Seth Stohs

Seth Stohs is a product planner for Marvin Windows & Doors by day, and a Minnesota Twins blogger by night. His Twins blog, located at SethSpeaks.net, discusses all topics Twins-related, with an emphasis on the Twins minor league system. Read more Seth Stohs.

Tough guy mentality

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: November 15, 2010 - 3:23 AM

Playing Monday Morning Quarterback is fun in football (literally usually on Mondays) and baseball (any time a manager or GM makes a decisions). We all have thoughts on what could have or should have been done from play calls, to personnel decisions. Everyone has an opinion on what Vikings owner Zygi Wilf should do about the employment status of Brad Childress. Some question decision making of coordinators, quarterbacks and other players. Tom Brady is made out to be a great leader because he took his offense to task last night, yelling and carrying on at the team excessively. If Randy Moss or Terrell Owens or Chad Henne or Adrian Peterson were to do that, they would not get the same level of respect.

I always think it is a very slippery slope when people start to question a player’s effort level or their heart. We don’t know. Some players are more animated than others. Some players just look cooler than others. Some players wear their emotions on their sleeves. But for those of us sitting on our couches, eating chips and dip, chicken wings and downing beverages of some variety, who are we to judge?
 
And the Tough-Guy fans now have places like blogs, Facebook and even Twitter. It just amazes me what some Vikings “fans” felt comfortable and found it necessary to tell Bernard Berrian on Twitter after he came out of yesterday’s game with an injury. Here is a sampling:
 
·         Sorry, it's not your fault coach cut the best receiver on team, but in few yrs youll look back at yer career & regret sitting 2day
·         how about staying healthy I don't question your effort but you haven't been much of a factor last 2 years
·         I think I can speak for most Vikings Fans when we say we will not miss you next year...way to tough it out
·         Someone who is sick of you stealing Zygi's $...Top 10 WR $ for maybe top 100 WR production, nice gig you got
·         Wow you really are mentally weak...can't take a little criticism. Why don't you tell us what was so funny on sidelines at the end
 
Berrian took the time to respond to each of these and many more via Twitter. I imagine there were many others that he did not respond to. Berrian types, “4 the record don't ever question my heart or toughness. Played plenty games injured. U just don't hear bout it. N warmup had nothin 2 do w/it.

It’s not just Berrian. There are people out there questioning Sidney Rice’s decision not to play in Week 10. Come on! He had hip surgery in August. Yes, he has been practicing with the team, but that doesn’t make him game ready. Some thought he was being selfish for deciding not to play. Others say that he was looking out for himself and not the team or his teammates. Have we not seen enough video or stories of former NFL players that can’t play with their kids because they can hardly walk? How many times do we need to see Earl Campbell try to walk to realize that long-term health should be considered much more often than it is in the NFL.
 
Side Note – Of course, many of the same people who have criticized Sidney Rice for not coming back this week are the same people that were calling Brett Favre selfish for playing a few weeks ago to keep his consecutive games streak intact.
 
There are fans that bashed Percy Harvin a year ago for not playing with migraines. “It’s just a headache” is a phrase I heard way too often last year. I have heard that phrase way too many times as it relates to the Twins Justin Morneau too. It’s just a concussion. Toughen up and play. To those people, as Corey Koskie how well that works.
 
The NFL is trying to curb the big, dangerous hits, and it says it’s trying to minimize the serious injuries. They are all good things. But the NFL coaches and coaching staffs and media and fans often have this “Football is all that matters” mentality. “Team” above all else. Don’t be selfish. Don’t think about yourself.
I hope you will never hear me tout such things. I’ve always been a football fan. I played in high school and followed college football back in the day too. But I guess maybe I’m not a ‘true’ football fan if I don’t believe in the ‘at all costs’ attitude. Geez, listening to high school coaches giving pep talks and looking around at people taking it all in as fact is scary. Football Coach talk is almost too much to take. So yeah, maybe I am soft. Maybe I’m just not as big of a fan as others. However, I will always back the individual player’s right to be safe and comfortable.
 
