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Hypothetical rule change: remove DH when pitcher is removed

Other Baseball Today, 02:51 PM
I just read this potential rule change on Twitter and I am intrigued:   https://twitter.com/...4091739136?s=20     For th...
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Fangraphs Top 50 Free Agents

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:23 AM
Here is the link to their Top 50 Free Agent List with player write ups, community estimated contracts and Fangraphs estimated contracts....
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White Sox make changes

Other Baseball Today, 02:51 PM
Both Manager Rick Rentaria and pitching coach Don Cooper were let go.     Was a bit surprised by this, because the White S...
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What can Morton be had for?

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https://www.thescore...lb/news/2045846
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What to do with Lewis Thorpe?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:51 PM
Lewis Thorpe is out of options. The Twins either need to keep him on the MLB team as their 5th starter or as a reliever out of the bullpe...
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Behind the Dish: Twins Catchers in 2021

There’s arguably no position in baseball more important than the man behind the dish. And while 2021 is still a ways down the road, the Twins will have to make some decisions regarding their catching situation thanks to an unexpected 2020 season behind home plate.
Image courtesy of Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
2020 was supposed to be the year of Mitch Garver. Following a breakout year in 2019 highlighted by Silver Slugger honors, it seemed as if nothing could stop the craft beer loving, New Mexico State alum.

The baseball gods thought otherwise.

2020 presented a wide array of challenges for Garver. In addition to spending significant time on the Injured List, Garver had a career-worst year at the plate, batting just .167 with 12 hits in 23 games. Not ideal for a player who was expected to help anchor the return of the ‘Bomba Squad.’

Things got spicy when Ryan Jeffers entered the picture. The Raleigh, North Carolina native was called up in mid-August after Garver and Byron Buxton were both placed on the IL. Despite it being his MLB debut Jeffers did not look like a rookie, batting .273 with three home runs in 26 games.

And to make things even more complicated the Twins saw 26 appearances from seasoned veteran Alex Avila. Avila didn’t exactly break the bank at the plate, batting just .184 with a meager two RBI. Still, Avila managed to draw a decent number of walks and provided a valuable veteran presence in the clubhouse.

In a year where Garver, Jeffers, and Avila all saw similar playing time, there was one clear standout; Ryan Jeffers.

However, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg from the UNC-Wilmington alum. Bumping him immediately to the role of everyday catcher could be premature, considering he’s only had 62 MLB plate appearances.

There’s no guaranteeing that the Twins will have all three 2020 catchers next season. Alex Avila was signed to a one year, 4.25 million dollar contract for 2020. That’s up now and it’s unlikely that the Twins will keep Avila given his age and lack of production at the plate.

Yet there is benefit to carrying three catchers on an MLB roster; especially three catchers who have a diverse wealth of experience and differing talents. Let’s take a look at why each of these guys could provide value to the 2021 Twins.

Mitch Garver
Everyone deserves a second chance; and by everyone I mean Mitch Garver. There is complete validity behind the criticism that he received for his lackluster performance at the plate this season. Yet it’s important to remember that not only was Garver pretty damn good last year, but that he is by no means an MLB veteran.

Garver entered the league in 2017 and just finished his fourth season. In all retrospect, he hasn’t worn the hat of ‘starting catcher’ for a long enough time period to be considered a bust. And on top of his stellar 2019 campaign at the plate, Garver is rock solid defensively behind the dish.

Ruling Mitch Garver a bust because of a bad 60 game season in which he was injured would be wrong. Give him another chance.

Ryan Jeffers
The 2020 Twins Daily Rookie of the Year opened the eyes of Twins fans with his high powered swing and efficiency behind the plate. Jeffers was one of the few beacons of light on offense for a Twins team that underperformed all season at the plate.

There has been a strong voice for Jeffers to assume the role of starting catcher following an excellent rookie season. That argument was reinforced by Rocco Baldelli starting Jeffers in both playoff games against the Houston Astros.

