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  • Josmil Pinto and Enabling Ron Gardenhire

    To begin, I like Ron Gardenhire. A lot of it stems from nostalgia, but I appreciate his candor, as well as his general stewardship of the Twins during his tenure with the team.

    Like many, I have been confused and befuddled by many of his in-game decisions and substitutions, but ultimately, I don’t necessarily believe that a baseball manager has the impact that coaches in other sports can have upon their team.

    That said, in the case of Josmil Pinto, I am growing fearful.

    There are a lot of people out there clamoring for Pinto to be named the everyday catcher, and to be clear, I am not one of them. The Twins seem to be in love with Kurt Suzuki. Fine. Let Pinto serve as the backup and work to hone his defensive prowess with Terry Steinbach and the coaching staff.

    Many of the people calling for starting Pinto claim that his bat could be a difference maker in a Twins lineup that sorely needs it. This is where I am not yet sold.

    Pinto was a shimmering light that came out of a dismal season in 2013, but we should remember that we have an extremely limited sample size when judging Pinto’s ability to hit major league pitching (or AAA pitching for that matter). Pinto had a wonderful 83 plate appearances with the Twins last year, but if they plan on keeping him on the major league roster they need to find out if he is for real or Chris Parmelee 2.0.

    This means more at-bats rather than fewer. Which is fine, because this team is going nowhere this season and the roster is so bereft of offense they could DH him a great deal, while still giving him the opportunity to back up Suzuki occasionally. This scenario actually sounds fairly promising.

    This is where Ron Gardenhire comes in.

    “I’m not looking for a DH candidate in a catcher,” says Gardenhire. “I need two catchers. If I have that then I’m going to need three catchers and I don’t want to do that.” Gardenhire is scared of losing the DH in the event that Suzuki gets hurt and Pinto would need to go in for him. I guess that could happen, and it could be problematic…

    But here is where this scenario breaks down.

    This is something that would affect the outcome of one game and is also pretty rare, which seems like an odd thing to be obsessed about for a team with little hope of being competitive, but fine. They either need to carry a third catcher, or send Pinto to AAA Rochester.

    Your team is terrible, and it’s not exactly like you’ve got hungry sluggers in AAA kicking down the door at the moment. But if you want to DH Chris Collabello against left handed pitching, go ahead. Just let Pinto get his at bats in AAA for a while.

    We have seen a troubling trend from Gardenhire in recent years when it has come to dealing with new players. From throwing them under the bus in the media, to getting irked about little things that seem to be more about being grumpy and fed up rather than playing the right way. If Gardenhire is going to be the manager of this team going forward, he needs to start looking long-term rather than the immediate.

    Pinto’s bat may bring more immediate help to the team as the backup catcher, but there is just no way to spin fewer at-bats for a developing hitter as a positive, especially when the reasoning for doing so is based on an outsized fear of losing your DH, but we’ll give you that one Gardy.

    If you want to get a look at Collabello, great. Heck, if you want to send out Kubel to test his .235 career line against lefties, perfect. We’ll give you plenty of leash, as long as you extend the same courtesy to the developing players in the organization.

    This season should be devoted to sussing out who should be a member of this team going forward, and whether that happens in Rochester or in Minneapolis, a larger sample size from the youth in the organization will be crucial to making those decisions.
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Good read. Would be ok with Pinto here or in AAA, just as long as he's playing as much as he can handle. If 'sitting next to Steiny' and watching baseball instead of playing it had much educational value, then my question as owner or president would be "Why weren't you guys doing that with him in the offseason using game tapes?"
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      Good read. Would be ok with Pinto here or in AAA, just as long as he's playing as much as he can handle. If 'sitting next to Steiny' and watching baseball instead of playing it had much educational value, then my question as owner or president would be "Why weren't you guys doing that with him in the offseason using game tapes?"
      I agree with this. I have coached baseball and basketball at the high school level and younger, played many sports and followed college and professional sports. It has generally been easier for me to learn by doing rather than watching or listening. That seems to be true for most other people I have coached or observed as well. Sure, everyone benefits from coaching but in the long run you have get out and figure out things for your self.

      Having experienced catchers like Mauer and Steiny telling you things about calling a game is great. Eventually, though you just have to go out there and figure out how to call they game, work with the different pitchers, get along with the various umpires, in your own way. Pinto will likely benefit most from getting behind the plate, making some mistakes but learning from them.

      I believe I read, probably on this site, that the Twins have a lot of off days in April. I haven't checked a schedule, but if you combine that with probable lost games due to cold, snow, or rain and the Twins desire to begin the season with Suzuki as the primary catcher, well I don't want Pinto sitting on the bench for most of the first month of the season. So I won't be upset if Pinto begins the year in AAA.
    1. lukingood's Avatar
      lukingood -
      If Gardy sends down both Parmelee and Colabello, then our backup first baseman must be Plouffe with Escobar at third. In my opinion, Colabello earned a place on this team, and sending him down is criminal. Are we really to think that Hermann would be a better bat off the bench than Colabello? This will be a painful offense to watch this season.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Quote Originally Posted by lukingood View Post
      If Gardy sends down both Parmelee and Colabello, then our backup first baseman must be Plouffe with Escobar at third. In my opinion, Colabello earned a place on this team, and sending him down is criminal. Are we really to think that Hermann would be a better bat off the bench than Colabello? This will be a painful offense to watch this season.
      While I am not in favor of Herrmann making the club, he does add versatility and has had a nice spring himself. I believed that Colabello failed his tryout last year and wouldn't be looked at seriously to make the club this spring, but he has stepped forward and some have stepped backward. It should be noted that most of his lusty hitting was early and off minor leaguers (Luke Hughes anyone?).
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      This fear of losing his DH obsession makes my brain go numb. Its so illogical. On a team this offensively inept, how can ANYONE rationalize not having his bat in the lineup everyday? Everyone seems to over-analyze this to death, when it should be so simple. He's probably the second best hitter on this team. Watching him at the plate its obvious he's up there with a plan. He's not wildly flailing like Arcia. He should do an 80/20 DH to catching ratio until he proves he's not ready to hit at this level. But the thought of sending him to Rochester so he can play everyday is absurd because he could easily play everyday here and help them win games.
    1. twinsfaninsaudi's Avatar
      twinsfaninsaudi -
      LEN3 said today "With Herrmann on the team, Gardenhire said he could use Josmil Pinto as a designated hitter at times.

