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  • Pinto Needs to Play

    At 12:10 today, the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers will play the fourth and final game of their series. Samuel Deduno will take the mound for the Twins which means that Josmil Pinto’s catching tutorial will continue.

    More important, Josmil Pinto’s bat will be in the Twins starting lineup. Inexplicably that has been the case only one time since May 17th.

    Pinto is easily one of the top hitters on a Twins roster that right now is finding it very difficult to score runs. It seems like it would be an easy decision to get him into the lineup most days of the week (certainly five out of seven games), but for some reason, Pinto has not been playing.

    Photo by Betsy Bissen

    Here are the Twins OPS leaders through Tuesday’s game:


    • Eduardo Escobar – .893
    • Josmil Pinto – .806
    • Brian Dozier – .802
    • Kurt Suzuki - .769
    • Trevor Plouffe - .740


    There are several reasons why this bothers me that I will touch on, but I’ll also share a very easy way to remedy the situation.

    Twins Offensive Struggles
    The Twins bats have really been struggling the last week or so. In their last seven games, they have scored just 12 total runs. They have scored two runs or less in six of those seven games. The team needs as many good hitters in the lineup as they can find.

    Josmil Pinto is hitting .241/.351/.455 (.806) with seven home runs. He has shown an ability to take quality at bats while showing power, uses the whole field and drives in runs.

    Prospects Should Play
    It’s a commonly held belief. Prospects need to play. They need game situations to learn how to react and respond to various events throughout a game. Sitting on the bench for more than a game or two makes no sense to their development.

    Right now, the Twins have two players that were generally considered Top 10 or Top 15 prospects in the Twins organization coming into the season on their roster. They are currently spending a lot of time getting slivers while riding the pine on the big league bench. Danny Santana could be the shortstop of the future, yet he finds himself either sitting or playing centerfield. Pinto, as we already mentioned, has made one start in the last dozen days. How is this positive for the players, or for the team?

    No DH in the NL
    Last week, the Twins played five games in San Diego and San Francisco, and Pinto played in just one of those games. Personally, I think he should have played one game in each series, but this is at least understandable since there is no DH in the National League parks.

    Suzuki Factor
    When Kurt Suzuki signed with the Twins in the offseason, the assumption was that he would split time at catcher with Pinto, mentoring him along the way. However, Suzuki has been one of the better hitters in the Twins lineup all season. Though he has slumped of late, he is hitting nearly .300 and getting on base 36% of the time. Suzuki certainly deserves to play and should be in the lineup four or five days a week.

    That said, if they’re committed to Pinto at all as a catcher of the future, he needs to get more reps. He needs to catch twice a week.

    Two or Three Catchers
    Ron Gardenhire has said several times that he has no problem having both Suzuki and Pinto in the lineup. However, simply put, it has not been happening. That’s the reality.

    A Simple Answer
    #1 – Name Kurt Suzuki the starting catcher. This has already done and we have seen it in action.

    #2 – Name Josmil Pinto the primary designated hitter. This means he is no longer the backup catcher… in games that Suzuki starts at catcher.

    #3 – Call up Chris Herrmann to be the backup catcher. I know. He’s been up twice already this year, and he has completely struggled with the bat. However, he can play three outfield positions (and could play first base, too) and be the backup catcher.

    #4 – Pinto can still catch Samuel Deduno. On those days, Suzuki can be the backup catcher, and Herrmann can be the fifth outfielder.


    I know. We don’t want three catchers on the roster, but more important, I would like to see Josmil Pinto in the Twins starting lineup at least five times a week. When the offense is struggling, get as many quality bats in the lineup as possible.
    Comments 92 Comments
    1. wabene's Avatar
      wabene -
      I am not a Gardy basher, but there is no logic in this. Once or twice a year, maybe, you get caught without a backup catcher and this does not mean you lose those games. That means odds are very good you suffer zero consequences. Would it be safe to say there WILL be consequences from Pinto missing out on hundreds of at bats? In would say both long and short term consequences. This thickheadedness is Hardy's biggest flaw. Look at the stats man! Don't you want to win? Ugh. We all knew the incredible walk rates would drop and the runs as well. All the more reason put the best sticks in the lineup.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I *really* don't want to see Herrmann on the 25 man again.

      I think the most logical solution is for Ryan/Antony to tell Gardenhire to get over putting two catchers in the lineup and play Pinto at DH on days he's not catching (not to mention that he should be catching more games).