Ryan Jeffers should play a significant role in fulfilling the catching duties for the 2021 Twins; that’s without a doubt. However, the young buck is far from being an old bull. There’s no hurt in easing Jeffers into the role of an everyday player. We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star.

Alex Avila
On a team filled with young players it’s important to have seasoned veterans like Alex Avila in the clubhouse and on the field. Not only has Avila been in the league for 12 years, he knows the AL Central better than just about anyone else. He’s spent seven-plus years in a Tigers uniform in addition to a season on the south side of Chicago.

There’s no denying that Avila’s numbers are declining. After winning the Silver Slugger in 2011 Avila’s numbers on offense have slowly trickled in the wrong direction minus a few spikes in Detroit. Despite his ability to draw walks it’s unlikely that the Twins will be able to rely on Avila’s offense if he sticks around in 2021.

Yet Avila’s leadership role could be especially critical in helping shape Ryan Jeffers into an outstanding Major League Catcher. The 33 year old has seen it all and can prove valuable amongst his younger cohorts.

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26 Comments

Just roll with Garver and Jeffers...

    • Twins33, Danchat, Otwins and 5 others like this

What do you do with Astudilo as well?He had a few good months 2 years ago but since then hasn't hit.His defense behind the plate isn't very good, he doesn't walk and he doesn't have a lot of power.

 

The position flexibility is nice but I believe he is out of options in 2021. 

Is it a for gone conclusion that we are moving on from him in 2021.I always thought he was a neat 3rd catcher with the ability to put the ball in play consistently and play multiple positions. 

    • mikelink45, Doctor Gast and David Youngs like this
There's an arguement to be made for Avilla, or someone similar, for all the reasons previously stated, including just depth. This may be more true if the roster remains expanded next year.

But you can't have Avilla back for anything close to what he made last season.
    • glunn and David Youngs like this
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David Youngs
Oct 18 2020 07:34 PM

Excellent point! Should be interesting to see what happens. It seemed like the 'new guy charm' wore off this year as fans became frustrated with his aggressive plate appearances (good) that often resulted in pop ups (bad). I agree that his defense has been quite poor and that may keep him from making any sort of major impact in '21 unless it improves.

What do you do with Astudilo as well?He had a few good months 2 years ago but since then hasn't hit.His defense behind the plate isn't very good, he doesn't walk and he doesn't have a lot of power.

 

The position flexibility is nice but I believe he is out of options in 2021. 

Is it a for gone conclusion that we are moving on from him in 2021.I always thought he was a neat 3rd catcher with the ability to put the ball in play consistently and play multiple positions. 

 

Good bye Avila - it is the only thing that makes sense to me.Three catchers is just too much luxury for the team. As much fun as Astudillo has been his story has gotten old, and yet I see him still retained as the third option. 

    • DocBauer and GNess like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 18 2020 07:43 PM
Jeffers was a very nice surprise. I wouldn’t get too down on Garver. Garver did look bad at times this year, but I’ll bet he’s the type of player who really benefits from a full spring training to work on his skills and swings. Next year he’ll have that again.
    • DocBauer likes this

Who else is there in prospect land and when can they come to the majors. 

 

I pictured Ben Rortvedt being a possible swing catcher. Needs another year in the minors. Is Caleb Hamilton in the mix as an emergency callup?

 

I'm sure the Twins could always sign Drew Butera for AAAA depth.

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whosafraidofluigirussolo
Oct 19 2020 08:52 AM

 

Who else is there in prospect land and when can they come to the majors. 

 

I pictured Ben Rortvedt being a possible swing catcher. Needs another year in the minors. Is Caleb Hamilton in the mix as an emergency callup?

 

Is Tomás Telis still in the Twins system? A new backup catcher doesn't need to be a young prospect. Telis could probably handle the backup gig if Astudillo and Avila left. 

 

The article notes that Garver just finished his fourth season as an argument that he's still relatively early in his major-league career, but even that overstates his experience a bit, since he spent a lot of 2017 season in the minors.

