• Looking Forward at Twins Catching

    The Twins continue to play out the rest of the 2013 season without their $23 million man, Joe Mauer. There is plenty of concern surrounding Mauer's concussion-related injury. As Twins fans are well aware from incidents with Denard Span and Justin Morneau, head injuries can be tough to resolve. This leaves Minnesota with an interesting situation behind the plate as the team looks to the future.

    No one knows when Mauer will be back on the field and if he will ever be able to suit up behind the plate. The Twins have been auditioning a variety of players this September in hopes of shedding some light on the situation. Will one of these new players be the Twins full-time backstop by the start of next year or will Mauer be able to solve the puzzle of his brain injury?


    Here's the breakdown of the men fighting for catching time in 2014. It is a mix of young and old as the Twins begin to shift their roster to a more youthful core of players.

    Joe Mauer
    2013 (113 G, 73 G started at C): .324/.404/.476, 11 HR, 35 2B, 62 R
    Concerns over Mauer's injury will be one of the biggest story lines entering spring training next year. The 2013 season is only the second time since 2007 where he has failed to play over 135 games. Justin Morneau is gone and this leaves a hole at first base. Mauer's power numbers don't exactly fit with the typical first baseman mold but the Twins need him to fit somewhere. Depending on how the offseason progresses, fans have to hope that Mauer will be able to do some catching, play some time at first and even get into the line-up as a DH. This might be a wild dream at this point but there are multiple months until Opening Day 2014.

    Ryan Doumit
    2013 (124 G, 41 GS at C): .239/.310/.386, 13 HR, 24 2B, 43 R
    With Mauer out of the line-up, one figured Doumit would get more time at catcher. This hasn't been the case and Doumit had his own concussion-related DL stint earlier this season. Minnesota loved the production Doumit provided in 2012 and the team signed him to an extension. His offensive production dropped this season and there's a chance the team could try to deal him in the offseason. He will be 33 years old next season and in the last year of his contract. His does represent the lone veteran presence behind Mauer so this could give the Twins a reason to keep him around.

    Chris Herrmann
    2013: (49 G, 22 GS at C): .218/.302/.361, 4 HR, 7 2B, 14 R
    Herrmann can't be a free agent until after the 2019 season and the Twins have been willing to use him in multiple defensive positions. His numbers dropped across the board as he struggled at the plate in Rochester and Minnesota. There were some good signs from him during 2012 at Double-A. One has to hope for that version of Herrmann to appear at the big league level, especially if Mauer is no longer able to catch. If he is able to make the right adjustments, Herrmann could end up taking over the role vacated by Doumit after next season. Otherwise, he is an adequate back-up catcher to keep on the bench.

    Josmil Pinto
    2013: (11 G, 9 GS at C): .405/.463/.703, 2 HR, 5 2B, 6 R
    In his first taste of the big leagues, Pinto has made a quick impression on Twins Territory. The kid can hit the ball and he has continued to show this ability as he has moved through the upper levels of the Twins farm system. In the past, there have been some questions about his catching ability and this year there were concerns about his shoulder. He was able to throw out 29% of base stealers between New Britain and Rochester this season. At the big league level, he has caught three out of seven potential runners. Fans that continue to watch the Twins in September will keep their eye on Pinto because he might be getting a lot more time behind the plate next year.

    Fans might be worried about Mauer's future so it's good to have a plan in place. Pinto has been impressive but it has been a small sample size and it's tough to get too excited before seeing a full season of play from him. It would be great for both men to be able to spend some time behind the plate next season but for now the future is a little cloudy.
    This article was originally published in blog: Looking Forward at Twins Catching started by Cody Christie
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      How would you rate Herrmann and Pinto as far as pitch calling and the pitcher-catcher relationship?
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      I'm no scout, but watched both a bunch in New Britain.
      I'd give Herrmann the nod defensively.
    1. Wookiee of the Year's Avatar
      Wookiee of the Year -
      How much value do you think Doumit has on the trading market? Would teams have interest in him as a back-up catcher?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wookiee of the Year View Post
      How much value do you think Doumit has on the trading market? Would teams have interest in him as a back-up catcher?
      Not the way he hit this season. He's going to need to have a bounce back season to get some interest next year.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      I don't think Doumit needs to have any part of this team's plan for next season. Cut bait with him during the offseason, get whatever you can. If it's nothing, so be it.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wookiee of the Year View Post
      How much value do you think Doumit has on the trading market? Would teams have interest in him as a back-up catcher?
      No trade value, but at this stage he would be a very good bench/utility guy for a contending NL team - pinch hitter, fourth or fifth outfielder, emergency catcher only, and the guy has baseball sense if nothing else.