More important, I have no problem with a person looking out for their long-term future. I have no problem with NFL players trying to play for money. Their contracts are not guaranteed. They need to make money while they can. That doesn’t make them less of a team player. When they’re on the field with the team, it doesn’t mean that they’re only thinking dollar values and such. They can still be ready to play, emotional and excited to contribute without it being their entire life.
 
I also respect the player’s rights to make money. Why? It is their job!! I know nobody wants to realize that. Nobody wants the players to look at playing the game (football, baseball, basketball, etc.) as anything more than a game. No. It is their job. It is their source of income. It is their 401K. It is their health insurance. Yes, they are well compensated, and yet their window or earning potential is quite short.
 
So don’t tell me that Sidney Rice is a horrible teammate because he is going to give his surgically-repaired hip another week to recover. Don’t tell me that the only reason he did not play in Week 10 was because of his contract status. Don’t tell me that Justin Morneau should just toughen up and played in August.  Don’t tell me that Joe Mauer is soft because he only DHs in day game after night games, and occasionally gets a full day off when he isn’t catching. Don’t say things to me like, “Michael Cuddyer should have only missed three games instead of four games when his wife’s dad died.”
 
I know, those of us baseball fans would pay to play in the big leagues, or we would sign with a team for peanuts or sunflower seeds because we love the game so much. My guess is 99% of professional athletes love the sport they are playing and give their best. And we don’t know who that other 1% is, so claiming that someone quits, or doesn’t care, or didn’t try, my opinion is that it just is not fair or true. Unfortunately the Vikings struggles in this Vikings State make for some really ugly discussions, really ugly things said. Several of the Vikings players, including Berrian, Bryant McKinnie, Greg Lewis, Adrian Peterson and more, are on Twitter and take the time to respond to their fans. I’m impressed that Berrian took the comments and showed good restraint in his responses.
 
I know there are a lot of fans who really get attached to each game and can't get past losses. They say their fandom is love and passion and that they want to see a championship, a Super Bowl or World Series title. People may think I am a lesser fan because I was over the Twins playoff loss to the Yankees within 24 hours, while some still have not moved on. There are literally Vikings fans that will not be themselves for a couple of days. I want the Twins to win a World Series. I would love to see that again. I would love to see the Vikings get to and eventually win a Super Bowl. But if they don't, it does not affect my fandom in the least.
 
Maybe I am soft. Maybe I’m not diehard enough for some fans. That’s fine. Team is very important, and teams win and lose together. Teamwork is important. I would argue that family and long-term health are much more important. Maybe I’m wrong?

Looking Ahead: 40 Man Roster Options

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: August 4, 2010 - 11:52 PM

On Wednesday night, the Twins picked up a big, much needed win against the best team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays. After two two-run losses to the Rays, the Twins played a tight, 13 inning matchup. The game was full of second-guessing opportunities, clutch moments generally won by pitchers, good and bad defense and a lot of excitement. A stroll through the Star Tribune's articles and blogs and other Twins blogs will give you a lot of thoughts on the good and the bad from the game.

So, I thought that this would be a good place to write about something completely different. This is a part of the game that not everyone really understands and yet, every offseason, it is one of the big events. The Rule 5 draft takes place during baseball's Winter Meetings in December. We know that the Twins have used the Rule 5 draft to acquire Johan Santana and Shane Mack in the future, so it can be very important. But during the season, the 40 man roster is important because a player can't be added to the 25 man roster without being added ot the 40 man roster. That means someone must be put on the 60 Day Disabled List or another player has to be removed from the 40 man roster and potentially lost).

Who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft? Players who are not on the 40 man roster who were either signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years, or were signed at the age of 18 or younger and been in the organization for five years. To try to make that manageable, here are the rules for who would need to be added after this season or could be selected. Players drafted out of high school in 2006 are eligible if they signed to play in 2006. College players drafted in 2007 who signed to play in 2007. It can be a little more complex with international signings, but it still goes back to the age at which they signed and played for their first contract.

So who are the players in the minor league system who would have to be added to the 40 man roster or potentially be lost to another team in the Rule 5 draft?

