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Thread: Article: Catching No Longer an Option For Mauer

  1. #81
    Senior Member All-Star cmathewson's Avatar
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    I don't know if having concussions qualifies me to have an opinion on them. But I have been through this several times, and I can't imagine catching after a severe concussion. I had to stop cycling after one because it caused me to get tentative and to second guess when in dangerous situations. It is so traumatic and debilitating that you subconsciously will do anything to avoid it ever happening again.

    Those who have caught before know the hardest thing to get over is not flinching when someone swings. This will be doubly hard now that Mauer has had a serious brain injury. Minor ones like the one Doumit had this year aren't debilitating in the way seveer ones are. I would be surprised if he's even able to catch after this. I would be shocked if he tries it again.

  2. #82
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    "Much, much, much less chance for concussions"

    Not true. Based on this year's concussion DL numbers a catcher is 10x more likely to get a concussion. That is not much, much, much more.

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJL44 View Post
    "Much, much, much less chance for concussions"

    Not true. Based on this year's concussion DL numbers a catcher is 10x more likely to get a concussion. That is not much, much, much more.

    Uhhh......that's precisely why my post advocate's for the Mauer move to 3rd base. That's where he's "much, much, much less" liable to get a concussion.

  4. #84
    I may have made this point on a different thread, but even several decades ago (Craig Biggio being my favorite example), if you were a catching prospect that had good speed, or happened to be a very good hitter, organizations would get them out from behind the plate early to prolong their career. I think it's safe to say that the cumulative effect of brain trauma on something as "benign" as a foul tip to the mask wasn't appreciated in the late 1980's as much as it is in 2013.

    Joe Mauer is stubborn about wanting to do things his way (playing catcher, offseason routine, etc.), but he's also not Cal Ripken. We've seen time and time again that he will sit out if he's not 95% or better - either on his own decision or pressure from those making the $184 million investment. Even if he avoids more head trauma, which seems unlikely, the daily wear and tear on his knees and body are not going to help him as a hitter - it can only hurt. If a 1B/DH split meant 145 games per year of Mauer hitting instead of 120 games as a C/DH, don't you like that scenario better?

    Ask yourself this, if Justin Morneau had originally been a catcher (and was really good at it), would you advocate moving him back behind the plate this year? If not, then why is the answer any different for Mauer. If you wait for him to have one or two more incidents like this, you've waited too long.

  5. #85
    Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
    Uhhh......that's precisely why my post advocate's for the Mauer move to 3rd base. That's where he's "much, much, much less" liable to get a concussion.
    Only if you know what you're doing...

    detroit-tigers-miguel-cabrera-bloodied-by-hard-grounder-c042b701c90ce1ba.jpg

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never thought of 3rd base as a position that's particularly easy on the body. It doesn't have a life span as short as, say, center field, but you can think of laundry list of 3rd basemen who had back problems and other ailments regularly in their careers as everyday 3rd basemen (Eric Chavez - back, Longoria - foot issues, Zimmerman - every body part). Now, that could be due to the fact that bigger guys play that position, and tend to break down. But at 6'5", Joe is also a "bigger guy". I really don't feel like 3rd base is either a long term solution, nor that it would keep him appreciably healthier over catcher (minus the foul tip aspect).
    Last edited by StormJH1; 09-26-2013 at 10:16 AM.

  6. #86
    Please ban me! All-Star stringer bell's Avatar
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    This has been an excellent debate with both "sides" making good points. Probably the underestimated part of this equation is the player himself. Joe Mauer is, as stated above, someone who likes to do the same thing over and over, perhaps to a fault. He was reluctant to even try to play first base and I would expect that he would be extremely reluctant to try to play a totally new position (3rd base or outfield corner). He is on the cusp of being a Hall of Fame catcher at 30 years of age and, I think, is reluctant to change some more. Mauer has to be on board with a position change or it won't happen. I expect that a medical warning that another foul ball to the mask might make him into Corey Koskie might have the effect of Mauer grudgingly accepting a first baseman's mitt full-time.

    Beyond this, I think the Twins need to forcefully say that they want Mauer to change positions.

