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A Look Ahead At Ryan Doumit in 2012

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So here's what we know about Ryan Doumit:

  1. He's a catcher, but only in the sense that he's always played catcher. Pretty much everyone seems to believe that he's terrible defensively. Whether this means "Mike Piazza pretending he doesn't belong as a DH in the American League" or "Matthew LeCroy making Frank Robinson cry" remains to be seen.
  2. Some players get the "injury-prone" tag without really deserving it. Doumit may actually deserve it. Injuries just seem to find the guy, and not things like a strained hammy, either - he broke his ankle last year, for example.
  3. He "can play first base and right field," say most of the stories. He didn't actually do either in 2011, when he started 53 games at catcher and caught part of seven others. As a matter of fact, over the past five years Doumit has started a grand total of five games at first base, and 51 more in right field.

Here, I think, is the problem. Since Doumit is bad defensively, I'm guessing Ron Gardenhire will agitate to keep Drew Butera on the roster as a third catcher. And if that's true, then I can't think of a scenario in which Doumit catches more than 30-40 games next year. Maybe he'll be set upon by flesh-eating bacteria, or some other such serious and highly unexpected health issue, and miss half the season. Maybe Joe Mauer will stay healthy and Doumit won't be required to catch very often. More likely, Butera will still catch once a week, and Doumit will spend most of his time either learning how to play first base or looking very much like a catcher that's been stuck in right field for the day.

I suppose the truth of it is this: Doumit's 2012 will depend on whether he stays of the disabled list, and whether he hits. If he replicates his numbers from 2007 or 2011, when he posted an OPS north of .800, it won't matter so much if he's the second coming of Delmon Young in the outfield. And if he can do it over 120 games, and can give Mauer and Justin Morneau a little bit of rest without the team having to descend into "Luke Hughes at first base"-type farce, then he'll absolutely be worth it.

But he'd better hit.