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2014 Catching Concerns

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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 05:25 AM

With each passing day that Joe Mauer isn't playing baseball this summer, it seems that much more likely to me that he won't catch again, except perhaps in an emergency. I have been on record that the Twins should make Mauer a first baseman next year, as of today I am on record as predicting that the Twins will make Mauer their everyday first baseman next year. While moving Mauer to first base will solve one problem (who replaces Justin Morneau), it opens another one (who replaces Joe Mauer).

This serves as a preface for my topic. Josmil Pinto has moved up two levels in the Twins organization and really hasn't missed a beat. At 24, he looks like he can hit at any level and his catching, while not Gold Glove level, seems to be sufficient. I have been thought highly of Pinto all year. He mashed at AA, moved up to AAA and hit over .300 and finally has been great in a SSS trial for the Twins. It sure looks to me like he could sustain being a good hitter going forward.

The Twins still have two other guys who can catch on their roster. Ryan Doumit has had a disappointing season, but has a track record as a decent hitter. Doumit has played a lot of outfield (poorly) and DHed more than he has caught this year and metrics say he is a lousy receiver. He has one more year on his contract and could be traded in the offseason. Chris Herrmann has acquitted himself well in the majors this year after a disappointing season at Rochester. Herrmann has been OK behind the dish and added a few big hits. He's shown he can handle a corner outfield spot as well as catcher and the word is that he might be able to play third or first as well. Herrmann hasn't yet logged a full year as a big leaguer, so if he's in the majors, he will earn minimum pay and be under team control until the next decade.

Would the Twins be willing to go with Pinto as a full-time catcher next backed up by part-timers Herrmann and Doumit? I think Pinto is part of the future for the Twins and the combination of Doumit and Herrmann is adequate to back him up, but I'm not sure the team sees it that way.

#2 orangevening

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 06:00 AM

On Gardy's 1500 show yesterday he gushed over Pinto. I would be surprised if he is not on the 25 man roster opening day next year.

#3 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 06:52 AM

I think it's too soon to proclaim Joe never catching again. We'll see what happens in the off season, who is moved/acquired, then we'll get an idea of what the plan is moving forward. My guess is Joe will still be the No. 1 catcher even if only catching half the time.

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#4 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 07:28 AM

I have a tough time believing he won't be catching anymore. He's out right now b/c there's absolutely no reason to play him. Pinto is getting good experience and doing a decent job, and the season is lost. No reason to rush Joe back at all.

#5 Winston Smith

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 07:49 AM

No reason for Joe to ever catch again. Still owed $115m and he is the teams best player. There is no good reason to put him back in that position again where another foul ball could end his career.
We need a first baseman he plays first just fine. If he was in the last year or two of his contract and we were a world series contender maybe you take the chance but not in the position we are in now, imo.

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#6 Monkeypaws

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 08:22 AM

Moving Mauer to first doesn't completely remove him from the risk of further concussions. Morneau and Koskie were wrecked by concussions, and they didn't catch.

Just sayin.

#7 ThePuck

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:10 AM

Moving Mauer to first doesn't completely remove him from the risk of further concussions. Morneau and Koskie were wrecked by concussions, and they didn't catch.

Just sayin.


Morneau didn't get his concussion while playing 1B though. The concussion Mauer is dealing with right now is a direct result of playing catcher. I think some people are just wanting to cut down the odds of him getting more...and with catcher being the position that gets more contact than any other...just sayin'.
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#8 Craig in MN

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:25 AM

I'm leaning towards Mauer catching rarely if at all in the future. But I have to question why it is assumed that he should play first in that case. After his bat, his next best tool is his arm, which is lost at first base.

Why not consider putting him in RF instead? If the decision is made in the offseason, he can spend all Spring Training learning the position. He's athletic enough that he should be able to handle it, at least for a few years. Range might be an issue. It's not like Willingham and Arcia are great enough defensively that they have to be out there. There's no other corner OFs breathing down their necks in the minors. Put Willingham at DH, Arcia in LF, and look for a FA first baseman....unless they want to go with Parmalee/Collabello there.

To bring this back to the concussion issue, I'd think there's less of a chance of colliding with players in RF than at 1B.

#9 ThePuck

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:28 AM

I'm leaning towards Mauer catching rarely if at all in the future. But I have to question why it is assumed that he should play first in that case. After his bat, his next best tool is his arm, which is lost at first base.

