The issue isn't that Mauer is better or worse as a hitter depending on the position he plays. The point is that catching wears him down, reducing his playing time.
Maybe nuance is needed in this discussion? (haha, imagine that . . .)
The issue comes down to 600+ plate appearances as a 1B (no need to spend much time DHing, then) vs. risking not even getting 500 plate appearances if he is the primary catcher.
Of course the concussion issue adds the total disaster scenario. And that isn't good.
But the issue comes down to weighing the position vs. the number of likely plate appearances.
I am comfortable with Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann.
I'm not sure I am comfortable with Herrmann as Pinto's alternate. It is nice to have a guy that can play serviceably both behind the plate and at an outfield corner, but Herrmann couldn't hit in AAA, and his numbers for the Twins overall were uninspiring.
Originally Posted by Shane Wahl
"What is better, Mauer at first and pinto at catcher, or Mauer catching and random guy from the system playing first?"
Mauer catching and a random guy from the system playing 1B is the right answer. Mauer is by far the best defender they can put behind the plate. Colabello has outhit Pinto on the same minor league teams.
I can't stress this one enough - Mauer is the only good defensive catcher on the roster. Moving him to 1B would be a huge minus for team defense. Mauer could probably be equivalent to John Olerud at 1B but they win more games with him behind the plate at this time. If they go out and get a free agent catcher like John Buck then moving Mauer to 1B makes a lot more sense.
Despite a strong September (offensively), Pinto still has a lot to prove, the dropoff in value from Mauer to him at catcher may have more effect than whoever else the Twins have to man 1st and playing Joe more at catcher.
Platoon Parmelee and Colobello at 1st until June and then throw Plouffe over there in place of Colobello if Sano is ready for 3rd. I'd rather see that lineup come June than Mauer playing steady 1st this early.
This is provided the starting pitching is decent enough not to require 13 pitchers however.
ha ha ha ha ha ha............like the Twins are going to platoon anyone.......ha ha ha ha!!
The risk aversion on this thread is amazing to me. When would any rookie coming into the league not have stuff to prove? And, there is not a lot of evidence that mauer is a great or even very good defensive catcher anymore......
And, people state opinions like they are facts so often, it is hard to have a nuanced, actual, discussion.
Comes down to this for me, you have $115m future investment in Mauer. Mauer catching increases the chances that a good amount of that money could be lost with little or zero return. If that was my investment I'd do everything I could to put him in the position that he'd play the most games and remain healthy. That would be no more catching!
On top of that we don't have a 1b ready to take over for Morneau and there are several decent free agent catchers that could share the job with Pinto or someone else.
The risk vs the minimal reward means imo, that the only common sense thing to do with that much money invested in the teams best asset is move him.
I am strongly in favor of positional flexibility for our Joe Mauer.
I don't want to think of Joe Mauer as a catcher only anymore. I also don't want to think of him as our new everyday 1B.
Positional Flexibility for Joe Mauer creates options for Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire.
Ryan can shop at 1B or C or both if he needs to and that opens all doors for improvement.
Gardenhire can play matchups better during the season with Joe being flexible.
Joe should play wherever the context of the team needs him to play. Positional Flexibility will allow us to get Joe on the field more often and where we need him.
The only thing I don't want to hear... Is Joe saying that he wants to catch and catch only and then lock him into the position or any position.
For what it's worth, through Sept 13, 18 players in the MLB had been placed on the 7 Day Concussion DL. Of those 18, 10 were catchers.
With that information, it's tough to argue there's equal risk at other positions.
A link to the article: For catchers, concussion dangers all too real
From 2011 to 2013, 21 players had 1000 at bats that were catchers.....Mauer is 18th in defensive WAR over that three year span. now, that is largely driven by him being awful in 2012, but even in 2011 he was (of the 26 catchers with 300 ABs) 20th in defensive WAR. So, ya, he was really good in 2013, but awful in 2012, and below average in 2013.
Until 2013, his defensive WAR had dropped every year since its peak in 2007.
Meanwhile, it is reasonable to expect that Mauer could be elite defensively as a first baseman. Maybe that sounds oxymoronic, but he would appear to be immediately an above average defensive first baseman.
Originally Posted by mike wants wins
Mauer is solid with the run game and blocking pitches but you can wipe away some of that contribution with the reduction in PAs. And then if you want to get into framing - he isn't especially great at getting the low strike, which would seem to be pretty important to a staff that is constantly told to keep the ball down.