Here are the names of the players who would be eligible for the first time (As you read this list, there are a lot of names that you'll read and know they will not be added):

Joe Benson, James Beresford, David Bromberg, Eliecer Cardenas, Chris Cates, Jair Fernandez, Jonathan Goncalves, Anderson Hidalgo, Steve Hirschfeld, Edgar Ibarra, Danny Lehmann, Michael McCardell, Jean Mijares, Miguel Munoz, Jair Perez, Josmil Pinto, Chris Province, Tyler Robertson, Yangervis Solarte, Spencer Steedley, Alexander Soto, Michael Tarsi, Brad Tippett, Rene Tosoni.

There were also several names of players who were exposed to the Rule 5 draft at least one previous year. Those include:

Brian Dinkelman, Juan Portes, Steve Singleton, and several others including guys like Brock Peterson, Jose Lugo, Matt Fox and Matt Macri who will be six year minor league free agents after the World Series, if not added right away.

So, who will the Twins add to the 40 man roster after the season?

Let's start with the easy choices. In my opinion, these guys will absolutely be added to the 40 man roster following the season: Joe Benson, David Bromberg, Chris Parmelee, Rene Tosoni and Kyle Waldrop. That is five easy choices.

These guys have to be at least considered: James Beresford, Jair Fernandez, Anderson Hidalgo,  Edgar Ibarra, Miguel Munoz, Tyler Robertson, and Steve Singleton. The biggest question that has to be asked is "Would this player be lost, and would he be able to stay on a big league roster for all of 2011?"

So, how many can be added? Well, currently the Twins have 42 players on their 40 man roster because Joe Nathan and Clay Condrey are on the 60 Day Disabled List. Condrey will not be back. The Twins have seven guys who will be free agents at the end of the year so they will likely not be on the 40 man roster at the time of the Rule 5 draft (Jim Thome, Carl Pavano, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Ron Mahay and Orlando Hudson). Of course, the Twins will also have to decide if they want to offer arbitration to JJ Hardy. They will need to determine if they want to pick up Nick Punto's 2011 option. And if they feel they need to, guys like Matt Tolbert, Loek Van MIl and Estarlin de Los Santos can be removed from the 40 man roster.

So there could easily be seven to ten open roster spots for additions, free agent signings and trades.

No, these decisions don't need to be made today. In fact, they don't have to be made until after the World Series. But now you know the background and can start thinking about what you would do if you were the Twins GM.

What would you do? Who would you protect?

Organizational Review - Twins Pitchers

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: June 14, 2010 - 11:59 PM

 

Yesterday we looked at the hitters in the Twins minor league system. Today, we will review the pitchers that are working their way up the ranks. Impressively, the Twins have used just six starters this season. That is unusual as in most cases a Major League team will get starts from ten or more pitchers. And now the team typically employs seven bullpen arms at any given time. Factor in injuries and that is why the cliché “you can never have enough pitching” became a cliché.
 
Below, you will see the pitchers in the Twins farm system. Be sure to note all of the names in parentheses are currently on the Disabled List. So today, I am going to look at the pitchers, breaking apart the starters and the relievers (Again, this does not include players at Extended Spring Training, although it is important to remember that several pitchers (Blayne Weller? Martire Garcia? Tyler Herr? Hein Robb?) could certainly potentially be good), and discuss the needs. So please be sure to check this out and offer any of your thoughts.
 
STARTING PITCHERS

Twins
Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano,
Rochester
Jeff Manship, Glen Perkins, Ryan Mullins, Matt Fox, Anthony Swarzak, (Charlie Zink, Mike Maroth)
New Britain
Kyle Gibson, Carlos Gutierrez, Deolis Guerra, Mike McCardell, David Bromberg, Tyler Robertson
Ft. Myers
Liam Hendriks, Dan Osterbrock, Shooter Hunt, Michael Tarsi, Adrian Salcedo (Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh, Brad Tippett)
Beloit
Miguel Munoz, Michael Tonkin, BJ Hermsen, Brad Stillings, Edgar Ibarra (Tom Stuifbergen)