      I'm fine with Suzuki being the "starting catcher" but it's time for Josmil to start getting a few more reps behind the plate.
    1. mini_tb's Avatar
      mini_tb -
      Can Pinto play a passable centerfield?
    1. clank2000's Avatar
      clank2000 -
      And, umm, hasn't Escobar been deemed an emergency catcher. I realize that there's a strong chance that Suzuki gets run over by a delivery truck at home plate, but what's the worst that could happen? We lose one game.
    1. kdrupp09's Avatar
      kdrupp09 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mini_tb View Post
      Can Pinto play a passable centerfield?
      Why not? They have put everyone else out there. All jokes aside, the Twins need his bat in the line-up, however he is put into it.
    1. Kirby_Waved_At_Me's Avatar
      Kirby_Waved_At_Me -
      This would be a much easier decision for Gardy if Kurt Suzuki was playing at his career levels and not well above them.
      Pinto only plays the one defensive position and Suzuki's YTD triple slash .291/.360/.397 puts his career mark of .254/.312/.376 to shame. The last ten games have been a bit slow for Kurt (just one XBH), but he's been playing really well, and it sounds as though the pitching staff loves him too.

      The DH position is "overcrowded," too - it becomes an unpleasant game of Would You Rather:
      W.Y.R. play Willingham or Kubel in LF so Pinto can DH? Or W.Y.R. have Pinto Catch and have Suzuki on the Bench so Willingham can DH.

      I guess it's really a problem in that defensively there's still a laundry list of deficiencies in the outfield. Players that are better suited to staying off the field entirely are thrust into service out there.

      Suzuki and Pinto both have hit well enough to be in the lineup as often as possible, while most of the LF/RF/DH/1B on the team have played below their expected level.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I *really* don't want to see Herrmann on the 25 man again.

      I think the most logical solution is for Ryan/Antony to tell Gardenhire to get over putting two catchers in the lineup and play Pinto at DH on days he's not catching (not to mention that he should be catching more games).

      I'm fine with Suzuki being the "starting catcher" but it's time for Josmil to start getting a few more reps behind the plate.
      I agree, Herrmann is not a MLB player and should not be back here.

      It makes no sense that Kubel has seen 144 AB's, with 1 HR and a .651 OPS, and you have Pinto with 112 AB, 7 HR, and an OPS of .806. Pinto is 25 and learning, Kubel is 32. Put Josh in LF, Parmelee/CC in right, and DH Pinto on the days he is not catching.

      If we need to cut Kubel and take away the option from Gardy, maybe that is what we have to do.

      Another article idea could be adding up the 3rd catcher, favoring Kubel/Bartlett over players that can help us, the Pinto thing, and determining if Gardy is an asset or a liability.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      #3 – Call up Chris Herrmann to be the backup catcher. I know. He’s been up twice already this year, and he has completely struggled with the bat. However, he can play three outfield positions (and could play first base, too) and be the backup catcher.
      No. No. No.


      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I *really* don't want to see Herrmann on the 25 man again.

      I think the most logical solution is for Ryan/Antony to tell Gardenhire to get over putting two catchers in the lineup and play Pinto at DH on days he's not catching (not to mention that he should be catching more games).

      I'm fine with Suzuki being the "starting catcher" but it's time for Josmil to start getting a few more reps behind the plate.
      Gardy has reached the point of manic-obsession with his alleged "walk on the wild side" by rostering "only" 2 catchers.

      In the post-game presser after the 4-3 walk-off win, one of the very first aspects of the game he commented on and dealt with, was what a "dangerous" thing he'd done by pinch-hitting Pinto for Hicks in the 8th inning and was then left with the prospect of an extra inning game and having Escobar "relieving" Suzuki, literally, as if the Catcher position was identical to Pitcher.

      Seriously Gardy, get some help, man! This streak of unwarranted paranoia, coupled with his obsessive love affair and penchant to completely wear out and use up 30-something veterans requires a 13-week therapy regimen. He's had a frightful scare, what with 2 rookies forced onto his team, and he's back to his old ways of finding inventive reasons not to play them, even when it's obvious that they offer the best option in helping obtain wins.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Seth and I in agreement, as always. This is on Gardy, and, imo, is evidence hee is not the right manager for a rebuilding team.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Seth and I in agreement, as always. This is on Gardy, and, imo, is evidence hee is not the right manager for a rebuilding team.
      Gardy's latest excuse for playing Zuke 5 of every 6 games was by blaming the situation all on Suzuki.....as apparently, Kurt is constantly browbeating him and winning argument after argument about needing to play every day, much like AJ did back in the day. Yet more evidence to your valid point, Mike.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Gardy's latest excuse for playing Zuke 5 of every 6 games was by blaming the situation all on Suzuki.....as apparently, Kurt is constantly browbeating him and winning argument after argument about needing to play every day, much like AJ did back in the day. Yet more evidence to your valid point, Mike.
      If Gardy is appeasing players, more evidence he doesn't get it. He is supposed to be the one calling the shots. I have also tried making the point that Gardy is not the manager for a team with a bunch of young talent coming up, he shows it every day.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I think the most logical solution is for Ryan/Antony to tell Gardenhire to get over putting two catchers in the lineup and play Pinto at DH on days he's not catching (not to mention that he should be catching more games).
      This is clearly the solution. This team has given regular at bats to Pedro Florimon and Aaron Hicks this season. Herrmann couldn't hit a softball with a crickett bat, is the .5% chance that the pitcher might have to bat really that much worse of a situation?