Compounding the problem is that Doumit is notoriously lousy and what minor league data there is suggests Pinto was among the worst framers too. The answer then, IMO, is that none of these guys should be catching next year.
Mauer catches 50, goes as 1B/DH for 80. That's what I'd like to see. No reason to explain it since everyone has their mind made up.
There is an argument to be made either way. I lean toward protecting Mauer but he is less valuable at 1B if for no other reason than 1B is the easiest position to fill. Morales or Loney would be nice additions. If you really believe in Pinto, put Mauer at 1B and go sign a corner outfielder this off-season.
I understand all the people who want Mauer to be remain at catcher, since his skill as a catcher are a great asset. I understand people who don't think the other Twins catchers are good gambles to play regularly. But it has been 4 full years since Mauer has caught even half of the Twins games. Whether it's concussion, bilateral leg weakness, or something else, he hasn't been even close to a full time catcher for 4 years. How do you plan for a guy to be your main catcher in year 5 when he hasn't done it for 4 years? No team would do that. I don't see it, and that's without acknowledging that his concussion issue is more likely to come back if he's catching.
So, at the least, I think the Twins need to have a plan for someone else to catch a ton. If the other guys on the roster aren't good enough to do that, they need to upgrade regardless. It's hard to upgrade catching, especially for a part-time catcher. If you are going to sign a catcher, you are either going to get another flawed guy who is an ok backup, or you are going to get a full-time catcher. You can't really do either if you want Mauer to catch, as there's not playing time to justify it.
You can, then, though, upgrade at first base or DH. Except there isn't a free agent first baseman/DH who is as good of a hitter as Mauer is. I can't find one, and it's not really closer, and that's without any increase in performance from him not catching. And you aren't going to trade for a first baseman that is a better hitter than Mauer. So the best possible first baseman for the Twins next year is Mauer....the hit at catcher is up for debate, but the pure performance at first base isn't.
If you want Mauer to catch, but you can't count on him catching because he hasn't done it for 4 years, you need to keep a position open for him at DH or first base a lot. Which means you can only upgrade at 1b/DH with lesser or part time player(s), so you're not really bringing in much talent there. Just the same as with catcher...you're frozen out from making any splash bigger than a ripple.
The choice comes down to either: Move Mauer to 1b, knowing that's an upgrade, and then try to upgrade at catcher, or keep Mauer as catcher and be stuck bringing in lesser, probably part time player(s). Or just stand pat and punt completely.
I don't want to punt. I don't want the sign some fringy guys and hope everything works out well. I want them to actually have a plan and make a move based on something that they can control. That means moving Mauer to first base (or at least away from catcher), and then upgrading as best they can in the other openings.
Mauer was injured in 2011 so it should be expected that he's below average. He was lousy in 2012, recognized it and improved. He probably has 2 more seasons max as an above-average defensive catcher just due to his age. I think his defensive decline will push him to 1B eventually and I expect him to be above average at 1B after he moves. He is an outstanding athlete.
My guess is 2014-2015 are "transition" years where he only catches 80-100 games and he doesn't catch much after 2015. Ted Simmons caught 50 games past age 33. Joe Torre moved at age 30 but he was not a good defender. Yogi Berra was done catching full-time after age 34. Bench was done catching at age 32. Eventually Mauer will move to 1B and commenters can all say "I told you so".
Thats solid reasoning that any clear thinking person not caught up in "positional value" should see.
Originally Posted by mike wants wins
It would be a completely different story if they had a solid starter at 1st base and DH and there wasnt anuwhere else for mauer to play. Thats not the case. As it stands, their most major league ready prospect is Pinto. He hit at every level last season, and appears to be a very promising player. Its ridiculous for Pinto to be held back when there's a glaring opening at 1st base.
A lot of those guys fell off a cliff after age 30 with the bat too. Torre never OPSed above .800 after 30. Berra rattled off 9 consecutive .800+ OPS but after age 31 took a pretty good hit. Similar stories with Bench, Pudge, even Piazza to a large extent.
Originally Posted by DJL44
I was going to blog about this actually after Matt Harvey elected to get TJ surgery, but abandoned it due to lack of evidence. But the career arcs of these guys seems to mirror Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Feller, Hunter, etc. The great pitchers who quit or became ineffective early in life due to fuzzy explanations like "sore arm" or "tired arm" which we now know to have been torn UCLs probably.
Maybe a similar thing has been going on with catchers. Maybe their knees and noggins are wearing down worse than anyone realizes.