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A Plan For Pinto

As spring training came to a close, the Twins decided that they needed Josmil Pinto's bat, so they brought him north. Pinto provided the offense they desired during his stay in Minnesota, posting an above-average .730 OPS with some pop and solid discipline.

Despite his success at the plate, he was sent down in early June. The move was a little perplexing at the time, but was evidently part of a larger plan.
Pinto had been slumping after a red-hot April, so to some extent, his demotion was intended to get his bat back on track. But the bigger issue was that he was rarely catching with the Twins, giving him little opportunity to improve defensive skills that were drawing critical reviews from both coaches and players.

Instead of allowing him to stick around and DH -- a role he seemed well equipped for -- the Twins signed Kendrys Morales and sent Pinto to Triple-A, ostensibly to refine him as a catcher. However, it's now becoming harder and harder to believe that the team views that as his long-term position.

Kurt Suzuki's contract extension is one development that has clouded Pinto's future behind the plate. There is also the fact that Pinto hasn't even been the full-time catcher in Rochester. He has caught in only 30 of 52 games since being sent down, with nearly every other start coming at DH in recent weeks.

There is really no doubt that Pinto's bat is big-league ready. That was fairly apparent when he was here, and has been reinforced by his offensive dominance in Triple-A, where he's hitting .302/.399/.500.

It just isn't clear where the 25-year-old fits. The Twins don't appear to view him as a starting catcher and it looks like they favor Kennys Vargas at DH. Is Pinto likely to be traded this offseason? It makes little sense to keep letting him crush Triple-A pitching while catching only part-time.

What would you do with Pinto?

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69 Comments

OH man I just lost a long reply to this by hitting the arrow on my keyboard to go back. Blergh. Blergh and a half.

 

Anyway, it hinges on two things: the real status of his catching ability and the possibility of learning a corner OF position. The DHing can still happen 1-2 times a week, spelling Mauer or Vargas. The (fairly remote) possibility of a Pinto/Arcia true platoon in RF is pretty interesting though.

    • glunn, LaBombo and hybridbear like this
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ScrapTheNickname
Aug 25 2014 02:04 AM

Good question, Nick. I don't have the answer. I was so excited about Pinto after last September, but I thought sending him down to AAA was the right move in June.

 

Shane, you bring up the idea of platooning Arcia. I looked his splits up and found that so far in 2014, against left handed pitching, he has hit.187/.253/.319.

 

In 2013 against lefties he hit .254/.274/.386.

 

I know the question was about Pinto, but I am alarmed by the regression of Arcia this year, even after his homerun binge of late. If he continues to hit lefties as miserably as he has this year, I hope they do platoon him. (as we all know he is STILL 23, and even will be through the first a month of next season).

 

I'm not sure what experience Pinto has in rightfield, if any ... It's an idea.

    • LaBombo likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 25 2014 05:48 AM

I would hope that he's not traded.  He can catch 60 games next season as Suzuki's primary backup.  I think Gardy is going to have to be a bit creative, and perhaps he grabs an OF glove and plays a few games out there, but 60 at C, 20 in LF, and another 30 or so at DH would keep him in the lineup most days.

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mike wants wins
Aug 25 2014 06:25 AM

Have him catch 60-70 or so games, at least. If they don't think he can catch, they should deal him to someone that does (and regret it).

    • hybridbear likes this
I think the Twins need to commit to either a) yes we're going to develop him as a catcher and give him the playing time he needs to do it, or B) I like his bat better, and where else can we play his glove. Until they make that decision I don't see any reason to plan on him being Suzuki's primary backup. Same thing with Santana - it's really hard for me to envision him as our main SS when we never play him there. My ideal: with the Suzuki extension I'd like to see a Suzuki/Pinto split with Herrmann (don't shoot!) as the next backup.
    • hybridbear likes this
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stringer bell
Aug 25 2014 06:31 AM

I think that Pinto should catch a lot between his (expected) call-up and the end of the season.  Then the Twins will need to decide whether his catching skills are salvageable.  If they are convinced he's not a major league receiver, deal him for what you can.  Otherwise, he needs to be the backup catcher all of next year. 

 

Unless there are injuries, I don't see Josmil as a DH very often and no, just no, to trying to put an outfielder's glove in his hands. 

    • birdwatcher, mike wants wins and hybridbear like this

yes, I dont get giving up alternate days at catcher. Meaning, bring Pinto up, make him the backup catcher....and when he plays we have a chance to put the ball in the seats.

Simple answer, I would catch him 70\30, with Suzuki as the back up. DH then depending on situations. But that won't happen. Neither will full time DH. I am afraid you cannot use the words Pinto and Gardy in the same sentence, or same dugout. If Gardy is still here, Pinto cannot DH without us returning to the days of 3 catchers. What if your starting catcher gets hurt, and you lose your DH for maybe 3 innings in a 162 game season. And with the continual [need] for 13 pitchers, that leaves one with another season of the short bench syndrome! More Hermann? I have not heard of Pinto playing OF in Rochester? So the Arcia\Pinto duo is out, plus Arcia is just too young to platoon. If you platooned every lefty who did not hit left handed pitching, you would need 30 man rosters. (Btw Ruesse had an interesting bit on that Sunday). I like Pinto, and would have never resigned Suzuki. He is a nice catcher, and tough. But he is not the future. Same as Escobar at short. The Twins have half frittered away chances to evaluate, and give experience. To avoid 90 losses? I know this comment has wandered seemingly off topic, but not really. It goes to the core of the stuck in the middle of the road philosophy that has cost the Twins at least a year of major league development time.
    • Cris E, LaBombo, Winston Smith and 1 other like this
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Willihammer
Aug 25 2014 07:31 AM

I would hope that he's not traded.  He can catch 60 games next season as Suzuki's primary backup.  I think Gardy is going to have to be a bit creative, and perhaps he grabs an OF glove and plays a few games out there, but 60 at C, 20 in LF, and another 30 or so at DH would keep him in the lineup most days.

