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How Do You Solve The Catching Problem?

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 10:36 AM

Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse dropped a column today extolling the virtues of a competitive team having a productive catcher in order to find success.

 

He did this through the usual history lesson that starts with decisions made in the mid-20th century beginning with acquiring Earl Battey and continues into the Wilson Ramos trade and Joe Mauer's eventual relocation from behind the plate. 

 

Reusse then takes aim at the current assortment of backstops.

 

Garver is not an adequate receiver. Nobody is expressing it, but it’s obvious the pitchers want to throw to Wilson and not Garver.

 

Take my word on this: There is no group that makes more excuses than starting pitchers, and now they have K Zones to blame umpires and pitch-framing analysis to blame catchers to support their complaints.

 

The Twins don’t have a catcher in the minors who can both hit and receive to big-league standards. They have Brian Navarreto, an outstanding receiver who can’t hit, at Class AA. They have Ben Rortvedt, a 20-year-old just reaching high-A at Fort Myers, who could arrive in three, four years.

 

 

Statistically speaking, this position has been a mess for the Twins this year. According to fWAR, the Twins catching unit has been worth -0.5 wins above replacement, tied with the Nationals for lowest in the MLB. The collective has posted a .197/.276/.293 slash, a line only usurped in disappointment by the Orioles and Nationals. 

 

As far as defensive is concerned, it has been fairly bleak too. In framing terms, Wilson (1.7 runs above average via Baseball Prospectus) has been significantly better than Garver (-4.0 runs, 89th among catchers) so it is easy to see why the pitchers would lean toward Wilson. Likewise, Wilson has been much better than Castro when blocking balls as well (Wilson's 0.6 run above average to Castro's -1.0). What's more is Garver's POP time average is 2.14 seconds when throwing to two -- one of the reasons he's thrown out just four of 25 on stolen base attempts.

 

Garver's defense has long been a work in progress but this season has overexposed it. It might be more palatable had he been bashing more but he 692 OPS is just slightly north of an average league catcher. He could improve, no question. And it is possible that Jason Castro returns for his final year of his contract hungry to earn a new deal. That being said, it's hard to be optimistic about the position.

 

To come full circle, Reusse concludes the Twins need to find or identify a catcher of the future -- from outside the organization.

 

The Twins need a team to trade them a 25-year-old Earl Battey this offseason. Or even better, they need a team to trade them a 22-year-old Wilson Ramos at the end of this month.

 

I wouldn’t hold my breath for either.

 

 

So Twins Daily readers I pose to you: how would you solve the catching problem?

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#2 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 10:44 AM

well, I'd pony up the prospects and get Realmutto. Doesnt' work if the Twins are giving up on 2019 as well, since he's controllable through the end of 2020. That should bridge the gap to Rortvedt... or at least give it a shot. 

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#3 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 10:46 AM

Side point, but I don't know what contending teams have a reasonable upside blocked AAA catcher that they could dangle to acquire our assets, but that's another option.


#4 alarp33

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 10:48 AM

Target a catching prospect in a trade this month.Will Smith from the Dodgers?Someone like that.  

 

Trading for Realmuto is even more non-sensical to me now than it was 2 weeks ago.This team has wayyyy to many issues to trade the farm for a win now catcher

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#5 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 10:54 AM

 

Target a catching prospect in a trade this month.Will Smith from the Dodgers?Someone like that.  

 

Trading for Realmuto is even more non-sensical to me now than it was 2 weeks ago.This team has wayyyy to many issues to trade the farm for a win now catcher

 

As I said, if the FO is giving up on 2019, then Realmutto doesn't make sense. I haven't given up on 2019 personally. But there's no hope internally or on the FA wire, so it's trading something to get that catcher, whether it be an established option that's controllable for the foreseeable future or a risk asset in the high minors.


#6 TheLeviathan

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 10:54 AM

Caratini on the Cubs.....is he available in anything we could swing?


#7 alarp33

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:03 AM

 

As I said, if the FO is giving up on 2019, then Realmutto doesn't make sense. I haven't given up on 2019 personally. But there's no hope internally or on the FA wire, so it's trading something to get that catcher, whether it be an established option that's controllable for the foreseeable future or a risk asset in the high minors.

 

I don't want to totally give up on 2019 either, but giving up Lewis + more right now for a catcher that maybe improves the team 2019 win total by 4-5 games seems pretty ridiculous for a team that is going to win 65 games this year. 

