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  • The Ripple Effect of Mauer's Move to First

    The Twins made it official on Monday... Joe Mauer's days behind the plate are over.

    After consulting with doctors at Mayo Clinic, it was felt that Mauer needed to avoid the chance of re-injuring himself at the roughest position on the baseball field. Even though Mauer is now symptom free and able to go about his regular offseason routine, the club felt this was in the best interest of the team and their star player.

    The move away from catcher has been something Mauer has tried to avoid in the past. Even after missing most of the 2011 season because of leg issues, Mauer wanted to prove he could handle the rigors of being a full-time catcher again. The seriousness of his concussion in 2013 must have been enough to convince him the time was right for a move.

    In my offseason blueprint, I listed Mauer as the primary first baseman for the 2014 Minnesota Twins. It seemed likely the club would give him more time at first base especially with the exit of Justin Morneau and the rise of Josmil Pinto. These two players are just part of the ripple effect of Mauer's move to first.

    Pinto's Chance to Start
    The Twins were impressed with the performance of Pinto in the final month of the season. Over 21 games, the rookie backstop batted .342/.398/.566 with four home runs and five doubles. His defensive skills might not be as good as Mauer's but he did throw out 33% of base runners with a .982 fielding percentage in his eight seasons in the minor leagues. Minnesota could always add a veteran catcher but Pinto deserves a chance at some point next year.

    Morneau Won't Return
    Within the inner circle of Twins Territory, there may have been hopes of a return of their former MVP. As Mauer shifts to first base, it seems there is no spot for Morneau on the roster. It probably didn't make sense for the Twins to spend money on Morneau with other first base options currently under contract. This allows Morneau to try to find a spot on a team that can contend before his career is complete.

    Parmelee and Colabello Left Searching for ABs
    Both Parmelee and Colabello have put together impressive numbers at Triple-A in the last two seasons. These performances haven't translated to the big leagues and this leaves question marks about them moving forward. Parmelee got some time in the outfield last year and this might be his best chance at sticking with the team long-term. Colabello's independent baseball story was great but he might be more of a organizational player.

    Sano's the Future at Third
    With a full offseason to prepare, Minnesota could have moved Mauer to third base. They didn't because Miguel Sano is making his way to Target Field. There is a small chance of Sano starting the year with the club so Trevor Plouffe will only be keeping his place warm at the hot corner. It seems a waste to use Mauer's athletic ability at a lowly position like first base but Sano has one of the best arms in the Twins system and the spot should be saved for him.

    What other ripple effects are there from Mauer's move to first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Ripple Effect of Mauer's Move to First started by Cody Christie
    Comments 41 Comments
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      It *should* mean that Chris Parmelee realizes he needs to learn left field to give himself a chance. Colabello can get nice spot starts here and there. If the Twins decide to leave Arcia in AAA for awhile, Parmelee can be in RF.

      Pinto and Herrmann can hold down C. Unless the Twins want to find a way to bring in Salty (they won't be able to do so). I would be fully prepared to roll out with most of the youth movement now, and that includes Pinto, Herrmann, Hicks, and Arcia.

      Maybe the Twins do what's wise and by August 1 Willingham and Doumit are gone.

      The position players possibly on the team:

      Dozier, 2B
      Mauer, 1B
      Buxton, CF
      Sano, 3B
      Arcia, DH
      Hicks, RF
      Rosario, LF
      Pinto, C
      Florimon, SS

      Plouffe
      Herrmann
      Escobar
      Parmelee or Colabello
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      "lowly position like first base."

      This is a bummer statement. Every position on the diamond is tremendously important.

      I suppose Keith Hernandez was blocked from playing SS because of Garry Templeton and there was no room for Don Mattingly at SS because the legendary Bobby Meacham was manning SS. It takes a great amount of talent to play each and every position in MLB. Some teams may try to hide offense only players at 1B or the corner OF positions, but those moves are only made out of desperation or logjams.

      Hot Diggity Damn... 1B is important!

