'Crash' Hill Will Not Break the Minor-League Home Run Record & That's Okay

DanUp's morning open thread got me to thinking about why on earth the Cardinals signed free agent catcher Koyie Hill to a minor-league contract this week. Hill has spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues, always in the role of back-up catcher. He made his Major League debut in 2003 with the Dodgers, getting three plate appearances in three games. In 2004 and 2005 combined, Hill tallied 139 PAs in 47 games as the Diamondbacks' back-up catcher. He spent 2008 as a catcher for AAA Columbus in the Yankees system. In 2009, Hill started in AAA Iowa before being called up to the non-I Cubs. In 2008, he split time between Des Moines and Chicago. From 2009 through 2011, he served as the Cubs' back-up catcher. In all this time, Hill hasn't hit a lick:

G

PA

HR

RBI

BA

OBP

SLG

wOBA

fWAR

302

927

8

75

.211

.275

.298

.252

-1.3


If Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan were still around, I'd understand this signing a lot better. No-hit veteran back-up catchers were a mainstay of rosters throughout the La Russa/Duncan era. But, this is a new era of unbridled Mozeliakism. In fact, the general manager himself has stated that the back-up catcher decision will be settled via a good ol' fashioned Spring Training competition between Tony Cruz and Brian Anderson. Both Cruz and Anderson are already on the 40-man roster. The winner of the back-up catcher derby will graduate to the 25-man roster and the loser will likely be the primary catcher in AAA Memphis and Catcher No. 3 on the big-league depth chart. So, again, why Koyie Hill?

I've come to the conclusion that Koyie Hill is the 2012 Memphis Redbirds' Crash Davis.

Well, he's kind of the Redbirds' Crash Davis. Hill has 46 career minor-leauge homers, a total that is nowhere near the career minor-league record of 247 set by Crash Davis. I imagine that Hill's career minor-league OPS of .757 is quite a bit below Crash Davis's (approximate) career minor-league OPS of .872. No, Hill is not Crash with the bat but perhaps he is Crash behind the plate and off the field. And perhaps prospect extraordinaire Shelby Miller is Nuke, in need of some seasoning.

During the 2011 season Miller was suspended by the organization after an incident that may have involved alcohol and may have included fisticuffs. This has caused some consternation amongst Cardinals fans regarding Miller's maturity and that nebulous concept of pitcher make-up. Thankfully, this is the concern and not his control of pitches. In their first encounter, Hill won't give Miller a baseball and challenge Miller to hit him in the chest with it. Unlike Nuke LaLoosh, Nuke Miller would kill Hill with such a speedball.

In my mind--a mind that firmly believes the premises of Saved By The Bell episodes, comic books, and baseball films can exist in real life--I believe that Hill has been signed to groom Miller, that he will teach Miller how to give boring interviews, force Miller to get shower shoes without fungus on them, and tell opposing batsmen that the heater is coming after Nuke shakes him off so they can crush the pitch so it hits the bull, win a free steak, and teach Nuke a lesson. All of this will then lead to Miller's eventual call-up and successful career in The Show.

After all, I can't come up with any other conceivable reason for the Cardinals to have signed Koyie Hill.

Star-divide

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Who the hell are you, man?!

[LaLoosh charges at Crash, who drops him with one punch to the face]

Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Good punch...

Crash Davis: I'm Crash Davis; I'm your new catcher, and you just got lesson number one; Don't think. You can only hurt the club.

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