|Born: April 3, 1981
Height: 6′ 0″
Drafted: 2nd Round, 59th Overall, 1999
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Moses Lake HS (Moses Lake, WA)
Agent: Paul Cobbe
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Doumit finished 2011 as the Pirate of longest standing along with Paul Maholm, but that’s unlikely to last much longer. His career has had significant ups and downs, as injuries and defensive issues have repeatedly interfered with what otherwise should have been a career as an above-average, switch-hitting offensive catcher. He’s also had issues from the right side of the plate, as at times he hasn’t hit LHPs nearly as well as he hits RHPs. For his career his split isn’t huge, with a .798 OPS against RHPs and .718 against LHPs. He hasn’t had great plate discipline, usually having a little over twice as many strikeouts as walks, due more to low walk rates than high K rates. Apart from all the injuries, his career was hampered by bizarre and incompetent handling by the Pirates when he was breaking into the majors.
Had a solid debut in the GCL, with more walks than Ks.
Moved up to the New York-Penn League and hit well, striking out in fewer than one seventh of his ABs. At the time he was considered to be a good defensive catcher, although he threw out only 22% of base stealers and teams ran on him a lot.
Moved up to low A, but missed most of the season with back problems.
Returned to low A and had a strong first half, but he missed some time with knee problems and then missed the second half with a broken finger.
Finally put in a full season in high A, hitting well and showing decent plate discipline. He had 23 passed balls in 86 games and threw out a quarter of opposing base stealers. The Pirates added him to the 40-man roster after the season.
Doumit missed the first week of the 2004 season due to mononucleosis, then developed tendonitis in his throwing elbow. He was limited for much of the season to DH and PH duties and, when the elbow didn’t improve, was shut down after catching only 25 games. He appeared in 67 games overall and hit for very good power.
Stayed healthy and got off to an outstanding start in AAA. The Pirates called him up in early June despite concerns about his defense. At that stage he still had very limited catching experience above class A, but the team was desperate for offense. Doumit quickly became yet another example of the Pirates’ paranoid-schizophrenic approach to young players under Dave Littlefield and Lloyd McClendon. After an early slump, instead of either putting up with the struggles or sending him back to AAA, the Pirates benched Doumit in the apparent hope that he’d start to hit while not playing. He came out of the slump in August, but McClendon was still reluctant to use him regularly; at one point he went 7-for-12 over five games, then sat out three of the next four. It’s hard to understate how foolish the team’s handling of Doumit was, given that they were wasting much-needed development time with a player who might not have been able to get it back due to a lack of options. As it became more and more apparent that the team was headed for 90+ losses, however, Doumit gradually became the primary catcher. He had a very good August (364/425/515) and respectable September (262/304/415). He threw out 40% of opposing base stealers.
Doumit appeared likely to be the regular catcher, especially after Humberto Cota’s second half collapse in 2005. Manager Jim Tracy, however, more or less platooned the two at the beginning of the season, then suddenly announced that Doumit’s ability to set a target was too poor for him to catch in the majors. The issue was mooted, however, by a groin pull shortly afterward. Doumit went on the DL, but in an oft-repeated pattern under former GM Dave Littlefield, the team brought him back before the injury was fully healed. Sure enough, he aggravated it and missed nearly half the season. Upon his return, he got semi-regular playing time at 1B, but didn’t catch any more. He didn’t help his own cause by struggling at the plate. He played 28 games at first and struggled there.
The Pirates acquired an extra option for Doumit and sent him to the minors after a few pinch-hit appearances in early April, instead keeping Cota, who was out of options. Doumit tore up the International League for 16 games until the team, desperate for offense, called him back up. For once, Doumit got hot at the right time and was arguably the team’s best hitter for much of the first half. His playing time, though, remained sporadic as Tracy still hesitated to let him catch despite Ron Paulino’s horrific first-half slump and deteriorating defense. Doumit eventually started seeing time in RF due to Xavier Nady’s occasional injuries. He played respectably there, showing a very good arm, but hurt his wrist in mid-August and went on the DL. Upon his return in early September, he sprained his ankle badly in his very first game and missed the rest of the year. He only caught 28 games.