  7. #87
    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
    Reality? Are you sure you want to name reality as a columnist/blogger, or would you be willing to defer to a neurologist? Not all concussions are alike. If Mauer is medically cleared to catch--just as football players are routinely medically cleared to return to full contact--why shouldn't he go back behind the plate?
    Unlike many, I have plenty of respect for the Twins' medical staff, but I don't believe they (or any doctors) know enough about concussions to make such a determination. These are the same docs who said they fully expected Mauer to be back sometime this year. It's the same staff that constantly insisted Morneau would be back long before he was, only to be befuddled by another inexplicable setback.

    I don't see how any neurologist could convince me at this point that -- after suffering a severe concussion that affected him for a quarter of a season and will likely continue to bother him into the offseason -- the risk of exposing Mauer to more routine jarring blows to the head in six months is acceptable.

    Let the man do what he wants to do. In this case, he wants to catch.

    What Mauer wants is immaterial. The Twins pay him $23M/yr and they need to protect their asset.

  8. #88
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    What Mauer wants is immaterial.

    Concur.
    Every post is not every other post. - a wise man

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
    Only if you know what you're doing...

    detroit-tigers-miguel-cabrera-bloodied-by-hard-grounder-c042b701c90ce1ba.jpg

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never thought of 3rd base as a position that's particularly easy on the body. It doesn't have a life span as short as, say, center field, but you can think of laundry list of 3rd basemen who had back problems and other ailments regularly in their careers as everyday 3rd basemen (Eric Chavez - back, Longoria - foot issues, Zimmerman - every body part). Now, that could be due to the fact that bigger guys play that position, and tend to break down. But at 6'5", Joe is also a "bigger guy". I really don't feel like 3rd base is either a long term solution, nor that it would keep him appreciably healthier over catcher (minus the foul tip aspect).
    Love the photo.

    3rd base is something a guy as athletic as a former elite QB like Mauer is, could play at, and end up excelling, like Joe Torre did. Plus, you'd actually have a fighting chance to get a positive return on your $23M/yr investment on Mauer over putting him at the less premium position, 1st, which IMO, should be reserved for cheaper-cost, less-athletic, power bats.

    And not squatting for 3 hours is far healthier for a 6'5" guy, so I disagree on your opinion that C=3rd in terms of wear and tear on the body.
    Last edited by jokin; 09-26-2013 at 11:30 AM.

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
    I think the Twins should keep Mauer behind the plate for the entirety of his career. He doesn't want to move and he shouldn't. He hardly has any value if you move him somewhere else. You all think this concussion thing is a big deal, but guess what? It's just as likely at any other position. Corey Koskie and Justin Morneau both got them. In your 30s, anything can ruin your career and I just don't see a significant risk reduction that offsets team value. I like Pinto a lot and I think he'll be a good player, but I wouldn't move Mauer just because of team depth. This is a HOF career guy and keeping him at catcher gives him more potential to seal the deal. Plus, I don't like the Twins paying 23 million for a slightly above average first baseman instead of an elite catcher.
    Come on. Below you go on to say he is a HOF career guy. I just don't understand your logic. It still amazes me how people cannot see how exceptional he is as a hitter....at any position.

  11. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Penz View Post
    Come on. Below you go on to say he is a HOF career guy. I just don't understand your logic. It still amazes me how people cannot see how exceptional he is as a hitter....at any position.
    Because he's primarily a singles hitter. Mark Grace would be the prototype for Mauer at 1st, and that type of career ain't going to get it done for the HOF. And Grace actually has a lower percentage of hits being singles than Mauer. 70.2% of Grace's hits are singles, versus 71.2% of Mauer's.

  12. #92
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    Originally Posted by Steve Penz
    Come on. Below you go on to say he is a HOF career guy. I just don't understand your logic. It still amazes me how people cannot see how exceptional he is as a hitter....at any position.

    jokin - Today, 12:04 PM
    Because he's primarily a singles hitter. Mark Grace would be the prototype for Mauer at 1st, and that type of career ain't going to get it done for the HOF. And Grace actually has a lower percentage of hits being singles than Mauer. 70.2% of Grace's hits are singles, versus 71.2% of Mauer's.


