Why is Olivo the everyday catcher??

One good play does not an everyday catcher make.

Yesterday, Olivo threw out a White Sox player trying to steal second in the bottom of the ninth for the last out. Therefore, he is hailed as “hero of the game” who saved the M’s from another loss. The M’s are playing .500 ball right now and are tied for first in the AL West with the A’s and the Angels, with the Rangers a half a game behind. (The AL West has not gotten off to a hot start. Time to go back to division play, starting tonight with the Angels.)

Miguel Olivo is a young catcher that we picked up last season with the idea that he would be eventually replacing fan favorite Dan Wilson. Wilson is the ONLY Mariner still around from the 1995 season, giving him the longest current stint with the M’s of any player, after Edgar Martinez’s retirement after last season. So not only is Wilson a baseball veteran player, he’s been a Mariner so long that hardly anyone can imagine the team without him. But Olivo was brought in with the promise of being a better hitter and a good catcher, and we need all the good hitters we can get, right?

Let’s check the stats: Olivo has played in 8 games of this new season, and has batted an anemic .185. I’m not trying to compare him to Ichiro (who is batting an incredible .447 at the moment – Ted Williams, anyone?), but let’s just compare him to Wilson: 5 games this season and has batted .214. So, what gives? Where is this fabulous hitter we were supposedly picking up?

And don’t get me started on the defense. Wilson has been repeatedly hailed by local and national media as one of the best defensive catchers of the game, and they all cite his early hockey goalie playing as part of his great blocking style. After over ten years of watching Wilson, it is cringe-inducing to watch Olivo let balls by him that Wilson would have sat on. Those balls let runners advance, which let runs score.

I’m not saying that Olivo isn’t a good player, or that he can’t become a great catcher. I’m not expecting him to be Ivan Rodriguez or anything. I expect him to be on par with Dan Wilson if he’s going to be replacing Wilson. Note to Mike Hargrove: take a look at the stats and give Wilson the playing time, with Olivo as the backup. There’s no reason that he should be the everyday catcher when someone as good defensively and right now, better offensively, as Wilson is, sitting on the bench.

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