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.

Sean Manaea pitches the first no-hitter of 2018

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.

Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.

Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.

Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.