Posted: 8:08 pm Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Will Braves’ Doumit catch, or won’t he? 

By David O'Brien

Braves GM Frank Wren was presumably enjoying a coffee and reading the Sunday paper when this AJC writer contacted him to ask if Wren had heard about the comment by Twins infielder Brian Dozier at a weekend FanFest in Minneapolis.

Ryan Doumit spent seven seasons for the Pirates before playing the past two with Minnesota in the AL.

Ryan Doumit spent seven seasons for the Pirates before playing the past two with Minnesota in the AL.

Dozier had casually mentioned to a Twins reporter that ex-teammate Ryan Doumit had decided not to catch anymore after an August concussion, which wasn’t the first concussion that Doumit suffered in his career.

Now, if true about him not catching, this would be problematic for the Braves, who traded for Doumit on Dec. 18 primarily because of the catcher part of the job experience — catcher/first base/right field/DH – on his resume.

By late Sunday afternoon, I got the answer I had anticipated: Dozier’s comment was untrue. This according to Doumit’s agent, Paul Cobbe.

Wren said at the time of the trade that Doumit would give the Braves the three-catcher arrangement like they had for most of last season, enabling manager Fredi Gonzalez to pinch-hit catchers Evan Gattis or Gerald Laird when they weren’t behind the plate.

With seven-time All-Star Brian McCann having left this winter as a free agent – five years, $85 million from the New Yawk Yankees, and the thought of the Georgia native in pinstripes still makes many Braves fans cringe – the Braves were down to two experienced catchers, and made it a priority to get another.

When they had only two catchers on the roster previous years, the Braves almost never pinch-hit with a catcher for concern over being shorthanded if they did and the other catcher got hurt in the late innings. Gonzalez liked the versatility he had with three catchers last season, and the idea of keeping Gattis’ bat in the lineup more even when he wasn’t catching.

Which brought them to the Twins and Doumit, who is a .268 career hitter with a .329 OBP and 99 homers in nine seasons with Pittsburgh and Minnesota, and has double-digit homers in five of the past six seasons including 13 or more four times.

To get him, the Braves traded lefty pitching prospect Sean Gilmartin, a 2011 first-round draft pick. Gilmartin, 23, had stalled a bit and missed time with a shoulder strain last season in Triple-A, and he’d been surpassed by a few other pitching prospects on the organizational ladder. The Braves traded from a position of strength.

Doumit, 32, is coming off a season in which he hit just .247 with a .314 OBP, although he did have 28 doubles and 14 homers in 485 at-bats over 135 games. He hit a solid .290 with a .346 OBP in 145 at-bats against lefties.

But getting back to this report by St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Mike Berardino, who posted video of Dozier making the comment Saturday — about Doumit deciding, after talking it over with his family, that catching would be too risky and he wasn’t going to do it anymore.

Wren said when I contacted him earlier today that he hadn’t spoken to Doumit and wouldn’t have any comment at this time. Presumably, after the brief reply I got from Doumit’s agent, Dozier’s statement was inaccurate and the Braves proceed as planned with Doumit as part of a three-catcher setup.

Dozier’s comment was also contrary to what Doumit himself said in mid-September, after he and the Twins decided not to have him catch any more during the 2013 season because it wasn’t worth the risk of having another concussion so soon, after the one he sustained Aug. 4 from a foul tip off his facemask.

Doumit said at that time that he “absolutely” planned to catch again in 2014, but just didn’t want to risk another concussion in September – the Twins had long since been eliminated from playoff contention – and having to spend the offseason recovering from it.

Twins GM Terry Ryan said on Sunday, when asked about Dozier’s comment, that he didn’t know anything about it and that Doumit “was available” to catch in September and that nothing had been said to Ryan about him not catching prior to the trade with the Braves.

Doumit is set to make $3.5 million this season in the final year of a three-year, $10 million contract. Suffice to say, his future earning potential could be diminished if he no longer was available to catch.

Of Doumit’s 639 career starts in the majors, 502 have been at catcher. He’s started 105 games in the outfield (89 in right, 16 in left) and 32 games at first base. In his two American League seasons with the Twins, he also started 48 games as DH 2012 and 47 in 2013.

A few days after taking the foul tip off his mask in August, Doumit felt dizzy and nauseous and asked to be taken out of an Aug. 7 game on a hot night in Kansas City.

By the way, Doumit looks a lot like a certain Braves pitcher, don't you think? A lefty reliever?

By the way, Doumit looks a lot like a certain Braves pitcher, don’t you think? A lefty reliever?

