Pitch Calling Coach
Baseball is full of many no-hit, all field catchers that have a reputation of “calling a good game”. Why not replace them with a strong arm, good hit pre-arbitration player and call the game from the bench?
Gregg Zaun has started to get this reputation in Toronto due to his low staff ERA when he’s behind the plate. Yet he doesn’t hit and can’t throw out base stealers. Another catcher with the same pedigree is Brad Ausmus, who in 2007 had a catcher’s ERA that was a run and half less than his teammates, all with a 15% CS mark.
If these players are so savy, why can they not call games from the dugout when they are not starting? This would allow teams to give their no-hit catchers time off. Of course the catcher doesn’t get the same feel in the dugout as they do behind the plate but would this change be all that measurable?
Some major league teams employ their manager to call pitches during the game. In many of these instances the managers in question are past catchers. Why not take this a step further and hire catching coaches that A) work with the catchers and B) are the exclusive pitch callers during games.
This would free up the manager during the game and would make their pre-game research easier, thus delegating the task to the exlusive pitch calling coach. And by doing this teams could go out and select past catchers that may not have the pedigree to be a major league manager, yet they know how to call a good game.
The difficulty behind this would be some managers giving up control and what some would see as “underdevelopment” of young catchers.
The latter could be solved by simply allowing younger, developing catchers to begin calling games in less consiquential circumstances, such as a blowout.
By employing this strategy major league teams could replace the vetran/no hit style of catcher for one (providing good mobility & basic catching skills) that can hit, be of a lower contract value or one that is adapt at slowing down the running game.
Salary: $2 million
Let’s take the game calling out of the young catchers hand by having a grizzled vetran call the pitches. Presumably this would help to lower the young catchers ERA against and once again the “gloves” could be taken off in unimportant game situations. The catcher can also learn a rymthm to pitch calling during this instance. Eventually he may be able to handle calling a game by himself (or he may not).
To a point this is done in high school, college and minor league ball already, except the manager is calling the game. Regardless this would be an interesting test in the MLB. Could it work?