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Kirsten Brown

Sound Off: Three Catchers, or Not Three Catchers

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Originally posted at kbro's baseball blog

I read LaVelle's piece about whether the Twins should carry three catchers on the roster. It's a good question -- should they keep three just so they have adequate fill ins in case one of them gets hurt, or should they free up that roster spot for, say, another utility guy or pitcher (how many pitchers they should have on the roster is another rant entirely)?

So here's the design the Twins will use if they go with three: the regular catcher will be Joe Mauer, the DH who can also catch will be Ryan Doumit, and Drew Butera will be bench catcher.

Joe Mauer should be fine in 2012 and will catch the lion's share of the innings. When he needs a "semi-day off," he can either DH, in which case Doumit can catch, or he can play first base, in which case Morneau can DH and Doumit can catch, thereby keeping all those bats in the lineup.

If they choose to go with only two, it'll probably be Mauer and Doumit. The risk with having only two catchers, of course, is that if whoever's catching gets hurt during the course of a game, the Twins lose the DH and the pitcher has to hit for the rest of the game. Besides, Carl Pavano really likes to have Butera as his personal catcher.

In a perfect world ... you know, when Joe Mauer is healthy and hitting and, well, being Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau is healthy and hitting and being Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham is healthy and hitting and being Michael Cuddyer -- wait -- well, you get the idea ... I don't mind having Butera in there once every five days or so. Yes, he's a sub- .200 hitter, but the other guys in the lineup hitting well make up for it. In a perfect world.

But it's not a perfect world. I'm not completely confident that everyone will be hitting like they're supposed to. Or even if they're hitting like they're supposed to, that it'll be enough. There may be plenty of holes in the lineup without Butera, there's no reason to intentionally make one with him.

Apparently, having to pull the DH so he can catch and make pitchers hit is a big fear of Gardy's. LaVelle's article pointed out exactly how many times that has happened, and it doesn't seem like it happens enough to worry about. Of course, there's always a chance that a pitcher can hurt himself while running the basepaths, but I'm not terribly concerned about that. These guys have played baseball for a long time; they know what to do out there. There's no more risk to a pitcher hitting than there is to a pitcher fielding a bunt.

Final conclusion: leave Drew at AAA.


  1. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
    I agree with you that two catchers should be the route we go. I just don't think we can justify having Butera take up a bench spot for another year. Plus, you could always have someone else dabble with the position as an emergencies-only third catcher just in case Gardy's nightmare ever comes true. On a side note, I am getting so sick of this personal catcher stuff with Pavano. If you are going to demand a personal catcher, then you better dang well be one of the top pitchers in the game. Pavano's performance does not justify having a catcher who otherwise doesn't belong in the major leagues being on the roster. That's just my two cents.
  2. Thrylos's Avatar
    Agreed. Butera does not belong to the majors. They should have 2 catchers and if they lose the DH late in games, they can PH for the pitcher if his position comes up. This beats having Butera in case for emergency. What La Velle did not mention in his article, is that Willingham got to the majors with the Marlins as a catcher and cought sporadically up to the 2006 season. Here is your emergency catcher for a day if an injury happens until you can get one from Rochester the next day... I would not be surprised if Willingham gets the catching gear on a bit this Spring...
  3. jmlease1's Avatar
    agree 100%. especially because Gardy will play Butera too much (both as Pavano's personal catcher and as relief for Mauer). But even if Butera ISN'T playing a lot and is just there as late-inning relief for Mauer's knees in blowouts or as a defensive replacement for Doumit...he's still a bad choice for the roster spot because he offers NO value as a hitter off the bench. This team needs to have guys that can swing a bat on the bench, and Butera has no value as anything otehr than a defensive replacement, and that's just not enough to spend a roster spot on, especially with the twins likely to waste another roster spot on a 12th pitcher (who will throw maybe once a week)
  4. TwinsMusings's Avatar
    I agree the Twins should carry only two catchers, but I do not expect that to be the case at the beginning of the season. If they have three on the roster, Rene Rivera should be ahead of Butera as the third because he seemed to be good for Liriano last year. If Rivera calling the game and calming him down in his native language is what it takes to keep Liriano consistent, it might not be a wasted roster spot after all.

    I also think the Pavano personal catcher thing is blown out of proportion. For example, there is no way Mauer does not start opening day (unless he is injured again). Didn't happen last year and won't happen this year.
  5. Kirsten Brown's Avatar
    Regarding the Pavano's personal catcher thing: Since Terry Ryan has stated that he'll run a tighter ship that Bill Smith did, I'll be curious to see if Ryan disallows it and this issue simply goes away. I'm not completely convinced that Pavano ever demanded that Butera catch him; I bet it was a small deal that morphed into a big deal.

    Willingham as an emergency catcher...I like it.

    Rivera instead of Butera... Yeah, I kind of like Rivera for some reason. If he can start hitting a little better, I'd totally be on board with him as a third catcher if the Twins decide to go that route.
  6. mysonlikes7's Avatar
    The Twins are not that good of a team right now to afford to keep a 3rd catcher (Butera/Rivera). I am sick and tired of hearing Gardy and the Twins talk about, what if our catcher gets hurt? As stated in LaVelle's article, it rarely happens during the season and if it does, it is only one game. Managers all over the AL use their catcher as a DH when they aren't catching. Watch how many times Napoli for Texas or Avila for Detroit will be the DH when they aren't catching. Also, this personal catcher thing for pitchers has got to stop. You put your best players out on the field, PERIOD. If Pavano is pitching and I am going to the game, I don't want to be subjected to watching Butera flail at pitches or weakly ground out to the shortstop.
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