Had what appeared to be a breakout season. He seemed to make more of an effort to hit the ball up the middle and cut his K rate to a little over a strikeout every eight ABs. He started off in a catcher tandem with Paulino, but quickly took over the job full-time as he got hot and Paulino continued to struggle. The Pirates credited Doumit’s breakout, as well as their willingness to give him the catching job, to the fact that he reported to camp in the best condition he’d been in as a pro. He batted .348 in April and eventually hit at least .290 in every month. Doumit once again missed time due to injury, with a broken finger and a concussion, but he managed to play in 116 games. He didn’t play especially well defensively, with continued problems blocking pitches, but he threw out a respectable 27%. After the season, he signed a multiyear contract that had three base years (2009-11) running through his arbitration eligibility and guaranteeing him $11.5M. The deal gave the Pirates an unusual one-time, two-year option for his first two free agent years (2012-13), making the deal’s total potential value around $27M.
The injury problem resurfaced as Doumit broke a wrist bone swinging at a pitch in mid-April and was out until the second week of July. He struggled badly after his return, with an especially bad tailspin in August (176/231/329). The wrist was likely the primary problem, as hitters almost always need an extended time period to recover from hand and wrist injuries, even after they’re able to play again. Doumit didn’t help things, though, by getting over-anxious and trying to pull every pitch; he didn’t draw his first unintentional walk after the injury until his 30th game back. He eventually came out of it and hit 346/424/481 in September and October. Defensively, he continued to struggle at times to block pitches, but he threw out 31% of opposing base stealers, which is about average. He was helped by the fact that the team’s three top starters–Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf–all had excellent moves to first.
Doumit finally had the mostly healthy season that the Pirates had been waiting for, although he did miss time in both June and July with concussion symptoms. (Doumit later expressed his support when MLB implemented a seven-day DL for concussion cases.) Unfortunately, he didn’t hit as expected. He had a decent overall season offensively for a catcher, but was undermined by horrific struggles against LHPs (186/261/271). He hit very well batting left-handed (282/363/469). He didn’t produce many runs, with only 45 RBIs despite hitting 5th or 6th most of the time. The bigger problem was defense, as he went from being a little subpar to being horrendous. Worst of all was his throwing: after producing decent CS percentages his whole career (generally a little under 30%), he caught only 11 of 90 base stealers, a measly 12%. The Pirates tried to deflect blame to the pitching staff, but Doumit had little success even with pitchers on the mound who’d previously been effective at controlling the running game. Prior to 2010, opponents had stolen successfully on Duke, Maholm and Ohlendorf 56% of the time. In 2010, that skyrocketed to 85%. In addition, the team’s other catchers threw out 36%. The team tried Doumit at first for three games in early June, but it was a fiasco. Ultimately, they traded for Chris Snyder at the deadline and installed him as the primary catcher. Doumit after that continued to play in the bulk of the team’s games, either in right or spelling Snyder behind the plate.
The Pirates made no secret of the fact that they hoped to trade Doumit in the off-season, but they weren’t willing to give him away and couldn’t find a good deal. He opened the season in a catching tandem with Snyder and the arragement worked very well. Both catchers hit better than their career norms, possibly as a result of not having to catch every day, and Doumit’s defense improved. Unfortunately, he went on the DL with a fractured ankle at the end of May and Snyder had back surgery a few days later, ending his season. Doumit returned at the beginning of August and hit even better the rest of the way, finishing the season with the team’s highest batting average, slugging average and OPS. He threw out 24%. He started only 13 games in September as the Pirates wanted to look at other catchers.
Doumit has probably played his last game for the Pirates. They declined his option and Doumit has stated that he’s not interested in negotiating a deal for less money. He’ll instead test the free agent market, where he should have some value as a catcher with a good bat. An American League team could hope to mitigate the injury risk and defensive problems by signing him to split his time between catcher and DH.
|3 years/$11.5 M plus 2012-2013 club options (signed December 2008, avoided arbitration)
2013: $8,250,000 club option ($500,000 buyout)
2005: $316,000 in majors, $52,600 in minors
|Signing Bonus: $600,000
MiLB Debut: 1999
MLB Debut: 6/5/2005
MLB FA Eligible: 2014
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2002
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2003, 2004, 2005)
MLB Service Time: 6.120
|June 2, 1999: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round, 59th overall pick; signed on June 16.
November 20, 2002: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 30, 2011: Filed for free agency.