• Mauer Making a Statement?

    The Twins have played 18 games this year, and Joe Mauer has been in the starting lineup for every single one. That's right – you might not have noticed, but the embattled catcher has not taken a day off this season after missing half of the 2011 campaign due to various ailments.

    This is the longest Mauer has even gone into a season without stopping to rest, and it's not like the early schedule has been particularly forgiving, with only one day off and plenty of travel. Granted, Mauer has been catching much less frequently than normal -- he's been behind the plate for only 10 games -- but nevertheless, this iron man stands in stark contrast to the guy who last year drew the ire of media, fans and reportedly even some teammates for his inability or unwillingness to stay on the field.

    It seems that No. 7 is making a statement.

    Fortunately, his bat is starting to back up that message. Mauer stumbled out to a slow start, batting .242 with a .675 OPS and nearly as many GIDP (4) as RBI (5) through Minnesota's first nine games. Since the start of the Yankees series, however, Mauer is hitting .382/.475/.471 with three doubles and five walks. He's stopped putting everything on the ground and he's even stolen a couple bases – an indication that his legs are feeling pretty good. He's struck out just three times in his past 46 plate appearances.

    Mauer's overall production hasn't been extraordinary, but it's extremely encouraging to see him pushing his batting average up over .300 and consistently taking quality at-bats. April is historically one of his quieter months, so if he can continue to heat up as the weather does the same, he could find himself once again grouped with the league's top hitters.

    The Twins have already had plenty of things go wrong this year, but getting Mauer back on track was always the top priority. It appears that he's well on his way, and Ron Gardenhire deserves credit for moving him around and keeping him fresh enough to take the field each day.
    This article was originally published in blog: Mauer Making a Statement? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      It's clear at this point that Mauer is not going to be worth $23M to the Twins. There's not much use in further hand-wringing about his salary. I'm not sure why every discussion about him invariably needs to circle back to that complaint.
      A) money is a factor in MLB whether we like it or not. Particularly for teams not playing in Yankee Stadium.

      B) given that, the issue then becomes if he can't earn his salary under the current situation, what can he and/or the team do differently in an attempt to come as close as possible.

      IMO the team can move him off catcher so that 3 weeks without missing time is less likely to be a source of wonder and celebration, and Mauer can learn to turn on the ball and accept that being a run producer means sometimes you go up to the plate and look for a pitch to hit, rather than trying to avoid hitting until you have no choice.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Um, because that is his salary, and it impacts what else they can do with the roster. Because people are talking about his worth/value to the team, and that has to be measured against his salary. Value has a cost, and his cost is a really big number. How should he be measured, if not against what he costs? How about against other catchers? Even then, if he was paid $1MM, last year would have been a successful year, but he's not paid $1MM. So how should he be measured, if not by his contribution relative to his cost? Isn't that how value is determined?

      For example, if he stayed where he is in WAR right now, how would you judge him, if not against how much he costs relative to that WAR? Because for $5MM, he's a bargain...should we discount, say, 8MM a year for being a hometown boy (which he's not, actually), meaning we should judge him relative to $15MM per year?

      Because you can't just judge him relative to other C/1B/DH, without understanding the cost of that contribution relative to what other players produce per dollar spent.
    1. SD Fan's Avatar
      SD Fan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      It's clear at this point that Mauer is not going to be worth $23M to the Twins.
      I had to make an account to dissagree with this. I live in western SD and have been a Twins fan my entire life. I drive my family the 10 hours to Target Field for a weekend every summer. I do it so when my kids grow up, they can say, "I got to see Joe Mauer play baseball when I was a kid." We all have Mauer jerseys, Twins hats, etc. If they wouldn't have paid him, I wouldn't do any of that, I wouldn't watch every game on FSNorth. I would be done with baseball because I am so sick of the bleepin Yankees paying all the best players to leave. I probably would have completely sworn off the entire State of MN, never to return or even acknowledge it's existance. My kids would flunk geography because there would just be a big blank hole next to SD on our maps. Make no mistake, he may never hit more than 15 HR's again or be worth $23M to any other ball club, but he is definately worth the $23M to the Twins!
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      This is why you move Mauer to the 2-hole --- he's a very (too) patient single/doubles hitter who get OB a lot, but not an RBI guy. This also gets our best hitter more ABs. Why not make this move? B/c Grady likes a "balanced" lineup? B/C it's an admission of weakness, that you're "supposed" to have your best hitter in the 3-hole?

