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I'm mad . . .I'm mad with this organization. I can play here. I can play. I know that. ... And nobody knows somebody put me on waivers. I don't know what's going on right now.

--- Humberto Quintero, shortly after being optioned to AAA

I have to say that I've found Quintero's parting statement rather intereresting. Not because I don't understand or even concur with the decision to use the more powerful Munson, but because his words sound very much like the ones Burke used when he was sent out.

They, umm, sort of have the ring of the righteous.

Does Q have a point? I don't think you can call the Munson-for-Q thing a move made out of desperation, because Munson--as we've already seen--brings the power wild card that Q lacks. Yet Quintero says he can play.

Hmmm.

I'm sure you've looked at the offensive stats.

2007 Astros Catchers
Player G AB AVG OBP SLG
Ausmus 51 153 .242 .331 .327
Quintero 20 38 .237 .293 .263
Munson 4 14 .214 .313 .429

None of 'em are first team All-Stars, let's just say that. And if Purpura were to tell me over lunch that the .429 number in the above table is the most important to him, I really wouldn't argue. Beyond that, a .293 OBP SHOULD get you roundrocked.

Yet I have a sneaking suspicion that this wasn't all about offense. With numbers like these spread among your three candidates, how could it be?

I think this goes back to the moment a few weeks back when it was very quietly announced that Quintero would be replaced as Woody Williams' catcher. We have nothing in print, but Joe in Birmingham wrote that ". . .at least one pitcher (Woody Williams) gave me the impression he thought Q was a poor pitch caller."

I believe we are meant to have that impression, too.

Yet when you look at the numbers, Woody has a better pitching line when throwing to Quintero than he does when throwing to Ausmus.

It's all there, plain to see, in the splits at Baseball-Reference.

Among starters, Oswalt has thrown only to Ausmus, and Jennings has not thrown to Q, so I did not consider them in the following table. And I felt it was only fair to consider the front of the bullpen that would be pitching in non-blowout games: this meant Wheeler Qualls Lidge Miller.

And guess what? Williams' presumed complaints aside, Ausmus' supposed brilliance in handling pitchers notwithstanding, it seems like--if you can judge the job by the results--Q has at the very least been as good as Ausmus in "handling pitchers," and maybe even did it better.

  Catcher G PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Woody Ausmus 3 75 .333 .405 .485 .890
Quintero 10 268 .296 .357 .525 .882
Wandy Ausmus 11 272 .263 .311 .446 .757
Quintero 1 1 .000 1.000 .000 1.000
Sampson Ausmus 9 221 .281 .338 .437 .775
Munson 2 59 .226 .271 .396 .667
Quintero 1 11 .182 .182 .182 .364
Albers Ausmus 6 129 .310 .362 .575 .937
Quintero 2 30 .208 .333 .208 .541
Wheeler Ausmus 19 86 .303 .365 .566 .931
Quintero 7 26 .080 .115 .080 .195
Qualls Ausmus 23 94 .250 .312 .429 .741
Quintero 7 33 .259 .375 .370 .745
Lidge Ausmus 23 100 .244 .333 .430 .763
Quintero 6 25 .174 .240 .217 .457
Miller Ausmus 23 63 .314 .426 .549 .975
Quintero 6 16 .250 .438 .333 .771

Add it up, and it might be even more clear.

Totals Among Pitchers Who Have Thrown To Both Ausmus and Q
  AB BA TB SLG OBP OPS K/PA CS% HR/AB
Brad Totals 926 .279 440 .475 .343 .819 .192 .292 .036
Q Totals 401 .260 178 .444 .343 .787 .140 .571 .037

Quintero's pitchers have a lower batting average and lower OPS. Ausmus' pitchers get the strikeout, an advantage that remains even if you take Wandy out of the equation. There is no appreciable difference in home run rates, and of course Quintero guns out runners with the best in baseball.

I guess my point is, if you want to send Q out because you think Eric M can hit some home runs, fine. But I think you ought to kill these rumors that he can't handle pitchers, because the numbers say he's done just fine.