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OK GM's, your LF addition for 2015 is...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:19 PM
I think it's pretty obvious that LF is the one spot where we can make a nice to big impact for 2015's lineup with no blocking of imminent...
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Today's Philosophical Question: Can we even recogniz...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:18 PM
It struck me as I was reading the "Wake Me Up When September Ends" thread that I have watched so much BAD baseball the last 3+ years, tha...
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Game Thread: Indians@Twins 8/21 12:10pm

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:00 PM
Well, it's time to wrap up a pretty ugly series against Cleveland. I'm not going to try to emulate RB's excellent game thread introductio...
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Terry Ryan scheduled to see Alex Meyer pitch for the firs...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:52 PM
This little Berardino column from early yesterday slipped my perusal:   Twinsights:  What's the Plan for Meyer?    ...
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Move Mauer to LF? Terry Ryan shoots it down...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:19 PM
http://www.1500espn...._or_Mauer082114   Discouraging to hear this. Pinto getting time at DH with Vargas as 1B and Mauer with at lea...
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The Store


Finding Mauer's Replacement: Part 1

Attached Image: josmilpinto.jpg I'm not a doctor. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Nonetheless, it's been clear to me for some time that Joe Mauer was destined for a permanent move away from catcher after concussion issues cost him a quarter of his 2013 season. There was simply no way that continuing to expose the organization's most valuable asset to the heightened risk of head trauma behind the plate was going to be acceptable, no matter how well his offseason recovery went.

On Monday, the Twins made official what has been apparent for months: Mauer is now a first baseman.
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
Already here at Twins Daily, Parker has shared manager Ron Gardenhire's thoughts on the announcement and Cody has examined some of the ripple effects that will stem from Mauer's relocation. Both articles are well worth checking out.

Here I'm going to break down the challenge the Twins now face, one that at this time last year they likely felt was nowhere near. For the first time in 12 seasons, they need to find an answer at catcher.

When the Twins signed Mauer to a $184 million contract in 2010, the hope was they would be covered behind the plate for the next eight years. Of course, that was never a particularly realistic hope, considering the history of full-time catchers aging into their 30s. Looking back, when you account for the numerous lower-body ailments faced by Mauer over the course of a career that started with a severe knee injury, it may be that he was lucky to last as long as he did.

Now, the organization sets upon the task of finding his successor -- an unwelcome distraction with the rotation in need of so much attention. Josmil Pinto is the obvious choice following a hugely impressive audition in September, but I wouldn't assume that he'll enter spring training as a lock -- or even a favorite -- to be the starter.

During his interview for the Offseason Handbook a few weeks back, Terry Ryan was guarded in his comments about Pinto. When Parker started a question about the rookie backstop with "Pinto had a great first month of his big-league career," Ryan interjected: "Not great." The two eventually settled on "solid."

There wasn't much not to like about Pinto's offensive performance: In 83 plate appearances, he hit .342/.398/.566 while showing decent plate discipline, driving the ball to all fields and repeatedly coming up with huge hits.

Plainly, Ryan isn't convinced the 24-year-old is fully developed in the many vital aspects of catching: calling games, framing pitches, controlling the run game and the like. It's understandable given that Pinto essentially skipped Triple-A on his way to the big leagues. The GM showed little long-term concern, stating that Pinto's flaws are "gonna be workable" and adding that he is "very coachable."

In the meantime, the Twins will surely seek a contingency plan for the possibility Pinto demonstrates in March he still needs work. No strong candidates exist within the system, as Ryan Doumit is no one's idea of a regular catcher, Chris Herrmann is a replacement level talent and 2013 third-round pick Stuart Turner -- who may be on the fast track as a college draftee with an advanced skill set -- is still at least a couple years away.

There is little doubt that the Twins will venture into the free agent market to find an established player who can serve as at least a short-term solution. Already the club has been connected to multiple names. Later this week, I'll take a look at some of the likely candidates, each of whom could fit in a different way.


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