      But Terry Ryan must know something we don't, because last summer he signed Doumit through 2014.

      Your guess is as good as anyone's what we are going to do with him next year.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I am not sure anyone else would put him behind the plate other than in an emergency role. His framing deficit is so much worse than any other catcher.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Pinto looks like the real deal to me. The way he keeps his balance poised and his hands back, he's able to make serious adjustments, and he appears to keep his hands steady, with a light grip on the bat. Frankly his approach reminds me of the new and improved Brian Dozier, except Pinto is a lot younger.

      Behind the plate he appears fundamentally sound, but inexperienced. He moves his body laterally to block balls in the dirt and wide of the plate, rather than merely reaching sideways with his glove. He's not as sharp back there as Herrmann, but there's no reason he won't improve with experience and mentoring from Mauer and the coaches.

      Eager, coachable player with a bright future.
    1. Madre Dos's Avatar
      Madre Dos -
      On the personable side: Pinto is friendly, gracious and easy going. He is welcome in my home again anytime. Truly a gentleman and will become a fan favorite in the majors.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      I don't think Doumit needs to have any part of this team's plan for next season. Cut bait with him during the offseason, get whatever you can. If it's nothing, so be it.
      If gardenhire and doumit are back next year, gardy'll find a way to have him in the lineup everyday.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      I'm no scout, but watched both a bunch in New Britain.
      I'd give Herrmann the nod defensively.
      It's more objectively true too, though Pinto is definitely an adequate defender at the least. And it appears that he wants to learn how to be better. I do find it odd how he ends up stretching a leg out while the pitch is being delivered. Perhaps more catchers should do that, however, to help their poor knees.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Madre Dos View Post
      On the personable side: Pinto is friendly, gracious and easy going. He is welcome in my home again anytime. Truly a gentleman and will become a fan favorite in the majors.
      Please say more about this! Your input is so good and important around here.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I think the Twins are fine with Pinto and Herrmann sharing the majority of catching duties. Not a true platoon, of course, since Pinto's offensive upside is big. Cathing 100 games between the two of them, with offensive performance, makes Mauer shifting the majority of his time to first base quite palatable.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      I don't think Doumit needs to have any part of this team's plan for next season. Cut bait with him during the offseason, get whatever you can. If it's nothing, so be it.
      There's no pressing need to deal him as we're not exactly going to be over budget. I'm not sure why you wouldn't give the guy the chance to reestablish some value.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      There's no pressing need to deal him as we're not exactly going to be over budget. I'm not sure why you wouldn't give the guy the chance to reestablish some value.
      Fair enough. This entails keeping Pinto and/or Herrmann down OR keeping Arcia in the OF which has ramifications for Parmelee, Presley, and/or Hicks. I am not sure that the value POTENTIALLY gained is worth it.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Let's not believe that Herrmann is an equal to Pinto offensively...and both can handle the game just fine defensively
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnfanforlife View Post
      Let's not believe that Herrmann is an equal to Pinto offensively...and both can handle the game just fine defensively
      Well, for one - destroying September pitching is hardly proof positive. Parmelee and hundreds of others have done that and fell on their face in a full season. He's got a better track record and projects better, but so does Hermann defensively.

      As for Doumit, I'd love to let him play just to regain value, but the Twins seem incapable or unwilling to let those players leave via trade. They seem more inclined to extend their deals or let them ride out the season. I just have zero confidence in the Twins ability to utilize that option - so I'd rather he just be gone.
    1. CGNikolic's Avatar
      CGNikolic -
      Doumit should be off the team sometime this winter, so that will solve that dilemma. In regard to Mauer, I really would prefer if he was done catching, for good. Save his head and lower body and put him at first base. He doesn't have the power you would like out of the position and lowers his true value but doing this will allow him to hit and keep on hitting, and add (solid) years on to his playing career. It just makes to much sense. I say start Herrmann there next year (bring in a backup catcher, start Pinto at AAA to prove himself) and let him play until Pinto is ready, who is likely our future at the position.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      There's no pressing need to deal him as we're not exactly going to be over budget. I'm not sure why you wouldn't give the guy the chance to reestablish some value.
      I just don't think the possible increase in value is worth wasting another four months of plate appearances (assuming he gets dealt near the deadline) that could be much better served elsewhere.

      I think it's just as likely that his value goes nowhere, which would make any plate appearances he's given an even bigger waste moving forward.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Correia, Willingham and Doumit were guys intended to bridge to the good players in the pipeline. If we can cut ties early with Doumit, then 2013 succeeded in at least this one way. Probably the same can be said about Willingham. Correia, unfortunately, looks like he has a bridging role to play for the 2014 squad.
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