The Minnesota Twins headed to Fort Myers with 2014 All Star, Kurt Suzuki locked in behind the plate. After signing an extension to stay with the Twins, there was no doubt he was slated to be their Opening Day catcher. Who plays behind him however, is a situation that appears to be less cut and dry.
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Josmil Pinto has long been regarded as a catcher in waiting when it came to the Twins. Since Wilson Ramos, there has not been a catcher that toted a bat quite like Pinto. Having immense power at the Plate, Pinto is a guy that the Twins have regarded as someone who has the ability to make Target Field look small. The unfortunate situation is that behind the plate, Josmil Pinto leaves an immense amount to be desired.
And then there’s Spring Training 2015.
Thus far, Josmil Pinto has yet to get behind the plate for the Twins. Through four games, he has been shelved while his competition, both Eric Fryer and Chris Herrmann, have handled backup duties. A quad strain has made it so that game action has been something Pinto is not yet ready for. This begs the question, “In a competition between three players, is Pinto now bringing up the rear?”
The answer really depends on how you view the situation. To a certain extent, Pinto is what he is going to be. There’s little reason to believe that he’s ever going to be a good defensive catcher, and getting him to even a mediocre level may be a stretch. His bat is going to play however, and despite the answer that Terry Ryan gave in a recent interview, should be the reason he is brought north this spring.
Both Fryer and Herrmann have gotten a decent amount of time to showcase their abilities thus far in Spring Training, and much like Pinto, we know what they bring to the table as well. Neither is going to be capable of carrying a major league bat, and while they may be more defensive-minded than Pinto, they aren’t a significant upgrade in that department over the likes of Suzuki.
That brings us to this crossroads, where and how should the Twins handle Pinto this spring. Despite calling it a competition, it’s fair to argue there isn’t much of one. Pinto is far and away the best major league quality option for the Twins off of the bench. Most teams don’t carry three catches, and it’s great to see that Paul Molitor isn’t going to follow in Ron Garndehire’s footsteps in that regard. As far as pushing the competition, the Twins might have some decisions to make.
If the organization makes Pinto feel like him being shelved is allowing him to lag behind, they could rush him back and cause further damage. However, if they convey the message that as long as he gets right soon, and shows his ability in the time he does contribute that the position is his, things should be set for the season. Neither fryer or Herrmann should factor into a roster in which the Twins hope represents a turnaround, and getting Pinto to buy into being all in sooner rather than later is a good thing.
At the end of the day, a major league team can’t afford to have mulligans in its roster construction. Bringing either Fryer or Herrmann north would suggest the Twins are ok sacrificing automatic outs for nominal defensive upgrades; that’s not a situation that turns a team around.
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