Morning item: Olivo or Mesoraco?

During a morning session with reporters on Monday, Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked about catcher Miguel Olivo. If it wasn’t already clear before camp, it certainly is now. Olivo is in the hunt for the No. 2 catcher’s job against Devin Mesoraco.

“You’re deciding on if we keep Mesoraco or if you keep a guy like Olivo,” Olivo said. “The guy has a lot of experience. The one drawback is he’s non-roster. You would really have to play your way on for you to take somebody else off and expose him. He’s super strong with a real good throwing arm. I’ve known him a long time. He brings a lot of energy to the game, to the ballpark.”

Olivo, who was signed on Feb. 1, is 1-for-2 with a homer and three RBIs in two games. He also has a sac fly and a walk with the bases loaded. In the opener one inning after Olivo’s long ball, Mesoraco crushed a ball to deep left-center field for his own homer.

Last season with Seattle, the 34-year-old Olivo batted .222 with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in 87 games. Mesoraco, as you know, struggled offensively in his rookie year.

The question is — would a young 24-year-old like Mesoraco benefit more from everyday at-bats at Louisville or could he develop as the No. 2 catcher in the Majors and gradually get more playing time alongside Ryan Hanigan?

14 Comments

Mesoraco’s passion/fire has to count for something.

“The question is — would a young 24-year-old like Mesoraco benefit more from everyday at-bats at Louisville or could he develop as the No. 2 catcher in the Majors and gradually get more playing time alongside Ryan Hanigan?”

The question actually is: Did any of the writers even bother asking Baker that question? Has anybody asked Baker if he’s worried about stunting Mesoraco’s development?

If we’re talking about a guy who batted .222 last season, I think I’d rather stick with Mesoraco. His numbers weren’t too far from that, were they? I’m sure the organization thinks Mesoraco has the potential to be offensively much better than Olivo in the long run. I think he’ll improve whether he’s in Louisville or Cincinnati, so I’d rather keep him with the big league team. If he goes into a particularly bad slump, they could always move him down as the season progresses. I’d hate to lose someone important to the organization by having to add Olivo to the 40-man roster, as Dusty suggested.
Watch out for those tumbleweeds, Mark!

Judging from Meso’s first ever season as a bench/backup player. I think he should spend the year in AAA. Prior to last year, Meso was always a starting catcher getting a lot of PT. Last year, he showed everyone just how tough it is to endure a backup role when you have been a full time starter your whole entire life. In my opinion, Olivo was brought here just for that reason. Let Meso get more PT in AAA and Olivo is a heck of a 1A option. Yeah, he it .222 last year. But he is also hit 12 HR’s playing at Safeco. If he gets gets 60-70 starts, I think he is a 20 HR guy in the GAB. Defensively, he is top notch as well. Meso is the future, but until were ready to give him the starting role, he fits best in AAA.

If he is going to hit that many homers, play him every day and he’ll hit 50.
Curt

Yeuppp. Think you are on target. Mez ended 2012 in the dog house. Did he even get called up when rosters expanded? Maybe they could tolerate the anemic hitting, but his defense and maturity left a lot to be desired. In a perfect world, I wish they had kept the switch hitting Grandal who obviously could hit, but we know how that turned out. Or, at least Navarro, who could also hit. I like Olivo’s cannon arm and power. You could match him up with the worst SP holding runners on. Cough…Aroldis… cough. Plus communication would be easier. He’s from the DR as is Cueto. Not the prime consideration, but Louisville probably needs some catching help too. Haven’t given up on Mez, but obviously he wasn’t close to ready last year.
PS: No club wants to carry 3 catchers. How valuable would it be to have a bench guy who could catch in a pinch? Then you could use the catcher who didn’t start to PH late in the game. As the Reds sit, we have only 4 PH’ers available, 3 of which mostly hit RH pitching. We cannot count Mez/Olivo in case the starter got hurt. We’re held hostage the whole year for fear of what might never happen in only the last couple innings of ONE game. Somebody on the roster must have caught in HS or something. Find THAT guy. Give him some reps in ST. (Baker believes your backups need only field not hit. But in the NL, they get into games far more often as PH’ers than fielders. I’ll take Keppinger back any day. But now, he’s too expensive.)

Yeah, Grandal can hit because he LOVES the PED’s. He’s suspended for the first 50 games this year dude.

I’m not concerned about Mesoraco’s hitting at this point. The problem is – all the hype notwithstanding – he did not look good behind the plate last season. He is not even remotely as good a defensive catcher as Hanigan or even Navarro. I haven’t seen Olivo.

Both of them struggled offensively last year, but Mesoraco’s numbers were at least as good, if not better, than Olivo’s.

Check out Alex Avila’s rookie numbers; his first full season campaign (2010) resulted in numbers not too far off from Mesoraco’s stats. I think the major problem is Dusty’s unwillingness to give Mesoraco regular chances. There’s no point in having your top prospect in the majors if your manager is only going to let him play 50 games. For all the awful at bats Dusty gave to Cairo, Valdez, and Harris, why didn’t he find more opportunities for Mesoraco?

I think Olivo is really just there to push Meso. Meso came up with such fan fair and forgot that he still needs to earn his place. Unless Meso does nothing in the spring, I would be suprised if he is not the second catcher. If Olivo is crushing it you may see him up to DH for away AL games. As far as Dusty giving more ab’s to Meso, that is not Dusty’s fault. Hanigan played so well last year that he earned the playing time that he got. Cairo, Valdez and Haris’ ab’s had nothing to do with Meso,

Olivo is 34. At this point, the likelihood that he’s going to improve his game doesn’t seem to be very high. Mes, on the other hand, is 24 and has plenty of time to work on his abilities. His defensive stats were pretty good for only having 54 games under his belt. More experience in the Majors will do him good. As long as he gets more playing time this season, I see no reason to drop him to AAA.

Meso was already sent down in the 2nd half last year. Navarro was our backup the whole second half and through the strecth run, while Meso was catching in AAA. He was then called up in Sep. but rarely ever played. They would be keeping him in AAA, not sending him down.

Having seen olivo play for the mariners the past two seasons I think he’d be a great backup to hanigan.

There seem to be a lot of faulty memories when it comes to the playing time granted Mesoraco a year ago and the manner Baker made use of him for the bulk of his rookie season. First, for all of the first half and a good chunk of the second half, Mesoraco regularly caught two-fifths of the starting rotation, he having his assigned two starters and Hanigan his three, with little variation. Then, only with rosters jumbled well into the second half due to injury and necessary moves, did Navarro get promoted and essentially inherit Mesoraco’s role while he was consigned to Louisville, but all of that took place only shortly before September call-ups. So, in my view, Mesoraco got more than a fair rehearsal for his first year, especially considering the woes he exhibited catching, both offensively and defensively.

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