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At the major league level, catching is a position where lack of offense is accepted in exchange for good defense. The Twins, in the midst of a terrible season, have two catchers who profile as above average hitters for their position, but they don't appear to complement each other. To start the season, Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver were basically alternated as the starting catcher and neither player thrived. Garver hit .151  through April 27 with an OPS of .517, while Jeffers struggled mightily to a .147 average with a .393 OPS before he was sent down to Triple A.

From April 28 until the end of May, Garver had a great five weeks, hitting over .280 with an OPS above 1.000. Since Garver's injury, Jeffers has hit .292 with an OPS of .992. So, it seems that if one of these guys is the principal catcher, he will hit well above league average, but if they are alternated, it seems to drag both guys down. Both Garver and Jeffers would profile as bat-first catchers who can frame pitches. IMHO, Jeffers looks to be the superior defender, much better at both throwing and blocking low pitches. Garver does have some experience playing other positions, mostly first base, while Jeffers has been only a catcher in his career.

Two additional players figure into the Twins plans for the future. Ben Rortvedt is reputedly a fine defensive catcher with a good arm. Rortvedt hits left, which would complement either Garver or Jeffers. As soon as next year, Rortvedt could figure to be the prototypical backup catcher, who wouldn't hurt the club and if he finds a hot steak with the bat, he could be an asset. Willians Astudillo aka La Tortuga is a utility player who is nominally a catcher. In brief spurts, Astudillo has looked adequate behind the plate, but his full body of work is substandard defensively. As a hitter, Turtle is extreme--extreme contact and extreme impatience--his walks yesterday were his first in well over 100 plate appearances, but he seldom strikes out. Astudillo is best suited to being a third catcher who plays the corner infield positions and until he shows some plate discipline, he'll never be a major league regular. 

All of this information (all IMHO obviously) is prologue to starting a discussion about what should be done with the catching position in 2022. Keep both Jeffers and Garver on the major league roster? Trade Garver for much needed pitching? Perhaps make Garver a swing man (DH, 1B and C) with Jeffers the primary catcher and Rortvedt the backup? Use Astudillo and Garver as backups and utility guys and Jeffers as the primary catcher? 

I am of the opinion that given Jeffers age and upside both offensively and defensively, he should be the primary catcher in 2022. With the likely exit of Nelson Cruz, there are at-bats to be had for Garver at first base (Sanó at DH or riding the pine) and DH. If the Twins can get sufficient value, perhaps they can trade Garver, if not, he could get a lot of at-bats at first and DH, and this doesn't even begin to allow for injuries. Are there any other scenarios and do you fans on Twins Daily agree with me? Let's start a discussion.

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Not interested in dealing Garver, not even a little. You'd have to overwhelm me to do that. But yes, Jeffers could / should be number 1, with Garver at first / DH / C....I don't care if Astudillo is on the team one way or the other. 

The only complication is if they feel Kiriloff is the 1B in the future, and not an OF......

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35 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

Not interested in dealing Garver, not even a little. You'd have to overwhelm me to do that. But yes, Jeffers could / should be number 1, with Garver at first / DH / C....I don't care if Astudillo is on the team one way or the other. 

The only complication is if they feel Kiriloff is the 1B in the future, and not an OF......

I am with Mike on this one.  Hate to get rid of Garver just yet as it feels a little too early to me.  I think that maybe they swap Gordon with Astudillo for next year.  They shouldn't need him with Garver, Jeffers and Rortvedt on the 40 man. Astudillo isn't a plus defender anywhere and Gordon could be at 2nd and he can backup all three infield positions in a pinch plus possibly center field.  I was hoping Astudillo might build some value by the deadline but his lack of walks, K rate and OPS make it tough right now.  Hopefully he gets hot with the bat and maybe they can still get something of value for him at the deadline.  His position flexibility and high contact rate could be appealing to a team down the stretch but his numbers need to get better.  Astudillo is the odd man out for me.

You have this very well thought out and I do agree with you that Jeffers and Garver are redundant at catcher. I also agree something will have to be done at some point. I am just not sure that now is the right time to make that move.  Maybe if Jeffers proves his bat is for real and Rortvedt remains solid but I think it leaves us a little thin then. 

 

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In a vacuum I move Garver for pitching at the deadline if I can. There are a number of contenders who could use him and may be able to bring back a legit pitching prospect. But I think this comes down to other moves and what the rest of the offense looks like. Can we move Sano? Cruz won't be back so there's DH ABs to go around. Do they want to move Kirilloff to first more or less full time? Extra depth at catcher is good with the beating they take back there (this year is a great example). But Garver is also 30 so have to take that into consideration.