Why not consider putting him in RF instead? If the decision is made in the offseason, he can spend all Spring Training learning the position. He's athletic enough that he should be able to handle it, at least for a few years. Range might be an issue. It's not like Willingham and Arcia are great enough defensively that they have to be out there. There's no other corner OFs breathing down their necks in the minors. Put Willingham at DH, Arcia in LF, and look for a FA first baseman....unless they want to go with Parmalee/Collabello there.

To bring this back to the concussion issue, I'd think there's less of a chance of colliding with players in RF than at 1B.


Athleticism and a good arm can really come in handy at 1B. it's what helped Pujols become the single season assist leader for 1Bs.
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#10 Marta Shearing

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:45 AM

No reason for Joe to ever catch again. Still owed $115m and he is the teams best player. There is no good reason to put him back in that position again where another foul ball could end his career.

Total common sense and im amazed more people dont understand this.

#11 Craig in MN

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:52 AM

Athleticism and a good arm can really come in handy at 1B. it's what helped Pujols become the single season assist leader for 1Bs.


True, but the same could be said about every centerfielder, shortstop, etc. Some of those guys have to play elsewhere, though. Every player gets put somewhere based on their skills and first base is usually the last place they put them if they can avoid it. Why is it the second choice for Mauer? I'd say it's easiest to adjust to temporarily for a catcher, but if this isn't a temporary change, then that's no reason in this case.

#12 ThePuck

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:54 AM

True, but the same could be said about every centerfielder, shortstop, etc. Some of those guys have to play elsewhere, though. Every player gets put somewhere based on their skills and first base is usually the last place they put them if they can avoid it. Why is it the second choice for Mauer? I'd say it's easiest to adjust to temporarily for a catcher, but if this isn't a temporary change, then that's no reason in this case.


One main reason is he's already taken well to the position, maybe other reasons consist of our supposed plethora of OF talent coming up while we have a black hole at 1B. I'd prefer him at 1B if he was to move.
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#13 Chance

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:16 AM

I'm leaning towards Mauer catching rarely if at all in the future. But I have to question why it is assumed that he should play first in that case. After his bat, his next best tool is his arm, which is lost at first base.

Why not consider putting him in RF instead? If the decision is made in the offseason, he can spend all Spring Training learning the position. He's athletic enough that he should be able to handle it, at least for a few years. Range might be an issue. It's not like Willingham and Arcia are great enough defensively that they have to be out there. There's no other corner OFs breathing down their necks in the minors. Put Willingham at DH, Arcia in LF, and look for a FA first baseman....unless they want to go with Parmalee/Collabello there.

To bring this back to the concussion issue, I'd think there's less of a chance of colliding with players in RF than at 1B.



I like to take these ideas and see how they effect the rest of the lineup moving forward. Would Twins fans be comfortable with a August lineup of:

CF- Presley
2B- Rosario
RF- Mauer
DH- Willingham
3B- Sano
LF- Arcia
C- Pinto/Herrmann
1B- Collabello/Parmelee
SS- Dozier

Bench
Plouffe
Florimon
Herrmann/Pinto
Collabello/Parmelee

I think Doumit will be gone by the trade deadline. I don't mean to turn this into a lineup thread. My question is, would people be happy with this lineup or one similar to it? Does Mauer in RF make us a better team?

#14 cmb0252

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:41 AM

Trade Doumit and let Pinto/Mauer rotate between C and DH with Herm coming in on off days. Players get injured no matter where they are.

#15 Craig in MN

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:57 AM

I think that lineup is a little better than if you flip-flopped Mauer & Collabello/Parmalee. The offense is the same, but I'd bet on the defense being better. The real improvement is if it's easier to acquire an upgrade at first base than it is to acquire an upgrade in RF. I think that is true also (assuming the Twins pursue anyone).

As for the wave of OF prospects, I'll believe it when I see it. As for right now they have a possible opening in RF right now, and 2 or 3 CF top prospects who could be ready in the next 2 years, and Arcia who could play corners or DH. There's still room for one more OF for a while. If enough prospects emerge that they have to move him to first base, then we'll all be ecstatic, and we know he can play there.

#16 stringer bell

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 11:40 AM

The classic first baseman is tall, Joe Mauer is tall. Mauer has already lost a step or two, so his range as an outfielder wouldn't be especially good. The number one reason to move Mauer would be to protect his health and maximize his hitting. I believe first base is the right position to do that.

#17 stringer bell

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 11:46 AM

Regarding Pinto, I think he looks very comfortable and confident as a hitter. With 40 plate appearances he already has some of the best strike zone judgment on the team. He hasn't had a particular pitch repeatedly eat him up and has feasted on mistakes. I am pretty convinced he will hit quite well (somewhere north of .725 OPS). He will apparently need to grow as a pitch caller and receiver, but it looks like he has both the tools and the motivation to get better.

