Tyler Flowers. I wish the White Sox had a better catcher.
The slider-speed bat, the inability to lay off the high fastball, the strikeouts, the passed balls, the mediocre throwing arm, the lifetime .218 batting average, these are all things I dislike about Flowers.
Moreover, his .152 batting average this spring (through Thursday) doesn't give me hope that he can duplicate his modest (and career-best) .241/.297/.396 slash line from a year ago.
I'm not excited about having him as the Sox's No. 1 catcher for another year, especially since I saw him as being one of the culprits as the team struggled to a 73-89 record in 2014.
However, I read something today that gave me pause about Flowers. I don't know how much to read into it, but I think it's worth a mention.
Flowers started 120 games behind the plate for the Sox in 2014. Would you believe the Sox had a winning record in those 120 games? That's right, a team that finished 16 games below .500 overall won more than it lost with Flowers in the starting lineup.
Here's the breakdown:
2014 Sox with Flowers behind the plate: 61-59 (.508)
2014 Sox with Adrian Nieto behind the plate: 6-26 (.188)
2014 Sox with Josh Phegley behind the plate: 6-4 (.600)
Total: 73-89 (.451)
The main takeaway from this is the Sox really stunk when they played their backup catcher last year. In fairness to Nieto, he wasn't ready for the big leagues and was only kept on the 25-man roster because of Rule 5 Draft requirements. He'll be back in the minors this year to work on his skills, as he should be.
We can dismiss Phegley's 10 starts as a small sample size.
But isn't it interesting that for all the holes in Flowers' game, he didn't seem to be the guy who was holding the Sox back. Not that 61-59 is a great record; it is not. It's a mediocre record, and it certainly didn't hurt Flowers that he caught all of Chris Sale's starts last year. But in the context of what the Sox did as a team overall, 61-59 as a starting catcher is not bad.
I'm not going to draw any grand conclusions from any of this, but it's food for thought for the weekend.