Gerald Laird (by Rusty S.)

Gerald Laird is a backup catcher.

More specifically, Laird is a 34 year old, 11 year Major League veteran with a career.246/.307/.360 BA/OBP/SLG line. Laird has not seen 200 plate appearances since 2010, and has never hit more than 9 home runs in a season. Defensively, Laird has thrown out 35% of prospective base stealers in his career, versus a league average of 27%.

Laird had a solid backup catcherish season in 2013, hitting .281/.367/.372 in 141 plate appearances, following up the very similar 2012 he had with Detroit. He threw out 36% of base stealers in 2013, versus a league average of 28%, after coming off 2 consecutive below average seasons in this department.

Despite the acquisition of Ryan Doumit, Laird appears to have a place on the roster, playing the role of the professional catcher. If you’re the type who trusts the analysis of some anonymous guy on the internet (and, hey, you’ve read this far haven’t you?) the comments I’ve read about Doumit from Twins and Pirates fans suggest that he should not be a catcher in anything other than an emergency. I liked having 3 catchers on the roster last season, and I think it’s a good plan for 2014, especially if at least one of them is offensive minded and nominally capable of playing multiple positions.

If Evan Gattis proves to be healthy, productive, and competent (which I expect) then Laird’s usefulness as a Brave comes to an end when Christian Bethancourt is ready. If the 34 year old Laird reverts to his career norms offensively, which I believe is the most likely scenario, then it’s hard to see any area where he is significantly better than Bethancourt.

17 thoughts on “Gerald Laird (by Rusty S.)”

  1. I’m a fan of the three catcher roster. It keeps the backup catcher from rotting on the bench when he could be pinch hitting. Good writeup.

  2. You forgot the long-winded Talking Chop style freak out about how he’s really the worst defensive catcher in history because he “frames pitches poorly.”

    Next, I’ll claim an NBA player is the worst defender in history because he refuses to flop.

  3. It’s my opinion, and only a cheap one at that, that certain catchers, like Laird, can play at a decent to strong level in small doses, like 141 ABs. Catchers play a demanding position physically and mentally (coddling pitchers is no easy task–those guys are nuts). And guys like Laird really benefit by just playing 1 or 2 a week, enough to keep from getting too rusty and not so much that they are physically beaten by the job by late August or September. Having three guys around that can catch, I think, benefits the offensive and defensive components for all three. To be sure, the main guy here, Gattis, will get worn down. The trick is to use the other guys enough to keep this from happening too soon. And then, there’s always the judicious use of the DL for a hangnail (or in the case of a catcher, bruised body syndrome).

  4. @4 – I was thinking about that when I was reading through his career stats. His last two seasons have been above career average in limited at bats.

    I’m reluctant to read too much into that few at bats, but the optimist in me wants to acknowledge that there could be a real reason for it. On the other hand, he has had other seasons with limited at bats that were terrible.

  5. @5, I’m not sure I was just base in on that. To an extent, I’m also thinking about David Ross who while a better hitter than Laird did his best work in limited at bats, under 150. So, I’m thinking, in very much an anecdotal way since I’m not going to do the research, if certain players, particularly established ones, do better if they play just enough to keep from losing timing, but at the same time, not so much that either their bodies or their minds suffer.

  6. @6 If they keep letting him turn into pitches, maybe. I know they will never call it, but that move drives me up the wall. Supposed to attempt to get out of the way.

  7. @6 Is the Jayson Werth contract a disaster?

    He’s playing much better than Ryan Howard or Josh Hamilton or BJ Upton so far.

    I’m sure Washington would like to see him in 150 games instead of 120, but if I were them I wouldn’t be disappointed yet.

  8. @1
    The last thing mentioned was that the Braves would not go 2 years for O’Flaherty and he was waiting them out to see if he could get a 2-year offer elsewhere or if they would cave and give him one.

  9. I understand why the Braves would be reluctant to offer him a 2 year deal, but I think that they should. His been dominant the last few seasons. We have health concerns with Walden and Venters so an extra option is always a great thing.

    Walden Vasquez Carpenter Wood Venters Avilan EOF and Kimbrel. If healthy it could be the best bullpen we’ve ever had top to bottom.

  10. @14
    The problem with that bullpen is it’s likely not to happen until the All-Star break, if at all. While one of Floyd, Venters, or O’Flaherty might be available before then, counting on all 3 to be healthy after all 3 underwent TJ is begging for a miracle. ‘Tis the season!

    My guess: O’Flaherty in June, Venters and Floyd in July. And that’d be fine with me. I would love nothing better than to see Shae Simmons, Luis Vasquez, and Ryan Buchter get tested out in the bullpen while those 3 recover. If Vasquez and Buchter can pull a Kimbrel and miraculously find control at the big league level, holy smokes!

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