#18 nicksaviking

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 11:58 AM

Still owed $115m and he is the teams best player.


I'm not weighing in on what I think should happen, but this is the reason I'm fairly sure Mauer will be catching at least half the games next year. The best and highest paid players on the team generally get to call the shots, even if they have to be a diva, or threaten diva behavior to do so.

Mauer says he wants to catch. He wasn't diplomatic about his desire, otherwise he would be saying stuff like "best for the team" or "whatever the skipper thinks will help us win." Thus Mauer will catch simply because that's what Mauer wants.

Edited by nicksaviking, 16 September 2013 - 12:01 PM.


#19 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 12:03 PM

Regarding Pinto, I think he looks very comfortable and confident as a hitter. With 40 plate appearances he already has some of the best strike zone judgment on the team. He hasn't had a particular pitch repeatedly eat him up and has feasted on mistakes. I am pretty convinced he will hit quite well (somewhere north of .725 OPS). He will apparently need to grow as a pitch caller and receiver, but it looks like he has both the tools and the motivation to get better.


While I am very pleased and encouraged with how Pinto is doing this September, it's still too soon to tell how he will do going forward. I'm not ready to proclaim him the starting catcher for years to come based on one September; neither, as I said, am I ready to say Joe won't/shouldn't catch again. I DO understand the concerns with moving Joe out from behind the plate, but I just don't think it should or will happen so suddenly. Maybe a split between the two in the short term, and adjust that as Pinto is deemed 'for sure.'

Edited by ChiTownTwinsFan, 16 September 2013 - 12:06 PM.

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#20 LaBombo

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 05:06 PM

No reason for Joe to ever catch again. Still owed $115m and he is the teams best player. There is no good reason to put him back in that position again where another foul ball could end his career.
We need a first baseman he plays first just fine. If he was in the last year or two of his contract and we were a world series contender maybe you take the chance but not in the position we are in now, imo.


If the risk of catcher concussions has been proven so high that it should force one of the best players in the history of the position, and still in his prime, to play elsewhere, then the commissioner should have the courage to suspend baseball until the risk is reduced at the very least to the point where teams don't factor it into personnel decisions like moving Mauer to first.

Put another way, if you're Josmil Pinto, how's this going to sound:

'Good news, bad news, Pinto. Good news is you're our number one catcher in 2014. Bad news is that the main reason it's not Mauer is that his head costs us like 20 mill a year, so we can't afford to have it getting whacked by foul balls all the time. Your head, on other hand, costs the league minimum, so we're fine with you getting conked in the melon all day long. Anyway, have a nice offseason!'

Edited by LaBombo, 16 September 2013 - 05:10 PM.


#21 SydneyTwinsFan

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 05:51 PM

Is there a base level of production from a replacement catcher that would render the marginal upgrade provided by Mauer behind the plate not worth the risk of further injury?

If the option for next year is Herrmann putting up a .220/.290/.330 line, then IMO the upgrade provided by Mauer is substantial enough that the team needs to wear the injury risk and he needs to catch a large proportion of games.

But if Pinto is capable of hitting .260/.330/.420 with adequate defense I'm prepared to tell Joe to go hang up his catcher's mitt. At that point the upgrade over (say) 80 games catching doesn't seem worth it.

Where do others draw the line (if at all)?

#22 LaBombo

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 06:25 PM

Is there a base level of production from a replacement catcher that would render the marginal upgrade provided by Mauer behind the plate not worth the risk of further injury?

If the option for next year is Herrmann putting up a .220/.290/.330 line, then IMO the upgrade provided by Mauer is substantial enough that the team needs to wear the injury risk and he needs to catch a large proportion of games.

But if Pinto is capable of hitting .260/.330/.420 with adequate defense I'm prepared to tell Joe to go hang up his catcher's mitt. At that point the upgrade over (say) 80 games catching doesn't seem worth it.

Where do others draw the line (if at all)?

Depends a lot more for me on what kind of team they put around him in 2014 and beyond than what they get from Pinto or Herrmann.

If next season is anything like this one, I'd like to see Mauer catch just enough to stay sharp. Not sure how much that would be, but your 80 game mark sounds about right.

If the team is going to contend in 2015, then it would be nice to see Mauer catch at least 100 if his body is still up to it. A reduced workload and no injuries in 2014 would go a long way toward that.

Not sure if it was posted before, but there's a nice Gleeman article that shows how much more valuable Mauer's bat is at catcher than it is at first.