    I would still be happy to have that production at first vs not at all. I hear what others have said about his best value being tied to being a catcher. That may be his best value game to game. What about his best value over the life of his contract? The bat is worthless if not in the lineup. I feel it would be a good business decision for the organization to set up a situation that gives the best chance to maximize that value. At the very least they should shift his time at catcher very, very significantly to the lesser side.

  13. #93
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    Is there a list anywhere of suspected MLB careers ended or dramatically affected by concussions? Even just anecdotally?

    I know not much attention was paid to concussions until recently, but given the apparent sudden severity of the Koskie, Morneau, and now Mauer concussions, you would think there would be some evidence of previous occurrences in MLB, at least some flags about generic missed time + sudden severe performance decline.

    I just can't think of any other examples than those Twins connected ones.

  14. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
    Because he's primarily a singles hitter. Mark Grace would be the prototype for Mauer at 1st, and that type of career ain't going to get it done for the HOF. And Grace actually has a lower percentage of hits being singles than Mauer. 70.2% of Grace's hits are singles, versus 71.2% of Mauer's.
    Mauer, compared to the rest of the AL, is 15th in slugging, 9th in OPS, 3rd in OBP, tied for 16th in doubles (which is only 4 away from being 6th, by the way), and 2nd in average.

    If mauer were a 1B this year, he'd rank 6th in slugging, 3rd in OPS, 1st in OBP, and 3rd in doubles and first in batting average....

    I realize not all the stats I listed are necessarily power numbers, but it's pretty obvious the dude can hit, and he is far more than a singles hitter. Maybe that 71.2% is due largely to previous seasons, but this year he is clearly not a "singles hitter." Also, Mark Grace had a career BA of .303 while Mauer's is currently .323. This means that while Grace is producing outs at a higher rate than Mauer, Mauer is getting more hits as singles which is inflating his "singles percentage." I'd take the guy getting on base more than the guy who produces outs more often. This means that the comparison to Mark Grace is flawed when comparing just "singles percentage." You'd need to compare guys with identical batting averages.

    In terms of this silly "value only at catcher" argument, it's pretty obvious this kind of production would be valuable at any position on the diamond.
    Last edited by jm3319; 09-26-2013 at 03:39 PM.

  15. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by jm3319 View Post
    Mauer, compared to the rest of the AL, is 15th in slugging, 9th in OPS, 3rd in OBP, tied for 16th in doubles (which is only 4 away from being 6th, by the way), and 2nd in average.

    If mauer were a 1B this year, he'd rank 6th in slugging, 3rd in OPS, 1st in OBP, and 3rd in doubles and first in batting average....

    I realize not all the stats I listed are necessarily power numbers, but it's pretty obvious the dude can hit, and he is far more than a singles hitter. Maybe that 71.2% is due largely to previous seasons, but this year he is clearly not a "singles hitter." Also, Mark Grace had a career BA of .303 while Mauer's is currently .323. This means that while Grace is producing outs at a higher rate than Mauer, Mauer is getting more hits as singles which is inflating his "singles percentage." I'd take the guy getting on base more than the guy who produces outs more often. This means that the comparison to Mark Grace is flawed when comparing just "singles percentage." You'd need to compare guys with identical batting averages.

    In terms of this silly "value only at catcher" argument, it's pretty obvious this kind of production would be
    valuable at any position on the diamond.
    It really isn't that silly. Joe has been better at hitting for power, but his percentage of singles in 2013 is still 68.1%, and his triple slash for 2013 is virtually identical to his career averages.

    I hadn't said that Grace and Mauer were identical, but they are similar, close enough that Mauer would still be at best, a close call for the HOF as a 1st baseman. And their career wOBAs are pretty close- .364 vs. .377 for Mauer (and Mauer will probably fall closer to Grace's wOBA number as he ages).

