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Do the Twins have a potential winner here?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:30 PM
OK...less than 30 days until the start of Spring Training. In the great scheme of things, we know nothing of what will ultimately transpi...
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Article: Who Should Be In Line For Fifth Starter Spot?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:24 PM
With the addition of Ervin Santana via free agency, the Twins have essentially sealed up four of five spots in the 2015 rotation. Barring...
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Article: One Man's Opinion: Tovar Snubbed Again

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:25 PM
On Friday, Twins President Dave St. Peter announced that no players will be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2015. It is the first...
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Blue Jays Prospect Lives in a Van

MLB Baseball Today, 07:22 PM
No, this isn't a Chris Farley, Saturday Night Live skit, but it is kind of neat. Blue Jays pitching prospect Daniel Norris is from Tennes...
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Article: Manfred Should End Outdated Selig Policies

MLB Baseball Today, 06:36 PM
In case you missed it, there's a new commissioner of Major League Baseball.I know that for many fans, that may come as a shock. There are...
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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.
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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