My preference would be to hold onto them both and get Garver ABs at 1B/C/DH, especially against lefties. I'd prefer to move Sano if any team would take on his contract (it's not gigantic, but an extra 10m next year would be nice). But if a team comes calling at the deadline offering something of real value I'd certainly listen on a Garver deal.

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I'm a firm believer in making anyone available for the right price, but I wouldn't want to trade either if I could help it. As others have said, between C, 1B, and DH, I think there will be plenty of at bats for Garver even without any injuries.

Also, Garver has 2 years on his contract after this one. Generally, the more years on a contract, the more prospect capital it would take to acquire a player. Knowing how high the price tag would be now, I imagine most teams wouldn't even be interested in trading for him until next year's trade deadline at the earliest.

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I doubt I have the knowledge to sort out this conundrum but it’s apparent the the team has too many bat first corner players. Someone has to go. My first move would be Sano, his SO rate simply overrides his HR talent. Moving him would allow a rotation of Garver, Kiriloff at DH and 1B, and have a back up catcher on Garver. Thus allowing the two better defensive catchers to go behind the plate. Jeffers and Rortvedt. (Sp). I would prefer to move Sano, but if you can’t Garver seems the odd man out. His inability to block balls comes close to wiping out his offensive output, just as Sanos SO rate does. 

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40 minutes ago, Platoon said:

I doubt I have the knowledge to sort out this conundrum but it’s apparent the the team has too many bat first corner players. Someone has to go. My first move would be Sano, his SO rate simply overrides his HR talent. Moving him would allow a rotation of Garver, Kiriloff at DH and 1B, and have a back up catcher on Garver. Thus allowing the two better defensive catchers to go behind the plate. Jeffers and Rortvedt. (Sp). I would prefer to move Sano, but if you can’t Garver seems the odd man out. His inability to block balls comes close to wiping out his offensive output, just as Sanos SO rate does. 

If you keep using your first round picks on bat first corner players..... You need to be willing to trade some at some point. 

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58 minutes ago, Platoon said:

I doubt I have the knowledge to sort out this conundrum but it’s apparent the the team has too many bat first corner players. Someone has to go. My first move would be Sano, his SO rate simply overrides his HR talent. Moving him would allow a rotation of Garver, Kiriloff at DH and 1B, and have a back up catcher on Garver. Thus allowing the two better defensive catchers to go behind the plate. Jeffers and Rortvedt. (Sp). I would prefer to move Sano, but if you can’t Garver seems the odd man out. His inability to block balls comes close to wiping out his offensive output, just as Sanos SO rate does. 

I think Garver would have more value than Sanó, because of his standing as a catcher, hence I think he is the guy to move. Garver didn't qualify for arb last year, so he must have had less than four years service. If the labor contract doesn't change the team control numbers, having Garver for two years under team control is really important. 

I'm actually thinking the best time to deal Garver would be in the off-season and the presumption is that he catches and hits after he returns from his injury. I think the Twins have Sanó for the guaranteed length of his contract. That doesn't mean he has to play every day and he has an injury history too. 

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Kirilloff is best at 1B, Sano is 1B/DH, Garver is a DH who can catch in a pinch, and Nelson Cruz is still hitting better than all of these players. There is a crunch at DH/1B and somebody will need to be moved. 

Cleveland uses catchers behind the plate and this is important to pitchers. For example, Santana was moved out from behind the plate years ago. The Twins need to recognize the importance of a catcher. I'm hoping that the glut can be solved with positive results, but if Cruz is moved there are still only two chairs for three players.

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9 minutes ago, tony&rodney said:

Kirilloff is best at 1B, Sano is 1B/DH, Garver is a DH who can catch in a pinch, and Nelson Cruz is still hitting better than all of these players. There is a crunch at DH/1B and somebody will need to be moved. 

Cleveland uses catchers behind the plate and this is important to pitchers. For example, Santana was moved out from behind the plate years ago. The Twins need to recognize the importance of a catcher. I'm hoping that the glut can be solved with positive results, but if Cruz is moved there are still only two chairs for three players.

Currently Cruz is with the Twins and Garver is injured. In 2022, I believe it is a near-certainty that Cruz will be playing elsewhere and I hope that Garver is healthy, regardless of whose team he is playing for. Having Kirilloff available to play first base or outfield and having Garver as an option at catcher, first base and DH gives the club a lot of flexibility since all starting players are seldom on the field at the same time. I do agree that Kirilloff looks better at first base and that Garver's reps behind the plate could be limited. 

