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Thread: Mauer to 1st?

  1. #61
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig in MN View Post
    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.
    Fantastic post.
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  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
    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.
    Ding, ding ding.

    Or possibly throw Corey Hart into the 1B FA mix, possibly a reasonable deal is available for a huge bounce-back candidacy. And Hart could fill both 1B and RF situationally.

    Still want to consider Positional Flexibility at Third Base as part of the Mauer mix.

  3. #63
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig in MN View Post
    How do you plan for a guy to be your main catcher in year 5 when he hasn't done it for 4 years?
    What exactly is your bar for this? What qualifies as a full time catcher?

    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.
    You realize that in scenario A you are trying to upgrade from Mauer at catcher right? And that, short of maybe 1 or 2 guys that isn't really possible? As opposed to keeping him at catcher and trying to upgrade over a paltry set of first baseman.

    To me, that decision is easy: upgrade at 1B. It's easier to find. And cheaper.
    Last edited by TheLeviathan; 10-24-2013 at 06:45 PM. Reason: fact-checked my own error

  4. #64
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
    Again, that's fair a point, but I think you tried to come across pretty heavily on a semantical point (the tense chosen by the poster), who by the way, just stated Mauer's offense "suffers when he catches" not "he's a better hitter when he plays 1B."
    And it's not true. I'm baffled that an opinion, completely unsupported by facts and totally reliant on conjecture, is throwing the "small sample size" stone.

    Baffled. I'm not denying the possibility it might help him, but it hasn't so far. So you're just hoping and you're taking a very significant, KNOWN risk in the hopes that your unknown improvement will happen.

    This team has enough issues without actively creating more.

  5. #65
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    What exactly is your bar for this? What qualifies as a full time catcher?



    You realize that in scenario A you are trying to upgrade from Mauer at catcher right? And that, short of maybe 1 or 2 guys that isn't really possible? As opposed to keeping him at catcher and trying to upgrade over a paltry set of first baseman.

    To me, that decision is easy: upgrade at 1B. It's easier to find. And cheaper.
    I think the point--a good one--is that getting Mauer his PAs by making him a part time player at 2 or 3 positions most likely means there will be guys filling those positions who you really don't want there, and you'll end up with a clogged roster with bad options.

    You're not going to get a desirable free agent 1st baseman to come here if he knows he's going to sit every time Mauer plays first. Same for a catcher.

    "Mauer catches 80 games" sounds better in theory than it will work in practice.

    I think the best way to move this team forward is to bite the bullet, move him, and start making personnel moves with that issue resolved.
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig in MN View Post
    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 sorta get what you're saying: Mauer playing part time at a position means we generally try to patch together the rest of the games at the position, rather than trying to find a quality full-timer.

    However, the Twins have had open spots before and have not bothered acquiring a quality full timer, so I don't think Mauer is necessarily a roadblock in that regard.

    Also, you are ignoring the position of DH which also seems pretty open on the Twins. That alone means the Twins could acquire a full-time 1B and still keep both him and Mauer in the lineup almost full-time. Not to mention RF, 3B, and LF -- the position combinations are really endless.

    I guess if you have a line on another good catcher, you could go for it, but I don't see that catcher out there right now. Pinto and Doumit might be the most realistic options and they both have some flaws right now, probably shouldn't be anything more than part-time MLB catchers.

  7. #67
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
    I think the point--a good one--is that getting Mauer his PAs by making him a part time player at 2 or 3 positions most likely means there will be guys filling those positions who you really don't want there, and you'll end up with a clogged roster with bad options.

    You're not going to get a desirable free agent 1st baseman to come here if he knows he's going to sit every time Mauer plays first. Same for a catcher.

    "Mauer catches 80 games" sounds better in theory than it will work in practice.

    I think the best way to move this team forward is to bite the bullet, move him, and start making personnel moves with that issue resolved.
    How does playing him at first change this? You go from having a great player and two open spots (1B and DH) to an average player and two open spots ( C and DH) with one of those spots much more difficult to fill.

    Move him when you solve the replacement catcher. In the meantime, spread him around while the team is terrible and hope he can full time catch when the team is ready. If he can, you significantly increase your likelihood of a great team.

    It cant be stated enough, it is a significant step backwards for this teams future to lose Mauer's position value. I wouldn't willingly kill that value.
    Last edited by TheLeviathan; 10-24-2013 at 09:42 PM.

  8. #68
    Please ban me! All-Star stringer bell's Avatar
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    Both sides have made their points. IMHO, Mauer's concussion and a first base vacancy have accelerated something that almost everybody agrees was going to happen anyway. The Twins may try to start the season with Mauer as their primary catcher, but one of several factors will probably change that--an injury to Mauer, Pinto proving to be too good for Triple A, ineffectiveness/failure of the first base options--and Mauer will become the Twins regular first baseman.

    On the topic of not getting a premium player if Mauer is moved around, a first base/DH like Morales would fit and also if somehow/some way Parmelee blossomed, he presents the option of going to the outfield and providing Joe a chance to start frequently at first.

