The Twins have four catchers on the 40-man roster and all four are on the “active” roster.
During the off-season, Kurt Suzuki was signed as a free agent to strengthen the position after Joe Mauer was moved to first base. As of now, Suzuki appears to be the starting catcher.
That leaves Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann and Eric Fryer to compete for the backup position.
Pinto is almost certainly being groomed to be the starter of the future, but he needs some more seasoning defensively especially. My prediction is he will start the season in Rochester where he can play more regularly and gain the experience he needs in calling games, etc. His bat is promising and if he develops quickly, he could be on the major league club by May or June, depending on how well Suzuki responds to being the number one catcher again.
If I am right about Pinto, Herrmann and Fryer will battle it out for backing up Suzuki. Neither one has what it takes to be a starter on a regular basis, but both are adequate for spot duty. Fryer appears to be the better defensively and that may give him the edge for opening day, but Herrmann is more versatile in that he can play in the outfield. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the favorite this spring.
The game tonight (July 4) marks the midway point (game 81) in the season for the Twins. It also is the third game of the four-game series in Detroit to be followed by a three-game series in Texas to wind up the traditional first half of the season before the all-star break.
The Twins’ record is not good enough to realistically expect them to contend for the division title this year, but they remain close enough to the top (8 games back) to not rule them out completely. For many of the Twins fans who have consoled themselves by looking forward to a pre-trade deadline selling spree, this position is the worst one could hope for. Not close enough (not to mention too weak a rotation) to have real hope for a miracle finish, and not far enough out to trigger the full rebuild most of us believe is going to be necessary for the Twins to be competitive in the future.
Right now, 2013 looks like a bleak year mostly because the starting rotation is a disaster with little on the horizon in the upper minors to make one feel like there are reasonable options. We will know more in the next three to four weeks which direction the Twins are going to go the rest of this year. Most likely, it will be during the off-season that Terry Ryan gets serious about fixing the rotation for next year. That is of course assuming that Ryan remains the GM. All bets are off on that if the Twins collapse the way they did last year.
Just for the fun of it, I’m going to look ahead – beyond next year – and see what 2014 might look like, based on the players currently in the Twins organization who are either under contract extending through 2014 or likely to still be with the Twins. Where I see no close to worthy alternatives, I’ve indicated the need for acquisition via trade or free agency to fill the hole.
C Joe Mauer, Chris Hermann
1B Chris Parmelee
2B Brian Dozier
SS Pedro Florimon
3B Trevor Plouffe
LF Josh Willingham
CF Ben Revere
RF Oswaldo Arcia
DH Ryan Doumit
Bench: Alexi Casilla, Darin Mastroianni, utility player
Starters: Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, (Liam Hendriks), two or three via trade or free agency
Relievers: Glen Perkins (CL), Jared Burton, Alex Burnett, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Lester Oliveros, several internal options (Tyler Robertson, Kyle Waldrop, Deolis Guerra, Anthony Slama, Esmerling Vasquez, Jeff Manship, Matt Maloney)