      Or, you know, you could pinch hit for the pitcher. No rule says he HAS to bat.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Mauer chooses to switch positions. Hicks chooses to stop SH. Suzuki chooses when he gets to play. Who is running this ship?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Or, you know, you could pinch hit for the pitcher. No rule says he HAS to bat.
      That's just it. If a catcher gets injured, the odds are it happens after 4 1/2 innings (the midpoint of the game). That means you play "NL ball" for 4 1/2 innings for a single game.

      It's something NL teams do 162 times a season. It's not that hard for an AL team to patch together a string of pinch-hitters for half a friggin' game.
    1. mini_tb's Avatar
      mini_tb -
      This really doesn't seem that difficult to sort out, but I think it involves jettisoning some dead weight from the roster. As much as I like Jason Kubel, I am really having a hard time coming up with a single reason why he should take even a single at bat away from any other player on this team going forward. He should be put out to pasture.

      Arcia and Pinto should be playing essentially every day. They are a large part of the future. Obviously, you play Arcia in the outfield, and you would probably like to see a 50/50 spilt between Pinto and Suzuki behind the plate with Pinto DH'ing a fair amount in between. Let Suzuki DH some when Pinto is behind the plate if you need his bat in the lineup most games.

      So then it comes down to finding playing time for Willingham and Parmelee. I think you play Willingham out in left to see what's left in the tank to try to showcase him for the trade deadline. Parmelee loses ABs for awhile in this situation, but he can fill in as a pinch hitter/4th outfielder/backup 1B/occasional DH. If Willingham can't be dumped at the deadline, then he's performing poorly enough that he can probably be replaced in the lineup by Parmelee anyway.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Play him at catcher at least 1/3 of the time if not 2/3 of the time and DH him on the days Suzuki starts. Arcia or Hammer can DH on days Pinto starts and Suzuki can sit there with Kubel.

      This team does not need Chris Herrmann and should not feel an obligation to Kurt Suzuki at the expense of Pinto's development.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mini_tb View Post
      This really doesn't seem that difficult to sort out, but I think it involves jettisoning some dead weight from the roster. As much as I like Jason Kubel, I am really having a hard time coming up with a single reason why he should take even a single at bat away from any other player on this team going forward. He should be put out to pasture. .
      Yes, give Kubel a gold watch and thank him for his contributions. Maybe another watch for his assistance with us getting Tonkin. It would be short-sided to play Kubel on a sub .500 team if he was hitting better than Pinto. But he is not, so this is down-right idiotic.
    1. Kirby_Waved_At_Me's Avatar
      Kirby_Waved_At_Me -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      That's just it. If a catcher gets injured, the odds are it happens after 4 1/2 innings (the midpoint of the game). That means you play "NL ball" for 4 1/2 innings for a single game.

      It's something NL teams do 162 times a season. It's not that hard for an AL team to patch together a string of pinch-hitters for half a friggin' game.
      Well, not hard for a team that has a healthy bench.
      This year there have been several games in which Gardy basically had one pinch hitter option.
      I don't think anyone will argue that The Twins have built a flexible and deep 25 man roster, I *will* argue that it is hard to fix the ship now that it has been run into the ground (see: Bartlett, Guerrier, Kubel, Presley/Mastro/Wilson).
      To your point, though, 100% agreement that having to use a pinch hitter every now and then is not a unique problem and Gardy should be a least willing to have that as a possibility.
    1. gmarais66's Avatar
      gmarais66 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      That's just it. If a catcher gets injured, the odds are it happens after 4 1/2 innings (the midpoint of the game). That means you play "NL ball" for 4 1/2 innings for a single game.

      It's something NL teams do 162 times a season. It's not that hard for an AL team to patch together a string of pinch-hitters for half a friggin' game.
      Exactly... You are right on... The worst that could happen is you lose your DH for a part of a game... Now I can see a reluctance to use Pinto as a pinch hitter, where he hits and then is pulled out of the game, but there's no reason not to DH the guy... Get him some consistent at-bats and he WILL produce... The team can't afford to have him sitting...
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      I don't understand the Gardy bashing on this.

      I think the situation will fix itself soon enough, Kurt is frankly playing well enough to be the everyday catcher, he is taking some really, really good at bats and having him in the lineup every day so far has benefited the Twins.

      The DH position is a log jam, I hope Willingham can show some signs of life so they can trade him sooner rather than later, once that happens Pinto is your everday DH (while catching 1-2 times per week as well)
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