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Ryan Doumit extension shows Twins still living in the past

Jun 29, 2012, 5:40 PM EDT

Ryan Doumit AP

This two-year, $7 million contract extension is a signing from 2002.

Ryan Doumit is exactly the kind of player a smart team would go year to year with. He is…

a) over 30
b) injury prone
c) below average defensively wherever he plays

Doumit’s career highs are 124 games, 431 at-bats, 15 homers and 69 RBI. He had his best season four years ago when he was 27. He was also very good last season, but it was in 218 at-bats. This year, he’s also been quite good so far, though we’re still talking about a .775 OPS. He had a .718 OPS eight days ago.

I like Doumit. His body wasn’t made to withstand the rigors of catching regularly, but the Twins seem to have carved out a great niche for him this year; he’s on pace to catch 60 games and DH in about 50 more. There’s a fair enough chance he’ll stay relatively healthy and maintain something close to that .775 OPS the rest of the way, and in Target Field, that makes him a fair asset.

But that’s 2012. He’s only going to be a worse bet going forward. The Twins were able to sign him to a one-year, $3 million contract as a free agent over the winter, and nothing that’s happened since has made him a better bet for age-32 and -33 seasons.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that the Twins seem to be working to keep together their probable 95-loss team, smart clubs don’t give out multiyear deals unless there’s real upside to them. Given his lack of a position, Doumit would have had to go on a serious tear for anyone to ante up even a two-year, $10 million offer to him this winter, and little in his history suggests it was likely to happen. Doumit suffering a serious injury that would have negatively affected his value headed into 2013 is a ┬ámuch more likely scenario.

This is just one of those completely unnecessary multiyear deals we don’t see quite as often these days as we used to. Obviously, it’s not going to bankrupt the franchise if it doesn’t work out, but there also isn’t much to be gained. The Twins could have waited until the winter and made sure they still wanted him back.

  1. garciahotspur - Jun 29, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    You are overestimating Joe Mauer’s durability behind the plate and underestimating Ron Gardenhire’s love of Drew Butera. This Twins fan likes this move.

    • Cris E - Jun 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM

      Plus you can’t really complain about the damage a multi-year deal does when it’s only two years long and there are no young catchers being blocked. In fact, as pointed out above a multi-year deal is better than a one year since it makes it quite hard to envision a way for Butera to hang around until it’s over.

      One more nit to pick: don’t complain about career high games played without making a position adjustment. 124 games for a catcher is not terrible.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 29, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    The twins need a super backup catcher who can DH and play 1B. They took care of all three with this move, and now they can let Morneau go. I would say this is a net positive for them.

    • Tim OShenko - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      Honestly, I can’t imagine any team wanting to take Morneau off the Twins’ hands. He’s got a big contract, prolific injury history, and seems to have forgotten how to hit lefties. What’s perhaps all the more depressing for us Twins fans is that, despite all this, he’s still one of the best bats in the lineup. So no, I doubt that signing Doumit allows them to get rid of Morneau. At any rate, they’re not getting anything in return if they do.

      However, each game that Doumit is catching is another game with Butera out of the lineup, and that’s something to cheer about.

  3. stabonerichard - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Re: Morneau’s inability to hit lefties, I can’t help but think it’s related to his concussion issues. From 2006-2010 Justin more than held his own against southpaws, posting a cumulative OPS above .800.

    But with all he’s gone thru since taking a knee to the head at 2B in Toronto, it’s only natural that his psyche would still be somewhat fragile/guarded when he steps on the diamond. The last couple years of his life have been largely spent wondering if his brain will ever be normal again… if he’ll ever be able to move & think & *feel* normal again. I can’t really even imagine how scary & frustrating & depressing that would be.

    So anyway, even though there have been some positive signs more recently, it’s still gotta weigh heavily on his mind. I would think it’s especially tough when he steps into the box against lefties and has to try to hang in there and keep his shoulder closed with a baseball coming 90+ mph at him… that’s tough enough for any LH hitter, but for a guy like Morneau who’s dealt with everything he has it’s gotta be virtually impossible. He’s been hit in the head in the past, so he knows it’s a very real possibility and if it were to happen again it would be potentially devasating to his brain. Not good.

    I don’t expect he’ll ever again have consistent success against LH pitching, and I don’t blame him at all for it.

  4. sknut - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    This is pocket change and maybe Doumit will be hurt a lot but this was done in part because the minors have so few viable options for theTwins. I cant quivel too much with this contract, maybe they can focus on getting pitching this offseason.

    • Jeremy Fox - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      But why can’t they just play out the season and then if they want him back, just offer him a bit more than anybody else offers him? Would anybody offer him as much as 2 years/$7 million on the open market? If the answer is “no” (and I strongly suspect it is), then the Twins could’ve saved years and/or cash by waiting.

  5. stabonerichard - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    As for the Doumit signing, the Twins are a pretty unique situation with their roster makeup (long term commitments to a catcher & 1B with durability concerns) where Doumit becomes a better fit than he would be for most teams.

    The Twins really need someone who is at least serviceable behind the plate, and there aren’t a lot of those guys who can do that while also providing offensive value. The Twins are likely to suck for at least another year anyway, so it’s similar to the Carroll deal this past offseason where the upside isn’t tremendous but neither is the risk. And in both cases, it’s not like Carroll and Doumit are blocking any young guys from playing time. That’s the problem… the Twins have gaping holes with no intriguing replacements any time soon, so these other vets are basically inexpensive stopgaps.

  6. btwicey - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    Harsh Matt. He’s better than most they have

  7. nflfollower - Jun 29, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Twins just need pitching. They won’t win without it, which of course goes for most teams in the big leagues. But their style with gardenhire has always been pitching, defense, and fundamentals.

  8. Kevin S. - Jun 29, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Read: Huff, Aubrey.

  9. spudatx - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    I don’t buy what this article is selling. Doumit is low-cost insurance to ensure Butera isn’t the only option if Mauer hits the DL. After last year, the Twins are well aware of their lack of bench and minor league depth and are willing to take mediocre over terrible. Even if they eat this deal in some best or worst case scenario, it didn’t strangle them financially and improves their odds of not having a 100-loss season.

  10. wintwins - Jun 29, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    Yes, Doumit is a great fit in Minnesota. The problem isn’t the ‘what,’ it’s the ‘when.’ The Twins once again bid against themselves, when they could’ve just resigned him after the season. Unless you expect Doumit’s market value to go way up (I don’t), there’s no reason to pre-pay. Ugh.

  11. ndnut - Jun 30, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    He can also play RF or LF, allowing them to trade Span or Revere for pitching help.

    • Bryz - Jun 30, 2012 at 12:55 AM

      He can’t play LF. The Twins tried that in spring training and it didn’t work out.

      Also, people seem to have in their minds that Doumit can play 1B, but he has yet to appear in a game there. Yes, that’s partially because of Morneau and Parmelee, but also because Doumit has admitted that he’s not comfortable there. Essentially he’s a C/RF/DH that can play 1B if he absolutely must.

      • rooney24 - Jun 30, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        I don’t recall issues with Doumit in LF. You may be thinking that they tried to use Willingham in RF, so they could use Revere (and his weak arm) in LF, but Willingham could not make the switch. I think the main plan all along was for Doumit to mostly DH and spell Mauer behind the plate.

        Personally, I think signing Doumit is more Morneau insurance than anything to do with Mauer. I believe Morneau is only signed thru 2013. If he doesn’t improve, he won’t be back for 2014. In that scenario, first base would be filled by Mauer and either some youngster or aging 1B that costs less than Morneau, with Doumit available to catch and allow Mauer to play 1st.

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