The Twins don’t have any good alternatives behind the plate if Joe Mauer gets hurt again. He played in only 82 games for the Twins last year and he was 85 for 296 (.287 avg, .729 OPS) with 38 runs scored, 3 homers and 30 RBIs. Mauer has now played in 918 games in his first 8 years with the Twins and he is 1,096 of 3,388 (.323 avg, .874 OPS) with 545 runs scored, 84 homers, 502 RBIs and 35 stolen bases. Mauer played in 52 games behind the plate for the Twins last year and he had 4 errors and 4 passed balls. He threw out 10 of 40 (25%) base stealers last year and Twins’ pitchers had a 4.43 ERA with him behind the plate. The Twins need Joe Mauer to catch at least 125 games in 2012 or they are in trouble.
28-year old righty swinging Drew Butera has a good throwing arm but that’s his only really asset as he can’t hit a lick. Butera played in 93 games for the Twins last year and he was 39 for 234 (.167 avg, .449 OPS) with 19 runs scored, 2 homers and 23 RBIs. He has now played in 142 games in his first two years with the Twins and he is 67 for 376 (.178 avg, .481 OPS) with 31 runs scored, 4 homers and 36 RBIs. Butera played in 93 games behind the plate for the Twins last year and he had 5 errors and 7 passed balls. He threw out 20 of 70 (28.6%) base stealers last year and Twins’ pitchers had a 4.87 ERA with him behind the dish. Butera is going to have to beat out J.R. Towles and Rene Rivera this spring if he wants to remain the Twins’ backup catcher in 2012.
27-year old righty swinging J.R. Towles didn’t hit much better than Butera did last year. He played in 54 games for the Astros last year and he was 27 for 147 (.184 avg, .549 OPS) with 11 runs scored, 3 homers and 11 RBIs. Towles has played in 155 games in his first five years in the majors and he is 80 for 428 (.187 avg, .583 OPS) with 40 runs scored, 11 homers and 50 RBIs. Towles played in 51 games behind the plate for the Astros last year and he had 6 errors and 2 passed balls. Towles only threw out 6 of 46 (13.0%) base stealers and Astros’ pitchers had a 4.87 ERA with him behind the dish. Towles is going to need a big spring to win a job on the Twins’ roster when the 2012 season begins.
28-year old righty swinging Rene Rivera is a big time longshot to win the backup job to Joe Mauer this spring. Rivera played in 45 games for the Twins last year and he was 15 for 104 (.144 avg, .412 OPS) with 9 runs scored, 1 homer and 5 RBIs. He has now played in 98 games in his first four years in the majors and he is 49 for 254 (.193 avg, .514 OPS) with 20 runs scored, 4 homers, 15 RBIs and 1 stolen base. He is likely going to start the 2012 season in AAA-ball for the Twins.
30-year old righty swinging Ryan Doumit is going to be the Twins’ full-time DH in 2012, so they don’t want him catching if at all possible. Doumit played in 60 games behind the plate for the Pirates last year and he had 6 errors and 4 passed balls. Doumit threw out 11 of 54 (20.4%) base stealers and Pirates’ pitchers had a 4.78 ERA with him behind the dish.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE CATCHERS IN 2012: B