It's hard to pinpoint where this season went wrong because it went wrong at virtually every position. Catcher is no exception. What a dumpster fire 2011 was; is there any hope for 2012 and beyond?
I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Mauer held a press conference tomorrow and announced he has some terrible debilitating disease. Can adults get rickets? A cloud of mystery surrounded him all season. He was constantly sick or injured and when he was playing he was a shell of his former self. In recent (steroid years) history, this has been the prime for many players. However, these days (non-roid) we're starting to see players crap out in their early 30s. At the start of the 2012 season Mauer will be 29 years old and in the second year of his 8-year, $184 million dollar contract. So he has plenty of Magic Johnson-cure-disease-money.
|You can beat this, Joe.|
As of this article Mauer had 85 hits in 82 games; 67 of which were singles. For his first time since his rookie year, he struck out (11.4%) more than he walked (9.6%). Mauer posted a 287/360/368 triple slash line. (AVG/OBP/SLG). The scariest part of Mauer is that he only played 52 games at the catcher position which meant we were subjected to a lot of Drew Butera, who is a historically awful hitter. Twenty (20!) pitchers hit higher than Drew's .163 batting average in 2011. (min 40 PAs) Drew is average to good defensively and homers like Twins announcer Dick Bremer love to hang their hat on that. Get this though: in 2011, Butera was a whopping -23 runs below a replacement level player as a hitter. With consideration for his position and defense, he's still a net -8.6 runs below replacement level. Brutal. Rene Rivera has also been seen at the position and carries a lot of the same issues that Butera does.
The catcher position is up in the air for 2012. Can we expect Mauer to even play half of the time at catcher? Mauer tried some right field and first base in 2011, but he can't slug .368 in power hitting positions like these. Especially on a team that's lacking for power to begin with. Butera and Rivera can't and shouldn't be starting in the major leagues and probably shouldn't even be backups. There are no other options in the minor leagues. Daniel Rams has power but is only in A-ball and might not even end up a catcher when all is said and done.
The Twins need a trade or a free agent catcher additions for next season. There is a Pu Pu platter of catching garbage available; all of which are better options than Butera/Rivera. Such luminaries as Josh Bard, Rod Barajas, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder (both have options), Gerald Laird and Dioner Navarro are available. Heck, maybe get two of them depending on the cost.
|Only the Pu Pu can save us now.|
More positions to come, rapid-fire style!
See: First Base