    I still think the organization would be wise to move Mauer sooner rather than later, but the Twins front office and field staff has shown itself to be extremely conservative in cases like this.

  9. #69
    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    I can see Pinto and Mauer splitting duties at catcher - Mauer to protect him & Pinto to protect the team while he improves his catching. When they're not there, they play DH (mostly Pinto) or 1B (mostly Mauer).

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    And it's not true. I'm baffled that an opinion, completely unsupported by facts and totally reliant on conjecture, is throwing the "small sample size" stone.

    Baffled. I'm not denying the possibility it might help him, but it hasn't so far. So you're just hoping and you're taking a very significant, KNOWN risk in the hopes that your unknown improvement will happen.

    This team has enough issues without actively creating more.
    It's not just a small sample size issue, it's also that there are plenty of reasons to consider your conclusions from the data hugely flawed are not representative of what a move to first base would actually mean for his hitting.
    -All of his PAs at 1B have come in seasons where he is primarily a catcher.
    -His PAs at 1B are few and scattered among several seasons
    -When Mauer played first base in the past, it was typically because he wasn't healthy enough to play catcher. So, any hitting numbers at 1B should be assessed with that in mind.

    Now, if you want to continue to stubbornly believe that there is actually significant risk that he would be a worse hitter at 1B, based solely on those stats, that's really your call, but don't be surprised when they are dismissed. IMO, the "conjecture"
    (which at the very least is an understanding of what catching does to a player's body) is just as valid as those stats. Which is to say, neither mean anything until we see a full year where Mauer plays mostly first base.

  11. #71
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
    Now, if you want to continue to stubbornly believe that there is actually significant risk that he would be a worse hitter at 1B, based solely on those stats, that's really your call, but don't be surprised when they are dismissed.
    When did anything within the same universe of this come out of my mouth? The claim was that his offense "suffers" by playing catcher. The implication is that it will be better then at 1B. Except the data shows the exact opposite. I've made no such claim about what will or won't happen and I've damn sure never said his offense will suffer by a move.

    What I've done is shot down the claim that catching has caused his offense to suffer. There is no evidence of that. What evidence there is contradicts that claim. If you want to conjecture about what would or wouldn't happen - go for it.

    I've seen nothing to date that moving him to first is going to magically transform him and the one issue I KNOW will happen is moving a bat like his from a premium position will hurt this team badly. I'm not willing to take that risk (with the myriad of other problems this team has) on the hopes he becomes even better as a 1B.

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    When did anything within the same universe of this come out of my mouth? The claim was that his offense "suffers" by playing catcher. The implication is that it will be better then at 1B. Except the data shows the exact opposite. I've made no such claim about what will or won't happen and I've damn sure never said his offense will suffer by a move.

    What I've done is shot down the claim that catching has caused his offense to suffer. There is no evidence of that. What evidence there is contradicts that claim. If you want to conjecture about what would or wouldn't happen - go for it.

    I've seen nothing to date that moving him to first is going to magically transform him and the one issue I KNOW will happen is moving a bat like his from a premium position will hurt this team badly. I'm not willing to take that risk (with the myriad of other problems this team has) on the hopes he becomes even better as a 1B.
    Ok. It seemed implied in your stance and some of the things you said, especially regarding risk, which you just explained better as value and not hitting.


    Obviously, some of us prefer the risk and value long term from the short term value of him catching.

    Assuming no more concussions, how many seasons do you think he'll be catching 80-90 or more games a season?

  13. #73
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    I want to clarify that it's been 3 years since Mauer has caught more than 75 games (not 4 like I wrote earlier).

    I should also clarify that Mauer is not an average first baseman. Last year, there were 5 full time first basemen who hit better than him, and one DH. If he can stay healthy at first, he is an all star level first baseman.

    That also goes to show that it's not easy to actually sign a decent first baseman/DH. There are about 3 good first base free agent options, none of which seem to me like real options for the Twins. After that, you can't really expect anything more than a .750 ops, and most of them you'd expect less than that. There's not much there.

    It's not easy to upgrade at catcher. I disagree that you are trying to upgrade from Mauer, since he's not even a half time catcher. You are upgrading from half Mauer/half current backups to some new mix.

    He's the weird math in my mind:
    In 2013, Twin Catchers had an .860 combined OPS. Firstbasemen had a .720 OPS. DHs had a .634 OPS.
    I think Mauer at first full time has a .880 OPS. So you need about a combined .670 OPS from catcher and DH to even out...which isn't much. There are actually plenty of free agent catchers who hit that. I think Pinto and Doumit and a defensive-minded free agent catcher rotating between those spots can combine to do more than that. If you sign a more well rounded catcher, you get a bigger upgrade.

  14. #74
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
    Obviously, some of us prefer the risk and value long term from the short term value of him catching.
    I'm not sure how valuable an .800 OPS with no power playing first for 23 million is. Regardless of how fresh he is or how much his longevity is extended.