He went on the seven-day concussion DL, missed eight games, then upon returning he caught the entire game in his third game back Aug. 18. He also caught Also caught consecutive games – entire games — Aug. 20-21 in his fifth and sixth games back, and again caught Aug. 25 and Aug. 27.

Doumit was the starting DH or right fielder RF in the other games while starting in 11 consecutive games, in all, after returning from the DL. To repeat, he played 11 consecutive games and caught five entire games during that stretch upon returning from the concussion DL.

But after catching again on Aug. 29, he didn’t get behind the plate again the rest of the season.

He was a pinch-hitter Sept. 2-3 and Sept. 6-7, and played only a couple of innings in the field (right field, after PHing) in September until Sept, 15, when he started a game in right field and hit his 13th homer before leaving for late-innings defensive replacement late in a 6-4 win against the Rays.

He didn’t play in the field again until Sept. 24, when he spent an entire game in right field, doubling and hitting his 14th homer in a 4-2 loss to the Tigers. Doumit went 3-for-5 and played right field in a Sept. 26 loss to Cleveland, and had two more hits while playing right field again the next day in another loss to the Indians.

In the Twins’ final two games of the season, Sept. 28-29, he DH’d.

And now you know more than you ever imagined or probably cared to know about Ryan Doumit’s 2013 season. All that remained, after I had completed writing this, was to get a clarification from someone about his intentions re: catching – or not catching – in 2014. And the agent provided that. So I did some rewriting.

If Dozier had been correct, it would sure have been interesting to see what the Braves thought and eventually did about the situation. But as of now, it doesn’t seem like the comment was at all accurate.

Like I said, the Braves made the trade in large part because of Doumit being a catcher. Suffice to say, they could have pursued someone else if they only thought Doumit planned to play right field and first base, positions that the Braves don’t intend to use a backup as long as a couple of guys named Freeman and Heyward are healthy.

Again, I had a feeling after hearing about the Dozier comment that he’d gotten it wrong, that he wasn’t speaking for Doumit when he said that the latter was done catching for good. Now seems like that was the case.

And if so, a good part of a sunny, relatively balmy 52-degree Sunday afternoon was spent chasing a non-story when I could’ve been on my motorcycle.

Oh, well. Nature of the beast.

• The Braves start their nearly two-week early pitching program, aka  Camp Roger, on Monday at Turner Field. Sorry, it’s not open to the public, but figured you folks would like to know it’s happening, just another sign that spring training is just around the corner now.

Braves pitchers and catchers report to Lake Buena Vista on Feb. 13 and have their first workout the next day. The rest of the position players are due to report Feb. 18 (many, if not most, will get there earlier) and the first full-squad workout is Feb. 19. One month from today (Sunday) is the Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers.

Yes, Dark Star beckons.

• Enjoy this  tune by the great Charlie Rich.

“LONELY WEEKENDS” by Charlie Rich

Well I make it alright
From Monday morning ’til Friday night
But oh those lonely weekends

Well since you left me

Charlie Rich

Charlie Rich


Honey I’ve been as lonely as a man can be
But oh those lonely weekends

Well you said you’d be good to me
You said our love would never die
You said you’d be good to me
Whoa but darlin’ you wouldn’t even try

Well I make it alright
From Monday morning ’til Friday night
But oh those lonely weekends

You said you’d be good to me
You said our love would never die
You said you’d be good to me
Whoa but darlin’ you wouldn’t even try

Well I make it alright
From Monday morning ’til the Friday night
But oh those lonely weekends
But oh those lonely weekends
I said oh those lonely weekends
I said oh those lonely weekends…

2662 comments
2dot
2dot

I don't get why we have two factions, that are going back and forth over who is the best team in the NL East. Last year the Braves won the East with 2 historically bad years from highly payed players in Uggla and B.J. 

The Braves and Nats both had about the same numbers of missed games of impact players. Fister may be an upgrade, but a healthy Beachy would surely equal or surpass that. 

It will probably go down to injuries and whether Uggla and B.J rebound(Or there replacements if not).

I am going with the Braves!

ncscoots
ncscoots

 is it not another way to say

Exactamundo, LOL.

ncscoots
ncscoots

 Also notable is that Haren with LA has a projection of 1.8, while Fister is 4.0.

Regardless of anything else, I got one real American dollar that says Fister is not a 4-WAR pitcher in 2014.


But I think they support the idea that the Nats are not demonstrably better than the Braves even on paper.

See, I don't even know how this even came to be under discussion, LOL. It's like the old game of whispering a phrase around the room, fercrissake. Someone says one thing, and by the time some folks here get through with it, it's completely bleepin' different.

