Similar to the TJS follow-up, I wanted to get Andy's unique opinion on his personal catchers post as somebody who has to manage a pitcher-catcher relationship. Again, some insightful answers that can shed some light on some of the aspects we as baseball viewers often wonder. Also again, if you have any questions, put them in the comments section and I'm sure Andy will answer them.
Friends, you're going to have to make the jump-
In your experience, how is the relationship between the pitcher and catcher different from, say, they pitcher and shortstop?
Catchers are something that a pitcher relies on so much. I think a bad catcher can add about a run per game to a pitcher’s ERA where as a good catcher can improve a pitcher’s ERA by one run. The relationship between pitcher/catcher vs pitcher/shortstop is very different. The catcher tells the pitcher so much. Coaches relay signs to the catcher who then has to relay those, correctly, to a pitcher. Those signs can be slide step versus a higher leg kick, pick-off, pitch-out, what pitch and how long to hold the ball before delivering.
How important is it that your catcher knows your mechanics and repertoire?
It’s important a catcher knows a pitcher's mechanics and what he likes to throw in certain counts because a catcher may be able to spot something in their delivery that the pitcher doesn’t notice (like tipping pitches by slowing down delivery for offspeed). Also, it’s important to know what a pitcher likes to throw because when it's 3-1 to the left-handed three hitter, for example, I like to throw change-ups so I can have a pitch I can throw for a strike most of the time and not groove him a fastball and the catcher keeps putting down a fastball it really irritates the pitcher. Very frustrating.
How important is it that your catcher knows your personality?
Every pitcher has a different personality. There are some who need to be babied, some who need to be motivated and some who like to be left alone. I’m not sure where I fit in. Probably more in the leave me alone category. I have read that when Randy Johnson was on the D-backs, Damian Miller would have to baby the Big Unit. We’ll never know for sure if Johnson really had to be babied or not. Another pitcher I know really has to be motivated, even scolded. He was very timid but had good stuff. After a coach or catcher got on him, he typically started to attack more
What do pitching coaches say to the pitcher when they visit the mound?
When a pitching coach goes to the mound, it can be a number of different things. My freshman year, I had a runner on third with two outs and the teams best hitter up in the bottom of the 13 inning. Pitching coach came to the mound and all he said was, “This is their best guy. Don’t let him beat you. Throw everything knees and below and we’ll go after the next guy if we have to.” I struck him out with two seamers mid shins and he swung at all of them.
I have heard of some coaches go out and say, “Manger sent me out here to talk to you. I have nothing to say.” And then walk away.
The best story I have ever read was in the Sporting News years ago. In Chicago, after a White Sox player hits a homer, there are fireworks and the Sox went deep back-to-back-to-back. Pitching coach comes out and the pitcher asks, “What’re you doing here?” and the coach replies, “I’m giving them time to reload the fireworks.”
Any good horror stories of catchers having a really negative affect on a pitcher?
I had a catcher one time and he could not get the signs straight. The pitching coach apparently was calling for a pitch-out and he would call a pick-off (he did this probably five times in this game). Then when he finally got the pitch-out call right, he whiffed trying to catch the ball. He sucked. After that game I was so frustrated I started to pitch badly and whenever he was behind the plate I would be pissed, which isn’t a good way to start a game.
What characteristics would your ideal catcher have?
If I could have an ideal catcher, it would be a person who can block and throw. I like a catcher with a good frame but as long as I throw it near the zone, I think most D1 catchers can keep it in the zone. I don’t care if he calls a good game or not because I know what I like to do and in college our coach calls the game anyway so it’s not like pitchers or catchers have to worry about that. Quiet bodies are good too. One that moves too much can make a pitcher look worse than he is.