 
I realize it’s only mid-June, but it is actually quite remarkable that the Twins have had just six pitchers make starts for them this year. Jeff Manship made a spot start, and that is it. Manship, Anthony Swarzak and the suddenly-good-again Glen Perkins are all options for big league call ups if or when needed. There are some very good pitching prospects (Bromberg, Gutierrez) with New Britain, but the best is Kyle Gibson, the 2009 top pick. But Guerra has been impressive and gained control. Bromberg and Robertson both have high upsides. And Gutierrez will likely eventually move to the bullpen, but has pitched well. Liam Hendriks has moved fast up the prospect lists. Shooter Hunt has been a work-in-progress, but greatly improved. Bobby Lanigan, Bruce Pugh and Tom Stuifbergen all are good pitchers who performed in April, but all three were hurt and missed May. Because of that, some pitchers, including Adrian Salcedo, BJ Hermsen and Michael Tonkin have had to be pushed beyond where they likely should be. The Twins drafted 21 pitchers (12 RHP, 9 LHP) in last week’s draft, and six more from the junior college ranks. Obviously the most notable name is that of Alex Wimmers, a control pitcher with an excellent changeup who could move quickly up the system. Pat Dean, the team’s third round pick could also advance quickly. They drafted just three high school pitchers. Hopefully they can find a way to sign 14th round pick DeAndre Smelter who has a scholarship to Georgia Tech.
 
RELIEF PITCHERS

Twins
Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Duensing, Ron Mahay, Alex Burnett, (Joe Nathan),
Rochester
Anthony Slama, Kyle Waldrop, Jose Lugo, Tim Lahey, Rob Delaney, Pat Neshek, Brad Hennessey,
New Britain
Chris Province, Cole DeVries, Santos Arias, Matt Williams, Loek Van Mil, Michael Allen (Spencer Steedley, Steve Hirschfeld)
Ft. Myers
Billy Bullock, Joe Testa, Steve Blevins, Blake Martin, Tony Davis, Andrei Lobanov, Jose Gonzalez
Beloit
Kane Holbrooks, Dakota Watts, Matt Tone, Jhon Garcia, Eliecer Cardenas, Peter Kennelly, (Ben Tootle, Matt Bashore)

 
The Twins learned how important a strong eighth inning guy can be in 2008 when Pat Neshek was injured. When Joe Nathan was hurt and needed Tommy John surgery this spring, there was a lot of concern. So far, Jon Rauch has been willing to bend, but has done a nice job as the Twins closer. Matt Guerrier has been good again, and Brian Duensing has been shockingly excellent in his role. Many of us thought that Alex Burnett was the best RP prospect in the organization, but I don’t think we realized just how ready he was. Meanwhile, Anthony Slama continues to toil at Rochester. Pat Neshek is back at Rochester looking to work his way back to the Twins. Kyle Waldrop, 1st rounder from 2004, has been the best story of the season, and he is the one reliever most ready for a big league promotion. Billy Bullock and Andrei Lobanov are very good bullpen prospects. Kane Holbrooks has been very impressive as the closer in Beloit. Injuries have really hurt the Twins minor league pitchers this year which made the drafting of several college pitchers make a lot of sense.
  
SUMMARY
After the Twins drafted Alex Wimmers, a common statement was that the Twins drafted another guy that fits the typical Twins mold. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has good control of multiple pitches. He profiles similarly to Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Kyle Gibson. That is not a bad thing at all. Many fans want the Twins to acquire an Ace. Francisco Liriano has again shown signs that he can become an ace again. But are there other such prospects in the system? I would argue that Adrian Salcedo is probably the best example of a prospect with potential to be an ace, but he’s just 19. A sleeper from this past offseason who got off to a terrific start before an injury is Bruce Pugh. Outside of that, there are a lot of good pitching prospects, no doubt. The Twins have several good bullpen arms as well in the system. We hear all the time about Anthony Slama and wonder why he is not yet in the big leagues (see walks), but Kyle Waldrop is the one who is most deserving of a promotion. The biggest question will be if and when Carlos Gutierrez will be moved back to the bullpen.
 
