Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Doumit losing weight, preparing for outfield

When the Twins signed Ryan Doumit in the early portion of the offseason, many fans of the organization got excited about having a back-up catcher who would be able show some offensive competence. The Twins saw the trifecta of Drew Butera, Rene Rivera, and Steve Holm struggle to fill the giant hole left by multiple injures to Joe Mauer. Terry Ryan knew the Twins couldn't rely on players of this ilk if the injury bug bit Mauer again in 2012.

Upon further review, reports of Doumit's defense behind the plate began to filter out and it seems he won't be contending for any Gold Gloves. A report put together by Baseball Prospectus said that Doumit was the worst catcher in baseball at framing pitches. He allowed nine passed balls in 790.1 innings behind the plate in 2010 and last season he allowed four passed balls in 461.1 innings. For his career, Doumit has thrown out 25% of base stealers and he was close to that percentage last year at 24%. In 2010, he allowed a career high 79 stolen bases and only managed to throw out 12% of those attempting to steal.

The Twins are hoping Mauer will be able to catch a lot more in 2012 so Doumit has approached this offseason a little bit different than previous years. In a recent interview on 1500 ESPN, he talked about trying to take off a little of the bulk this offseason. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, he wasn't exactly huge but injuries have been an issue for him in previous seasons. By slimming down, he might be able to avoid some of the wear and tear on his body.

Another reason for him to be shedding a couple pounds is so he is able to spend more time playing in the outfield. In his seven year career, he has played 60 games in the outfield with all of them coming in right field. With the hope of a healthy Mauer, the Twins would have to find another spot for Doumit in the line-up. He will see time at catcher but he could also be penciled in at designated hitter, first base, or in a corner outfield spot.

If the Twins use Josh Willingham as one corner outfielder and Doumit as the other corner outfielder, there would be a lot of room left to cover for whoever is the center fielder. Denard Span and Ben Revere can cover some ground but the huge holes in the outfield at Target Field could be treacherous with two mediocre defensive players. The slimmer version of Doumit could help him get back to his 2007 outfield form where he had a range rating of 4.3 and a 9.0 UZR in over 300 innings in the outfield.

Since there is a good chance the Twins will want to use Mauer and Doumit in the line-up on the same day, the team will be carrying three catchers at the start of the season. Twins fans should be encouraged by the approach Doumit is taking to his offseason regime. He is saying the right things and he sounds like he will come to Ft. Myers with the flexibility to play any position the Twins ask him to play, a good sign for a veteran player who is looking to make a strong impression on a new team.

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1 comment:

PK said...

It is encouraging to see his commitment to doing what it takes to fill the role he is given on the Twins. If Mauer is healthy, I expect him to get most of his playing time as DH. In that case, I sure hope he does not become the next Adam Dunn. Doumit has had very few AB's in his career as a DH and some players have a difficult time making the adjustment.