Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking Forward at Twins Catching

The Twins continue to play out the rest of the 2013 season without their $23 million man, Joe Mauer. There is plenty of concern surrounding Mauer's concussion related injury. As Twins fans are well aware from recent incidents with Denard Span and Justin Morneau, head injuries can be tough to solve. This leaves Minnesota with an interesting situation behind the plate as the team looks to the future.

No one knows when Mauer will be back on the field and if he will ever be able to suit up behind the plate. The Twins have been auditioning a variety of players this September in hopes of shedding so light on the situation. Will one of these new players be the Twins full-time backstop by the start of next year or will Mauer be able to solve the puzzle of his brain injury?

Here's the breakdown of the men fighting for catching time in 2014. It is a mixture of young and old as the Twins begin to shift their roster to a more youthful core of players.

Joe Mauer
2013 (113 G, 73 G started at C): .324/.404/.476, 11 HR, 35 2B, 62 R
Concerns over Mauer's injury will be one of the biggest story lines entering spring training next year. The 2013 season was only the second time since 2007 where he has failed to play over 135 games. Justin Morneau is gone and this leaves a hole at first base. Mauer's power numbers don't exactly fit with the typical first baseman mold but the Twins need him to fit somewhere. Depending on how the offseason progresses, fans have to hope that Mauer will be able to do some catching, play some time at first, and even get into the line-up as a DH. This could be a wild dream at this point but there are multiple months until Opening Day 2014.

Ryan Doumit
2013 (124 G, 41 GS at C): .239/.310/.386, 13 HR, 24 2B, 43 R
With Mauer out of the line-up, one would figure Doumit would get some more time at catcher. This hasn't been the case and Doumit had his own concussion related DL stint earlier this season. Minnesota loved the production Doumit provided in 2012 and the team signed him to an extension. His offensive production dropped a little this season and there's a chance the team could try and deal him in the offseason. He will be 33-years old next season and in the last year of his contract. His does represent the lone veteran presence behind Mauer so this could give the Twins a reason to keep him around.

Chris Herrmann
2013: (49 G, 22 GS at C): .218/.302/.361, 4 HR, 7 2B, 14 R
Herrmann can't be a free agent until after the 2019 season and the Twins have been willing to use him in multiple defensive positions. His numbers dropped across the board as he struggled at the plate in Rochester and Minnesota. There were some good signs from him during 2012 at Double-A. One has to hope for that version of Herrmann to transfer to the big league level especially if Mauer is no longer able to catch. If he is able to make the right adjustments, Herrmann could end up taking over the role vacated by Doumit after next season. Otherwise, he is an adequate back-up catcher to keep on the bench.

Josmil Pinto
2013: (11 G, 9 GS at C): .405/.463/.703, 2 HR, 5 2B, 6 R
In his first taste of the big leagues, Pinto has made a quick impression on Twins Territory. The kid can hit the ball and he has continued to show this ability as he has moved through the upper levels of the Twins farm system. In the past, there have been some questions about his catching ability and this year there were concerns about his shoulder. He was able to throw out 29% of base stealers between New Britain and Rochester this season. At the big league level, he has caught three out of seven potential runners. Fans that continue to watch the Twins in September will keep their eye on Pinto because he might be getting a lot more time behind the plate next year.

Fans might be worried about Mauer's future so it's good to have a future plan in place. Pinto has been impressive but it has been a small sample size and it's tough to get too excited before seeing a full season of play from him. It would be great for both men to be able to spend some time behind the plate next season but for now the future is a little cloudy.

No comments: