I like Miguel Olivo. He was always a guy who gave 100% and always seemed to really enjoy being a major league catcher. He ran hard, could get the attention of his pitchers, and on the occasions when bat met ball, the ball traveled a long way. If a player could become an All-Star for his passion and enthusiasm for the game, Miguel Olivo would be a perennial candidate for the mid-summer classic. I was glad to see he’ll get a chance to play for the Reds this summer. Cincinnati signed him to a minor league deal where he’ll compete for a job with Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco.
Unfortunately Olivo was just not a very good catcher, at least not in Seattle. I know he came here in 2011 with a goal of showing the city his 2004 season as a young player in which he played indifferently and hit a measly .200 illustrated the struggles of a young player. Certainly Olivo played better for the Marlins, Royals and Rockies, and the M’s, after the twin failures of Rob Johnson and Adam Moore, were looking for a veteran who could come in and at least stabilize what had become a catching revolving door. So the M’s took their flyer, and, like so many things they’ve tried the past few years, it didn’t quite work out.
Olivo was a terrible hitter. Oh, he led the 2011 team, one offensively offensive in historical proportions, in home runs with 19. But he was terrible. His slash line was .224/.253/.388. Yes you read that OBP correctly, the victim of drawing 20 walks in 507 plate appearances. He also struck out 140 times. Not a lot compared to Mark Reynolds, but you can do the math that’s a 1:7 BB/K ratio. His OPS of 641 was actually less than his stinky 2004 OPS of .648. Last year in which he was to glue the young catching tandem of Jesus Montero and John Jaso together was worse. Beginning the year on the DL, Olivo posted a .222/.239/.381 slash. In 323 plate appearances, Olivo walked an amazing 7 times as opposed to 85 strikeouts. Not a good guy to be giving lots of at bats.
As a catcher, Olivo was also maddeningly not good. One of the hopes was that Olivo would improve on Johnson’s and Moore’s combined total of 20 passed balls. Yet Zdurencik brought Montero to Seattle knowing he consistently was near the top of the league in passed balls allowed. One watched games, almost always close games, in which the M’s were scratching to score their one or two or three runs, and Felix would throw a sinker right between Olivo’s legs and the hard-earned lead and the game would be lost. Olivo allowed borderline wild pitches that should have been passed balls, and he seemed to be poor at framing pitches to get those extra strikes when we needed them.
So the Mariners are bringing in Kelly Shoppach to team with Montero at catcher this year. A not great hitter with power who has below average catching skills. A hitter who will strike out a lot and walk very little. And will keep the seat warm for catcher-of-the-future Mike Zunino.
So Miguel, I wish you well sir. Though your performance was usually not memorable, neither was your team. You always found a way to keep your chin up in adversity, and when things were right I loved your megwatt smile. I’ll bet Shoppach’s is not as nearly so bright.