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Twins’ lack of catching depth makes replacing Joe Mauer even tougher

Apr 15, 2011, 10:15 AM EDT

Joe Mauer

Minnesota has had to replace Joe Mauer for extended stretches before, but unfortunately by trading both Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales the Twins are exceptionally short on catching depth this time around.

Drew Butera will take over as the primary catcher and the Twins have called up minor-league veteran Steve Holm from Rochester to serve as his backup.

Butera is very strong defensively and Holm had a couple brief stints in the majors with the Giants in addition to 11 seasons in the minors, but there isn’t a worse catching duo in the big leagues and asking them to replace the best catcher in baseball represents just about the largest possible dropoff.

Butera has hit .194/.230/.284 in the majors after batting .214/.296/.317 in the minors, making him perhaps MLB’s worst hitter, and Holm has hit just .249/.330/.380 in 170 games at Triple-A. Even if they collectively perform relatively well the Butera-Holm combo is likely at least 60 runs worse offensively per season than Mauer.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Yankees could send them a catcher for Liriano…

  2. trevorb06 - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    They should try to trade for Bryan Anderson of the Cardinals. He’s an MLB ready catch who’s been sitting in the minors because of the catching ‘depth’ the Cards have. He’d probably hold the starting gig well until Mauer’s return.

  3. Joe - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    I used to watch Butera play for the AA New Britain Rock Cats when they would swing through Portland, and I never once suspected he would be in the big leagues one day.

    • visnovsky - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM

      And he shouldn’t be.

  4. ThatGuy - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    There had to be a Molina out there somewhere right? Those guys grow on trees…

  5. cur68 - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Hey, don’t forget, there’s a spare Molina out there. He could out hit those guys with a beer in one hand and out catch them with his eyes closed. Maybe if I walked on, claiming to be a bastard Molina 4th brother? I mean I’d have to stick a pillow up my shirt and run a whole lot slower but I bet I could at least be as good as those dudes.

  6. browns1968 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I knew they over paid this guy ..he stays hurt …

  7. Reflex - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I’ve never felt that Mauer is the best catcher in baseball. He’s the best catcher for given stretches of time. But he is hurt a lot, and the power he showed two seasons ago was a mirage. He’s a very good catcher, future DH, and has truly MVP caliber stretches. But he just dosen’t play enough.

    In my opinion, Brian McCann is the best catcher in the game and has been for several years now. Hits for power, average, plays decent defense, and is durable. No, his peaks aren’t quite as high as Mauer’s, but he’s actually there every day, all season.

    • Aaron Gleeman - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM

      Since 2005, when McCann debuted:

      Mauer – 810
      McCann – 767

      Plate Appearances:
      Mauer – 3,944
      McCann – 2,988

      Mauer – .883
      McCann – .849

      Caught Stealing %:
      Mauer – 34%
      McCann – 24%

      Wins Above Replacement:
      Mauer – 37.2
      McCann – 18.1

      McCann is a really, really good player. He’s just not as good as Mauer.

      • Reflex - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:55 PM

        I guess thats one of those cases where perception trumped reality. It always *seems* like Mauer is hurt, thus the perception is that McCann is on the field more often. Apparantly not.

      • diego2thebay - Apr 15, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Objection! Leading!

        That’s completely unfair. First, 2005 was McCann’s first year at 21 years old. Start in 2006, when he wasn’t splitting time with Johnny Estrada

        Then do the right thing and go by games played at catcher. You recall Mauer DHs A LOT. That gives you this breakdown:

        McCann – 727
        Mauer – 696

        And that is INCLUDED the 50 extra games Mauer got in 2005 while McCann played behind Estrada.

        And, McCann kills him in HRs, has fewer GDPs, and is within 9 TB. The fewer GDP & way more HBP gives him a TB+ higher than Mauer’s.

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