Perhaps the bigger question relates to how much of a makeover is required to give the Twins a chance to contend in 2022. I don't think they can hang on to every player with value and sign free agents and play rookies and still contend. My thought is that in areas where there is redundancy, they need to move good major league talent, such as Garver. Also in that category would be a second baseman (Polanco or Arraez) and a left handed corner outfielder (probably Kepler). I'm not believing that the Twins necessarily have to move three front-line players, but that one or two should be moved in order to bring back major league talent where the club is lacking (pitching, pitching pitching). 

The catching situation is murky because Jeffers has only played 68 games with 139 plate appearances and Garver has some positional flexibility. The fact that both struggled when the job was shared tells me that one or the other should be moved and have his role changed.

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You stoll my thunder Stringer! LOL I have literally been thinking about the EXACT same topic a lot recently but hadn't sat down to post. I think...word for word...you just about nailed every thing I've been thinking about.

I will say I disagree on the catching time share. I think we have too SSS  this season to say it can't or wouldn't work. Remember, Jeffers is still a rookie and has stated recently he wasn't feeling great at the plate and found his stroke, with a couple small adjustments made, when he was over in St Paul. And let's not forget Garver was coming off a poor and injury plagued 2020 to begin the year and just seemed out of whack. Further, Garver did just fine when file-sharing with Castro previously. So I think there is merit to the time-share idea, I just don't think we need to use it the way originally planned.

That all being said, I think Garver should be the backup catcher and see most of his time at 1B and DH come 2022. And understand, I think Garver is just fine behind the dish. I have little problem with him as a catcher. I'm not looking to "demote" him, simply looking at logical roster construction for the future and the best use of talent. The fact that Garver has had a couple concussions and then had this recent, awful injury just fuels my idea of transitioning him. But, of course, this is a non-starter arguement if we didn't have the young, talented and promising Jeffers on hand.

*Note: I am not including Sano in this discussion for a variety of reasons not the least of which being that he's not really part of Stringer's original OP intent.

Whether he's traded or kept for the duration of this season, I think it's a very safe opinion that Cruz will not be back in 2022 for a variety of sound and reasonable reasons. And with Larnach and Kirilloff and Garver, as we are discussing, I'm really not sure the 2022 Twins should be necessarily entertaining the idea of adding a replacement. Get Garver in the lineup daily as a DH/1B and backup catcher. Let the DH spot be fluid with the talent on hand, even if Garver might get a majority of the time there. Who ever said the DH had to be ONE GUY? I think back to the days....NOT playing "old man back in my day" game...where TK had Bush and Larkin as primary DH's but each played in the field and regulars also got half days off by being a DH here and there. Again, if you have good talent on hand and a deep and versatile roster, why do you have to have just one guy fill that spot?

Worried about having to lose your DH in a game if you make moves? Nope. Because you might still have Astudillo as the last man on the bench. Or, you may just keep Rortvedt as your true #2 while still having Garver available. Depending on roster construction, while it may sound crazy, there is a chance you could have 4 guys on the roster who could catch. And I know that's not a popular idea, but just think about SOMEONE being the SS, Astudillo is on the bench, Garver has more or less taken Cruz's spot and you keep Rortvedt as a true #2. (Don't hate, I'm just spitballing here). Rortvedt could also be at St Paul as he's still so young and may be better served playing daily there to begin 2022.

Barring trades we can't even begin to speculate on at this point, I believe in keeping proven talent that is cost controlled. I just wouldn't trade Garver unless blown away. Transition him to DH/1B and backup catcher. Let Jeffers be the primary. Right now, we have tremendous depth at catcher, 1B and OF. While we have questions about a true SS for 2022, we have some depth and versatility there as well, especially if Gordon continues to be healthy and continues to develop. (Someone PLEASE get him on a weight program and feed him some extra protein that works within the framework of his new diet)!

The pitching is a different arguement for another day. And hitting coaches and approach is also a different arguement for another day. But we know and have seen what a healthy Garver can do. Transition him, keep him, and let him rip. 

 

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1 hour ago, tony&rodney said:

Kirilloff is best at 1B, Sano is 1B/DH, Garver is a DH who can catch in a pinch, and Nelson Cruz is still hitting better than all of these players. There is a crunch at DH/1B and somebody will need to be moved. 

Cleveland uses catchers behind the plate and this is important to pitchers. For example, Santana was moved out from behind the plate years ago. The Twins need to recognize the importance of a catcher. I'm hoping that the glut can be solved with positive results, but if Cruz is moved there are still only two chairs for three players.