The Twins system has several very good pitching prospects. Which are your favorite? Which do you think will be able to help the Twins the most? Leave your comments below.
 
Here are some more TwinsCentric notes for today:
·         John will be on KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show starting about 7:20.
·         Seth was a guest on the Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast last night. Because there will not be a Twins Minor League Weekly tonight, we had an extended show last night. The podcast went just over 1 hour and 45 minutes. The first half was discussion on many Twins topics. In the second half, they talked about many topics around the Twins minor league system.
·         Another reminder, join the TwinsCentric bloggers at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park on Saturday (June 19th) at 3:00 to watch the Twins and Phillies. Win prizes from Park Tavern and more, including Twins tickets.
·         Following the success of the Thome is my Homey t-shirts, Parker and DiamondCentric now have two new Twins t-shirts available. Be sure to order your Punto plays Dirty shirt, or a Cuddy is my Buddy shirt today!

Twins Minor League Notebook

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: April 27, 2010 - 7:29 AM

Today, you get another installment of my Twins minor league notebook. It is a look around the Twins minor league system, a look at who is doing well, who is struggling and some interesting stories. Hopefully you enjoy and please feel free to comment or suggest other stories of note.

Quick Turn Around
 
The beauty of looking at April season statistics is that they essentially mean nothing. It is amazing to me how quickly the outlook on any player can change. Here are two examples:
 
·         Aaron Hicks – His season started off really non-well. The clear choice for the Twins top prospect started the season by going 1-31 (.032). In his 32nd at bat, he hit a home run. In his past seven games (plus final three at bats of the game he homered), he has gone 16-29 (.552) with six walks, two doubles and two home runs. He is now hitting .283 and getting on base about 45% of the time.
·         Danny Valencia – After an 0-3 game on Friday, Valencia was hitting just .152 (7-46). In the three games since then, he has eight hits in just 15 at bats including three doubles. He is now hitting .246. He raised his batting average nearly .100 in three games.
 
So again, it’s always great to get off to a fast start. Imagine if Hicks would have started the season by going 16-29. We would have been clamoring for him to be promoted to Ft. Myers. If he had gone on the 1-31 slump at that point, there would not have been much reaction. I think these two players and their numbers illustrate just how careful we have to be with making observations too early in a season.
 
Much Respect for the ‘Stache
 
When Anthony Slama recorded the final out of the Red Wings 9-6 win over Syracuse on Monday afternoon, it was more than just his fifth save. Maybe it was his chance to win a contest. In spring training when Nationals 24 year old pitching prospect Collin Balester showed up to spring training with a mustache, it became a story. In this Big League Stew article from March, we learned that Anthony Slama had lost a bet to Balester on which could keep a mustache the longest. (The two have known each other since long before Balester was the 4th round pick of the Montreal Expos in 2004) Slama shaved his mustache before Twins Fest.
 
The Twins relief pitching prospect told me last night that he didn’t think he should show up to his first big league camp with a mustache. Think about it for a minute, how many mustaches are active in Major League Baseball today? On Monday afternoon, Balester was the starting and losing pitcher for the Syracuse team while Slama recorded the save for the Red Wings. Maybe that’s more important than a silly old bet about a mustache. But have no fear, the mustache is still alive and well. Click here for a great look at it. Slama also told me, “they are making a comeback and we are paving the way.”
 
