Minnesota Twins: Why Their Pitching Staff Is Doomed Without Drew Butera

Chris SchadContributor IIIMarch 25, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 01:  Catcher Drew Butera #41 of the Minnesota Twins bats in the second game of a doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Twins defeated the Royals 8-7.  (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

The Minnesota Twins made a move that will shake the team's foundation to the core Monday morning when LaVelle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that they optioned catcher Drew Butera to Triple-A Rochester.

On paper, the move appears to be minor as Butera has a career batting average of .183 in three major league seasons, according to Baseball-Reference.

However, the decision to leave Ryan Doumit and Joe Mauer as the only catchers on the 25-man roster will hurt the Twins more.

Way more.

Butera is not an offensive juggernaut. In fact, he's far from it. Still, his value behind the plate cannot be measured because of the way he handles a pitching staff.

Think this is some hot garbage that Bert Blyleven spews out on every Twins telecast? Think again.

Consider that Butera was the only catcher to prevent Francisco Liriano from becoming "overamped," allowing him to throw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox in May 2011.

Also consider that in 2010, Carl Pavano routinely made the decision to take the bat of American League Most Valuable Player Joe Mauer out of the lineup so that Butera could handle his pitches with grace rarely seen at the major league level.

When Butera sticks his glove out to a pitcher, it presents a calming effect that slows down the spin of a pitcher's fastball and makes it gently land into his glove.

Think of it as a lullaby that makes a starting pitcher feel like his mother is rocking him gently to sleep.

So with the news that Butera will not start the 2013 season on the major league roster, the Twins rotation has to be devastated.

Nobody knows exactly what went down once word spread, but I can envision new free-agent acquisitions Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia storming out of manager Ron Gardenhire's office screaming "I didn't sign up for this!"

One year removed from having its starting rotation ranked 29th in Major League Baseball with a 5.40 earned run average, according to ESPN, one has to question if Mauer and Doumit are up to the challenge of keeping their staff's electric arms in check.

The only solace the Twins can take is that when things do get out of hand this April, Butera is one call away from riding his white horse into Target Field to save their rotation ... and their season.

Until then, nobody knows what kind of trouble the Twins staff will find themselves in.