      Vs. RHP VS. LHP (changes)
      Span
      Mauer
      Willingham
      Morneau (1B)
      Doumit (DH)
      Valencia
      Parmellee (RF) Plouffe (RF)
      Carroll
      Casilla
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Matt Holiday is making 15million/year and has a better career (162 games total average) OPS than Mauer and much higher RBI. If you look at adjusted OPS+, you'll find he's between David Wright and David Ortiz, both making 14-15million/year. This is what Mauer is worth on the field, roughly. Is there an off the field dollar amount, sure, but let's at least parse the two separately, but there's also an off the field number or Ortiz, Holiday and Wright, no?
    1. TwinVike61's Avatar
      TwinVike61 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      It's clear at this point that Mauer is not going to be worth $23M to the Twins. There's not much use in further hand-wringing about his salary. I'm not sure why every discussion about him invariably needs to circle back to that complaint.
      You're right...how about $150,000 per game...or $17,000 per inning?

      Seroiusly, we're all just jealous. People would still be griping even if he had settled for $18M per year or even $13M...maybe not.

      I do agree that it's too bad that's what it always comes back to. Joe is a great ballplayer who's having a solid start to the season by his standards and would be considered great by most other's standards.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Matt Holiday is making 15million/year and has a better career (162 games total average) OPS than Mauer and much higher RBI. If you look at adjusted OPS+, you'll find he's between David Wright and David Ortiz, both making 14-15million/year. This is what Mauer is worth on the field, roughly. Is there an off the field dollar amount, sure, but let's at least parse the two separately, but there's also an off the field number or Ortiz, Holiday and Wright, no?
      Matt Holiday, David Wright and David Ortiz don't play Catcher. The added $8M comes from his ability to put up that OPS from the most physically demanding position in the game.
    1. SD Fan's Avatar
      SD Fan -
      Every player has an off field value, yes. But I believe that number is figured into the total deals already. You can't separate the two because it's too difficult to say with any certainty what a players off field value really is. In Mauer's case, I believe his is quite a bit higher than most, if not all current MLB players(Jeter might be close). I just feel like people need to let it go and enjoy watching him play without breaking down everything into dollars. I realize it's a business, but the look on my kids faces when he comes up to bat and we're live at the game is priceless to me. Sometimes you just have to overspend on the name brand products and it's ok. The Twins made the right decision with Mauer. But that's just my red neck south dakotan opinion.
    1. daan4786's Avatar
      daan4786 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      Matt Holiday is making 15million/year and has a better career (162 games total average) OPS than Mauer and much higher RBI. If you look at adjusted OPS+, you'll find he's between David Wright and David Ortiz, both making 14-15million/year. This is what Mauer is worth on the field, roughly. Is there an off the field dollar amount, sure, but let's at least parse the two separately, but there's also an off the field number or Ortiz, Holiday and Wright, no?
      I think defense and offensive scarcity at the catcher position probably push his value up a little bit. I think he won a couple of gold gloves at a tougher position than Wright or Holliday or Ortiz.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinVike61 View Post
      You're right...how about $150,000 per game...or $17,000 per inning?

      Seroiusly, we're all just jealous. People would still be griping even if he had settled for $18M per year or even $13M...maybe not.

      I do agree that it's too bad that's what it always comes back to. Joe is a great ballplayer who's having a solid start to the season by his standards and would be considered great by most other's standards.

      The real caveat with griping the 23 million/year instead of the 15 million that he's producing is this: Only if the front office would take the 8 million/year and purchase quality pitching with is it worth an overall argument of scarce resources and efficiently utilizing that money to produce wins. That's the bottom line: wins. So, if the front office would not take the 8 million and put it to use, then I could care less if that's what Mauer makes, because it's not helping or hurting the team. You could payer Mauer 90million and have the rest of the team make up the 10 million this season and I'd bet we would still get 5 wins thus far. Am I wrong?
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      If you mean from an on the field perspective it seems debatable. (I suggest those who believe no other team would pony up for Joe haven't been paying attention to the market.).
      Yes, that's what I meant, and I don't really see it as debatable. A great deal of Mauer's value was vested in his playing catcher, which has already become a part-time assignment at age 29. The market doesn't bear much relevance here, as context is key; money spent affects different teams in different ways. For the Twins, Mauer represents nearly a quarter of the payroll. He was paid based on the player he was in 2009 and it seems unlikely we'll ever see that player again -- certainly not every year for the life of the contract (he's already missed that boat).

      Criticizing the contract is an exercise in hindsight judgment, but that doesn't mean the claims don't ring true. Anyone who's being rational will admit that the Twins had no choice but to get the deal done, and due to some truly unfortunate timing they ended up paying an absolute premium. His bulky contract is something they now have to work around, but it doesn't change the fact that Mauer is ultimately an asset. I'd like to see more people focusing on that truth.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Mauer's contract should not hold this club back in the least. The Rockies were just fine handing out large contracts to their young stars despite the fact that Todd Helton was on the books for one of the largest and worst contracts in the history of the game. The Rockies payroll is $20M less than the Twins.