Injury Updates
 
  • Those of you that read minor league box scores on a daily basis like me know that Minnesotan, former Gopher and Twins 2009 fourth round pick Derek McCallum has not played since April 16th. He has a wrist injury and on Monday, he was finally put on the Disabled List of the Beloit Snappers.
  • Last week, I mentioned that Miracle shortstop Paul Kelly was back and hitting well, but that he had not played in almost a week with an ankle injury. He returned to the lineup on April 19th, played two games and then tweaked the ankle again, so he will be out a few more games.
  • Brandon Roberts came to the Twins organization in June of 2006. The Twins promoted Jason Bartlett and likely in an attempt to force Ron Gardenhire to play Bartlett over veteran glove man, Juan Castro, the Twins sent Castro to the Reds in exchange for the speedy outfielder. Roberts was great in 2006 in Ft. Myers. He moved up to AA New Britain in 2007 and showed some promise hitting .293 in 110 games. In 2008, he was limited to just 28 AA games before injury. His 2009 season also began late, but he ended up hitting .287 in 103 games with the Rockcats. He even added 21 stolen bases. Still just 25, Roberts began the 2010 campaign on the Rochester disabled list. He was sent to Ft. Myers to rehab with the Miracle. In his second game, he re-aggravated a groin injury and will be out a little longer.
  • 7’1” Loek Van Mil is still in Ft. Myers on a rehab program and doing well. He is hoping for a mid-May return to games.
Turned the Corner?
 
When Deolis Guerra was acquired by the Twins, there were a lot of expectations placed upon the 18 year old pitcher. When most 18 year old pitchers in the Twins farm system were preparing themselves in the Gulf Coast League, Guerra had already spent time in the Florida State League. That is where the Twins sent him again in 2008, and it didn’t go well. He went 11-9 but posted a 5.47 ERA. Most discouraging, he walked 71 and struck out 71 in 130 innings. For 2009, his 20 year old season, Guerra split time between Ft. Myers and New Britain. He showed improvement. In 149 innings, he struck out 106 while reducing his walks to just 42. His changeup was touted the best in the organization. Guerra just turned 21 years old ten days ago, and he is back in AA New Britain continuing his development. It is just three starts and 18 innings into his 2010 season, but maybe he has turned a corner. In those 18 innings, he has 12 strikeouts, but more important, he has NO walks. Guerra is in his first option year with the Twins meaning that he does not have to stay with the big league club until the 2013 season. I would expect to see him much sooner than that.
 
Six out of Seven Ain’t Bad
 
Wang-Wei Lin is from Asia. Max Kepler and Loek Van Mil are from Europe. Jair Fernandez is from South America. The Twins have a bunch of players from Australia including the recently promoted Luke Hughes, and even more from North America (which makes sense).
 
Hein Robb is the team’s representative from the African continent. Hein Robb? Ask even some of the most ardent followers of the Twins minor league system, and many of them have likely not heard of Hein Robb. The left-handed pitcher will most likely be making his United States debut this summer. He is currently working out in Extended Spring Training and will likely pitch for the GCL Twins. Robb has been a representative of South Africa in the most recent international competitions, the World Cup last fall and the World Baseball Classic last spring training. He will turn 18 years old in May, so he is very young and has a ton of development to do if he will ever approach pitching for the Twins, but he is certainly a name to be watching. The Twins are known for being a player around the globe. As noted, they have signed players from six different continents, and unless they plan on signing a polar bear (something I guess I don’t envision happening), they likely won’t be signing anyone from Antarctica in the near future.
 
Please feel free to leave your comments on the Twins farm system below.

Backup plan?

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: March 16, 2010 - 7:02 AM

 

