Dan Butler Thriving For The Boston Red Sox

dan butlerAfter three hit-less games (0-for-11) in the big leagues, last Wednesday Boston Red Sox catcher Dan Butler came through with his bat and made a huge impact by doing so.

Failing to reach in his first at-bat, Butler smacked a double off the Green Monster—his first Major League hit. At that point, everything Butler ever did to make it this far final paid off. He was not done though, collecting another pair of hits, one of which was a double.
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On the year his slash line stands at .200/.250/.333 through four full games, but that should go up as he got his first hit out of the way which is always the hardest. After getting his first, he immediately got his second and third which suggests he is comfortable at the plate now at the big league level. Of course, he will need to support this theory with a few more strong performances.

Defense has never been, nor will it ever be, an issue for Butler—he catches like a pro. A great receiver behind the plate who calls a good game, Butler owns a decent throwing arm (27% caught stealing in AAA) making him a complete defensive player.
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Odds are, he will not be playing every day, but Dan Butler is achieving his ultimate goal—contributing to the Boston Red Sox. As the Red Sox are eliminated from playoff contention, expect Butler to catch more than usual since this season is now nothing but practice for 2015. With a good impression good things will happen to the 27-year-old catcher.

Right now, Dan Butler has a chance to make the case to earn the Boston Red Sox job as backup catcher in 2015. Sure it’s a bit of a stretch, but so was making it to the top as an undrafted free agent.
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Overcoming adversity is nothing new for Butler.

Who Will the Boston Red Sox Catchers be Next Season?

christian vasquezBoston Red Sox rookie catcher Christian Vazquez has taken the league by storm in nearly a quarter of a season playing in the big leagues. In 39 games for Boston, the Puerto Rican catcher is hitting .234/.292/.289, but his defense gives him pride. Behind the dish, he has gunned down 10 of 21 attempted base stealers good for 48% caught stealing. Compare this to the league average which is a mere 27%. His WAR on defense stands at 1.0 and will only get better as he plays in more games. Defense alone is enough to warrant Vazquez a starting job, but the fact that his bat will come around is a plus.
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Since Vazquez is set to be the starting catcher, Boston is in position to bring in a new backup. With David Ross set to be a free agent, there is an outside chance the club brings in someone else to catch instead of their backup who is set to turn 38-years-old by Opening Day 2015.

Of the catchers set to be free agents this offseason, none of them are the least bit appealing. Sure, they would make decent backup catchers, but they are all a few years removed from their primes and are hardly good enough to be considered replacement players anymore (WAR > 0.0). Gerald Laird, Geovany Soto, John Buck, Wil Nieves and A.J. Pierzynski are hardly appealing options for Boston, especially when these men refuse to play for under $1 million a year as Doug Mirabelli did in the last year of his career. Instead, these men want several million a year to hurt the team’s chances for success.
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Although he is hardly a replacement player anymore, re-signing David Ross seems like a more appealing option each day. His .184/.256/.362 slash line does not appeal to most, but his veteran presence in the clubhouse does. Defensively, he is nowhere near his old self gunning down just 21% of would-be base stealers compared to 48% in 2009. It does not hurt that he has such a positive reputation in Boston and a weak free agency market boosts his case even further.

Lastly, Dan Butler makes an interesting case to be a backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox next season. Set to earn the league minimum, Butler is a cheaper option who may be able to give the same type of output at the plate and behind the plate as some of these veterans on their ways out. Boasting good plate discipline and everything a pitcher wants from a catcher, he could find his way on the Opening Day roster next season.
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With Blake Swihart catching in AAA Pawtucket, Boston would be in position to try Swihart out at the big league level if either catcher struggled — Vazquez or the catcher to be named later. Now though, Boston must look at their options carefully and decide who their best options are at catcher.

Dan Butler “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”

dan butlerWith September call-ups starting, teams first look to bring up guys who can help a big league team. Of course eventually they will bring up more and more guys, but at first they only summon a few. Arguably the most important call-up, and usually the first one to get the call, is an extra catcher (although this year Boston opted for knuckleballer Steven Wright as their first call-up).

As far as catchers went, Dan Butler was the Red Sox first choice. On Tuesday, he was recalled from AAA Pawtucket.
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Dan Butler is a name synonymous with hard work. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009 after a hot campaign in the Cape Cod League, Butler, who is in his sixth professional season, looks to contribute to the Boston Red Sox before the end of the year.

In 83 games for the Paw Sox, Butler hit .241/.317/.350 but got hot lately going 12 for his last 24.

Defensively, Butler is a solid defensive catcher who works well with his pitching staff. An impressive receiver and game caller behind the plate, Dan Butler owned a .995 fielding percentage in 54 games catching this season while gunning down 27% of attempted base stealers.
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The 27-year-old catcher does not come to the Boston without experience. He was first called-up earlier this year on August 2nd when David Ross hit the DL with plantar fasciitis. He caught in three games for Boston in the month of August drawing a walk in his second plate appearance.

“It’s something I worked for my whole life and in these past six to seven years, it’s been everything I’ve dreamed of. I was just excited you know, a lot of excitement you know the family and excited for the kids, mostly for the kids”, said Butler of his big league experience.

When Butler made his big debut, he was not the only Butler in attendance.

“It was nice having them there for the kids and my parents you know. I had a lot of family there. I was just really happy to have my mom and dad see me there, it was special”, said Butler whose family traveled from Arizona to Los Angeles to see his big league debut against the Angels.
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Of course for Butler, as it is for many, his time in the big leagues was as much of a learning experience as anything.

“I mean you get familiar with your own scouting reports, the staff you’re working with, the way things work, how you go about your business and how to prepare. A lot of preparation goes into each game, that was the biggest part — how am I going to prepare for each game”.

It seems highly likely that Boston will use Butler a few more times this season, even if it is only once a week. Both Red Sox catchers Christian Vazquez and David Ross have caught plenty of games this year making it rational to believe they could use a break every now and then. Butler will be able to keep both guys well-rested over the last month of a disappointing MLB season so that both men have no nagging injuries going into 2015.
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As for the idea of being a September call-up, Butler was not certain of it Monday morning after Pawtucket clinched a playoff spot around 12:30 AM.

“I won’t know until Kevin [Boles] says something to me. You never know, you just got to go out and treat everyday the same. You don’t count your chickens before they hatch. If it happens, it happens. It will be good, but you never know.”