Lew06
Lew06

Shaun -  I really don't care how bad Haren was (in fact when everyone last winter was going on about how much he improved them, I claimed he wouldn't). 


What I'm saying is that Fister put more runners on base and is due for a regression - learning a new league and having a much more porous infield defense (not to mention a 3B who can't throw across the diamond to first accurately)


I'll be standing by what I'm claiming when all is said and done and what we'll get from you is some nuanced rigamarole using an alphabet soup of crap..

kenhotlanta
kenhotlanta

scoots, that phrase I quoted earlier, is it not another way to say a 2 word phrase beginning with "Cluster" that can't be repeated on this public forum?

Old_Man
Old_Man

Lew:

I agree, regression is probable for Fister.  Unfortunately I fear regression regarding the Braves vs. Nats.  My intuition is that when one team owns another over a season, often the reverse happens the next year.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

Old_Man
Old_Man

I was pulling those ZiPs projections from their single digit depth chart graphic.  If you go into the actual spreadsheets, it's much closer between the Braves and the Nats:

Nats, 39.7 WAR

Position Players 19.4

Rotation 17.0

Bullpen (top 5) 3.3

Braves, 39.3 WAR

Position Players 19.9

Rotation 14.7

Bullpen (top 5) 4.7

Maybe it depends on which team has the strongest bench.  Notably, if you plug in LaStella instead of Uggla, the two teams come out in a dead heat, at 39.7 WAR.

Look, I know these numbers are somewhat random and try to reduce players and teams to a single number, which you cannot do with certainty.  But I think they support the idea that the Nats are not demonstrably better than the Braves even on paper.

Also notable is that Haren with LA has a projection of 1.8, while Fister is 4.0.  So that acquisition does indeed improve the Nats, at least as far as this projection is concerned.


richbrave
richbrave

Bobby H;;


If you see TOM O'HAWK tell him I'm retro today getting in a WEATHER REPORT - BIRDLAND, and some cuts off JAZZ SAMBA by STAN GETZ and CHARLIE BYRD.


BRYD was the uncle of several kids I went to elementary and high school with in NANSEMOND County, VIRGINIA.

Lew06
Lew06

EMWTK -Yes, you have it right.


Fister will trend downward from what he did in Detroit and not provide much (if any) improvement over what  Haren  did for the Nats.


In MY opinion. But like I said - we'll see. But I'm right much more frequently than I'm wrong.

EMWTK
EMWTK

"Experts" should never be confused with "practitioners", by the way.  A practitioner can perform in an expert way, or not.  An "expert" is someone with an opinion who doesn't really have any skin in the game.

EMWTK
EMWTK

Did I give anyone the opinion I don't have much respect for "expert" opinions?  In MLB, or just about anywhere else?

Good.

ncscoots
ncscoots

I say we just play the games and take our chances.

What a dinosaur. :-)

EMWTK
EMWTK

I say we just play the games and take our chances.

DS1
DS1

what is it good for? Absolutely nuthin....

_DAP_
_DAP_

so you don't think Fister helps make them a favorite in the NL East?

The Nats finished 14 wins behind the Braves, with just 84.
fister is a good pitcher, but he hardly makes up for that. the Braves subtracted some good players, and that effects the outcome as well, but anyone with a brain would say the outcome will be close between those two teams, even if they ultimately pick the nats.

Old_Man
Old_Man

ZiPs PROJECTIONS:

Atlanta (39 WAR):

Position players: 20 WAR

Rotation:  14 WAR

Bullpen:  5 WAR

Washington (43 WAR):

Position players: 23 WAR

Rotation:  17 WAR

Bullpen:  3 WAR

Philly (28 WAR)

Position players: 15 WAR

Rotation:  11 WAR

Bullpen:  2 WAR

Miami (25 WAR)

Position players: 12 WAR

Rotation:  10 WAR

Bullpen:  3 WAR

NY (not published yet)

DS1
DS1

Who said what and when.......

Some of youse guys sound like politicians.

ncscoots
ncscoots

I took Denver's side in the SB and sucked on my thumb in that position all day long to prepare for baseball season

You be ready, then. In-gamers, beware!

EMWTK
EMWTK

 so you don't think Fister helps make them a favorite in the NL East?

Frankly, Shaun, I suspect every "expert" in the country will be favoring the Nats to win.  Just like they did last year. Good thing I'm not an expert.  I might get depressed before we even start.

noleee
noleee

I took Denver's side in the SB and sucked on my thumb in the fetal position all day long to prepare for baseball season

ncscoots
ncscoots

C'mon, deep down in our hearts we all know that the Nats are gonna kick Braves butt this season...

