his strength; Tatum’s is. So, on the surface, the move makes plenty of sense.
But there’s more to it. Moeller is arguably the most respected – and respectful – player in that clubhouse. He is not a rah-rah guy, but he loves talking the game. He aspires to be a front-office guy one day, and it would be shocking if he doesn’t achieve that, given his smarts (he studied economics at USC) and experience.
Catching prospect Caleb Joseph couldn’t stop raving about Moeller this spring. The core of young pitchers on the Orioles feels the same way. Many of them threw to him at either Triple-A or the majors last year, so they are incredibly comfortable with him.
Given how infrequent the reserve catcher will play, and given how much Moeller has seized the mentor role, it just seems wrong to cut him loose and go with Tatum, when Wieters, no matter how talented he is, has less than a year of big league service time.
This is absolutely no slight on Tatum, who seems like a nice guy and hard worker. He just doesn't have the experience I think is required for the backup of a young starting catcher.
But this may be one of those issues that rankles beat writers but makes no difference to the general public. I mean, the Orioles have serious obstacles ahead of them and I am pontificating on the backup catcher. So put me in my place if I am wrong here.
I want to know whether the backup catcher spot means anything. I say it does, because Wieters is your franchise, your young pitchers are your future and having an experienced, calming influence on the bench and in the clubhouse is key.
Daily Think Special: Does it matter who is the Orioles’ reserve catcher?