Inside look at the intangibles of catching

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brent-mayne-091112.jpgMatthew broke down the free agent catchers last night, giving detailed predictions into where they are likely to go, and for how much money.

It all gets one to thinking about what you should value most in a catcher: Is it offense? Defense? Calling a game? Handling pitching staffs and dealing with umpires?

They’re the quarterbacks of baseball. Perhaps the most important — and often undervalued — position in the game.

Which brings me to a fascinating column on Baseballanalysts.com by former catcher Brent Mayne, who delves into the “Intangibles of Catching,” giving us a good look at what goes on behind the plate.

Allow me to explain and show you how I see it from a catcher’s perspective. For every pitch, you’ve got about eight million variables coming at you. Who is the hitter and how have I attacked him in the past? What is the game situation? What are your pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses? What is the game plan/scouting report? Who is the umpire and what is his strike zone today? What does your manager want? The list goes on and on. And you need to process all this information and put down the correct number…right now.

Mayne, who hit .263 in 15 seasons in the majors (1990-2004), goes on to write about his disgust for managers who call pitches from the bench (particularly in the minors and amateur ball), the importance of communicating with pitchers (that’s Mayne above trying to calm down Jose Lima in 2003), calling pitches and controlling the pace of the game.

It’s an interesting story. I suggest you check it out.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.