Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Crystal Ball: Paul Bako

Paul Bako was signed this offseason to serve as a veteran backup to Ramon Hernandez. He obviously was not signed for his offense and is billed as a defensive specialist, a “catch-and-throw” guy and someone who can help handle a young staff.

That’s the rep but is any of it true these days?

Let’s take a look at some similar backups and their defensive stats:

T. Pratt 54 354.0 4 28 9 7.37 0.986
H. Blanco 69 526.0 1 24 18 8.57 0.998
M. Treanor 61 439.2 3 18 18 8.19 0.993
M. Redmond 43 378.0 0 18 9 8.05 1.000
P. Bako 53 392.0 2 20 9 6.38 0.993

Well, at least they didn’t sign Todd Pratt.

Outside of Redmond, none of these guys are expected to give much offense and these are most of the regular backups that caught in 40-70 games not named Mirabelli. At first glance, there is nothing special about Bako’s defense. In some ways, it’s kind of sub-par. He only threw out 31% of would-be basestealers, his fielding percentage is average at .993 but the most alarming thing is his RF of 6.38 which ranks dead last in this group and very, very low among catchers in general last year. Even Javy Lopez was at .688. Basically, it means he is not getting to balls and turning them into outs.

Now this stat can vary depending of various circumstances but it was it was even worse with the Dodgers the year. Prior to that, his RF was much higher, in the low to mid 7 range and even a couple years over 8 for the Cubs. He’ll be 35 this year which leads to the question: Is Paul Bako’s game in decline? I say yes. He is quite old by catcher standards even if he has never been a full time guy in the majors.

How does he handle pitchers? He got 43 starts, so it must have been because of his calming influence on the KC staff. He must really know how to call a game!

All Other KC Catchers - 6.01 runs allowed per game
Paul Bako - 5.91 runs allowed per game

So the team allows one-tenth of a run less with Bako behind the plate. I'm not sure that’s enough to make up for his paltry offense or that the difference is even significant enough to be acknowledged at all.

So in conclusion, the O’s gave a base salary of $900,000 to a guy who can’t hit his way out of a paper bag, doesn’t throw out baserunners very well, has a small or negligible positive affect on a pitching staff, can’t field his position better than 75% of the catchers in the Majors, is certainly diminished by age and probably in a severe decline and probably won’t see significant time behind the plate anyway.


I have a solution. Give the job to Adam Donachie, the Rule 5 draft pick from the Kansas City Royals system. He looks great defensively in the couple of games I’ve seen, won’t hit much worse than Bako even in a worst case scenario and will only cost the O’s the league minimum That’s it, I’m starting the campaign now. Donachie for backup backstop in 2007!

Donachie, Donachie, Donachie, Donachie

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