The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

September 9, 2013

Thoma column: Twins may be catching on to a time share

(Continued)

The rap on Pinto as he climbed the minor league ladder has been that his defensive skills are rough. To this untrained eye, he's been fine with the Twins, certainly not noticeably worse than Doumit. I don't see a real advantage to playing Doumit ahead of him even in the short term.

The long term is what really matters for this team. The longer Pinto hits, the more convinced people outside the organization will be that he can (and thus should) be the regular catcher henceforth.

This notion doesn't meld with the "Mauer's our catcher" position of the front office and may set up new round of Internet criticism of the organization.

There's room for both, I think. For all Ryan's talk last offseason of how Mauer was to catch 120 games this year, he won't, and he wasn't on pace to before the concussion either. Mauer hasn't caught 120 games in a single season since 2008, hasn't caught 100 games in a season since 2010.

Pinto's playing time behind the plate was limited in the minors as well; he had some shoulder issues, and the managers in Double A and Triple A seldom had him catch back-to-back games.

So there's room for a time share, something along the lines of 75 games for Mauer, 75 for Pinto and 22 for Herrmann, with Mauer and Pinto getting considerable time at first base and DH and Herrmann serving as a reserve outfielder as well.

That idea leaves Doumit on the outside looking in. There has to be a limit to how many catchers can help a lineup.

Edward Thoma (344-6377; ethoma@mankatofreepress.com) maintains his Baseball Outsider blog at fpbaseballoutsider.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @bboutsider.

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