Friday, March 13, 2015

Chris Herrmann, catcher

Chris Herrmann  is now
27, the theoretical
prime year for a baseball
Chris Herrmann is listed on the Twins 40-man roster as an outfielder. This apparently irks him; he views himself as a catcher who happens to play other positions as well.

But Ron Gardenhire used Herrmann for all of one inning behind the plate last season. He essentially split his major league playing time between right and left fields. Even in Triple A, he caught in 26 games, played left in 23, right in eight. (There was chatter last year about trying him in center field, but that doesn't appear to have happened on any level.)

Still, Herrmann is right, at least in terms of what he might do to help a major league team. If he has a big league future ahead of him, it's as a catcher. Everybody needs a backup catcher. And Herrmann has a mix of attributes that theoretically play well for a bench role.

He hits left-handed, and hit rather well at Rochester (.304/.373/.505). He his, unlike his compettion for the backup job, experience at other positions.

He's a better defensive catcher than Josmil Pinto but not as good as Eric Fryer. He's a better hitter than Fryer but not as good as Pinto. Whether he's good enough at either to justify putting him into games to do it is unproven.

Paul Molitor appears more interested than Gardenhire was in taking advantage of platoon opportunities. That gives Herrmann a leg up on Pinto and Fryer for the backup job. Kurt Suzuki, the regular, hits right; so do Pinto and Fryer.

One aspect to Thursday's game that got some comment afterwards was the performances of \Herrmann and Eddie Rosario, a pair of left-handed hitters, against left-handed pitchers late in the contest.

Herrmann apparently impressed Molitor with the quality of a late at-bat in which he fell behind a left-handed pitcher but extended the at-bat before driving home the eventual winning run with a sac fly.

Patrick Reusse has said that he believes Molitor really wants Herrmann to win a roster spot. But what we haven't seen, at least so far, is much use of him behind the plate. Herrmann played left field Wednesday; he was at first base Thursday. To be sure, there are plenty of other catchers in camp, and getting Kurt Suzuki ready is priority one.

Minor league camp has opened now, and presumably Molitor will start to thin out the crowd of pitchers and catchers on the major league side. Also presumably, Herrmann will then start to get some time receiving. If he doesn't, it's hard to see what role he can have on the roster.

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