Flowers, Soto catching flak for offensive liabilities
But backstop duo makes up for that on defense and game-calling
CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers understood the question offered up in his direction concerning catching being a spot to upgrade if the White Sox become buyers before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Nonetheless, the team's current starting backstop was a bit hesitant to answer.
"I feel like you are stirring the pot right here," said Flowers with a laugh. "I really, honestly, I wouldn't see a whole lot of benefit in that."
Fans will react to Flowers' understandable self-confidence with everything from a disapproving shake of the head to some level of low rage that Flowers seems to experience every time he makes an out. They will point to his .203 average, 13 RBIs and 39 strikeouts over 116 at-bats entering Friday night's series opener against the Tigers, and refer to these numbers as not befitting of an everyday player.
There's little doubt that Flowers' offense needs to pick up, and the same holds true for backup backstop Geovany Soto, but the same can be said for most of the White Sox lineup. And where the catcher's position is concerned, the White Sox put a premium on handling pitchers and calling games over pure production with the bat.
"The run prevention side of the catcher position is extremely important," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's certainly much easier to look at a batting average number and say it's not satisfactory than it is to give a guy credit for what he's able to do from a game calling or game planning or pitch framing standpoint these days.
"So, I get the frustration. And these guys, both Flo and Soto, have the ability to contribute a little bit more offensively than they've shown thus far. But when we talk about the bullpen as a strength, we talk about some of the successes we've had in the rotation, those guys deserve a fair amount of the credit as well."
Flowers had three hits during Wednesday's win over the Rangers and even though he went hitless Thursday, he feels in a better place with the bat than he has in a while. If the White Sox looked to make a change behind the plate, an option they have explored the last two offseasons, it's not as if the elite hitting catchers such as Salvador Perez, Buster Posey or Yadier Molina suddenly would become available.
Looking for a catcher of the future, which the White Sox don't necessarily have in their system, could be an option if the team falls out of contention and moves veteran players. For now, the job belongs to Flowers and his pitcher-first contribution.
"One of the big struggles for me this season is starting to become behind me, so why would you, in terms of offense, so why would you change?" Flowers said. "Defensively, Geo and I have both done a pretty good job.
"Our staff has turned it around. We started off a little rough, but I feel like for the last month, maybe a little bit less, our starters have been doing extremely well. I kind of feel like it's all starting to come together now."