    • DocBauer and Richard Swerdlick like this

With the offense the Twins have when healthy, they can afford less offense from the catching position. I would keep all 3 if Avila is willing to take less than 2 million (I don't see another team paying him even that much). Garver will bounce back to a .280, 20 home run season in 120 games and Jeffers can fill in for 25 games. Avila is a good catcher, an insurance policy, experience for the younger players and a left handed bat against the tougher righties. All is dependent on health and whether there is a full season.

"We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star."

And what did we see in those pressure situations that make us think he needs "grooming time?"

JcS

    • mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

 

 Garver will bounce back to a .280, 20 home run season in 120 games 

You may be right. 

You may not be. 

Because of the 2020 performance, I believe the Twins need to spend some time (and maybe money) thinking about plan B if this doesn't happen. 

JcS

    • mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

The original post says there is a benefit to carrying three (true) catchers.

 

What is it?

 

I see the benefit to carrying three when the third has positional flexibility, but none otherwise.

 

Experience? A bullpen catcher orcoach can fill that role.

I think every team has 1-2 journeymen in AAA in the event of injury/emergency.

 

That should be the Twins' focus too.

 

Austudillo is a fun puzzle piece, but he's not the answer to a specific position.

 

Carry Jeffers and Garver and let them battle each other for playing time. Have a grizzled, glove-first backup with the ability to hit their weight on call just in case of injury or if Jeffers has a bad Spring Training.

    • Danchat and DocBauer like this
I don't see Turtle on next year's roster. Or Avila. One of them has to go.
    • beckmt, DocBauer and Richard Swerdlick like this

 

"We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star."

And what did we see in those pressure situations that make us think he needs "grooming time?"

JcS

His 62 plate appearances is what makes us think he needs "grooming time." He did quite well in his first taste of the bigs, no doubt. Above and beyond expectations for sure. To expect him to do that for 120+ games now that the league has tape on him would be poor team management. Going into next year with him and Garver you have to feel pretty good about the catcher position, but Jeffers is not a finished product and shouldn't be viewed as guaranteed .270 and 15-20 bombs. The league is going to adjust to him and this year will be the toughest he's ever had as a ball player as he gets to test his ability to adjust to the adjustments. A close to even split between Garver and Jeffers is a real good place to start with a 2021 plan. A little insurance behind them is a great addition to the plan.

    • DocBauer likes this
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heresthething
Oct 19 2020 12:40 PM

I recall Gardy always wanted three catchers right?While I see the utility of it is this a common thing to do?And of all the playoff teams the last few years I wonder how many of them used up three roster spots on catchers?

 

I recall Gardy always wanted three catchers right?While I see the utility of it is this a common thing to do?And of all the playoff teams the last few years I wonder how many of them used up three roster spots on catchers?

With the 26th roster spot it's a little more tenable to carry 3 catchers and would make previous year's data on teams carrying 3 catchers not all that relevant. It makes most sense for teams with 2 primary catchers who have relatively significant platoon splits. If you have a righty and a lefty you can then pinch hit late in games to give you the platoon advantage and still have a catcher on the bench in case of injury replacement late. It is still challenging to get that 3rd guy regular ABs, though, even with the extra roster spot. Think it is a team to team situation depending on the skill set makeup, and strategy, of your roster. Useful for sub-happy teams like the Twins. Less useful for "here's my 9 best" teams who use bench guys as more strict backups.

 

Is Tomás Telis still in the Twins system? A new backup catcher doesn't need to be a young prospect. Telis could probably handle the backup gig if Astudillo and Avila left. 

 

The article notes that Garver just finished his fourth season as an argument that he's still relatively early in his major-league career, but even that overstates his experience a bit, since he spent a lot of 2017 season in the minors.

One issue is not service time - it is age

 

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yeahyabetcha
Oct 19 2020 07:16 PM
Garver and Jeffers handle the active roster. Two AAAA guys handle Rochester. Austudillo is released.

