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Nick Nelson
09-24-2013, 09:10 PM
You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?r=2364-Catching-No-Longer-an-Option-For-Joe-Mauer

IdahoPilgrim
09-24-2013, 09:18 PM
I would be curious to hear from those who have advocated him remaining as catcher because of the greater difficulty of finding a catcher who can produce offensively than a first baseman. I wonder if the length of his being sidelined, which is far longer than most people were anticipating, has given them any pause.

TheLeviathan
09-24-2013, 09:27 PM
I'm still in the boat of playing him at catcher until it's obvious he can't physically handle it anymore. But during these lean years when we are awful I'd like to see them scale it back considerably to protect him for the long run.

blindeke
09-24-2013, 09:28 PM
what a bummer.

JB_Iowa
09-24-2013, 09:29 PM
I haven't been advocating one way or the other. I get that Mauer's value is higher when behind the plate but we knew the amount of time there would always diminish.

Question, though: there was always interest among some fans in Mauer going to 3rd instead of 1st. Do we now find that to be an impossibility? Has he aged out of playing 3B? Are we so sure that Sano will be at 3rd that we aren't even interested in trying Mauer there?

IdahoPilgrim
09-24-2013, 09:31 PM
Question, though: there was always interest among some fans in Mauer going to 3rd instead of 1st. Do we now find that to be an impossibility? Has he aged out of playing 3B? Are we so sure that Sano will be at 3rd that we aren't even interested in trying Mauer there?

Where does Sano play then? First? Short?

JB_Iowa
09-24-2013, 09:34 PM
Where does Sano play then? First? Short?

Probably 1st although I also saw something about one of the outfield spots. It just seems like the articles lately are still talking about his defensive problems more than his offensive.

I don't know the answer. Maybe Sano sticks at 3rd but if not, I guess I'm asking if it is ludicrous to think of Mauer at 3B???

USAFChief
09-24-2013, 09:42 PM
Probably 1st although I also saw something about one of the outfield spots. It just seems like the articles lately are still talking about his defensive problems more than his offensive.

I don't know the answer. Maybe Sano sticks at 3rd but if not, I guess I'm asking if it is ludicrous to think of Mauer at 3B???
I've long been an advocate of Mauer to third base.

But...if Sano can play third (and I don't know, but if) then it makes no difference if Mauer is at first and Sano at third, or vice versa.

Thrylos
09-24-2013, 09:47 PM
But...if Sano can play third (and I don't know, but if) then it makes no difference if Mauer is at first and Sano at third, or vice versa.

Sure it does. Mauer is taller and he is accustomed to digging balls out of the dirt. Sano isn't. First base is not a dumping ground, you actually need some skills to play and it is one of the most important defensive positions in the game because of the frequent contact...

And Sano is a fine third baseman. Matter of fact better on the field than most of the Twins' starting third basemen the last few years (including Koskie at similar stages of their careers. Coskie was a butcher in the minors...)

Seth Stohs
09-24-2013, 09:50 PM
I haven't been advocating one way or the other. I get that Mauer's value is higher when behind the plate but we knew the amount of time there would always diminish.

Question, though: there was always interest among some fans in Mauer going to 3rd instead of 1st. Do we now find that to be an impossibility? Has he aged out of playing 3B? Are we so sure that Sano will be at 3rd that we aren't even interested in trying Mauer there?

The Mauer to 3B thing never made sense, and it was never something given and credence by the Twins or by Mauer...

IdahoPilgrim
09-24-2013, 09:53 PM
Sure it does. Mauer is taller and he is accustomed to digging balls out of the dirt. Sano isn't. First base is not a dumping ground, you actually need some skills to play and it is one of the most important defensive positions in the game because of the frequent contact...


One of my favorite parts of Moneyball:

Scott Hatteberg (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0695435/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): [Responding to being asked to play first base for the Oakland A's] I've only ever played catcher.
Billy Beane (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000093/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): It's not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.
Ron Washington (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0421116/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): It's incredibly hard.

Alex
09-24-2013, 10:04 PM
One of my favorite parts of Moneyball:

Scott Hatteberg (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0695435/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): [Responding to being asked to play first base for the Oakland A's] I've only ever played catcher.
Billy Beane (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000093/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): It's not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.
Ron Washington (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0421116/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): It's incredibly hard.

Movie line used to create tension.

Shane Wahl
09-24-2013, 10:05 PM
One of my favorite parts of Moneyball:

Scott Hatteberg (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0695435/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): [Responding to being asked to play first base for the Oakland A's] I've only ever played catcher.
Billy Beane (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000093/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): It's not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.
Ron Washington (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0421116/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): It's incredibly hard.

Haha. Good reference here.

IdahoPilgrim
09-24-2013, 10:05 PM
Movie line used to create tension.

I know. I like it anyway.

It's right up there with:

Billy Beane (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000093/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): Would you rather get one shot in the head or five in the chest and bleed to death?
Peter Brand (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1706767/?ref_=tt_trv_qu): Are those my only two options?

Shane Wahl
09-24-2013, 10:08 PM
I am on board with ending Mauer's time behind the plate. He can serve as the third (emergency, in game) catcher only.

JB_Iowa
09-24-2013, 10:10 PM
I am on board with ending Mauer's time behind the plate. He can serve as the third (emergency, in game) catcher only.

