When Did Catchers Become Caddies?

As expected, the Twins activated Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins after Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 win over the White Sox. I read a lot of different articles (and may have even written one) with projections about who might be sent packing to Rochester when those two Twins made their inevitable returns. Truth is, the choices seemed pretty cut and dried, so I didn’t even pay much attention when the media started Tweeting out the news following the game.

There may have been some question about which relief pitcher would get his ticket punched to Rochester, but Chuck James was certainly no surprise.

I guess there was a little drama about which of the two current catchers, Drew Butera or Rene Rivera, would get the bad news, but it was obvious to everyone that one of them would be wearing Red Wing colors by the weekend.

Well… not everybody, apparently.

Seems Gardy and/or Bill Smith had other ideas. Both current catchers are still Twins, meaning the Twins start interleague play with three catchers on their roster. Which can only bring one possible reaction from me…

WTF?

Let me get this straight. Gardy has insisted that Mauer wouldn’t be activated until he could resume full catching duties, not just occasionally wandering behind home plate for a few innings. So, Mauer is back and he says he’s feeling strong.

Drew Butera, BOD!

But instead of keeping Brian Dinkelman… a guy who’s hit .286 with an OPS of .698 (granted, in limited use)… a guy who can play infield and outfield… the Twins are keeping TWO back up catchers?

And let’s make no mistake here… they aren’t keeping either of those guys around so he can DH. Rivera’s batting average is 100 points LOWER than Dinkelman’s. And he’s the BETTER hitter of the current catching tandem.

What’s the big deal? Well, if the Twins put their best line up out on the field in any given ballgame, those nine players would be: Mauer (C), Cuddyer (1B), Casilla (2B), Hughes (3B), Nishioka (SS), Young (OF), Revere (OF), Repko (OF), Valencia (DH).

Rene Rivera

That leaves a bench of Tosoni (.158), Tolbert (.193), and our two backup catchers, Rivera (.186) and Butera (.169).

It’s bad enough having those guys on the bench this weekend at home against the Padres, but on Tuesday, the Twins go on the road for six games AT National League ballparks, which means there will be no DH. I suppose that might be good news because Gardy would have, for example, Danny Valencia’s sweet .216 BA available off the bench. But it also means that pitchers occupy the ninth spot in the batting order. For those of you who don’t watch much NL baseball, that means more use of pinch hitters.

To put that in perspective, ladies and gentlemen, recent Twins Hall of Fame inductee, pitcher Jim Perry, pitched in the Big Leagues for 14 seasons before the DH rule was enacted by the AL. His career batting average was .199.

Yes, if things stay as they are, the Twins will take on the defending World Series Champion Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers with a stable of potential pinch hitters consisting of four guys who have lower batting averages than Jim Perry did in his career. Brian Dinkelman’s .286 is going to look pretty good at some point next week, I think.

So why would they keep Butera AND Rivera?

The answer is actually painfully obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention.

We’ve all known Butera has essentially been Carl Pavano’s “personal catcher” for a year or more now. And now, for the past month or more, Rivera has pretty much become the same for Francisco Liriano.

I think Gardy is keeping three catchers because he doesn’t want to upset his two prima donna starting pitchers.

If I were Danny Lehmann, down in Rochester right now, I’d be attaching myself to the hip of uber-prospect Kyle Gibson so I could ride his shirttails to Minnesota. Clearly, the trend with the Twins is toward allowing their starting pitchers to each have his own personal catcher. I just hope one of the pitchers decides he can tolerate pitching to Mauer.

I guess if there’s an upside to this philosophy, maybe it’s that we’ve finally found a way to convince Mauer to work on fielding another position. If he’s only going to catch one of the five starting pitchers, hopefully he’ll deign to allow himself to be utilized elsewhere when the other four catchers are caddying their assigned pitchers through their starts.

Still… I’m not wild about the trend.

- JC

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #”3″, 12:10

I like beating the White Sox… let’s do it AGAIN! oh yeah, and the big story for today is Nishi’s return to the lineup – playing SS & batting 3rd. This should be interesting.

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Pierre, LF Revere, CF
Ramirez, Al, SS Casilla, A, 2B
Quentin, RF Nishioka, SS
Konerko, 1B Cuddyer, RF
Pierzynski, C Young, D, DH
Rios, CF Hughes, L, 1B
Dunn, A, DH Valencia, 3B
Beckham, 2B Rivera, R, C
Morel, 3B Repko, LF
Buehrle, P Blackburn, P

 


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 1
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 1 4 2

Yes, I know it’s just a two game series but it’s still a SWEEP of the BitchSox!

Kinda says it all, doesn't it!?

I played hooky this afternoon to go home and watch the game and at the end of the game, I was the only person in GameChat. You would think that when there’s only one voter in Chat to cast a BOD vote it would be a pretty easy thing to determine. But not really.

It was nice to see Tsuyoshi Nishioka back on the field and the Sox certainly gave him plenty of fielding opportunities at shortstop. He had 8 assists and made a couple of additional very nice fielding plays where he wasn’t quite able to get the throw to 1B in time for the out. His arm is clearly not as strong as Lexi’s, but he looks comfortable over there. He did boot one ground ball that coulda/shoulda been a DP. Welcome back Nishi!

The Twins got the win today, but let’s not kid ourselves, this was not a really good game for the Twins, as a team. Four hits? Two errors? Mark Buehrle pretty much dominated this line-up… with one exception. Michael Cuddyer showed that he still owns Buehrle. He had two hits, including the one he launched in to the bullpens to lead off the second inning, accounting for the only run by either team in the game.

Nick Blackburn threw eight shutout innings without really breaking much of a sweat. He walked one, struck out one and spread 7 hits over the 8 innings. I admit I was queasy about bringing in Matt Capps to pitch the 9th inning, especially with Adam Dunn due up in the inning, but while Capps gave upa single to Dunn, he shut down everyone else to earn the save.

In the end, my right brain and left brain couldn’t agree on a BOD, so we’re going to have co-BODs today… Blackie and Cuddy.

Nick Blackburn

Michael Cuddyer

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