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig in MN View Post
    I think Mauer at first full time has a .880 OPS. So you need about a combined .670 OPS from catcher and DH to even out...which isn't much.
    This is precisely the problem - "evening out". The best way to substantially improve the club isn't to move the 850+ OPS at catcher.

  16. #76
    Please ban me! All-Star stringer bell's Avatar
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    I get your argument Levi, but don't fudge the numbers. You use .800 as Mauer's 1B OPS (with no power) and mention .850+ OPS at catcher. While I'm not making the claim that Mauer absolutely will be a better hitter at first, I will say that he would be at least as good as he is at catcher, so use .850 on both sides of the equation.

    I can't prove it but I think he would be an improved hitter as a full-time 1B. That "projection" should also part of whether or not he should be moved.

  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    I'm not sure how valuable an .800 OPS with no power playing first for 23 million is. Regardless of how fresh he is or how much his longevity is extended.
    I'm not even going to address the contract issue. It just doesn't impact the Twins in a meaningful way in the immediate future.

    There were less than 50 players with an OPS over .800 last season. Mauer was 16th. Of those 50 players, just 33 had a higher slugging. That's pretty darn valuable regardless. Is it more valuable at catcher? Obviously. But among first basemen, his OPS and SLG would rank 5th and 10th respectively. If you want to use wOBA Mauer looks even better and would rank third among first basemen.
    Last edited by Alex; 10-25-2013 at 12:14 PM.

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
    I get your argument Levi, but don't fudge the numbers. You use .800 as Mauer's 1B OPS (with no power) and mention .850+ OPS at catcher. While I'm not making the claim that Mauer absolutely will be a better hitter at first, I will say that he would be at least as good as he is at catcher, so use .850 on both sides of the equation.

    I can't prove it but I think he would be an improved hitter as a full-time 1B. That "projection" should also part of whether or not he should be moved.
    Fact is, though I'm glad you pointed it out, the distinction doesn't matter. Mauer is a good enough hitter that he be starting at 1B for most teams in the MLB all all but a couple of AL teams at DH.
    Last edited by Alex; 10-25-2013 at 12:14 PM.

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    This is precisely the problem - "evening out". The best way to substantially improve the club isn't to move the 850+ OPS at catcher.
    He's not an 850 ops catcher. He's an 850 ops PART TIME catcher. If I was pretty sure he could start consistantly at catcher, I'd agree with you. But you can't sign two good hitters to play first and DH and force Mauer to catch 120 games. You can hope that happens, but you just can't plan for that to happen. You could sign one hitter and let the status quo rotate through the other two spots.

    Here's the thing though: the Twins had Morneau hitting .740 ops this year. That is EXACTLY the kind of guy you will be able to sign for a first baseman or DH on the free agent market. You can sign one guy like that, but that is exactly evening out! That is not upgrading either. The only way to upgrade the offense is to sign multiple ok hitting free agents, and hope that Mauer stays healthy and can play catcher almost every day. If he doesn't, then he is at first and you are wasting that free agency investment on the bench (or Mauer is injured and it's a downgrade no matter what else they do).

    If you have the money to sign 2 FA position players, then you should sign one, do everything you can to make sure your best player can play every day, and put the rest of the money in the pile for free agent starters.

  20. #80
    Senior Member Triple-A D. Hocking's Avatar
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    Not that the gold gloves really reflect defensive value anymore, but Mauer was just announced one of the three AL finalists for the catching position. Whether he is a worthy finalist or not, he was better behind the plate. Whatever the real story behind his 2011 injuries were, I think it was something significant enough where it still effected him defensively in 2012 (although some of that might have just been bad habits he picked up playing injuried in 2011). I know he took a lot of heat in 2011 for not playing more, but I do think he was pretty messed up (although and the team could have handled the PR a little better...)

    I also think whatever took him down in 2011 effected his defense in the second half of of 2010. I have always kind of wondered if he came back too quickly after jamming his foot on first base back in June, and did too much compensation favoring the injured foot effecting his defense and leading to the knee injury that took him out at the end of the season and created the 2011 mess. I am not medical expert, just my speculation.

    It is too bad the concussion ended his season early, not just for the obvious reasons for concern of his health for him on a personal level and what it might mean for future impacts. It would have been helpful to know what his total game total would have been in both games played and games caught. Would catching in September been an issue etc.

    Pre-concussion, I would have said keep him out there longer, now I would be fine with him making the switch. I suspect what will happen, if there are no more concussion issues, is that the first half of this year he will play mainly catcher, but then the tranisition to being more of a first baseman will start to accelerate. Although this should not be an issue, I suspect after the all-star game Mauer will play more and more first. Not that is the only reason Mauer still wants to catch, I think he still wants to catch period. The Mauer issue always generates a fair amount of comments. Reminds me of an old Randball column -- someting like the most boring controversial figure out there (boring not really meant as an insult). Sorry, this was kind of long, rambling, and incoherent.

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