Great point. If Gardenhire is still around, that really solves the 3 catcher problem although since Sweet Drew went to LA, its been less of an issue anyway.

Larsbars08
09-24-2013, 10:25 PM
Is it worth having a good hitting catcher, considering how volatile and the significant injury risk that playing catcher has? Is it worth paying a catcher big money considering how volatile the position is?

I have very mixed feelings about this. Obviously there's a huge problem with Catchers and concussions. Catcher is clearly the most dangerous position on the diamond. Whether from concussions or home plate collisions. There has to be some sort of solution to this, because it's a massive baseball problem when 10 of the 18 players who have gone on the concussion DL are catchers. Considering that's pretty much 1/6th of all catchers in the MLB. It seems like there is a small chance every pitch, that a catcher will suffer a concussion. There has to be a way to protect catchers, because otherwise every catcher out there is a ticking time bomb. Some might get lucky and others won't be lucky, and that seems unacceptable.

If Buster Posey or Yadier Molina had a concussion, would those teams move them from behind the plate? Should they be preemptively moved? The Nationals moved Bryce Harper to the outfield as soon as they drafted him, should that be done for any promising hitter who also plays catcher? I know I'm asking a lot of questions and I'm not sure there's many answers, but major league baseball has a serious issue. I don't know why teams aren't throwing millions of dollars into new and improved helmet tech. Because something needs to be done, and improving the helmets seems to be the only answer that doesn't involve changing the game.

kab21
09-24-2013, 10:28 PM
I have been an opponent of moving Mauer from 1/2 time catcher but a serious concussion changes things. There is a substantially higher risk of another concussion (my understanding of concussions) after you have had one and catchers are always at risk.

I think Sano has shown enough this season defensively that the Twins shouldn't block him by moving Mauer there. If the Twins had no decent 3B prospects in the minors (like most years) and a good 1Bman then 3B would be an option but this isn't the case.

This would create a spot for Doumit on next year's roster if Mauer isn't catching part time. Previously I felt he was expendable with Mauer/Pinto catching and the fact that he really doesn't hit enough to be a regular DH. In addition to the Twins have other options at DH like Willy.

kab21
09-24-2013, 10:35 PM
Is it worth having a good hitting catcher, considering how volatile and the significant injury risk that playing catcher has? Is it worth paying a catcher big money considering how volatile the position is?

I have very mixed feelings about this. Obviously there's a huge problem with Catchers and concussions. Catcher is clearly the most dangerous position on the diamond. Whether from concussions or home plate collisions. There has to be some sort of solution to this, because it's a massive baseball problem when 10 of the 18 players who have gone on the concussion DL are catchers. Considering that's pretty much 1/6th of all catchers in the MLB. It seems like there is a small chance every pitch, that a catcher will suffer a concussion. There has to be a way to protect catchers, because otherwise every catcher out there is a ticking time bomb. Some might get lucky and others won't be lucky, and that seems unacceptable.

If Buster Posey or Yadier Molina had a concussion, would those teams move them from behind the plate? Should they be preemptively moved? The Nationals moved Bryce Harper to the outfield as soon as they drafted him, should that be done for any promising hitter who also plays catcher? I know I'm asking a lot of questions and I'm not sure there's many answers, but major league baseball has a serious issue. I don't know why teams aren't throwing millions of dollars into new and improved helmet tech. Because something needs to be done, and improving the helmets seems to be the only answer that doesn't involve changing the game.

Having an elite hitting catcher is worth it. Buster Posey ripped his knee up catching and he still catches almost full time. Yadi would punch somebody if they tried to move him from catcher.

Harper (and also Myers) were moved from catcher because it could have delayed their MLB arrival by 2 years. Boras actually pushed for it because Harper started accumulating service time significantly sooner. So injury risk wasn't really a factor in these decisions.

stringer bell
09-24-2013, 10:40 PM
I was opposed to moving Mauer going into this season. With the impending free agency of Morneau and his subsequent trade, I then advocated making Joe a part-time first baseman believing that Pinto could be behind the plate for about half the innings, with Joe and Doumit or Herrmann splitting the other 50% of the innings. Now, I am with those saying that Mauer shouldn't be considered a catcher any more. He's one hard foul tip or home plate collision from perhaps being a shadow of himself and the Twins have a lot of money tied up in him. I agree that he could be the emergency third catcher. The time is now to make the move--the Twins don't have an incumbent first baseman and Mauer would have the entire spring to polish his first base skills, providing he has recovered from the concussion symptoms.

ashburyjohn
09-24-2013, 10:45 PM
Mod note: nice thread so far. The moderators will be taking a dim view of trolling, so keep up the good work.

Larsbars08
09-24-2013, 10:46 PM
Having an elite hitting catcher is worth it. Buster Posey ripped his knee up catching and he still catches almost full time. Yadi would punch somebody if they tried to move him from catcher.

Harper (and also Myers) were moved from catcher because it could have delayed their MLB arrival by 2 years. Boras actually pushed for it because Harper started accumulating service time significantly sooner. So injury risk wasn't really a factor in these decisions.

It does say on Harper's wiki page that he was moved from catcher to speed up his development AND extend his career. You can't really argue that injury concerns played no part in the decision.

