This Day in Baseball History: May 1st, 2006

George Kottaras (3 PB in 51 innings) is offended.

On May 1, 2006:

The Red Sox reacquired Doug Mirabelli.

I’ve heard of having a personal catcher before. Greg Maddux and Eddie Perez used to be battery mates, leaving Javy Lopez to sit in the dugout wondering why he (who could hit) would sit for a guy with a lifetime 77 OPS+. I understood, and I’m sure Lopez did, too. Maddux felt more comfortable with Perez (pitch-calling and strategy), and given the fact that Maddux was absolutely horrendous at holding runners, the Braves needed a capable defensive catcher (which Lopez was not) to, you know, throw out or at least deter base stealers. Anyway, the combination of Time Wakefield and Doug Mirabelli is similar to that situation, but whereas Maddux would throw to anyone but Javy Lopez (Paul Bako and Henry Blanco) and still be okay (it’s easy to catch when you know exactly where the ball is going), Wakefield seemed to actually need Mirabelli.

A knuckleball is a hard thing to catch. Because of a lack of rotation, it’s essentially malleable to wind and air conditions. When it hits a certain air pocket, it moves accordingly, but no one knows how the ball will break. Catchers often wear bigger mitts in order to corral such a pitch, but they often miss it anyway. Well, Mirabelli was the only one the Red Sox could really find to catch it or at least feign competence, but because he (like Perez) can’t really hit (lifetime OPS+ of 86), the Red Sox wanted to find someone else. That man was Josh Bard. Though Bard only has a lifetime 95 OPS+, he was considered to be a significant offensive upgrade, and the Red Sox traded Mirabelli to San Diego for Mark Loretta.

Well … things didn’t really go as planned. In 53 innings behind the plate for Wakefield, Bard allowed 10 past balls. For comparison’s sake, Mirabelli’s worst season was 14 in 387 innings in 2003, but he steadily improved afterwards. Because teams don’t generally like giving up extra bases like that, the Red Sox decided to give Mirabelli another whirl. On May 1, 2006, they traded Bard and Cla Meredith (a decent reliever) to the Padres for Mirabelli. Even more notably and because the Red Sox are the Red Sox, they had a police escort bring Mirabelli to the stadium just in time to catch Wakefield that night. And because the Yankees are the Yankees, they tried to acquire Mirabelli before the Red Sox could reacquire him. All over a guy who catches 33 games and hits worth crap.

Two questions
1) What other teams would make such a big deal out of this?
2) What are some other notable pitcher-catcher combos where the catcher is not the normal, every day catcher for the team?

Trivia Time
Who did the Red Sox play that night?

Yesterday’s Answer –> David Cone won one Cy Young Award, in 1994 (but it really wasn’t his best season).

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2 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: May 1st, 2006”

  1. Ed Says:

    The Sox were playing the Yankees, of course. Mirabelli even had to catch the first inning without a cup. If I remember correctly, that was Johnny Damon’s return to Fenway as a Yankee. He got some heavy boos mixed with cheering, stepped out of the box and raised his helmet up and turned it into an ovation.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Well done, Ed. Mirabelli would have been at Fenway regardless it seems.

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