La Velle E. Neal III just reported that C Jose Morales will need surgery on his wrist and will be expected to miss 6-8 weeks. It sounds like Morales’ wrist had been bothering him for some time, so it sounds like it’s just minor surgery to repair a strained tendon. This means that he’ll likely be ready to go around the middle of spring training, but that also means he may not be fully ready to play by the time the 2010 season begins.
If you go to Neal’s post and read through the comments, you’ll notice that Shawn from On The Road With… suggested that the Twins should start the season with Wilson Ramos as the backup catcher. Now, I don’t argue that he doesn’t have the talent to play in the majors, whether it’s this year or in the future, but I don’t think it would be best for him to start the season in the majors. Yes, he’d only be the backup and probably would only play once or twice a week, but I don’t want to rush a guy like this up to the major leagues when he hasn’t even played above Double-A yet. If the hype about Ramos is true, then I’d want to at least let him prove he can keep hitting around .300 in Double-A and Triple-A before he’s promoted to the majors.
In my first analytical post here at Off The Mark, I discussed the backup catching situation for the Twins. I purposely omitted Ramos because I didn’t view him as a serious candidate then, and I still feel that way now. In that post, I said that I wanted Drew Butera to be the backup to Joe Mauer this year because of his defense. Jose Morales is clearly superior to Butera in offense, but Butera is in the discussion thanks to his defensive prowess. I won’t repeat everything that I said in that post (though I do recommend you read through it if you haven’t before), but I said that since whoever backs up Mauer will only play once or twice a week, then the lack of offense from Butera shouldn’t be a huge issue. Even though I wanted Butera to start in the majors this year, I didn’t think he would due to the solid 2009 performance of Morales, but it appears that now he might be the first non-Mauer Twins catcher to enter Target Field.
Once Morales’ wrist has fully healed and the coaching staff decides he’s ready to play at full strength, I fully expect him to be on the 25-man roster. Until then, I bet we should take our first look at Drew Butera as a major league catcher.