Obviously having an elite hitting catcher is incredibly valuable, but if all those guys are a figurative roll of the dice away from a potentially debilitating brain injury, at what point do you move them?

adjacent
09-24-2013, 10:46 PM
At this point, all I want is at spring training time, Mauer reporting without any issue. I would leave the position discussion until that time. In the meanwhile, cross your fingers.

kab21
09-24-2013, 10:52 PM
It does say on Harper's wiki page that he was moved from catcher to speed up his development AND extend his career. You can't really argue that injury concerns played no part in the decision.

Obviously having an elite hitting catcher is incredibly valuable, but if all those guys are a figurative roll of the dice away from a potentially debilitating brain injury, at what point do you move them?

The weights I apply to your wiki source
95% speed up his development (getting that first big contract 2 yrs sooner)
5% extend his career (it would have happened anyway)

I think we are in the era where elite hitters like Posey and Mauer get moved in their early 30's anyways. The question is whether or not they catch 6-10 years before getting moved.

jorgenswest
09-24-2013, 10:56 PM
I am concerned that symptoms will linger throughout the winter. Joe will not be able to maintain his workout regimen over the winter. He comes next spring in poorer physical condition (not his fault) having lost some weight and struggles at the plate. These brain injuries are serious and can have lasting impact.

Larsbars08
09-24-2013, 11:02 PM
Maybe I'm being unnecessarily alarmist about this. I'm guessing that Mauer's career would have had less and less catching each year he got older regardless.

halfchest
09-24-2013, 11:30 PM
What value he loses moving to 1B vs C he can at least partially make up for by playing more games which I assume he will. I liked his 2012 where he played about half the games at catcher took a dozen off and split the other half between 1B and DH. I think he can bring some value by being available to play C and probably could learn corner outfield. Let's say the Twins have Hermann and Josmil as the teams catchers with Joe at 1B. Josmil seems to have enough bat to play some DH and could possibly learn 1B as well. Hermann can play some C and is reportedly a solid defender at OF. I honestly haven't seen him enough to judge but reports I've read seem to say he's a good corner outfielder.

The point I'm saying does a platoon situation of Mauer as primary 1B playing maybe 20-30 games at C a year along with Pinto and Hermann make sense? I would push for Pinto to learn 1B as well. That way you can avoid callups if a guy has to miss a few days. Three capable catchers that are capable of filling DH and 1B on a semi regular basis could have some value.

Oh, and Doumit.

kab21
09-25-2013, 12:05 AM
Let's put an end to all plans that involve Pinto spending any significant time at DH. He had a great season but realistic expectations have him as a .700-.750 OPS hitter. If scouts thought he was a good enough hitter to DH regularly (.775-.850 OPS) AND catch then he would be a top 50 (probably top 25 prospect).

I don't think Herman ever becomes a player worthy of regular starts either. Definitely not as an OF'er. His value is a once/twice a week starting catcher that has versatility to play the OF if needed. he just doesn't hit enough especially anywhere other than catcher.

Thegrin
09-25-2013, 06:04 AM
We've had Mauer behind the plate for most of 10 outstanding years. He can play 1B and give us superior defense there. He has the ability to alter hist swing and give us more power. I say, "Thank you Joe. May you give us 10 more years at 1B."

TheLeviathan
09-25-2013, 07:56 AM
I worry this is all premature until we actually know we have another catcher. Play Pinto plenty....but no permanant move yet for Mauer.

Badsmerf
09-25-2013, 08:12 AM
Why is it that any Twins player which receives a concussion doesn't just receive any, but it is a catastrophic concussion that lingers? Are these more severe than football concussions where guys come back in a week? I just don't get it. Maybe he is feeling "symptoms" still, its obviously not worth pushing it in this season but that shouldn't alter the entire future plans for him.

I don't really know how bad it is, none of us do. Concussions changed Morneau's and Koskie's career so it isn't something you can just play through without any effect. I hope this is not something we have to continue to talk about. Moving Mauer from catcher permanently is not in the best interest of the Twins.

ChiTownTwinsFan
09-25-2013, 08:57 AM
Why is it that any Twins player which receives a concussion doesn't just receive any, but it is a catastrophic concussion that lingers? Are these more severe than football concussions where guys come back in a week? I just don't get it. Maybe he is feeling "symptoms" still, its obviously not worth pushing it in this season but that shouldn't alter the entire future plans for him.

I don't really know how bad it is, none of us do. Concussions changed Morneau's and Koskie's career so it isn't something you can just play through without any effect. I hope this is not something we have to continue to talk about. Moving Mauer from catcher permanently is not in the best interest of the Twins.

The NFL hasn't taken concussions seriously until recently; I think the lawsuit of former players vs the NFL was just settled. Also, see: Dave Duerson. I'm glad that baseball is taking this more seriously. That said, I think we need to really see what we have, who is here, who is gone, who we get, before Mauer is moved. I don't think any decision made rashly is a good one. Still, I think we see Mauer behind the plate next year, even if half time or less.

Siehbiscuit
09-25-2013, 09:03 AM
The Twins just drafted 3 catchers in the first 7 rounds of the draft as well! On the outside, it does appear that the FO sees Mauer's time behind the plate is winding down as well.

