No one knows the Algorithm that is calculated in Mike Scioscia’s head that has led him to play Jeff Mathis over more talented players like Mike Napoli and now Hank Conger ( and even Bobby Wilson for that matter). However Mike Napoli sheds some light on the mystery that is Scioscia’s stringent requirements from his back stop. Napoli gave the Boston Globe the following statement as a reason for his success in 2011:
Mike Napoli, C/1B, Rangers – Napoli feels far more relaxed being out from under the thumb of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who is tough on his catchers. Napoli was hitting .296 with 18 homers, 44 RBIs, and a 1.011 OPS entering yesterday. He has the lowest ERA (2.37) among active catchers with at least 250 innings. “I always felt like I was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing things right,’’ Napoli said of his time with the Angels. “I had ‘bad hands.’ I was so worried about my setup and the mechanics all the time. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of what I do there, but playing there just wasn’t much fun.’’
This is frustrating on multiple levels for Halos fans. First off its clear there was some sort of personal rift between Napoli and Scioscia. However that personal rift clearly carried over to Tony Reagins causing him to severely underestimate Napoli’s trade value and thus bring us the Vernon Wells trade. A good GM finds a way to show the manager the error of their sometimes biased thinking in regards to player evaluation.
Reagins should have found a way -statistically to show Scioscia Mike Napoli’s true offensive value as a catcher. Obviously the sensitivity around respecting Scioscia’s as the “expert” on defensive catching still exists but there had to be a way to reach some middle ground
Simply put – a trade package of Juan Rivera AND Mike Napoli could have landed the Angels a better player and more manageable contract than Vernon Wells. Clearly Reagins let Scioscia’s influence cause him to under value Napoli and the Angels paid the price for it.
There is not a defensive metric – real or imagined that can make up for the following:
- Napoli: .290/.385/.608
- Mathis: .181/.226/.259