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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Barrett Should Catch Maddux

Just a short break from my (business) trip to poke my nose into the Cubs world this week:

I saw the televised Cubs-Rangers game on my laptop Monday night in Munich, and although I wound up falling asleep before it was over, I enjoyed seeing Joe Borowski yell at himself after that first walked batter and then get out of the jam quickly. Also savored the Greg Maddux appearance, but I have just one thing to say about the personal catcher thing that was brought up during the broadcast and in the papers the next day.

Dusty Baker says that Michael Barrett will be catching Maddux this year, at least during Spring Training, because Barrett can learn so much from the experience. Maddux says that he’s happy pitching to anyone, but with the same guy you can work together on days off, watching hitters and developing strategies for certain players.

That all makes sense, but it always seemed to me that all that work was sort of, well, wasted on the back-up catcher who only pitched on days when Maddux would start (as Paul Bako did last year).

Here’s a suggestion that takes into account the starting catcher’s need for regular rest and the back-up’s need to stay sharp, Maddux’s preference for working with his catcher on off days, and Dusty’s desire to have Barrett benefit from working with Maddux.

Why not have Barrett take the day off the day before every Maddux start? That way, Barrett plays 130 games with regular days off and Dusty’s rather understandable desire to have the two work together is achieved. The only downside is that Maddux would only have one day to prep with his catcher before starts rather than four, but at least it would be the day before.

Maddux said early this Spring that Michael Barrett is going to become one of the best catchers in the league. I think these two should be throwing to each other on a regular basis, even though I expect some to contend that Blanco was hired specifically to help Maddux hold runners at first. But if Barrett is going to become one of the best, he is going to have to start doing that too.