During last night’s SNY broadcast, Kevin Burkhardt gave us explanations for Brian Schneider’s three passed balls thus far this season — straight from the horse’s mouth.
Of course, you’ve already read my theories on the subject, and interestingly, Burkhardt’s tidbit gave some credence to them.
According to Burkhardt (and Schneider):
Two of them have come from Aaron Heilman, on the same exact pitch, and here’s how …. he called for sinkers from Heilman … and, twice, Heilman threw a pitch that tailed away from the lefthander. and, well of course Schneider hadn’t caught Heilman in spring training, so the first time, he thought it was just an anomaly. And, when it happened the second time they got together in the dugout and Heilman said “well you know sometimes, I’ll just throw a different type of sinker and drop down and throw a pitch that tails away from the lefty.” Well the problem is, Schneider had no idea that pitch even existed …
Huh … that’s sort of in line with my suggestion:
Before setting up his target, Schneider was leaning toward the inside, I presume to get the batter Shane Victorino thinking that the pitch was going to be inside. Right before Heilman started his motion, Schneider leaned back over to the outside, where he wanted the pitch, but didnâ€™t move his feet. Heilmanâ€™s changeup had more movement than usual, and was a good foot or foot and a half off the plate. Though Schneider was already leaning that way, it appeared that he was expecting (or hoping) the ball to take a turn back toward the plate instead of continuing outside. And the way it popped out (and has been popping out), it looks as if heâ€™s using a new glove â€” but if thatâ€™s the case Iâ€™d be surprised.
Oh, and Gary Cohen added that Schneider had told him earlier in the day that he’d switched to a new glove from a new manufacturer — which explained why the ball was popping out of his glove so often. Cohen further assured us viewers that Brian has since gone back to his “old” glove and the problem hasn’t happened since.
The reason I stated “I’d be surprised” if Schneider was using a new mitt is because any serious catcher worth his salt ALWAYS has two gloves — one “game” glove and one “next year” glove. The “game” glove, as you might guess, is already broken in and is used in games. The “next year” glove is the one you use in spring training, in practice, in pre-game, in bullpen sessions, and any other time outside of a game. That’s because it can take all year to break in a quality catcher’s glove — though in my experience, the gloves break in more quickly when you have a staff of guys pounding your mitt at 90+ MPH.
FYI, it appears that Brian Schneider’s current — or “old” — mitt is an All-Star brand CM3000SBT “Professional Series” (shown at the beginning of the article). Nice glove — All-Star is “the” brand for catcher’s gear — but I personally prefer the Akadema brand “Praying Mantis” line, shown in the picture to the right.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.