 

Jeffers was a very nice surprise. I wouldn’t get too down on Garver. Garver did look bad at times this year, but I’ll bet he’s the type of player who really benefits from a full spring training to work on his skills and swings. Next year he’ll have that again.

This would read better if you did not use the qualifier - "at times"

    • Joey Self likes this

"We’ve already seen him play in pressure situations- the Twins should take their time in grooming the young star."
And what did we see in those pressure situations that make us think he needs "grooming time?"
JcS


The Twins had Telis at Rochester in 2019. He produced. They brought him in for the taxi squad. They carried him on the road for emergency. He has MLB experience. But they chose Jeffers when injury hit. That should be all that needs to be said. SSS or not, he looked good and the Twins like him a TON.

I'd still like a AAAA catcher available. Not sure who that might be. Again, maybe Avilla with an invite and holding on. Maybe someone else. Despite some some bad games here and there, some poor performances at the plate mixed with some good ones, I'm OK with Astudillo as one of the options, though I'm not sure he's on the 40 man going forward. Healthy, head in the game, he HAS played at least OK defense and hit. But I would like that extra option for depth and experience available since Rortvedt is going to be at least a year away.

 

His 62 plate appearances is what makes us think he needs "grooming time." He did quite well in his first taste of the bigs, no doubt. Above and beyond expectations for sure. To expect him to do that for 120+ games now that the league has tape on him would be poor team management.

 

So, it wasn't anything we saw, it's what we think we'll see. 

And I'm not arguing with you, I just didn't see anything to put my finger on that said "this guy isn't fully ready." I agree that teams will have better scouting reports--any number of rookies have faced that problem--but Jeffers will also (presumably) have another spring training under his belt to work on whatever OUR scouts are seeing. 

 

JcS

I think Jeffers will no doubt stick next season at the big league level. The small sample of his hitting we saw this fall looks very promising, especially for a catcher. However, over the winter and during spring training he needs to work on his catching. Ryan's pitching framing he is ok (I know some say it's great but I'm not sure about that), but blocking and throwing out runners is another story. He's a big guy and his mobility behind the plate is limited, he is not great sliding right or left on errant pitches. Pitches that other catchers block and save end up wild pitches when Jeffers is in there. His pop time looks very slow and his arm is not strong. He almost throws the ball to second with the arch to the trajectory. He only threw out 2 of 16 runners (12.5%) at the MLB level, and his minor league numbers are similar. Teams will figure that out quickly and run on him. Both of these deficient areas can be fixed with time and work. Jeffers bat is more than solid for the position at the MLB level, now he just has to work on the fielding. His future looks bright. 

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

If the plan is AAAA catchers to back up the duo of Jeffers/Garver, better have several of them.

 

AAAA usually implies "out of minor league options" - that's the way it gets learned he's better than AAA but not quite good enough for the majors.

 

When you need to bring one up for a while (10-day injury perhaps) and then send him back down, if he's any good he won't pass through waivers - some other team with a temporary need will grab him.

 

The only ones you'll be able to hang on to, in this scenario, are the ones no one else wants either.They can suffice during a short crunch, but can't really be your Plan B if you can help it.

 

So, it wasn't anything we saw, it's what we think we'll see. 

And I'm not arguing with you, I just didn't see anything to put my finger on that said "this guy isn't fully ready." I agree that teams will have better scouting reports--any number of rookies have faced that problem--but Jeffers will also (presumably) have another spring training under his belt to work on whatever OUR scouts are seeing. 

 

JcS

Not even necessarily that we think we'll see it, just that we can't be too confident we won't. I'm with you on him looking like he knew what he was doing and looked very comfortable. The real test for him (and Rooker) will be this season as they see what major league pitchers can do to holes in your swing and how hard life can get. I think they'll both come in prepared and put in the work, but wouldn't want to rely on them for repeats of their above expectation debuts. Think the Twins will find a nice balance of low cost veterans and reliance on young guys this year. Hopefully all the youngsters make the low cost veterans expendable, but we'll see.

    • Joey Self likes this