Assume the (fetal) position. :-)

noleee
noleee

C'mon, deep down in our hearts we all know that the Nats are gonna kick Braves butt this season...

EMWTK
EMWTK

The Nationals, meanwhile, have upgraded from the disappointing Dan Haren, now a Dodger via a contract that will be worth $20 million over two years if his option vests with 180 innings pitched in 2014, to Fister, who is unlikely to surpass that total salary in his final two arbitration seasons. That keeps Washington in the debate over the best rotation in baseball and once again makes it a favorite, possibly the favorite, in the National League East. And the Nationals did all this without doing serious damage to the organization’s minor league depth._Cliff Corcoran, Dec. 02, Sports Illustrated

Well, there's one.....

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

If I'm in Vegas looking to place a bet on the NL East, I'm not feeling overly confident about picking the Braves over the Nationals this season, and Fister is at least a small but significant part of that.


When your Braves fandom gets in the way, this might be a good way to look at things.  Would you put your money where your mouth is?  


I certainly like the Braves chances this year, after what I saw last year.  But I don't feel great about taking it to Vegas.

ncscoots
ncscoots

 insults will not be tolerated.....

Not among us polymaths, anyway. :-)

ncscoots
ncscoots

please show me those quotes from people who thought the Nationals traded for the pennant when Fister was acquired

Sorry, don't believe I will. :-)

I'm sure there are plenty of video clips from MLBN that prove the point. Why don't you email them and go right to the source, LOL?

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@Old_Man  Regression is one thing.  Pitching as poorly as Dan Haren is another.  

richbrave
richbrave

Little HERBIE MANN - MEMPHIS UNDERGROUND great sound. I had gone off HERBIE by '69. Never heard this cut before. Electric not like him and and a great backbeat, Solid vibes too.

EMWTK
EMWTK

@richbrave  Remember when Birdland was the bumper music for Braves broadcasts on Channel 17?  That's from the WAYback........

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@Lew06  Do you realize how bad Haren was for the Nats?  


He had an 81 ERA+.  He was replacement level, per Baseball Reference.  He had a 4.67 ERA and a 4.88 RA (run average).  


Fister in his worst season (2010) had a 96 ERA+, was 1.2 WAR, had a 4.11 ERA and a 4.47 RA.  Fister's ERA+ has been above 112 every season since.   Haren's ERA+ has been above 112 in only one of the previous four seasons.






ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@EMWTK  I think we should all have respect for expert arguments, as long as they are from legitimate experts.  The problem is the standards for what constitutes being experts are often flawed.  

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@_DAP_  who said anything about Fister alone making up the difference?  I think a lot of factors have seemed to close the gap between the two teams.  Fister is a part of it but he's far from the only factor.


I agree that the two teams look close, regardless of which team is considered the favorite or which team one would pick as the favorite.  


Predictions and projections, even the most serious, even the ones you would use if you were betting large amounts of money, shouldn't be taken as claims of certainty.  But folks who devise predictions and projections realize this.  

noleee
noleee

@ncscoots  

Gonna make Jerry and Tomahawkin look like pollyannas this year....

DS1
DS1

I'm picking the Nats.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@EMWTK  Yes, they probably are the favorite among most experts, analysts, media folks, etc.  I don't think those folks consider them overwhelming favorites, especially after last season.  


And even if we think they are the favorites and think the Nationals winning the East is the most likely outcome based on what we know now, doesn't mean the Braves have no chance, especially considering the Nationals are probably not nearly overwhelming favorites.  Then again I look at all this in terms of probabilities.  I can realize that although one team may be the favorite, another team might have a pretty darn good shot too.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@noleee  don't use your heart.  Use your brain.  The teams look fairly close.

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@EMWTK  so you don't think Fister helps make them a favorite in the NL East?  


I don't see anywhere in there a claim that now they are the clear-cut favorite over the Braves.  

noleee
noleee

@ncscoots  

I prefer to be referred to as a renaissance man myself thank you.I consider DaVinci, Michelangelo, Bacon and Copernicus as almost my peers.....

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@ncscoots  You're the one claiming people think Washington traded for the pennant.  It's on you to back that up.  If you don't have anything, fine.  Perhaps you should walk it back.  

DS1
DS1

to get their butts kicked by the Braves this year!!

ShaunATL
ShaunATL

@ncscoots entitled to what?  I'm just asking you to show me the claims that the Nationals traded for the pennant, besides any claims coming from Nats fanatics.

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  1. […] O’Brien (@ajcbraves) of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at the Braves’ catching depth chart and the status of Ryan […]