Time for Maddux to Shed PC

No, I'm not implying that Greg Maddux should lose his sense of political correctness. Instead, I am recommending that he dump his personal catcher, Paul Bako.

Admittedly, I've had this column top of mind for several weeks, particularly ever since the May 26 loss to the Astros when Maddux was forced to "endure" Michael Barrett's pitch calling behind the plate because Bako was unavailable.

For those paying close attention, the veteran Maddux acted like a little-leaguer, showing his displeasure with Barrett's pitch calling by shaking his head with blatant exaggeration. If one were to crawl inside Maddux's head that night, it might reveal a pitcher that blamed bad pitch calling – rather than poorly located fastballs – for his struggles.

I had planned on writing a column after that game highlighting Maddux's amateurish behavior. But I held off, giving the veteran the benefit of the doubt that it was an isolated incident rooted in frustration.

Now, however, given that Maddux has shown he can get bashed around no matter who is behind the plate - as witnessed over the weekend at U.S. Cellular Field a few short days ago - it is time for this future Hall of Famer to act like one and dump the personal catcher rule.

The reasons are simple and obvious.

The gulf in production between Michael Barrett and Paul Bako is enormous. Barrett, despite a recent slump, has been one of the most consistently potent bats in the lineup, and adequate defensively.

Bako, on the other hand, brings absolutely nothing to the table offensively (unless it's against Kerry Wood in a simulated game apparently, although it's not yet clear how that qualifies as "offense" exactly).

He has no power (as demonstrated with a slugging percentage just a shade higher than Glendon Rusch's), nor speed, nor does he hit for average.

And lately, he doesn't even seem to be able to squeeze the ball in his mitt.

Maddux is on pace to surrender the highest number of homeruns in his career, and register his highest earned run average since 1987. This 38-year-old right-hander was not acquired to be the staff ace, and his statistics are extremely solid for the fifth starter slot that he would have ideally occupied if the starting rotation had been healthy. However, it is clear from the games where Maddux has struggled that hitters are adjusting to his approach by jumping on fastballs early in the count.

The Hall of Famer, instead of adjusting his catcher to his personal liking, should instead be adjusting his approach to hitters. That is what Hall of Fame pitchers do, after all.

It's not as though Barrett would be starting every game anyway. However, by mandating that Bako starts every fifth game regardless, it ties Baker's hands to adjust the lineup based on opponent and player fatigue.

It is time for Maddux to show Cub fans why he is a Hall of Famer in waiting by ditching his personal catcher and throwing to whomever the Manager pencils into the lineup (like virtually every other major league pitcher is somehow able to do).

Maddux might even find that having a catcher in the lineup that can get on base and drive in runs will put him on the fast track to 300 wins... and a World Series ring.

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