Dodger’s regular catcher A.J. Ellis is due to return from the disabled list pretty soon. He had been on a rehab assignment in Albuquerque, and should be rejoining the club this afternoon. When the club is ready to activate him, they’ll face another tough roster choice. Who do the Dodgers send down in order to make room for A.J.? Who should be A.J.’s backup? Do the Dodgers option Miguel Olivo? Or risk losing Drew Butera?
The best choice for the club would be to hang onto Butera (his teammates call him “Booty”) and let Olivo go. I think Olivo could still be sent back to Albuquerque, although I doubt he would be happy with that outcome. If you remember he threw a little fit after spring training, when the club initially asked him to accept a minor league assignment, then relented and accepted. Butera however is out of options, and would have to clear waivers for the Dodgers to retain him. So there is a risk that if he is claimed, they could lose him.
But you know, Butera hasn’t been terrible. Not as terrible as I thought he would be. I know, I know I’ve been pretty wrong lately on predicting player performance, but I’ll gladly be wrong for some Drew Butera success.
We knew Butera could already catch. He was rated as a plus defensive catcher coming in, and is considered as a good catch and throw guy. He’s a game calling specialist. Defensive runs saved has him at five runs saved above average, and total zone fielding runs above average have him rated at a +3.
He has a pretty good arm, (career 32% caught stealing), although he does have four passed balls this year. Butera is the best choice defensively speaking. He is also more familiar with the pitching staff then Olivo is. Butera was with the Dodgers when rosters expended last September, so he has a little more experience with the Dodger pitching staff. The Dodgers have a record of 10-4 when he catches. When Olivo catches the club is 2-6.
It was always his hitting that was the problem. Coming into this season, Butera was a career .186 hitter and had never hit above .198 at any point in his MLB career. But apparently Butera had been working with hitting coach Mark McGwire during the winter and in spring training. Big Mac was teaching Butera how to use his hands and react to different pitches. And you know what…Butera isn’t…..terrible. He really isn’t.
I can’t believe I am actually writing this, but Butera is dare I say it, enfuego. Butera is now batting .234 (11 for 47), with two home runs, and six RBI in 55 plate appearances.
Butera has hit safely in eight of his last 13 games, which means he’s hitting about .230 (11 for 52) in that span. That’s not great, but considering it’s Drew Butera we are talking about, it’s not terrible. Not terrible at all. Butera has also hit two home runs on the last road trip. Over his last eight games, Butera is batting .250, (8 for 32). Butera has three multi-hit games this season, and reached base two more times last night, with a double, and also scored two more runs.
Butera is no all-star, but he really isn’t bad, and is starting to perk up with the bat. Miguel Olivo is batting just .217, has gone hitless in his last five games, and is 0 for his last 11. Olivo has just five hits this year.
Obviously Olivo is not the answer the Dodgers were hoping he would be behind the plate. The Dodgers hoped Olivo would give them some pop, but it turned out to be Butera who ended up providing the pop instead.
These are small sample sizes of course, but Butera has started to swing the bat much better than anyone ever thought he would. Butera is currently out-hitting Justin Turner, Chone Figgins, Miguel Olvio, and at times has even out hit Carl Crawford.
I know I’ll receive some flack for this with a lot of the Olivo lovers out there, but this is just how I feel from watching both catchers play. Butera has impressed me, while Olivo has been lackluster. The choice for the Dodgers should be simple. Let Olivo go, and hold onto Butera as the backup for A.J. Ellis. Don’t underestimate the power of Butera.