To me this issue is rather simple. Either he is to catch and a lot of this is a smokescreen to shut him down at the tale end of a lost season or he is genuinely having major issues. If it is the former, keep him as the primary catcher, send down Pinto to be the AAA catcher and have Doumit continue as the backup. Mauer will also play 1B and DH same as he did in 2012. If it is the latter and he really is having major symptoms, then it needs to be over for Mauer at catcher. His bat is what has made him so valuable. His defense is replaceable (not necessarily within the organization), but his bat regardless of position is top 10. If this is a legitimate concussion situation and not a "shut him down and give Pinto AB's" situaton then he needs to be done as a catcher and not even the emergency guy. One more foul tip could end his career.

Steve Penz
09-25-2013, 09:19 AM
I have now moved to the camp of putting him at 1B. This article turned me. People say his value goes down at first and I get it but take a look. His career hitting numbers vs the 1B numbers from the whole league this year would have him 1st in Avg, 2nd in OB% and 6th in OPS. Not to mention that I feel he could step in and contend strongly for a gold glove right away. I'll take it. The bat is way too important and although less exceptional, his numbers would still make him one of the best hitting first basemen (and players) in the league. And, like others have pointed out, he could be the emergency catcher. Sorry, Joe. This move should happen.

DJL44
09-25-2013, 09:48 AM
This article doesn't change my mind that Mauer should stay at catcher for a number of reasons. I'll list them in descending order of importance.

1) He's had one concussion in 10 years behind the plate. At that rate he's unlikely to have another one. He's at risk for a concussion batting and running the bases and he isn't going to stop doing either one of them. There are things they can do to mitigate his concussion risk while catching.
2) He's their best defensive option at catcher. Until that is no longer the case I can't support moving him from behind the plate. The team has a better chance of winning ballgames with him catching.
3) He doesn't want to move and it gives Mauer his best chance at making individual accomplishments the longer they leave him there.
4) If they move him from behind the plate now he might not make the 2014 ASG at Target Field.

I fully support using Mauer more at 1B and DH but his primary position should be catcher as long as it helps the team win.

roger
09-25-2013, 09:53 AM
I agree that Mauer should be moved to first base, full time. I understand his previous statements about being a catcher and that is where he will play. With this concussion lingering, much like Morneau, at some point he is going to have to understand that his future both on and off the field is at risk if he goes behind the plate...even for part of one game as an emergency option.

Mauer is now married with a wife and Twin daughters. At some point this winter he is going to have to come to the understanding that his health and future as a husband and father dictate that he no longer risks his future health by catching.

The Twins are fine without Mauer behind the plate, even in an emergency situation. Doumit and Pinto can share catching and DH with Herrmann a good bench option who catches a game every now and them. If they trade Doumit at some point, Pinto is the starter and they need to find a backup or emergency catcher.

nicksaviking
09-25-2013, 10:27 AM
Are we sure the "concussion" wasn't just an excuse to get out of playing on a terrible team and instead play video games with his best bud?

I took liberties with the Patriot Act and recently recorded a telephone conversation between Mauer and Morneau soon after the Canadian was traded to Pittsburgh. It went like this:

Canuck: I got traded to them Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mauer: Say what?! I thought I had it written into my contract that we get to play together until we retire or die from drinking a combination of cola and pop rocks.

Canuck: Bill Smith pulled the old razzle dazzle and put some of that fine print on your contract, it didn't count I guess. You also gotta clean the Target Field bathrooms if your OBP dropps below .360.

Mauer: Well that's it, I'm going to Pittsburgh to play with you.

Canuck: You can't play there, don't ya know Minnesotan's can only play for the Twins?

Mauer: Well then I'll quit. I'm moving with you, I'll start looking for a two-bedroom for us.

Canuck: Make it three, we can turn the extra room into planetarium like at our old place. I still have some of those glow in the dark stars to stick on the ceiling. But don't quit, just tell Gardy you been getting headaches. We might be able to make this work if we try the old "Canadian Brain Freeze" trick.

Mauer: Isn't that when you Canadians ride a Moose naked through town with an ice bucket on your head?

Canuck: No, that's the "Frozen Furry Wedgie" and it's a bucket of maple syrup.
Remember that time I was into those Saskatoon mobsters big time in 2010 and ended up missing the rest of the season? I think the concussion thing can still work.

mike wants wins
09-25-2013, 10:30 AM
I don't care if Mauer is in the ASG, or in the Hall....so those don't matter to me. I care if the Twins win.

The best way to do that is to have your best player on the field 160 games a year, not 120, imo. He should move to 1B full time, with some time at DH also.

halfchest
09-25-2013, 10:32 AM
Let's put an end to all plans that involve Pinto spending any significant time at DH. He had a great season but realistic expectations have him as a .700-.750 OPS hitter. If scouts thought he was a good enough hitter to DH regularly (.775-.850 OPS) AND catch then he would be a top 50 (probably top 25 prospect).

I don't think Herman ever becomes a player worthy of regular starts either. Definitely not as an OF'er. His value is a once/twice a week starting catcher that has versatility to play the OF if needed. he just doesn't hit enough especially anywhere other than catcher.

I don't know Pinto seems like something clicked over the last couple years. He's had a .844 OPS in 2012 and .882 OPS in 2013 along with a really nice start in the majors. Will he be a .850 OPS hitter? Probably not. Could he be around .800 though? I think so. I think he wasn't on prospect lists because a year ago he had had one nice season. Well now he built on that with an even more impressive season this year. Nice K/BB ratio and 15 HR pop. Probably should be a top 100 prospect if he doesn't use up his eligibility. I guess in my plan he would be the primary C and DH maybe 30-50 games.

