I really never thought that Drew Butera, Dodger, would be a real thing. I honestly was naive to think that he would be a third string catcher at best down in AAA-Albuquerque. I was okay with that since the Dodgers are lacking at depth at catcher within the organization. Miguel Olivo was released when he was offered a minor league at the end of Spring Training. Olivo feels he could find a major league job elsewhere. Butera is out of options, so the Dodgers chose to lose Olivo and keep Butera on the roster.
Is keeping Butera so important that they must play Tim Federowicz down in AAA? Drew Butera as backup catcher to A.J. doesn’t bode well for my sensibilities. FedEx, the 26-year old catcher the Dodgers acquired from Boston in the three-team trade deadline swap which sent reborn Dodger Trayvon Robinson to Seattle in 2011, should be A.J.’s backup again in 2014. Drew Butera, the 30-year old catcher, has only played in 190 Major League games and has a career line of .181/.229/.262 with 5 homeruns.
Federowicz has caught 66 games and has a Major League career line of .227/.283/.341 with 4 homeruns. While neither catcher is a slugger, FedEx occasionally has a pop of power while Butera does not. FedEx has only had 173 plate appearances at the Major League level, and with more experience his numbers may improve. FedEx is the better option offensively, even if by just a little, than Butera who is absolutely lacking any consistency at the plate as far as getting on base.
Defensively FedEx is better behind the plate than Butera as well. Over his short time with the Dodgers so far, FedEx has a 50% caught stealing percentage in that span. Butera has thrown out runners to a good 33% CS over his career, and he is adequate behind the plate. Butera’s advantage is perhaps his experience over FedEx, although FedEx has more time with most of the Dodgers pitching staff. I’d rather FedEx continue to learn alongside A.J. Ellis who would offer a very good role model for Tim as far as the work which goes into using video and other resources to catch a better game and to know the hitters in the league.
The Dodgers are milling the idea of shuffling FedEx off to Albuquerque and beginning the season with Drew Butera as the backup catcher in
order to be able to hang on to Butera. How long would they need to hang on to Butera? Can the Dodgers keep FedEx down in AAA for a long stretch of the season just to be able to insure insurance behind the plate? Seems as if the Dodgers need to start to look at possible acquisitions for additional catchers in the organization. Even Drew Butera as the third-in-line makes me extremely nervous.
The Braves signed Cuban catcher Yenier Bello to a minor league deal earlier this month. The Dodgers had been connected to Bello, but the Braves were the team to scoop him up. The Braves in fact have a surplus of catchers including Evan Gattis, Gerald Laird, Christian Bethancourt, Ryan Doumit, and now Bello. Perhaps the Dodgers need to talk with Atlanta to see what they could possibly need? I’m just trying to work out a scenario where Drew Butera is not catching for the Dodgers.
Not only is FedEx a defensively strong youthful catcher, but I still believe he has more offensive potential than what he has shown in his small sample of a young Dodger career so far.
I watched Tim step off the training field at Camelback Ranch and hand his batting gloves to a little boy who was watching batting practice. It was a special moment which I enjoyed watching.
FedEx may not be a future starting catcher for the Dodgers or another team, but he is certainly a younger and better option than Butera. A decision will likely come soon as Opening Day in Sydney is approaching. Tim Federowicz made last year’s Opening Day roster, but it is now becoming a question if he will make it on this year’s Opening Day roster with the apparent need for the Dodgers to try to hang on to Butera. The Dodgers will need to make their decision before Game 1 which is scheduled for 1 AM PT on Saturday morning.