Edited by LaBombo, 16 September 2013 - 06:33 PM.


#23 jorgenswest

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 07:41 PM

In the last few years some teams choosing defense over offense at catcher.

Look at the Rays decision to sign Jose Molina and give him more playing time at 37 and 38 than any other time in his career. He can't hit.

The Dodgers roster the light hitting Federowicz over Ramon Hernandez knowing that they would be giving up offense. They value Butera and his defense highly enough to give up a prospect.

The Yankees fill their catching position this year with light hitting defensive minded catchers.

As the Twins make roster decisions about catcher I hope they make defense a greater priority and show it with their roster decisions.

#24 LaBombo

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 08:16 PM

In the last few years some teams choosing defense over offense at catcher.

Look at the Rays decision to sign Jose Molina and give him more playing time at 37 and 38 than any other time in his career. He can't hit.

The Dodgers roster the light hitting Federowicz over Ramon Hernandez knowing that they would be giving up offense. They value Butera and his defense highly enough to give up a prospect.

The Yankees fill their catching position this year with light hitting defensive minded catchers.

As the Twins make roster decisions about catcher I hope they make defense a greater priority and show it with their roster decisions.


Rays are an interesting example and it will be instructive to see what they do when Molina is no longer an option. But the Yankees and Dodgers always have enough money to buy the kind of lineup that can carry an all-glove catcher. It makes sense to a point for them, since they'd like to have the best babysitter possible out there to take care of their 8-figure arms.

#25 jorgenswest

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 08:26 PM

Rays are an interesting example and it will be instructive to see what they do when Molina is no longer an option. But the Yankees and Dodgers always have enough money to buy the kind of lineup that can carry an all-glove catcher. It makes sense to a point for them, since they'd like to have the best babysitter possible out there to take care of their 8-figure arms.


The Yankees and Dodgers also have the resources to spend more on catcher yet choose inexpensive defenders.

Does the Twins decision to sign and extend Doumit make sense for an inexperienced pitching staff? Wouldn't the Twins staff be much more in need of care? Doumit costs the Twins more than the Yankees, Rays or Dodgers spend on their catching core.

It is not simply inexpensive solutions. The Pirates signed Martin and he's made a tremendous difference.

Edited by jorgenswest, 16 September 2013 - 08:29 PM.


#26 Sconnie

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:11 PM

No reason for Joe to ever catch again. Still owed $115m and he is the teams best player. There is no good reason to put him back in that position again where another foul ball could end his career.
We need a first baseman he plays first just fine. If he was in the last year or two of his contract and we were a world series contender maybe you take the chance but not in the position we are in now, imo.

Joe hits at an elite level as a catcher and is elite defensively at catcher. He is ok hitting, ok fielding first basemen. Unless you had no choice, why turn elite into replacement level?

#27 Sconnie

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:16 PM

The Yankees and Dodgers also have the resources to spend more on catcher yet choose inexpensive defenders.

Does the Twins decision to sign and extend Doumit make sense for an inexperienced pitching staff? Wouldn't the Twins staff be much more in need of care? Doumit costs the Twins more than the Yankees, Rays or Dodgers spend on their catching core.

It is not simply inexpensive solutions. The Pirates signed Martin and he's made a tremendous difference.

Also, all of he teams mentioned have enough offense that they can overcome a weak spot in the lineup. The Twins need all they an get from every spot, because they are weaker across the board with the exception of Mauer at Catcher

#28 jorgenswest

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:30 PM

Also, all of he teams mentioned have enough offense that they can overcome a weak spot in the lineup. The Twins need all they an get from every spot, because they are weaker across the board with the exception of Mauer at Catcher


We disagree. I don't believe the offense Doumit contributes while catching is anywhere near the deficit from his defense while catching.

#29 dgwills

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 05:06 AM

We disagree. I don't believe the offense Doumit contributes while catching is anywhere near the deficit from his defense while catching.

I don't see how having a catcher who is worse defensively and offensively is better either. 80 games catching sounds about right to me. I wonder how switching to first would effect Mauers hall of fame chances. That would be a concern for Joe I would think.

#30 Marta Shearing

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 06:40 AM

Joe hits at an elite level as a catcher and is elite defensively at catcher. He is ok hitting, ok fielding first basemen. Unless you had no choice, why turn elite into replacement level?

Because common sense tells you they really have no choice. Another foul tip could end his career. Besides, he'll be an elite hitting 1st baseman. He'll be a better hitter without the wear and tear of catching. I think he could get back to his MVP form.

Edited by Marta Shearing, 17 September 2013 - 06:42 AM.




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