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#8 Brandon

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:06 AM

Sign Ramos as a Free Agent thos offseaon and let Garver compete with Castro for time next year. Use this season to work with Garver some more. I say this as someone who raised the white flag after the front office did nothing after the issues started popping up.
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#9 Sarah

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:06 AM

I just got done watching the College World Series and the way we're going this season maybe we'll get high enough in the draft to get Adley Rutschman? 

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#10 Parker Hageman

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:10 AM

 

Target a catching prospect in a trade this month.Will Smith from the Dodgers?Someone like that.  

 

That's an interesting one. Considering Twins' farm director Jeremy Zoll has experience in that org and probably knows the catchers better than anyone else, I wouldn't be surprised to see something like that happen.

 

I just got done watching the College World Series and the way we're going this season maybe we'll get high enough in the draft to get Adley Rutschman?

 

 

I really liked watching him too. Thoroughly enjoyed the breakdown of how he changed his swing to drive the ball more too.

 

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#11 Carole Keller

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:15 AM

Target a catching prospect in a trade this month.Will Smith from the Dodgers?Someone like that.  
 
Trading for Realmuto is even more non-sensical to me now than it was 2 weeks ago.This team has wayyyy to many issues to trade the farm for a win now catcher


I’m not sure the Twins have way too many issues, I think they could do it in 2-3 pieces ... but all pieces would be big, costly pieces. Realmuto alone won’t change the needle, imo, but Realmuto AND Machado would, IMO, and a proven, BP piece and/or closer. I think these things are possible and would make us legit. But possible and probable are different things, and the latter is where we are ... not probable.
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#12 mazeville

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:15 AM

I agree that finding a catcher on the trade market is probably the best route but I'd imagine that such players just don't grow on trees.

 

My theory is to target a AA-AAA catcher with one of the deadline deals, then hope a combination of Castro and Garver can do it for you next year while you wait on that player to take over the starting job. 

 

I read Pat's column and I think he's overblowing it a bit, but his comments on the Wilson Ramos trade are a stark reminder of how bad that trade was. 


#13 Parker Hageman

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:19 AM

Should add: Here's the projected list of free agent catchers, via Cots Contracts.

 

FA Cs.PNG

 

And here is the custom leaderboard of those options [Link]. 

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#14 Kelly Vance

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:38 AM

 

Target a catching prospect in a trade this month.Will Smith from the Dodgers?Someone like that.  

 

Trading for Realmuto is even more non-sensical to me now than it was 2 weeks ago.This team has wayyyy to many issues to trade the farm for a win now catcher

well, unless you want to win in 2019. Locking down the catcher position will cure a lot of ills


#15 Kelly Vance

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:42 AM

 

As I said, if the FO is giving up on 2019, then Realmutto doesn't make sense. I haven't given up on 2019 personally. But there's no hope internally or on the FA wire, so it's trading something to get that catcher, whether it be an established option that's controllable for the foreseeable future or a risk asset in the high minors.

I'm with Diehard on this one. Catchers are important. I don't care if they don't hit if they are a good receiver. But I'd be willing to give up a lot for a stud, like the Real deal.


#16 alarp33

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:42 AM

 

well, unless you want to win in 2019. Locking down the catcher position will cure a lot of ills

 

Sure, if Realmuto makes a 65 win team a 90 win team then go for it.. but he doesn't. 

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#17 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:44 AM

 

Caratini on the Cubs.....is he available in anything we could swing?

 

That wouldn't be a bad get at all. 24, great minor league numbers. Not hit yet in the majors, but very little service time.


#18 gunnarthor

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:46 AM

Among mlbpipeline's top 10 catchers, two are with the Dodgers and one is with Cleveland. Five are with bad teams that probably don't want to swap right now. And two more are with Toronto and St Louis and I have no idea if those teams are in buy or sell mode.

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#19 Kelly Vance

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:46 AM

 

Sure, if Realmuto makes a 65 win team a 90 win team then go for it.. but he doesn't. 

 

Come on man......nobody does, and that is a pretty absurd prerequisite.  

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#20 alarp33

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 11:54 AM

 

Come on man......nobody does, and that is a pretty absurd prerequisite.  

 

Are they not a ~65 win team? Do they not need to win ~90 games to contend in 2019? How else are they getting there? Realmuto costs your top prospects. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado aren't signing here. What exactly do you propose

Edited by alarp33, 05 July 2018 - 11:54 AM.

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