At this point, we’ve looked at plenty of storylines that the Minnesota Twins will see come to fruition over the course of Spring Training this season. However, apparently we glanced over one as it appeared to be less than relevant. The Twins don’t seem to think so however, and it’s worth looking into. Who is going to be the clubs backup catcher?
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If that question scares you, it’s likely because you’ve suffered through the Ron Gardenhire timeline that included names like Drew Butera and Eric Fryer. Paul Molitor has taken over the team, but he isn’t quite ready to admit to moving on from less than exciting names however. While Josmil Pinto appears the favorite to land on the Twins 25 man roster, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com lets us know Molitor is looking at all of his options.
Really this whole “competition” boils down to one question, just how bad is Josmil Pinto behind the plate? We dissected the Pinto problem last week, and earlier we looked at the positive influence he brings to the lineup. As a whole, the decision appears to come down to what carries more weight, and to what side the scale tips further.
There is no doubt that if Molitor opts to go with Eric Fryer or Chris Herrmann on the 25 man roster, his goal is simply to have someone behind the plate that can catch. Kurt Suzuki is far from a defensive asset in his own right, but he has the ability to be average. Behind the plate, Pinto has shown thus far that he is a far cry from even that.
Last season, Pinto allowed four passed balls in 25 games, while throwing out zero runners in 20 chances; horrid numbers to say the least. On the flip side, he contributed seven home runs and 18 RBI in just 57 games for the Twins. His numbers could have been significantly higher as well had he found some consistent stretches of playing time.
Both Fryer and Herrman provide the opposite end of the spectrum for the Twins. Herrmann has transitioned to the outfield (and is listed as such on the 40 man), but is trying to make the team in any way possible. Neither Fryer nor Herrmann is an offensive asset, but both have the ability to be average behind the plate. With both players, Molitor knows what he is getting, and it probably equates to a lesser version of Drew Butera.
The “competition” will sort itself out this spring, but the likely scenario is that everything lies in Pinto’s hands. If he can show the ability to have at least somewhat improved behind the plate, while bringing his bat, he should be the guy the Twins take north. However, if for some reason Josmil Pinto is in the same place he was behind the plate in 2014, even his bat may not be enough to save him.
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