    The main point is that there is a distinct dearth of run-producers on the roster. Putting Mauer at first and taking away one of the few positions where a proven run-producer can thrive without hurting the team much defensively will definitely hurt the Twins- I''m not sure what the exact formula would be, but I'm guessing that the Twins would have to significantly raise their team OBP, possibly by as much as 30 points, to offset the loss of yet another run producer in the lineup. As bad a year as Morneau had, by moving Mauer to 1st, you would be replacing Morneau's .323 wOBA with a catcher's wOBA like Hermann's (.281) or Doumit (.309). Signing a proven run producer Morales (.341), Loney (.339) or even a Swisher- (.336) type would help the Twins overall offense substantially.

    As for an alternative position, think of Joe's .377 wOBA at 3rd versus Plouffe's wOBA there of .306. The League Average wOBA at 1st is .334, at 3rd it's .314- the other Twins in-house options won't even cut close to those numbers. Think of a Morales (career average nearly .350 wOBA) or the Cuban first baseman potentially giving you a .350 wOBA or better number at First Base. That's how this team, in one set of simple steps can get incrementally much better going into 2014. Call Sano up in late June, platoon him at one of the positions or RF, and now you've added a 3rd step to significantly upgrading the run-producing potential.
    Last edited by jokin; 09-26-2013 at 04:13 PM.

  16. #96
    Senior Member All-Star YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Penz View Post
    Come on. Below you go on to say he is a HOF career guy. I just don't understand your logic. It still amazes me how people cannot see how exceptional he is as a hitter....at any position.
    He's a Hall of Fame guy because of what he's done in the past AS A CATCHER. If he were a 1B his entire career he's not a Hall of Famer at this point. Is it really that hard to understand that 1B hit better than catchers?
    2013 Average OPS for 1B: .808
    2013 Average OPS for C (Excluding Mauer): .742

    Mauer's a career .873. His .880 this year is #1 for catchers. #6 for 1B.

  17. #97
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    He's useless on the bench, and most catchers decline quickly. I want him out there for years. I don't think anyone is changing their side here......
    Lighten up Francis....

  18. #98
    Senior Member All-Star YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jm3319 View Post
    So a guy who usually is among league leaders in OBP, batting average, and OPS has "hardly any value"? That's shocking news to me. Please tell me, what exactly makes a player valuable if being really good at hitting a baseball and getting on base doesn't mean "value" to you? And don't say "he's overpaid" because the Twins have tons of payroll space and can cover the $23 million, no question.
    His OPS is .831 while playing 1B and like I said the average is .808 at first. It's clear to see he that he has performed better when catching. Mauer is above average behind the plate defensively and league average at first. Value to me is a player who performs better than 15 other starters and Mauer isn't much above that at 1B.

  19. #99
    Senior Member All-Star cmathewson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
    His OPS is .831 while playing 1B and like I said the average is .808 at first. It's clear to see he that he has performed better when catching. Mauer is above average behind the plate defensively and league average at first. Value to me is a player who performs better than 15 other starters and Mauer isn't much above that at 1B.
    There's a reason catchers who can hit don't often stay at the position beyond 30: They find they can produce more value with their bats than with their gloves. Mauer with fresh hands is an MVP hitter. Catching deadens his hands to the point where he becomes a singles hitter, or rolls over every other swing to the second baseman. I think he'd consistently put up 900+ OPSes at first, which, if you add in his outstanding glove over there, you've got a top-tier first baseman.

    Before his catching-related injuries this year, I think he was third in WAR in the entire league. And that was while catching four of five games a week.

    The other thing is, his defense behind the plate is starting to become a liability. Sure, he's been better this year with throws and such. Be he's so tall, umps give up on the low strike as often as not. This is a really bad thing for guys like Kyle Gibson and Scott Diamond, who have to live at the knees.

    Besides the injury issue, you have to ask: Would the Twins be better with Mauer at first and Pinto behind the plate or Mauer behind the plate and Parmelee/Calobello at first? I think the former. As some have said, Mauer's wishes are irrelevant. Let's make the best team we can with what we have. And I have a hard time believing he wouldn't do what is in the team's best interest.
    "If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

  20. #100
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    It bugs me we feel we can completly bypass having a competent replacement. The proposals here basically are calling for us to go from one position at league average and one well above to one below and one average. And that's if Pinto is only bad defensively and not both.

    Just not a fan of that with no reliable alternative and no assurance it will extend his career.

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