06-16-2014, 09:20 AM #1
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At the risk of starting a dumpster fire, I was having a water cooler discussion with some friends and I let this beauty fly (in relation to Mauer moving to third base or the outfield): "I just don't see it guys, based on the eye test, I don't see Mauer as an overly athletic type".
Now what I meant was, he seems stiff, not very fluid, lacks a quick first move instinct, etc. (purely in relation to his play at first, not at catcher). To a point where I'm not convinced he would be a good outfielder.
To disclaim, I am aware of his potential quarterback status and I've read considerably on his preparation (athletically and mentally). I'm also a total Mauer homer and I'm holding on to a mini-bat whispering curses to the left field line.
With that all said, begin the onslaught of ridicules. I probably deserve them, but when you've made the statement, own it.I will one day successfully sneak onto the Sportive Podcast, and have nothing intelligent to say or add to the conversation.
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06-16-2014, 09:46 AM #2
He does look stiff this season.
But as a guy who has played 95%+ of his games at catcher for 13 years, is that really a surprise? That doesn't mean Mauer isn't athletic but he's out of practice doing anything but squatting behind a dish all day.
Hopefully he'll get into a groove and continue to improve at first but so far this season, it has been pretty brutal.
06-16-2014, 09:47 AM #3
I agree with your statement. It's why I never thought 3B was a good option for him.
06-16-2014, 09:51 AM #4
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I would partially agree. His first step is not super quick. His feet don't look very light when he runs. Once he gets moving he's pretty fast, but it takes a bit to get up to speed. I will say, he doesn't have the Trevor Plouffe lead feet. That guy really picks them up and puts them down. How he made it up as a shortstop is beyond me. His feet look like they're made of bricks. I have been impressed with Joe's diving plays at 1st the past month. I do think he's settling in over there. To end this, I think Joe would look better in the OF than most of the OF's we've run out there this year. Maybe not right away, but he'd figure it out.
06-16-2014, 10:43 AM #5
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IIRC, Mauer has had numerous knee problems/surgeries. Everyone else i've observed who has had multiple knee problems moves a lot slower and more akwardly than before said injuries. there may well have been a window for Mauer to become a 3B-man, but that window closed years ago.
06-16-2014, 11:53 AM #6
I'll answer this thinking more back on mid-20's Mauer than current Mauer, because people with his body type in their early 30's almost uniformly can't be all that agile/athletic.
Most of the Mauer being athletic discussion came with the silent preamble "For a catcher," or "For a 6'5" guy,". Unlike the people who wanted to put him at 3B, I never felt like Mauer had the type of athleticism that demanded to get him out from behind the plate to benefit from it. In other words, Craig Biggio was a catcher but they moved him to 2B both to preserve his career and because his speed/agility was wasted behind the plate. Mauer isn't like that. He has really interesting athletic abilities - including decent top speed for a long-strider and impressive hand-eye coordination - but those may have translated in more useful ways in sports other than baseball.
06-16-2014, 11:54 AM #7
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I think there is a difference between being "athletic" and havng "fluidity/(insert whatever adjective you want here). I have spent 11 years coaching HS and college basketball and sometimes the best athletes aren't always the best players, because their mind isn't at rest. They don't always "move" the best because they lack the confidence (gained by reps) compare to someone who may have less athleticism but gets "it." Mauer is athletic (not like Trout or Santana), and we see it in glimpses. He has excellent hand-eye coordination too. BUT, IMO playing 1st does seem to be "natural" to him yet. He is having to re-program his entire baseball career mindset. All of his baseball instincts are as a catcher. I think he will be very good given time.
06-16-2014, 12:27 PM #8
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Mauer is probably past the point where a move to 3B would work. However, being an athlete doesn't necessarily mean you have every tool, to me it means that the tools you have are strong and you know how to use them to compensate for any that are lacking.
I think if Mauer would have started off at 3B we wouldn't be talking about moving him away from there because despite any shortcomings associated with aging, he'd know how to make up for them. But I don't think it's viable to move him now, he doesn't have the muscle memory or experience to compensate for the elements that are lacking.
06-16-2014, 01:14 PM #9
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I wouldn't advocate a full-time move anywhere for Mauer right now, but I'd like to see some (any) flexibility.
As much as Mauer is struggling, he is still one of our 9 best hitters... but exclusively playing him at 1B/DH means either he or one of our other 9 best are sitting on the bench too often for my liking. The primary case is Morales has to go to the bench to give Willingham a break from the field at DH. Or perhaps even worse, it means we ride Willingham too hard in the field and reduce his effectiveness or increase his likelihood of injury.
Could Mauer make occasional corner OF appearances and not embarrass himself? Ideally, this would have started back in spring training, if not 2012-2013, but given the other in-season positional trainings we are doing this year, they could probably do it now too.
06-16-2014, 01:33 PM #10
06-16-2014, 03:03 PM #11
This probably falls in the obvious category, but I remember hearng someone who has been to a lot of the games and seen Mauer play in person, say he can tell when Mauer has to consciously think about how to respond to a play and how much smoother it is when he can just react off of his instincts. He thought, while he still has a way to go, more of his first base skills are starting to become more reflexive and that it will come, but it just won't be that instant perfection of a switch people just took for granted would happen.
I do agree that it is very possible some of the stiffness in motion is due to the back and knees being in a crouch for ten years (combined with having to reprogram his mindset as someone mentioned earlier).
Since I have to listen to most of the games on the radio, it is hard for me to judge things like this and have to rely on things like the Twins Daily game threads to get a better picture (although that often leads to picturing things I would rather not).
06-16-2014, 07:47 PM #12
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Man, this season has been rough for him. If he could only consistently hit his LF flyballs 25-50 feet further,and ground out to second a little less, I wouldn't have arbitrarily studied his facial expression and posture in certain situations.