Do we want Pinto cutting into Mauer/Vargas at DH?
What we truly want at every position is players that can play both halves of a baseball game, offense and defense (except DH and Pitcher in the AL)

If a prospect is not going to play both halves, they need to be moved. Management isn't the only part of the organization to complain about his mitt. (See Glen Perkins) Sometimes fans spend too much time looking at offense and then wonder why the pitching staff isn't better... Good defense lowers ERA's.

To the point, if Pinto is not going to be an MLB level defensive catcher he needs to be at a different position or traded for best value.
    • birdwatcher likes this

The Twins should look to the Oakland A's as a model for how to utilize Pinto (along with their front office work, but I digress). They run out a combination of Morris, Vogt, and Jason at C/DH/1B/OF and get great production with matchups. 

    • glunn likes this
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Willihammer
Aug 25 2014 07:43 AM
Who is the better bat - Pinto or Vargas? I like what Vargas has done so far, but his track record is much shorter than Pinto's. Its far from clear Vargas is the better DH option than Pinto, in my mind. If Pinto is the better bat, he should be the primary DH and instead we should be asking, what do we do about Vargas?

Its also worth mentioning both players minor league platoon splits since 2011 are basically zero.
    • Oxtung likes this
Good point Willihammer. I like Vargas' power more but both are still MLB small sample sizes
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Winston Smith
Aug 25 2014 08:02 AM

Vargas plays first, Pinto is the DH and backup catcher and Joe moves to LF. Joe certainly can play out there as well as Willy or Delmon  did.

    • glunn and Brandon like this

I don't want the Twins to make Pinto into a Ryan Doumit, DHing most of the time and only catching a little - you could do better at DH, and you're also inviting the manager to keep a third catcher around.

 

Pinto either needs to be a #1 catcher or be traded, and the Twins didn't sign Suzuki to a contract extension to be a backup, so I think they're planning on the latter.

    • birdwatcher likes this
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Willihammer
Aug 25 2014 08:07 AM

Vargas plays first, Pinto is the DH and backup catcher and Joe moves to LF. Joe certainly can play out there as well as Willy or Delmon  did.

I think this makes the most sense, but I think the Twins will be reluctant to do it, but I'm not sure why.

    • gil4 likes this

Kurt Suzuki in August

 

.238/.294/.349/.643

 

The guy is too old to ride him this hard.

    • glunn, Cris E, mike wants wins and 4 others like this

I think this makes the most sense, but I think the Twins will be reluctant to do it, but I'm not sure why.

 

Because it is a defensive downgrade at two positions. Mauer would be a minus at LF and Vargas a minus at 1B. Mauer is a plus at 1B and Vargas is best suited to DH.

    • glunn, Cris E, Dantes929 and 1 other like this

Have him catch 60-70 or so games, at least. If they don't think he can catch, they should deal him to someone that does (and regret it).

 

I agree that is what should happen, but it should have happened this year. So I don't know why it will next year. 

 

The Twins have pioneered a new strategy this year. If you want a guy to improve defensively, play him at another position (Santana) or not in the field at all (Pinto).  Improved defense through altering the vantage point.

    • mike wants wins, Kevin, LaBombo and 1 other like this
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mike wants wins
Aug 25 2014 08:25 AM

Do we know Vargas can't play first? Who would be a better overall player in LF than Mauer for the next two years or so (combination hitting and fielding)?

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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 25 2014 08:26 AM

Do we want Pinto cutting into Mauer/Vargas at DH?

 

I don't reallly see another choice (unless some injury/ineffectiveness opens up another spot for him).  Bottom line is that he needs to play.  Besides, those guys will need an occasional day off.  Pinto can cover for them in that situation. 

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Willihammer
Aug 25 2014 08:32 AM

Mauer is a plus at 1B

I'm not sure that's true.

    • savvyspy, LaBombo and Winston Smith like this

Kurt Suzuki in August

 

.238/.294/.349/.643

 

The guy is too old to ride him this hard.

 

Suzuki's PEITTH (Pitchers' Enjoyment In Thowing To Him) is 1.000.

    • WLFINN and Platoon like this

Suzuki's PEITTH (Pitchers' Enjoyment In Thowing To Him) is 1.000.

 

He also leads the AL in RGAI, really gets after it.  The NL leader is Nick Punto.

 

To the comment about Mauer being plus at 1B. I don't think he is right now, but this is year 1. He could eventually be at least for a few years.

    • glunn, LaBombo, Sconnie and 1 other like this
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Nick Nelson
Aug 25 2014 08:38 AM

It'd be convenient if Pinto could play the outfield, but I think there's basically no chance of that happening. He doesn't move well enough to play anywhere other than 1B, C or DH.

    • glunn likes this

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