"I know a lot of people hate the idea of having three catchers, but Castro is so vulnerable against lefties (career .192/.254/.289 hitter off southpaws) that having the ability to pinch hit for him late in games could be a big asset. You’re never going to see Paul Molitor do that when he’s only got two catchers on the roster because the very last thing he ever wants to do is put his emergency catcher, Escobar, behind the dish."
Man, I really hope this is still not an issue! As an actual risk, the numbers are so far from adding up to a legitimate concern that I would assume Falvey and Levine are way past this kind of Gardenhire era paranoia.
If you pinch hit for Castro in the 7th with Vargas and play Gimenez for two innings, what's the downside? The extremely low probability that Gimenze will get injured? And that Escobar -- or Mauer for that matter -- would catch a few innings?That seems so far from catastrophic as a worst case scenario, and so unlikely to occur anyway, that it pales in comparison to the very high odds of losing a game by letting Castro bat with men on base. Shouldn't you be more worried about losing a game by a needless but oh so predictable out?
And it's not like letting Mauer or Escobar catch two innings automatically loses you the game, either. The odds of a catcher injury in any particular inning are pretty small. The odds of Castro or Gimenez stranding the potential winning run on base are close to 80%.
It's like Gardenhire's phobia of losing the DH. So what? On a team that regularly started Jason Tyner at DH, you're worried about the tiny, tiny chance a pitcher might have to bat, due to a very unlikely freak injury? Even though it it's a big at-bat you can just pinch hit anyway and replace the pitcher?
There's a statistical term called Loss Aversion that refers to exaggerated worries about a potential loss blinding you to the opportunity of a potential gain. If there are two men on base, you're down by a run, and you bat Gimenez instead of pinch-hitting, because you're afraid that if you put Castro in the following inning he might get hurt, that's a text book example. It's like refusing to go outside because you don't want to get hit by a meteorite. The loss aversion you should feel is to losing the game, by leaving the winning run on second base when you had Vargas or Grossman on the bench!
And that's true even if you only had Escobar as a third catcher. But you also have Mauer. I'm all for moving Mauer out from behind the plate because of his concussion history. But to me that doesn't mean he's not available as an emergency fill in. The risk of catching for a year is too high to consider. But the rosk of taking a ball to the mask in any given inning are very small -- probably about the same as getting a concussion diving for a grounder, like Morneau did. A couple innings are no big deal. Especially if the only scenario in which you play Mauer is that both Gimenez AND Escobar got injured in the same few innings!
Anyway if you'reworried about concussions, the real ticking bomb is letting Buxton keep smashing into walls. That's a huge, huge fear of mine. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that any hopes of a future Twins' dynasty rest on Buxton and Sano. As it stands, I can't see Buxton surviving, the way he plays. I love his attitude but to me it seems like a matter of time before he goes the way of Koskie, Morneau, and Mauer.
And for what? If you look at the cost-benefit ratio of running full speed into a wall, it's not pretty. On the one hand. you're adding a tiny increase to the chance of getting an out that has a tiny chance of affecting a game that has a tiny chance of affecting the season standings. On the other, you're running a major risk of torpedoing the team's chances of ever making the World Series in the next ten years.
We take out pitchers based solely on pitch counts to reduce the chance of injury. And we should. Injuries are bad! Yet we don't tell players not to concuss themselves against walls, or tear up their hands sliding head first. In a truly analytically based franchise, these things would all be subject to rigorous cost-benefit analyses. Pointless, major risks would not be tolerated. And tiny risks with potentially large payoffs, like pinch-hitting for your catcher with men on base, would.