Strike, or passed ball? Beats me.
The Jays really need to move Dioner Navarro.
I know the arguments for keeping him. He’s a better bat than Josh “T-Hole” Thole. He could play almost every day if Russ Martin got hurt. He can DH some (but not really, with a career wOBA of .304, worse than all of Dayan Viciedo, Valencia, and Smoak). The team doesn’t want to give him away for nothing.
I get all that. So let’s say the Jays keep Navarro, and Thole gets through waivers to Buffalo (these are a kind of revocable waivers, so he’ll likely pass through – teams seldom claim guys that they know can be pulled back by the club attempting the waiver). Rah Dickey gets to throw to Russell Martin, and Navarro is the backup. What’s bad about that?
Well, for starters, Martin’s going to need somewhere between 30 and 50 games off from catching. If Martin catches all of Dickey’s starts (and he will, if his backup is Navarro), then Martin also will catch somewhere between 100/130 and 80/130 of everyone else’s starts. Yes, you could have Navarro catch Buehrle (they seemed to work well together last year), but doesn’t it make sense to have an elite pitch-framer catching a finesse pitcher like Buehrle? And doesn’t it also make sense that Martin catch the youngsters (Hutchison, Sanchez, and likely Norris), considering the rave reviews he gets for game calling and managing young pitchers?
The other point is that there is no guarantee that Dickey and Martin will work well together when the real games start. Sure, the reviews look good now, and both guys are saying all the right things. What else could they say? Maybe stuff like this, this and this? Every time I read about Dickey and Martin this spring, it seems like I’m reading about Martin adopting new stances, the odd missed pitch, and both guys talking each other up. Eeerily like 2013, and not really reassuring
Alternatively – if you keep Thole, you keep a guy that Dickey is comfortable with and give 32 starts to him. Dickey has had most of his best performances throwing to T-Hole, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Martin can have 110-130 starts with the other pitchers and Thole can catch up to 20 more. That means Martin will do most of his work where he’s most needed – with the young pitchers and the guy (Buehrle, as opposed to Dickey) who benefits more from pitch framing.
If Rah Dickey wasn't on the team, I'd say the team should keep Navarro as a passable backup to Martin and not worry about whether Navarro would be happier as the #1 catcher elsewhere. But that's not the situation the team is in. The way things are now, it makes more sense to have pitchers throwing to catchers they are confident in, and whose catching skills complement those of the pitcher they are receiving from.