2009 Player Previews - Paul Bako
Screw you Paul Bako.
Or should I say Gabor Paul Bako II...if that is your real name...which it is.
You think you can come in here and replace my beloved Hank White as this team’s backup catcher? Blanco was a solid defender. He was a wise mentor. He was even a veteran leader from the friggin bench. Good luck with that bud.
Seriously though, Bako has some fairly big shoes to fill. While Blanco wasn’t a guy who was going to put up huge numbers with the lumber, he was more than serviceable behind the dish. Plus he was one of the few people in the Cubs organization who could yell at Carlos Zambrano and not have to sleep with one eye open later that night.
To be honest, I was a bit upset the Cubs weren’t willing to put together the cash to bring Hank back. He was familiar with the pitching staff and he could continue to contribute to the development of Geo Soto. He will be seriously missed...especially by Big Z. Just wait and see.
But enough about Hank, let’s focus on GPB2. Bako is in his second tour of duty with the Cubs, so his familiarity with the ball park and playing day games is a plus. On the negative side, he’s not much of a run producer and a bit of a step down defensively from last season’s situation.
However, his career batting numbers are quite similar to Blanco’s...
Bako: 11 seasons, 745 games, .231/.305/.317
Blanco: 11 seasons, 746 games, .227/.289/.364
Kinda creepy how close those are actually.
So I guess right now you have to consider Bako the “front runner” for the backup catcher position. But “front” and “runner” are just words. What do they even mean? Nothing I tells ya. Nothing at all.
Personally, I’m rootin’ for Koyie Hill. Not only is the guy a great story, but he is also rumored to be a favorite of the Cubs pitching staff. So if Lou is going to put a catcher who can’t hit out on the field as a spell for Soto, I’d rather it be a guy who knows the staff than a guy who kind of looks like Bill Murray. (Am I the only one that sees a possible resemblance?)
Anyway, let’s recap.
Bako’s positives: Familiar with Wrigley/day game routine, BA/OBP similar to Blanco, veteran presence, lefty bat
Bako’s negatives: Less power/run producing ability than Blanco, defensive downgrade, unfamiliar with the staff, lack of crazy arm tats.
Overall feelings on Bako: Meh
As long as he doesn’t cost the Cubs games then he should be fine. But the minute he does screw up, I’ll be the guy from the bleachers chanting "Hank White! Hank White! Hank White!"