Date of birth: April 8th, 1983
2017 line: 89 games, .254/.354/.511, .865 OPS,
2017 value: 1.8 bWAR
2017 salary: $1,500,000
SnakePit rating: 7.43
Minutes ago, my wife came home with a brand new iPhone. I asked to see it and she gave me the box. I sit down to open it and like an explosion, a shiny new marvel of technological innovation comes flying out, landing on the medium-grade tile in our living room. Whoops.
Accidents happen. Hindsight is 20/20. And Chris Iannetta only started 1 game in the postseason. Torrey Lovullo decided to start Jeff Mathis in the Wild Card game. And the Division Series opener. The hope was to make D-backs pitchers comfortable. It didn’t pan out. The D-backs burned through Robbie Ray and the rest became history. But you know, accidents happen, the iPhone is fine, and starting Iannetta probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
Chris Iannetta did a great job for the D-backs this year. He handled the pitching staff well and wasn’t a liability at the plate. Need a two-out home run to tie the game in the ninth? He’s your man. Both Mathis and Iannetta proved to be wise choices by Hazen coming into the 2017 year. The catcher is the one position where it may be best to use only veterans. It takes experience to learn how to handle a pitching staff with all their fragile personalities. 2017 was clearly an amazing year for D-backs pitching. Chris Iannetta deserves a lot of credit for that. He shared time with Mathis, but took over as the starter after a Mathis hand injury and brought the D-backs home to the postseason promised land.
In recent D-backs past, we had Montero and Castillo behind the plate. They hit some home runs, which were great. But D-backs pitching under performed. There has to be a logical reason why some of our pitchers couldn’t blossom until leaving the team. It is easy to blame the pitching coach, but that might be incorrect to do. After the Montero-Arrieta incident, I was forced to rethink the Montero-Bauer disagreements. Perhaps Bauer WAS held back by his catchers. Perhaps a catcher should take responsibility and give his pitchers all they need to succeed.
Chris Iannetta did that and more. He even proved he could hit the ball outside of Coors Field. But he is a free agent and will probably be asking for a significant raise. That’s because the rest of the league could see what a bargain he was for the 2017 Diamondbacks.
As for Hazen, he has a choice to make. A lot of it will depend on Iannetta’s market price. It makes sense to keep Mathis, who is under contract, while grooming a young catcher as the backup. But catching may be more art than science. Chris Iannetta knows how to paint a corner for the umpire, while still getting the occasional big hit. I hope he stays, but at a reasonable price.