      The reason the Twins are going to have trouble signing other big time players is because the Twins refuse to give out long term deals to anyone not in the organization, and never to pitchers. Generally speaking, the longer the contract, the less money the team will have to spend on the player on a yearly basis, as teams often get a discount by adding years. It's front office philosophy, not Mauer's contract that needs to be debated.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Mauer is an asset, agreed. We can all agree he adds great value to the team. We can all agree that value is greater if he is a catcher. We can all agree that he's a very good to great hitter.

      If all you want is for people to say "Mauer is a great player", in a vacuum, great, I can do that, and I'm sure others can also. I'll stop posting on this thread, and wait for the threads where we talk about how to make the team better, and the value of various players to discuss his contract and its effect on the roster. Sorry we got off your intended discussion.
    1. twinzgrl's Avatar
      twinzgrl -
      I am sick of people bitching about Mauer and his contract. The Twins gave it to him, and when they did, they must have believed that it would pay off. I don't believe that they thought that it meant the gloom and doom that most supposed fans believe it is. The Twins have enough money to get us a decent starter. There just aren't any currently available. Ever see all the Mauer jerseys being worn around the state of MN? MOST people love him, and there is a reason for that. He is the face of the franchise. He is a good guy with a lot of talent. FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO BITCH ABOUT. Johnny Depp makes ludicrous amounts of money for every motion picture he's in...I don't think he's worth that money either, but I'm not going to bitch about it. SOMEONE obviously thinks he is worth it.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      Mauer's definitely got something to prove this year after all the bad fan vibe last year. This just affirms how valuable it is for us to continue being as negative as possible as frequently as possible!
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      It's clear at this point that Mauer is not going to be worth $23M to the Twins. There's not much use in further hand-wringing about his salary. I'm not sure why every discussion about him invariably needs to circle back to that complaint.
      But it's a valid question. If it's a given he's not going to be worth that deal, could the Twins trade him? Should they?

      I think the answers are No and Maybe later. No, because even if they could find a large market team desperate enough to take it on (and there are a couple) he would need to waive his no-trade clause. And "Maybe later" because I'd like to see where Herrmann and the entire franchise is in a year or so.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Yes, that's what I meant, and I don't really see it as debatable. A great deal of Mauer's value was vested in his playing catcher...His bulky contract is something they now have to work around, but it doesn't change the fact that Mauer is ultimately an asset. I'd like to see more people focusing on that truth.
      If Mauer continues on the track he's on for the balance of his career, most will consider him to be the best catcher the game has ever seen. Bench is the name most disagreeers (is this the only word in the English language with 3 consecutive "e"s ?) will cite. Observe.

      Bench Year position games
      68 C 154
      69 C 147
      70 C 139
      OF 24
      1B 12
      3B 1
      71 C 141
      1B 12
      OF 12
      3B 3
      72 C 129
      OF 17
      1B 7
      3B 4
      73 C 134
      OF 17
      1B 4
      3B 1
      74 C 137
      3B 36
      1B 5
      75 C 121
      OF 19
      1B 9
      76 C 128
      OF 5
      1B 1
      77 C 135
      OF 8
      1B 4
      3B 1
      78 C 107
      1B 11
      OF 2
      79 C 126
      1B 2
      80 C 105
      81 C 1
      1B 38
      82 C 1
      3B 107
      1B 8
      83 C 5
      3B 42
      1B 32
      OF 1

      Bench career OPS .817 ( If Bench played 1B or 3B the current generation of fans would probably be unfamiliar with him.)

      Maurer career OPS .873 (this includes his injury riddled "11" and subpar "12" to this point)

      I really like and agree with the last two sentences in your reply.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      1.) We knew all along that from a strictly baseball standpoint, the contract would never make sense, but we also all know that the Twins had to sign him or moving into Target Field may have been a mess.

      2.) The money is spent. They can't un-do it. They can't alter it. It is what it is at this point.

      3.) If the Twins have a $95 Million payroll this year, and Joe Mauer is $23 million of it, there is still another $72 million to spend, and Terry Ryan has build playoff teams on less than that. The Mauer contract is just an excuse.

      4.) The Twins have given long-term contracts to several players. Sometimes it has worked (Hunter, Santana, Radke, Nathan's first one), and some haven't (Blackburn's, Nathan's second one).
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      IMO, you can criticize the contract, but if that's your issue, you should focus that criticism on organization. I agree that even that's hard to do for reasons mentioned.

      I think it's ridiculouly unfair to expect a hitter to change, especially adding power, when his track record shows that's just not the type of hitter he is.

      While I don't mind him playing elsewhere occasionally, the idea that you get more value out of him elsewhere is counter intuitive. In fact, 1B is probably the worst place for him to earn value on the contract.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      One more question....let's say the Twins don't have Mauer, would they have spent that money? I'm not convinced and think their payroll could easily be around $75 million instead of $100. They had the opportunity and cash to pick up a couple $5-8 million this year and chose not to. They certainly wouldn't have been out to get anyone more expensive than that like Pujols or Reyes.
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