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Have all of the years of screaming about his insistence on playing Jeff Mathis been for naught?

You’ve heard the joke about McGregor the Barbuilder and the one goat, I assume. Mike Scioscia’s one goat is Jeff Mathis. It’s been years since Jeff Mathis was under his aegis, and it’s still the first thing I think of when somebody asks me about Scioscia. A few days ago, Jeff Long asked me how well Scioscia manages his bullpen. I thought for a moment. “Well, he started Jeff Mathis over Mike Nap…”

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December 21, 2015 6:00 am

Transaction Analysis: Pane E Ottavino


R.J. Anderson

The White Sox and Rockies lock up recent Tommy John undergoers, the Rangers renew their vows with a member of their rotation and Jeff Mathis rides again.

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Is Jose Fernandez' success just the latest example of Jeff Mathis' wizardry behind the plate?

Believe it or not, I think you can spot almost the exact moment that Jose Fernandez went from promising young pitcher to major-league ace. I’m not saying I can spot the day that his stats start getting better on a game log; that’s easy. I think I can spot the exact moment.

It was on June 1, in the fourth inning. Fernandez had danced around a few annoyances in the first four innings: a leadoff single in the first (stranded); a one-out walk in the second (caught stealing); a single in the third (stranded); and then another single in the fourth, a line drive on a 3-1 count to Lucas Duda. He had thrown 11 curveballs in the game, nine of them for balls, including the first pitch to Duda. And then this happened:

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...to the ennnnnnnd of the road, still I caaaaannn't let go.

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Ben and Sam reach a milestone (the 20-minute mark) as they tackle the topics of clubhouse chemistry and whether there's more to Jeff Mathis than meets the eye.

Ben and Sam reach a milestone (the 20-minute mark) as they tackle the topics of clubhouse chemistry and whether there's more to Jeff Mathis than meets the eye. 

Effectively Wild Episode 21: "Typewriter"

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The Mets acquired a back-up catcher, and the Blue Jays extended one.

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August 2, 2012 12:19 pm

Overthinking It: Have Glove, Will Learn to Hit


Ben Lindbergh

Not all glovemen are destined to stay hopelessly inept at the plate. Ben looks at defensive stars who have added offense to their games this year.

Plenty of weak-hitting players from baseball’s past and present have gotten by on good gloves alone. Most big-league benches boast a part-timer whose sole strength is an ability to play capable defense at premium positions. But despite Brendan Ryan’s best efforts, relatively few players become stars unless they can combine good gloves with big bats.  

Fortunately, not every good-field, no-hit player is destined to stay that way. Legendary glove man Ozzie Smith was a good player who turned into a great one when he learned how to hit in his late 20s. Defensive players of Smith’s caliber are few and far between, but some of today’s finest fielders could follow a similar trajectory. This season, the following five defense-first players who entered 2012 with reputations as easy outs have become much tougher to retire, transforming themselves (at least temporarily) into all-around threats instead of one-dimensional talents.

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Longtime terrible hitter Jeff Mathis has shocked everyone by hitting well in 2012. Well, everyone but Gregg Zaun.

Former Practically Perfect Backup Catcher and current Rogers Sportsnet analyst/plus-plus website proprietor Gregg Zaun tweeted something last December that seemed very silly. So silly, in fact, that I remembered it roughly eight months longer than I remember most tweets. But now that we're two-thirds of the way through the season, what Zaun said is starting to sound slightly more persuasive.

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Baseball and Mick O'Pedia

...and sometimes you're just trying to confirm a simple little thing like the size of Brandon Beachy's college and you end up reading this:

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Jeff Mathis got to pinch-hit and it mattered.

Jeff Mathis, career .196/.256/.309 hitter, career .211/.276/.338 hitter against lefties, was called on to pinch-hit for Eric Thames Friday night. It was the 14th time Mathis has pinch-hit in his career. The previous 13 batters who were deemed less qualified to hit baseballs than Jeff Mathis: 

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February 27, 2012 3:00 am

Overthinking It: The Most Improved Positions of 2012


Ben Lindbergh

Which teams are likely to see significantly more production from their new players at positions in need of improvement?

Teams don’t always have to make a major move in order to improve over the winter. Sometimes merely subtracting someone who played poorly can affect our expectations for a club. Occasionally, a series of seemingly minor moves can make a major cumulative impact. And at other times, there’s an obvious in-house fix for a roster’s flaws in the form of a player returning from an injury, being promoted from the minors, or switching to a position where he’ll be of more use. The Rays went from last place in 2007 to first place in 2008 without acquiring an outside player more accomplished than Troy Percival. Some off-season overhauls don’t start making headlines until the regular season is well under way.

Still, the moves that make us dream about how good a given team can be when players report to spring training tend to be the ones involving established talents. When we’ve already seen what a player can do, it’s easy to picture him doing it again in a different uniform. Naturally, the more a team struggled at the new player’s position last year, the more exciting the upgrade. But it’s easy to get carried away and overstate the improvement. Assessing the impact of a high-profile player addition requires more than a little imagination and mental arithmetic.

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What can Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli tell us about the dangers of valuing backup catchers inappropriately?

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Jonathan Bernhardt is a freelance writer born in Baltimore who lives and works in New York City. He is an occasional contributor to the Et tu, Mr. Destructo? blog.

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