There are times where I know I am writing something you need to see as a fan base and NOT something you want as a fan base. In the YouTube video last night, I called it "family meeting time." This article is a "family meeting" article. This is also what separates this site from the BS you get in ninety percent of sports media. I want you to know the truth- at least as how I see it. Of course, I back my opinion up with data and/or proof. So it's family meeting time.
Every time I have written an article saying the Astros should get this catcher or that catcher I get the same question.
"Why Don't The Astros Just Sign Vazquez?"
Well sure they could or even should, BUT the question fundamentally misses a KEY point- this is FREE AGENCY. A player does not have to sign with a team just because they want him. This is the point where Astros fans will hammer me back with "What? Doesn't he want to WIN?"
Folks, Christian Vazquez was a WORLD SERIES CHAMPION BEFORE COMING TO THE ASTROS! He DID NOT need to join the Astros to feel validated as one of the best catchers in the MLB. Dusty may not have been familiar with who Vazquez was when he got here- his own words, but Vazquez was even a bigger deal and franchise icon in Boston before coming here than Martin Maldonado EVER has been in Houston. VAZQUEZ IS A WINNER. The fact that some Astros fans ASK some version of this question is a symptom of the issue preventing a Vazquez return to Houst0n.
Upon arrival as I detailed in September, Vazquez had his multi-year consistent playing time of ~75% get cut in half.
We reset this during the postseason in a bigger discussion of the cold Astros offense.
Vazquez arrived in Houston starting 76% of the time hitting a 0.759 OPS. Similar to Mancini, Dusty did massively slash his playing time to 35% with the excuse he did not know the pitchers. As if sitting on the bench was going to help. Let me say this again, for the first 23 games Vazquez was in Houston he started 35% (THIRTY FIVE! Less than half) of the time. He only got one start at DH and none at 1B - Boston gave him 5 GS at 1B to keep his starts at 76%.
Just like Mancini, Vazquez performed early but then after 3.5 weeks of career abnormal use in a season where he was massively outperforming the other catching option, Vazquez went into a slump.
Dusty himself realized how asinine his usage pattern had been and bumped Vazquez to 46% (how about 60-70%?). It was way too little and way too late. Dusty had ruined Vazquez's timing, confidence, and performance.
Why? Because Dusty is stubborn and never wanted Vazquez here and ignored the issues he had in Maldonado.
Folks, you may not think this characterization of how the Astros ruined Mancini and Vazquez is fair. I don't care. I watched it happen in real time tracked it and NOW in the postseason Dusty has two unproductive players so he can play HIS boys. His usage of these two now is either more egregiously stupid or completely justified in your mind depending if you accept my paradigm or not. It makes me sick and I have no time for the Dusty apologists that don't see this.
I wanted you to have all of that so you could remember the massive frustration and angst we felt at times this postseason. Also remember, THIS WAS VAZQUEZ the Astros put through this. You expect him to forget his feeling of massive frustration in the final two months of the 2022 season? Why? He doesn't HAVE to come back here and relive the nightmare of shared playing time with Martin Maldonado. His lack of usage and the slump that followed is costing him right now.
This is the point in this article that you think I am making all of this up and just hating on Dusty again. Well here is what Vazquez has been quoted as saying by MLB Trade Rumors
Late in the season, Vázquez suggested to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe he’d prioritize finding a primary job in free agency. A longtime #1 catcher in Boston, he took a bit of a backseat to Martín Maldonado during his final couple months in Houston, starting just 23 games in the season’s final two months.
That desire for playing time would seem to reduce the chances Vázquez ends up back in Houston.
So UNTIL all potential STARTING CATCHING opportunities are filled DO NOT EXPECT that Vazquez has any desire to return to the team that cost him money in free agency.
Yes I would LOVE Christian Vazquez to be the 100-game starting catcher on the Astros for 2023 and 2024 while the younger catchers- Lee and Diaz- are developed to take over the full time catching role. I don't see that happening UNLESS this team trades Maldonado- which is not going to happen.
If you were Vazquez, what would you do? Take time to answer that.
Let me add highlighting here so IF this does happen you will know I said it.
All of this said, Vazquez COULD sign with the Astros. IF he does you should love him even more for putting his interests behind the team.
12/12/22 Update- It appears the two sides are meeting and Murphy is not an option.
THIS is what the Astros SHOULD be saying.
Jim Crane: "Christian, We know the way our team deployed your usage was not what you wanted. Dusty truly felt like it was not fair to you and to this team's chances to win the World Series to try to get you at Martin's level of knowledge of the pitching staff.
We know this has cost you money right now. We are prepared to pay you as the fifth highest paid catcher in the MLB- $13M/yr for 4 years. We want you to be happy in Houston. Dusty share your plans for the catching position in 2023."
Dusty Baker: "Christian, I plan to have you get the majority split at catcher this next season. I want you to be the primary catcher- about 75%- for all guys except Framber. Maldy keeps Framber focused, so I plan to start him about 70% of the time with Framber. I plan to spot start Maldy vs. some LHSP to keep him engaged. Both of you will also work with our young catchers- Diaz and Lee- in Spring Training and when they are on the roster. We will probably run with three catchers a lot and will have them try backing up at 1B and maybe LF too.
Overall, I will get you in there about 70% of the time. We need you Christian. You have my word."
So what are the other options we have considered
Let me know what you think.
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