I like your post but am going to slightly disagree. I've read, heard and seen in regard to AK at 1B. I keep hearing he could potentially be a Gold Glover at 1B and carry on a great tradition of outstanding Twins 1B. And there's nothing wrong with that! I just think he's undersold as an OF. I've seen nothing negative to tell me be can't be a solid corner OF. And right now, I just don't want to pigeon hole him at 1B exclusively. What's wrong with letting him continue to play both and we'll see what the future brings? I believe in roster flexibility. 

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I like Jeffers much better behind the plate defensively than Mitch Garver. But Mitch Garver is a better hitter overall. You are right Stringerbell neither is suited well to being a back up catcher or playing only once in a while. This will leave the Twins with an intersting offseason. Do you move on from Garver or do you move on from Jeffers. To me I think I prefer to keep the younger catcher with more service time left.

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20 hours ago, DocBauer said:

I like your post but am going to slightly disagree. I've read, heard and seen in regard to AK at 1B. I keep hearing he could potentially be a Gold Glover at 1B and carry on a great tradition of outstanding Twins 1B. And there's nothing wrong with that! I just think he's undersold as an OF. I've seen nothing negative to tell me be can't be a solid corner OF. And right now, I just don't want to pigeon hole him at 1B exclusively. What's wrong with letting him continue to play both and we'll see what the future brings? I believe in roster flexibility. 

I agree with this assesment, Kirloff has a good arm and would be kind of wasted at 1st base as a defender. He profiles as an everyday left fielder for me with a good bat. 

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On 6/17/2021 at 6:03 PM, stringer bell said:

I think Garver would have more value than Sanó, because of his standing as a catcher, hence I think he is the guy to move. Garver didn't qualify for arb last year, so he must have had less than four years service. If the labor contract doesn't change the team control numbers, having Garver for two years under team control is really important. 

I'm actually thinking the best time to deal Garver would be in the off-season and the presumption is that he catches and hits after he returns from his injury. I think the Twins have Sanó for the guaranteed length of his contract. That doesn't mean he has to play every day and he has an injury history too. 

Yep, problem with trading Sano is that it’s almost never smart to sell low, especially really low like now.

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There was time many years ago when the Twins thought they had expendable catching depth as well. We should revisit the Wilson Ramos trade before we discuss trading another catcher. 

Keeping Mitch Garver as a 1B / catcher / DH is the best option. (This was mentioned by @stringer bellHe is also under team control for 3 more seasons. 

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Jeffers and Garver are a bad pair. Both bat-first, both right-handed. I believe you need to go with one or the other, plus a true defense-first backup like Rortvedt who plays significantly less than the starter.

What they do with the other guy depends upon what he could return in a trade and what your plans are for Sano, Kirilloff and the DH role.

I agree it’s something that needs to be addressed...Garver/Jeffers with the 2021 roster was a bad plan from the get-go. Good topic.

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Pitching is always the number one need on every team - if Garver brings back a decent pitcher I trade him.  I look at Jeffers and Garvers ages and Jeffers has more future.  Many catchers age well and play to 40+ but Garver has had too many injuries (I can't even think about this last horrible one).  I think Kiriloff at 1B is the plan with Larnach, Buxton (I hope) and Kepler OF, Sano DH.  Garver has utility value, but is that greater than a good arm in the BP or Rotation?

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Both are under team control for Garver 2 years and Jeffers even longer. Both are quality bats. Jeffers was done no favors hitting only against righties at the start of the year. It is to his credit that he's bounced back from this questionable handling of his development. These are 2 quality right-handed bats and with the inevitable departure of Cruz they will be needed. I would hang on to both with Jeffers and Rortvedt as the catching duo and move Garver around as suggested. He might enjoy a break from catching and could be injury insurance. Of course if offered quality pitching Garver is the one I would move.

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17 hours ago, Eris said:

There was time many years ago when the Twins thought they had expendable catching depth as well. We should revisit the Wilson Ramos trade before we discuss trading another catcher. 

Keeping Mitch Garver as a 1B / catcher / DH is the best option. (This was mentioned by @stringer bellHe is also under team control for 3 more seasons. 

The concept of trading Ramos wasn’t a bad idea but the implementation of said trade was horrendous.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

The concept of trading Ramos wasn’t a bad idea but the implementation of said trade was horrendous.

Agree, and this is the same with the current angst about “giving up LaMonte Wade for nothing”. 

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Going into 2022, and assuming Cruz is not back, you have Sano at DH and Kirilloff at 1B...assuming also that we keep Buxton. Garver can spell at both positions and also catch. The joy is that rather than a Cruz DH you also have Sano who can play 1B and 3B, and Kirilloff who can play the outfield.