I agree with you on Hermann but it is nice that he can at least be a solid emergency option in the outfield, possibly late game defensive replacement type guy.

ashburyjohn
09-25-2013, 11:02 AM
1) He's had one concussion in 10 years behind the plate. At that rate he's unlikely to have another one. He's at risk for a concussion batting and running the bases and he isn't going to stop doing either one of them. There are things they can do to mitigate his concussion risk while catching.

I'll leave the full context of your first point, but I have to disagree with the second sentence of it. According to Concussion: Risk factors - MayoClinic.com (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/concussion/DS00320/DSECTION=risk-factors) :

Factors that may increase your risk of a concussion include:


Participating in a high risk sport...

..

Having had a previous concussion


Mayo's stats apparently mean his "rate" is no longer what it once was.

Now, we've seen serious concussions by our CF (Span) and 1B (Morneau), but what we need are other stats to show whether catching has more of the "high risk sport" elements than those positions. My guess is the answer is yes, with foul tips and home plate collisions being part of the job; but diving for balls may be just as big a risk. And in any case the defensive side of the job is only part of the total risk, since for example home plate collisions require two to tango.

DJL44
09-25-2013, 11:03 AM
Mauer is now married with a wife and Twin daughters. At some point this winter he is going to have to come to the understanding that his health and future as a husband and father dictate that he no longer risks his future health by catching.

By that logic anyone who has a concussion should quit playing baseball because they're putting their family at risk. Baseball is a game that has inherent injury risks. Playing 1B doesn't keep him from getting beaned at the plate or hit by an errant throw during practice.

stringer bell
09-25-2013, 11:07 AM
There aren't many sure things. Among the surest things for the Twins is that if he is playing, Joe Mauer will hit. I certainly think that he will hit better and in more games as a first baseman. I also am pretty certain that Mauer will be an asset at first base whether he plays there for 20 or 50 or a 150 games. Will Pinto be the regular catcher immediately and last there for several years? I think so, but it is far from a sure thing. It would be great if he could step in but I think the Twins need to have a contingency plan--one not involving Mauer going back to catcher if Pinto isn't ready or gets hurt.

stringer bell
09-25-2013, 11:09 AM
By that logic anyone who has a concussion should quit playing baseball because they're putting their family at risk. Baseball is a game that has inherent injury risks. Playing 1B doesn't keep him from getting beaned at the plate or hit by an errant throw during practice.True, but how many catchers were disabled this year by things unique to being a catcher (home plate collisions and foul tips)?

Shane Wahl
09-25-2013, 11:16 AM
I am comfortable with a Pinto/Herrmann semi-platoon behind the plate. Semi, because Pinto should be the primary catcher. SSS and everything, I know, but I don't really care. I don't expect Pinto's fall to earth to be that dramatic. And Herrmann will get a bit better after his rookie season. His isolated discipline of about 90 means that if he can hit .240, he is a good backup catcher. I don't expect much of a higher average, but a .240/.330/.370 doesn't seem out of the question. And Pinto's OPS could legitimately be 70-100 points higher than that. Some offensive drop by moving Mauer away from catcher is mitigated by having adequate-good catching options, the arrival of Sano at third, and a jump forward by Arcia (and, ahem, a platoon of Parmelee and Plouffe).

Shane Wahl
09-25-2013, 11:18 AM
Also, I am pretty damn sure that Mauer will be a better defensive first baseman than Colabello, Parmelee, Plouffe, Sano, etc. etc. etc. et al, et al, et al--perhaps the best in the entire organization?

DJL44
09-25-2013, 11:19 AM
I'll leave the full context of your first point, but I have to disagree with the second sentence of it. According to Concussion: Risk factors - MayoClinic.com (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/concussion/DS00320/DSECTION=risk-factors) :

Factors that may increase your risk of a concussion include:


Participating in a high risk sport...

..

Having had a previous concussion


Mayo's stats apparently mean his "rate" is no longer what it once was.


"May increase risk." Not "Increases risk by a factor of 100." If he gets one concussion every 10+ years the odds are really low he gets another next season. Moving him from C to 1B only decreases those odds slightly because his concussion risk does not come just from playing C. He's not going to stop "participating in a high risk sport". Alexi Casilla and Wilkin Ramirez had concussions playing the field this year and they don't play catcher.

Does anyone have actual data on the rate of concussions for catchers versus other positions? It is critical to have data to make a risk-based decision. Humans are notoriously awful at estimating risk.

Shane Wahl
09-25-2013, 11:19 AM
By that logic anyone who has a concussion should quit playing baseball because they're putting their family at risk. Baseball is a game that has inherent injury risks. Playing 1B doesn't keep him from getting beaned at the plate or hit by an errant throw during practice.

Number of times hit in head by foul tip >>>> number of times hit in head by pitch or by errant throws in practice.

IdahoPilgrim
09-25-2013, 11:24 AM
By that logic anyone who has a concussion should quit playing baseball because they're putting their family at risk.

If I was a professional ballplayer, and I already had more money than I needed for the rest of my life, I would have to give serious consideration to exactly this. Morneau made a similar comment a couple of years ago, to the effect that it might get to the point where it's not worth continuing to play, and if that happened he would be OK with that.