When news came out before Twins Fest that Jose Morales would need surgery on his wrist and miss most of spring training, people started to talk about the backup catcher role, and who would fill it. Mike Redmond was let go and signed with Cleveland. With no report of Morales being available any time soon, the question remains: Who will be Joe Mauer’s backup on Opening Day?
Will it be Drew Butera? The 26 year old backstop was acquired from the New York Mets in the 2007 trade of Luis Castillo. He is definitely known for his defense. He is said to have a strong, accurate arm. He has good footwork and mechanics behind the plate. Pitchers enjoy pitching to him and he does a good job of quickly understanding how to work opposing hitters. However, he did lead the International League in 2009 in passed balls. He better be good defensively because he simply is not going to hit at all. In over 1,600 plate appearances in his four-plus minor league seasons, he has hit a combined .214/.295/.317 with 100 extra base hits. Last year in Rochester, he hit just .211/.268/.292 (a solid .560 OPS… Ouch!!). As you know, Butera is the son of former Twins catcher Sal Butera, who caught for the team from 1980 to 1982, and then again for 51 games in 1987 (and hit .171/217/.243). Most believe that Drew Butera’s defense will allow him to spend many years in professional baseball, likely hovering between AAA and the big leagues as a backup.
 Or will it be Wilson Ramos? The 22 year old Venezuelan burst on the scene in 2007. Scheduled to go to short-season Elizabethton, Ramos was needed in Beloit. He came up and hit .291 with 17 doubles and eight homers in 73 games before an injury ended his season. He moved up to Ft. Myers in 2008 where he hit .288/.346/.434 with 23 doubles and 13 home runs in 126 games. Last year, he moved up to AA New Britain where he played in just 54 games due to two injuries. First, he took a foul tip and broke the tip of his right middle finger. When he came back, he pulled his hamstring and missed more time. However, in those 54 games played, he hit .317/.341.454 with 20 extra base hits. He went home to Venezuela for Winter League ball and was recently named by Baseball America as the Winter Player of the Year. Ramos hit .332/.397/.582 with 49 RBI. Simply put, Wilson Ramos can hit. He is a highly touted prospect, a top three prospect for the Twins each of the past four years. But he is more than just a strong hitter. When he wants to, Ramos can be a very good catcher defensively as well. He has a canon for an arm, and improved footwork has helped his accuracy. He can be very good at blocking balls in the dirt. His game-calling has greatly improved with more games played.
Drew Butera or Wilson Ramos?
If the question was – “Which Player will be a better Major League player? “ – then the answer is simple. Ramos.
But in this scenario, the question is, “Which player should be Joe Mauer’s backup to start the 2010 season if Jose Morales is unable to go.
The Case for Wilson Ramos
He is a better hitter. He is solid on Defense. His upside is much higher. In fact, he is probably a much better player than Jose Morales already, as well.
The Case for Drew Butera
He is a much better catcher all-around defensively. At his age, he is what he is, a backup catcher.
The Case Against Drew Butera
He isn’t as good as Ramos offensively. In fact, it isn’t particularly close.
The Case Against Wilson Ramos
This is what it really comes down to, doesn’t it? It’s pretty clear that Ramos is the better overall player, and that on the days that he plays, he gives the Twins a better chance of winning (arguably) than Drew Butera does. So, why shouldn’t Wilson Ramos be the opening day backup catcher? There are a few theories.
#1 – Ramos is too good and too young to be sitting on the bench. He is just 22 years old, and with his upside, you want him playing as much as possible. The more plate appearances he can get, the better. The more innings he can catch, the better.
#2 – Ramos’s arbitration clock starts. This argument isn’t terrible important, in my opinion. If he is up with the Twins for two to four weeks, his service time starts. But when Morales comes back, Ramos can go back to AAA and the service time shuts off again.
The arbitration clock (#2) isn’t a great argument unless you put it in conjunction with his age, talent and potential. As Joe Mauer’s backup, Ramos would likely catch one game a week during his service time and sit on the bench the rest of the time, possibly pinch hitting once as well. If you’re going to use his service time, it doesn’t make sense to waste it with him on the bench.
That is why I am completely on board with Drew Butera being the Twins backup catcher on opening day, until Jose Morales comes back. Wilson Ramos can play most every day in AAA Rochester and keep progressing.
Now, if Joe Mauer were to get hurt (something that happens from time to time with most catchers which is why giving a lot of years and a lot of dollars to a catcher is somewhat silly!) for an extended period of time, I wouldn’t hesitate to call up Ramos and insert him as the team’s starting catcher.
Here are some other blogs that you may want to check out:
·         Nick Nelson analyzes the Twins shortstops.
·         Check out the YouTube video by Rays Outfielder Fernando Perez about making minimum wage. There is a Denard Span reference. Perez is a graduate of Columbia University.
·         Seth was on last night’s episode of the Travis Talks Minnesota Sports podcast. Twins discussion for most of the show.
·         Finally, Topper from Curve for a Strike wrote an awesome letter to Joe Mauer. It’s worth the read!

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