 

But do you keep Rortvedt as the second catcher (third). Of have him play everyday, and keep someone like La Tortuga? Of course, that also depends on your eventual infield makeup, if Gordon looks like a keeper, and if you need Mister play anywhere and anywhere, put the ball in play, don't walk, but also don't strikeout, and can be that blowout arm from the bullpen! (Man, making this guy sound like he should be the Twins All-Star player rep and the AL manager should play him one inning at each position - wouldn't that be a hoot - wait, he is at Triple-A now).

 

Garver will be back and push Rortvedt back to the minors. The  the Twins have to look at 2022. Garver still has time with the Twins and could replicate his 2019 for a season or two, and you also want him to catch to increase his own value for a trade or a job in the future.

 

But the Twins duo of Jeffers/Rortvedt will be with us for the next half-decade, if not more!

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Only trade Garver if you get a great haul back. When healthy he was back to 2019 form and given his multiple years of team control he SHOULD bring back a big haul of great prospects back. If not, keep both here. Personally I think they need to play every day as we saw them struggle this year when paired together. With that in mind you either have Jeffers at AAA in case of injury for a year or two until Garver is gone or you keep both  up and mix Garver in at 1B and DH. With AK and Sano on the roster that leaves a bit of a crunch for all 3 to play at those spots. Unless Sano turns it around he might have to be dumped in the offseason to make room at DH/1B for AK, Garver, and maybe the rest of the DHing is a rotation of guys like JD and Rooker.

Here is what the position player roster might look like next year assuming Buck doesn't get traded:

Larnach LF Buxton CF Kepler RF

JD 3B FA SS Polanco 2B 1B Kirilloff 

C Jeffers DH Garver

Bench: Rortvedt C, Arraez and Gordon Super utility, Rooker/Cave Backup OF

Assuming they get a good FA SS that's going to be a great lineup imo.

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On 6/18/2021 at 7:08 PM, Eris said:

There was time many years ago when the Twins thought they had expendable catching depth as well. We should revisit the Wilson Ramos trade before we discuss trading another catcher. 

Keeping Mitch Garver as a 1B / catcher / DH is the best option. (This was mentioned by @stringer bellHe is also under team control for 3 more seasons. 

I don't want to turn this into a Ramos trade talk topic, but the problem with that trade wasn't that they traded him, it was what they got in return. The idea was right ... to fill what we needed for the team that year. Capps was not nearly enough of a quality return. That said, I think it's too soon to part with Garver ... unless the price is right, and that price is WAY better than Matt Capps.

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First, I have to say, this is a great thread. Thank you everyone for contributing. Now let me throw out a very alternate idea...

What if they Twins traded away Jeffers? Here's the logic:

  • Jeffers is likely worth more, so if the Twins are looking to get some starting pitching back, he brings back more.
  • The competitive window for this team likely ends after 2022 or 2023 anyway. Jeffers' team control in 2024 and beyond doesn't help that. In fact, that's when he starts getting expensive, meaning he's likely to be moved in a rebuild about that time anyway.

I like the idea of Jeffers as catcher and Garver as DH since I think the chances of bringing back Cruz are pretty slim. But the biggest problem for this team moving forward (not just in 2022, but beyond) is still starting pitching. That is going to come into sharper and sharper focus as the season and offseason progresses, and catchers might be their best asset to do that. 

FWIW, I don't think trading either of them makes a bunch of sense at the trade deadline - this is more of an offseason question. 

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On 6/17/2021 at 3:39 PM, stringer bell said:

So, it seems that if one of these guys is the principal catcher, he will hit well above league average, but if they are alternated, it seems to drag both guys down.

No way to draw this conclusion from just 23 games (13 for Garver, 10 for Jeffers), and nothing in the rest of their careers seems to support it either. (Garver’s 2019 breakout began on the short end of an alternating arrangement, and Jeffers did just fine in his 2020 debut starting 19 of 35 games.)

More likely that they were alternated because both were struggling mightily at the plate, not the other way around.

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Kirilloff to 1B, Garver can back him up
Cruz - He won't be in a Twins uniform much longer
Sano - Trade him
Jeffers or Garver at C? - It doesn't matter
Garver at DH - Before making this decision, the Twins need to figure out why his bat is ice cold when he is the DH

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10 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

Garver at DH - Before making this decision, the Twins need to figure out why his bat is ice cold when he is the DH

Garver only has 60 career PAs as DH, only 17 of which came in 2019 when he was mashing the ball. I don't think there's enough data there to make a decision about how he performs at DH.

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