Buyer's Remorse to the Tune of $23,000,000.
by, 05-17-2012 at 05:13 PM (1276 Views)
As any Twins fan knows, Joe Mauer was to be the centerpiece around which the Twins built their team. After inking him to a 8 year, $184 million dollar deal, Mauer's success has been spotty at best. Thursday's 0-5 performance with 5 runners left on base is just the latest in a rough patch for Mauer who is now hitting .265 on the season.
Many fans, myself included, have been openly critical of Mauer and his inability to truly lead the team, perform under pressure and to stay healthy for just one season. So far, Mauer has been on the field and at least in the lineup in all but one game this season. This is leaps and bounds ahead of the last two years for the catcher but the real issue at hand for most Twins fans is Mauer's production or lack thereof.
Mauer, when he is in the field (DH as well!), plays a power position. Whether he is behind the plate or at first base, those positions are traditionally positions in which a team can expect some power. Third base is another however Mauer has yet to man the hot corner.
For a man who is 6-5 and weighs 233 pounds, Mauer doesn't pack the punch expected from his position in the field, position in the batting order or what his contract price would warrant.
Mauer has been hitting in third for most of his major league career. Just once in his career has Mauer topped 20 home runs when he hit 28 in 2009 on his way to an MVP award. He has never reached 100 RBI in a season but came close again in 2009 with 96. Traditionally, the batter in the third spot is a team's best hitting slugger. Players like Babe Ruth, Albert Pujols (nevermind his 2012 season so far!), Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Josh Hamilton, Evan Longoria, Harmon Killebrew, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski who occupy the third place in the batting order put things in to perspective. When you take these players into consideration and compare the statistics for the hitters involved, you will find that Mauer does not fit the mold of the slugger he is paid to be rather he fits into the mold of a two spot singles and doubles hitter.
To put it bluntly, Joe Mauer gets paid $23,000,000 a year to to be a glorified singles hitter. Now, there is no denying his hitting prowess. Mauer has one of the nicest swings in baseball and is a well documented batting champion and Silver Slugger. However, most people would agree that averaging 57.6 RBI a year would not and does not warrant such a bloated contract. Yes, Mauer is a career .322 hitter but with Mauer averaging just under 58 RBI per year, would you offer $23 million per year to comparable RBI producers like Jason Kubel (55.5 RBI/yr), Delmon Young (59.7) or Juan Uribe (53.1)? I didn't think so.
Why would the Twins choose to pay this much for Mauer? Honestly, I think it is because they wanted so badly to make that splash contract headline to keep up with the big boys in the league. I agree that he is one of the best hitting catchers to grace the majors however I do not see the justification for such a high paying contract or for the length that it lasts. The Twins should know that catcher is a taxing position and to expect Mauer to be worth what they will be paying him in another six years is just ridiculous. He is already showing signs of either breaking down or being bothered physically as he was last year.
Even more bothersome is that Mauer has caught just 17 games this season and recently has been spending most of his time at first base. It begs the question if he can stand up to the rigors of being the Twins' backstop any more.
Please don't misunderstand--I like Joe Mauer. I think he is a great catcher and a great hitter. I don't like how much the Twins have invested in him financially in light of his health history and his offensive statistics. Simply being a .300 hitter isn't enough to have the right to take up a quarter of your team's salary. A $23 million dollar salary should mean statistics more akin to a Pujols (who makes 12,000,000 in 2012) and a Ryan Howard (making 20,000,000 in 2012). In short, the Twins just aren't getting what they paid for.