      PS: Sorry if I came across as a "Richard". The word "Lowly" made me feel very depressed for a minute. Mr. Hrbek, Mr. Mientkiewicz, and to a lesser extent Mr. Morneau saved or won some games for us with their glove work. I value first base and believe it not to be a place where you should dump your bat only players. No position should be treated that way - that is why the AL has a Designated Hitter.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      While Mauer could perhaps play third or a corner outfield spot, he really projects to be an outstanding first baseman. I can't say he would be great at the other corners and the risk for injury probably goes up at the other positions. The important thing is to get Mauer in the lineup as often as possible and first base is the best alternative. Add in that there is no incumbent or hot prospect in the upper minors and the decision is a slam dunk.
    1. ND-Fan's Avatar
      ND-Fan -
      This is just beginning of transition of Twins for 2015 and 2016 seasons. Colabella, Parmlee, Plouffe, are at the beginning of season to have roster spots but as season goes along they are going to be replaced by Sano, Buxton, and few other of twins prospects. This coming year could be worst of records for the Twins in that they could come close to loosing 100 games. They are gambling on All Star game to attrack attendance for beginning of the season and they will market these prospects in latter half of season and for next season. Only thing that could keep down the loses will be if Twins were to sign some significant pitching talent but I am betting they are trying to get by again see what magic in the bottle they can get out they have and let youngster develop pitching at end of season. Then they will look maybe next year at trading for some pitching but I wouldn't hold my breath on that either. The Twins are going to do this hard way by doing it internally by signing and drafting and occasional trade for some prospect to fill a need. Its sad that as fans we have to compete as bottom feeder organization when by revenue stream, possible attendance, and ownership that is able to sustain financial setbacks we could be upper middle tier team. I think this organization has not caught up with the fact they are not lowly Twins with poor ownership, poor stadium, and no revenue equality in baseball. They need to think of themselves as upper class team and winning is imperative to keep this in place for the future. They are not team they were 20 years ago when a lot of people working for this organization worked there fannies off to save the franchise but organization that can compete financially with most teams.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      If he's smart, Collabello is spendng all off-season working on his 3b skills. I'm really curious now to hear how much Doumit will want to catch next year, that could really shake things up.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      2015: Lets roll!

      1B Mauer
      2B Dozier
      SS Santana/Polanco
      3B Sano
      LF Rosario
      CF Buxton
      RF Hicks
      DH Arcia
      C Pinto

      DON'T trade Rosario! I love this lineup!
    1. SpitefulRabbit617's Avatar
      SpitefulRabbit617 -
      For some reason I'm just thinking Colabello leaving the Twins will be the Big Papi story 2.0. Straight to Boston.........................
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      I would just as soon give the job to Pinto and see what he does. I don't want the Twins to sign Salty or anyone else. Perhaps only a really good defensive catcher for a almost league minimum...now where could the Twins get somebody like that?...
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Agree with SgtSchmidt. Want to see what Pinto can do. We have 2 pretty solid catching prospects in the minors. Brian Naverreto and Stuart Turner. They could be MLB ready by late 2015 to 2016. Be nice to know if Pinto is every day material or a hitting option or whatever.

      The luxury of losing is you can really find out what you have.

      Jose Fernandez got a chance with the Marlins after being in High A-ball. Florida State League, yes, where Byron Buxton ended up last year while hitting .326.

      So "if" there's a luxury of losing, it's that you can find out what you have in your minors sooner. Perhaps the equivalent of spending $15M on average free agent pitching, only nice thing is you're not committed to that bum of a free agent pitcher and his salary for a long period of time.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      With Herrmann and Doumit in the organization there's no real need to go get another catcher. You go in with Pinto the presumed starter with Doumit expected to be a "super-sub" at catcher, 1B, DH, and OF and Herrmann to be the full-time backup who gets maybe 1 start a week.

      Not sure there's room for both Collabello & Parmelee on the roster this season, especially with the Twins seeming desire (need?) to keep 12 pitchers. Bad luck for them, but neither has exactly seized their opportunities to show they can be consistent MLB hitters. Even worse, neither has shown a platoon split that would increase their value as a bench bat/situational hitter.

      Doumit still has pretty good value as long as he can still catch some, so I'm not going to clamor for him to be dealt just to open up a spot. Willingham might have a little value as a 1 year rental if he proves he's healthy.

      If Sano is ready to make the jump, I'd like to see this Twins lineup:

      1B Mauer
      2B Dozier
      RF Arcia
      DH Willingham
      3B Sano
      LF Plouffe
      C Pinto
      CF Hicks
      SS Florimon

      If Sano's not ready (and please, please don't rush him!) then Colabello/Parmelee has the first shot at RF with Plouffe staying at 3B and Arcia going back to LF. Which will be a brutal defensive lineup, but that's the way it goes.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      The Twins have two more option years on Colabello and should use those options to stash him in AAA as a backup in case of injury. I'm not worried about David Ortiz redux. Worst case scenario is Colabello doesn't get his shot to be another Garrett Jones.