I think it would be very interesting to see the reaction of the fanbase if that actually happened (and note I am not in any way predicting it nor anticipating it - I'm just speculating for the sake of speculation) - how many would respect him for doing right by his family and how many would feel betrayed by his decision?

kab21
09-25-2013, 11:32 AM
I don't know Pinto seems like something clicked over the last couple years. He's had a .844 OPS in 2012 and .882 OPS in 2013 along with a really nice start in the majors. Will he be a .850 OPS hitter? Probably not. Could he be around .800 though? I think so. I think he wasn't on prospect lists because a year ago he had had one nice season. Well now he built on that with an even more impressive season this year. Nice K/BB ratio and 15 HR pop. Probably should be a top 100 prospect if he doesn't use up his eligibility. I guess in my plan he would be the primary C and DH maybe 30-50 games.

I agree with you on Hermann but it is nice that he can at least be a solid emergency option in the outfield, possibly late game defensive replacement type guy.

Sickels did a September writeup on Pinto and tentatively put him as a B- prospect. Those are borderline top 100 guys at best. Imo people are consistently over optimistic when translating MiLB stats to MLB stats.

The problem with putting Pinto at DH (same for Doumit) for 30-50 games is that it means that the team doesn't have a real DH that is an actual plus hitter in the lineup. Pinto is in his mid 20's and he shouldn't need rest days other than the standard one per week. His bat also likely won't be that important to the lineup and he should get an actual rest day instead of DH'ing.

DJL44
09-25-2013, 11:34 AM
Number of times hit in head by foul tip >>>> number of times hit in head by pitch or by errant throws in practice.

How many times does getting hit by a foul tip result in a concussion? How many times does getting hit in the head by an errant throw when you're not wearing a helmet and face mask cause a concussion?

We're dealing with really small numbers here which is why we need actual data to make a good decision.

Suppose playing catcher doubles his concussion risk versus playing 1B. That means moving him to 1B decreases his risk he gets a concussion in 2014 from very unlikely to very, very unlikely. I don't see "long term health concerns" as a legitimate reason to move him from C to 1B. If that was a real worry the only way to mitigate it is to quit playing baseball.

If we're looking at overall injury risk to a C versus 1B I think that is legitimate because you want Mauer on the field instead of on the DL but it has nothing at all to do with concussions.

jm3319
09-25-2013, 11:39 AM
Having an elite hitting catcher is worth it. Buster Posey ripped his knee up catching and he still catches almost full time. Yadi would punch somebody if they tried to move him from catcher.


This is apples to oranges. Knee injuries aren't a big deal anymore. You have surgery, you miss time rehabbing, and you come back nearly as good as new. (See: Posey, Peterson). Head injuries aren't something you fix with a surgery and rehab, unfortunately. There's no timetable or step-by-step instructions for returning to 100%.

I don't think Mauer is 100% done catching, but he probably should be, for his sake and the team's.

USAFChief
09-25-2013, 11:51 AM
The risk of getting another concussion from a pitch, an errant throw during practice, or any other reason is there no matter what position he plays.

What goes away if he's not catching is the specific risk of foul tips hitting him in the head. Which just happens to be the specific cause of this concussion, and which can be anticipated to happen multiple times again wih near certainty if he stays a catcher.

Combined with the other short and long term physical risks of catching make this decision really easy IMO.

Teflon
09-25-2013, 12:07 PM
Arguments in the vein of "Mauer provides more value relative to the competition at catcher than he would at another position" only make sense if you're playing fantasy baseball. Since the Twins currently have a batting order featuring crap, crud, and flotsam Mauer's position change does nothing to weaken this team. It only weakens his chances of making future All-Star games.

Steve Penz
09-25-2013, 12:10 PM
This could also be an opportunity to maximize value in Willingham. If the Twins go to a more traditional catching situation like they had with Mauer/Redmond they they no longer will have the 1B/DH/Catcher rotation. You get Willingham out of left field and put him at DH were he can hit.

lightfoot789
09-25-2013, 12:24 PM
We could always put Adam Brett Walker II at Catcher. I read or heard he was a Catcher his entire life until he went to college. College coaches didn't want to waste his athleticism behind the plate. He could be another big Catcher (ala Joe). When is the last time we could say we had a Catcher who hit 30+ HRs either? A new direction (average for power)? Might have some swing and miss but HRs and RBIs don't grow on trees. :) I am kidding but.............. :)

nicksaviking
09-25-2013, 12:24 PM
Arguments in the vein of "Mauer provides more value relative to the competition at catcher than he would at another position" only make sense if you're playing fantasy baseball. Since the Twins currently have a batting order featuring crap, crud, and flotsam Mauer's position change does nothing to weaken this team. It only weakens his chances of making future All-Star games.

I was always of the mind that Mauer moving to 1B would hurt the team offensively but this is a true point. Mauer moving to 1B means more AB for Pinto and less for Parmelee or Colabello. Hard to argue that that is going to hurt the team at this point.

Brandon
09-25-2013, 12:43 PM
Next season or 3 Mauer can platoon at First and C with Plouffe or Colabello being the Right Handed 1B and Pinto at C. Mauer can Catch 60-100 games and play 1B 50-90 games depending on health and how the complimentary parts are playing/ hitting. I think Mauer has a few seasons left behind the plate. I do think thats where his value is greatest and as long as he isnt worn out he'll be able to hit.