      `Would you like to see Pinto hit more?' Gardenhire asked."

      Sooo… seems to be he's considering the proposal you're making here. I'd rather have Hermann on the team than Colabello if it means more at bats for Pinto. I like Colabello 'n all and his story but he's not really much of a major leaguer IMO. Especially if he's stuck on always going the other way, not what is needed from a right handed hitter in TF.
    1. howeda7's Avatar
      howeda7 -
      This is ridiculous. Catch Pinto twice a week. DH him twice a week. That's plenty of AB's. The odds of Suzuki getting hurt in the 50 games Pinto DH's is unlikely. If it does happen, for pete's sake we have a 1B who's caught a few hundred games. Having him catch a few innings in an emergency is not a problem. Good lord.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      “I’m not looking for a DH candidate in a catcher,” says Gardenhire. “I need two catchers. If I have that then I’m going to need three catchers and I don’t want to do that.”

      Honestly, does he think the sky will fall if a pitcher touches a bat?
      Wow.

      How many times has this scenario come to pass in the last 10 years.
      Twice?


    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Gardy and his no DH, for at most a few innings, worry is one of the silliest things ever to come out of his mouth.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      It appears Chris Herrmann will be doing his enabling from Rochester. I'm pretty sure that means Pinto makes the team.
    1. specialiststeve's Avatar
      specialiststeve -
      I do believe that what Gardy is trying to do is have Pinto stay up and likely will split time with Suzuki dpending on matchups. Try to ease him in instead of throwing him to the wolves - did not work with Hicks, etc.....

      Logically this makes a fair amount of sense as if he catches 3 games a week and can pinch hit here and there he will learn the pitchers and continue to work on his catching with Stieny. I am sure everyone sat down and this was a "team" decision.

      What I see that Pinto will be catching 60-70% by the all star break and Suzuki will be the backup which is what he really is here for.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I agree that Pinto should ultimately be the starting catcher, some time this year. But there's no rush. When he is ready, he'll get his opportunity. Probably in June. As for the DH thing, it is silly. But it isn't just about losing the DH when he subs for Suzuki. It's also about wear and tear. He likes to give his catchers full days off. If he uses his catchers as the DH, he thinks they'll wear down faster, probably because he saw that with both Doumit and Mauer. I still thinks it's strange when we're talking about a 25 year old. But that's at least part of his rationale.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      It appears Chris Herrmann will be doing his enabling from Rochester. I'm pretty sure that means Pinto makes the team.
      And sits 4-5 games a week.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      I agree that Pinto should ultimately be the starting catcher, some time this year. But there's no rush. When he is ready, he'll get his opportunity. Probably in June. As for the DH thing, it is silly. But it isn't just about losing the DH when he subs for Suzuki. It's also about wear and tear. He likes to give his catchers full days off. If he uses his catchers as the DH, he thinks they'll wear down faster, probably because he saw that with both Doumit and Mauer. I still thinks it's strange when we're talking about a 25 year old. But that's at least part of his rationale.
      So you're saying Gardy is worried pinto will wear down DH'ing five games a week and catching two? I don't think swinging the bat and running the bases is especially grueling.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      So you're saying Gardy is worried pinto will wear down DH'ing five games a week and catching two? I don't think swinging the bat and running the bases is especially grueling.
      First of all, he'll catch more than that. Second, Suzuki will not DH. Beyond that, I did say it seemed silly. I'm just paraphrasing what Gardy said.
    1. BD57's Avatar
      BD57 -
      Quote Originally Posted by howeda7 View Post
      This is ridiculous. Catch Pinto twice a week. DH him twice a week. That's plenty of AB's. The odds of Suzuki getting hurt in the 50 games Pinto DH's is unlikely. If it does happen, for pete's sake we have a 1B who's caught a few hundred games. Having him catch a few innings in an emergency is not a problem. Good lord.
      Don't go making sense .....
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by BD57 View Post
      Don't go making sense .....
      Don't mind if I do

    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Under no scenario should Mauer be considered an emergency catcher.

      Pinto will be catching 4-5 days a week come may 15th, book it
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      The confusing thing is if defense is the reason Pinto isnt the starting catcher, how is he supposed to improve his defense sitting on the bench? I could justify him making the team if he was the everyday DH, but as backup catcher? Twins fans should feel very betrayed that a terrible player like Kubel is not only stealing money, but stealing playing time from our young players.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
      The confusing thing is if defense is the reason Pinto isnt the starting catcher, how is he supposed to improve his defense sitting on the bench?
      Sit next to a former all-star at the position, and apply the advice every third game or so, for a while? Then every second game?

      I'm not sure it's a lock that Pinto will be a 100+ OPS hitter to start out, last September notwithstanding.

      Twins fans should feel very betrayed
      Please don't tell me how to feel.
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