This from general manager Neal Huntington, on the decision to play Ryan Doumit at first base this past week while he recovered from concussion-like symptoms: "We talked about it a lot internally. ... [He] gets worn down if we catch him six, seven days a week. So we've talked about a Victor Martinez scenario where Ryan gets a couple of games a week at first, maybe three over two weeks."
Huntington said that they discussed adding a third catcher for interleague play, just so Doumit could DH and the team wouldn't get left without a backup.
"The big play [Saturday] night," Huntington added, referring to a seventh-inning error that lead to two Detroit runs, "allows for second-guessing, but, as we look forward, there is a chance Ryan Doumit will continue to play first base as well as catch."
The idea here is that if you have a guy DH, you can't have him playing in the field later in the game. So if the Pirates had Doumit DH and something happened to Jason Jaramillo, they'd be left without a backup catcher. But why should we care about this? Neil Walker caught for several years in the minors; would it really be a disaster if he were forced to catch for three innings? If it would be a disaster, would that disaster honestly be any worse than playing Doumit at first base?
Not to pile on, but: Doumit isn't a first baseman. One of the most important skills for a first baseman is the ability to catch a ball that's thrown at you hard and not necessarily right at your glove, and we already know from watching Doumit behind that plate that he does not possess that skill. That Doumit's error on Saturday was so costly was bad luck, but some pretty serious flubs will be inevitable if the Pirates continue to put him there.
Doumit isn't as good a hitter as Victor Martinez, but I can understand why the Pirates would want to get him into the lineup more frequently than a typical catcher. Unfortunately, the Bucs had a perfect opportunity to harmlessly work Doumit's bat into the lineup this weekend, and they didn't take it. Think of it this way--Doumit is an incompetent first baseman; Walker is (probably) an incompetent catcher. What's worse, nine innings of incompetent play at first base or the remote possibility of three innings of incompetent play at catcher? I know which one I'd pick.