Sconnie
09-25-2013, 12:46 PM
I have been an opponent of moving Mauer away from catcher, and stick by it, unless he can't do it anymore. 5 weeks does not a lifetime make. I agree with DJL44, that playing baseball puts every player at risk of getting a concussion.

StormJH1
09-25-2013, 01:07 PM
The Mauer to 3B thing never made sense, and it was never something given and credence by the Twins or by Mauer...
Yeah, the idea that Mauer should go learn 3rd base in his Age 31 season is something out of fantasy baseball, video games, or whatever...but it isn't set in reality. Most 3rd baseman who have been doing it for a decade or longer are starting to wind down by age 31. Reflexes slow, athleticism diminishes, and many of them wind up out of the league by their mid-30's unless they can really hit or if they have a background as a middle infielder and can play other positions.

An aging Joe Mauer could hit well enough to play 3rd, but there's no long term value to throwing him out at a completely unfamiliar position that takes entirely different skills than catcher or even 1st base.

Couple all that with the fact that one of the top hitting prospects in baseball already plays that position (how well remains to be seen), and this just makes no sense.

I think Mauer spends significant time at 1st base next year (if healthy enough to play, of course). He also DH'es some, perhaps against lefties with Colabello playing 1st for those games.

StormJH1
09-25-2013, 01:12 PM
Arguments in the vein of "Mauer provides more value relative to the competition at catcher than he would at another position" only make sense if you're playing fantasy baseball. Since the Twins currently have a batting order featuring crap, crud, and flotsam Mauer's position change does nothing to weaken this team. It only weakens his chances of making future All-Star games.
THANK YOU. Even the SABR guys tend to disagree with this, but position scarcity has little or no value unless all 9 (or perhaps at least 6 or 7) of your positional guys are above-replacement hitters for their positions. No matter how good Mauer is playing catcher - the fact that he happens to play catcher is irrelevant to the overall offensive strength of the team...UNLESS you are overflowing with good options at other positions.

If Parmelee and Colabello are the 1st base options, and they both stink next year, then you haven't gained anything at all by "opening up" 1st base for somebody else to play (by having Mauer at catcher). Positional scarcity has some validity, but what people miss is that it has as much or more to do with the quality of the other 8 guys than it does with the quality of the guy overperforming at a "scarce" position.

mlhouse
09-25-2013, 01:24 PM
Although this does not have to do specifically with Mauer's concussion, baseball needs to outlaw the collision with the catcher at home plate. Since Pete Rose ruined Ray Fosse's career in a meaningless game, for some reason it is considered cool to run over the catcher at the plate. This causes injuries, and has been pushed down to lower and lower levels of baseball. Watching my 15 year old nephew get run over routinely at home plate is disgusting and not baseball.

The same needs to be done with the reckless slides at second on double play balls. A legitimate slide is disruptive to the double play pivot enough. Any further contact needs to automatically cause the runner's at a force out base to be out.

Dman
09-25-2013, 02:59 PM
I am torn about moving Mauer to 1st. He has proven to be a good 1st baseman when playing there, but I like him better at catcher. I guess in the end I am fine either way but I was definitely in the camp to just keep him catching. Foul tip seemed like a bit of a freak thing to me. Can you get struck by lightning twice? He is valuable anywhere he plays and if Pinto can hit .260 or so and play decent defense then I guess that is OK.

LaBombo
09-25-2013, 03:31 PM
Arguments in the vein of "Mauer provides more value relative to the competition at catcher than he would at another position" only make sense if you're playing fantasy baseball. Since the Twins currently have a batting order featuring crap, crud, and flotsam Mauer's position change does nothing to weaken this team. It only weakens his chances of making future All-Star games.

Of the 7 AL first basemen with 25 home runs or more, 2 (Davis and Carter) were acquired in minor trades, and 2 (Moss and Encarnacion) were initially cheap free agents. Trumbo was drafted in the 18th round. Only Dunn and Fielder cost their teams a ton of money (which the Twins will have anyway, and none of the 7 cost their team significant talent in a trade.

Pinto has been a pleasant surprise so far, but seems pretty safe to assume that a good GM who's serious about contending ought to be able to find a first baseman who can outhit Pinto sometime between now and when the team becomes competitive again.

mlhouse
09-25-2013, 03:43 PM
As far as future position, I have always thought that Mauer should move to the outfield, specifically RF. He would have a tremendous arm and I have to believe his baseball instincts would really be valuable there. He might not be the fastest guy out there, but at 6-6 he would have lots of range and his arm would reduce bases against. If Chris Parmalee, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, and Josh Willingham were sent out into the outfield, often with comical results, there is almost no way possible for Joe Mauer to do any worse.

CGNikolic
09-25-2013, 03:47 PM
This makes too much sense. Move him to 1B now and enjoy having a healthy, sweet-swinging Mauer for the rest of his contract. We won't be competing next year anyway so whoever plays catcher next year will be irrelevant to our success, so a stopgap (not Doumit please) to play there until Pinto is ready with Herrmann as the backup makes perfect sense. A future lineup with Pinto at catcher, Mauer at first, Rosario at second base, Dozier/Santana/Goodrum/Polanco/Florimon at shortstop and Sano at third makes for a great infield in my book. The key to all of this though, is Mauer willing to make this move? Permanently?