      I don't like signing AJ Pierzysnki because he is not a good defender behind the plate anymore. I want to see them sign a catcher with a good glove to help the pitchers prevent runs.
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      The person that I think this move has the most impact for is Plouffe. Think about it, Joe is at 1st, probably going to have Sano at 3b by mid summer. The outfield is going to be manned by Willingham, probably Hicks by some point in the summer, Arcia, possibly (very optimistically) Buxton at some point in the summer, not to mention any number of other options that might claim a spot like Parmalee, Colabello, Presley... I don't really see him as a DH. He is starting to look like a man without a position.
    1. Rusty's Avatar
      Rusty -
      Because of this ripple affect, I have to wonder what's going to happen to Twins prospects close to being ready. Colabello and Parmelee have already been mentioned. Willingham and Doumit (I highly doubt you'll see him catching much next season leaving outfield, DH and maybe first as his only positions.) are already on the roster and should be in that mix for the next couple years. Presley and Mastoianni are there as well. Not to mention Plouffe might loose his third base job soon. Leaving OF as his new home. Hicks, Arcia, Rosario, Buxton, and Kepler are one to three years away. Essentially you will have 12 players fighting for 4 starting spots the next couple years. Of those 12, four could have played first. Kepler, Colabello, Parmelee, and Doumit. Now they are on top of the outfield log jam. That means somebody WILL be traded. Which brings me to my question...

      Who is the most likely to be traded out of this group? What would be an acceptable trade? Can you get MLB ready guys for any of these guys? Or at least high end prospects? Who will play the outfield and DH in 2015
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      I have to laugh at anybody who thinks that Sano and Buxton will be with the Twins before September 2014.
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      I have to laugh at anybody who thinks that Sano and Buxton will be with the Twins before September 2014.
      All Sano has to do is beat out Trevor Plouffe. That isn't impossible for a player already hitting well in AA.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Sano has been above AA yet. While his power remained when he moved up to AA, every other part of his offense went down. He has to show improvement before being moved up, plus he defense still needs a lot of work.
    1. Oldtwinkiesfan's Avatar
      Oldtwinkiesfan -
      I have to agree with SweetOne; there is no way Sano and Buxton can be counted on for the Twins this year. To count on Sano breezing through AAA and being in the majors in 2014 is foolish. He struck out a lot at AA last year. Let's see how he handles a higher level of pitching before we anoint him the savior ( remember Hicks and Gibson last year? ). As for Buxton; projecting a 19 year old kid to tear up AA and AAA and make the leap to the major leagues is more than foolish. I hope (know?) TR is not counting on those guys. Let's hope he does the smart thing and gets some legitimate starting pitching, that Willingham and Doumit return to 2012 form, that Mauer hits better (more power?) by getting out from behind the plate, Arcia is 100% healthy and hits for power, and Dozier continues his development. If all those things happen, they may have a competitive team in 2014.
    1. Paul Pleiss's Avatar
      Paul Pleiss -
      How does the move effect Mauer's annual all-star status and his eventual HOF status? I think both take a serious hit with the move to first. I still see him as HOFer, but his all-star status, at least his chance to start regularly is definitely in jeopardy.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmlease1 View Post
      especially with the Twins seeming desire (need?) to keep 12 pitchers.
      I would be ecstatic if we carried 12 pitchers all year in 2014, especially if the other 13 guys were actually all healthy.
      It's tough to manage a team well when you keep having 2-3 guys availible off the bench.

      As far as ripple effects go, I really think that Plouffe and Parmelee are at high risk of being out of the Twins organization before opening day. They both have been inconsistent with their offense, and neither have shown stellar enough defense to ride on that. Even without Sano, Plouffe is going to have competition from Escobar, Bartlett, Bernier, and possibly Florimon. Only one of those guys can be the starting shortstop and I'm sure the rest would rather be starting 3B than utility guy.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      I hope Sano is really special and comes in mid-season and tears it up.

      He Might... He Might Not...

      What I want to see happen doesn't always match with the reality of what will happen.

      I'd rather not burn his MLB time watching him struggle... I don't want him learning while the Arb clock ticks... When Sano comes up... I want him to hit the ground running and provide a big boost ala Puig, Harper, Braun or Trout. If he's ready to do that out of Spring Training... Bring him on... If not... Let's wait.
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