Teflon
09-25-2013, 03:51 PM
Pinto has been a pleasant surprise so far, but seems pretty safe to assume that a good GM who's serious about contending ought to be able to find a first baseman who can outhit Pinto sometime between now and when the team becomes competitive again.

Actually the GM will need to find a 1B who can outhit Mauer - not Pinto - since Pinto still ends up catching when Mauer takes another one off the noggin back there.

ericchri
09-25-2013, 04:09 PM
As far as future position, I have always thought that Mauer should move to the outfield, specifically RF. He would have a tremendous arm and I have to believe his baseball instincts would really be valuable there. He might not be the fastest guy out there, but at 6-6 he would have lots of range and his arm would reduce bases against. If Chris Parmalee, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, and Josh Willingham were sent out into the outfield, often with comical results, there is almost no way possible for Joe Mauer to do any worse.

I've been thinking the same thing. I guess it depends on who makes up the rest of the roster, but it seems possible that leads to a better defensive team next year than with him at 1st, as the prime candidates to man the corners right now might be Willingham and Arcia, neither of whom looks particularly good defensively. Of course this leads to needing to fill 1B with a legitimate hitter, but that seems doable.

jimbo92107
09-25-2013, 04:29 PM
I'm still in the boat of playing him at catcher until it's obvious he can't physically handle it anymore. But during these lean years when we are awful I'd like to see them scale it back considerably to protect him for the long run.

Here's the problem with waiting "until it's obvious he can't handle it anymore." That means you're waiting until he has another concussion, and that could easily be the one that ends Joe Mauer's career.

When I was about ten years old, I got hit in the head with a hard-thrown baseball. I was pitching batting practice, and the guy in center field decided to show off his great arm by throwing it all the way back to me...while I was throwing another pitch to a batter.

I remember this: "Look out!"

"Wha---?"

A couple minutes later, the lights gradually came back on. I was done with baseball for that day.

Of course, that ball was probably going only about fifty miles per hour, but it hit me directly in the back of the skull. Pitches hitting Joe Mauer in the head are traveling 90mph or faster, blows that deliver far more energy than the ball that hit me. I've seen him get hit by three or more shots like that in one game.

A concussion is not like a bruise on your arm. It's more like damage to the delicate wiring that allows you to think and perform coordinated activities like running, throwing, hitting, and playing catch with your kids. Healing the damage to that wiring is a tricky business, and sadly, it doesn't always heal completely.

I don't want Joe Mauer to be forced out of baseball because of concussions, not like Corey Koskie was. I would much rather see him play 1st base or right field for another decade, maybe win another batting title, than see him get beat up even more behind the plate, especially when good defensive catchers aren't that hard to find. Move him out of there now, so we can watch Joe's beautiful swing for many more years.

YourHouseIsMyHouse
09-25-2013, 05:14 PM
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.

diehardtwinsfan
09-25-2013, 05:28 PM
OK seriously, people need to stop with the drama. I get the Mauer is a high paid asset. He's also paid high because he's a catcher, and a month of Pinto against September pitching is not going to change my mind, nor should it change anyone else's, that Mauer is first and foremost a catcher and the team's primary catcher at that.

I have no problems with them having a guy like Doumit or Pinto that can allow Mauer to spend time DHing or playing 1st, but his value is tied to being a catcher, and the success of the Twins next wave is going to largely depend on him being able to catch fairly consistently.

TheLeviathan
09-25-2013, 06:45 PM
Move him out of there now, so we can watch Joe's beautiful swing for many more years.

I understand your point, but if he is that susceptible to another concussion it won't matter where we play him. The day may come when we protect him by moving him, but I don't think a switch made out of fear now, with no definitive replacement, sets this team back even further than it already is.

D. Hocking
09-25-2013, 08:02 PM
I am leaning towards that it is time to make the move to first. I was kind of hoping he would get a couple more years as at least a part time catcher, but I think his window is closing, and the concussion does change my perception of what he should do.

However, I suspect (unless worst case scenario he still has symptoms in six months) he will do some catching next year, despite what some of the talking heads on the radio are predicting. On a petty note, one of the radio personalities, who I generally like but can be a bit smug and is act more like his opinion is the only worthwhile opinion (I guess that could be a few people...), I would not mind seeing his melt-down if he is wrong on this.

jm3319
09-25-2013, 08:10 PM
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.

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.

Don't Feed the Greed Guy
09-25-2013, 10:50 PM
Nick,

I tend to enjoy and agree with your articles. Not this time. You write, "And here's another reality we must face: Mauer's days of catching are done."

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?

As Twins fans, we have reason to be wary. Morneau and Cory Koskie are both cautionary examples of worst case scenarios. But even you admit that we just don't know much about concussions.

I'm glad that the Twins shut Mauer down. It makes perfect sense at the tail end of a 90 loss season. There was no need to rush him back. But if his doctors, his wife, his general manager, and his conscience tell him to catch again next spring--that's Mauer's reality. I will wait to hear that verdict. Until then, keep up the good insights Nick--even though I disagree with this one.

Shane Wahl
09-26-2013, 12:35 AM
Don't Feed the Greed Guy,

Really? The centerpiece of the franchise suffers a conclusion a few weeks ago that is still clouding his experience, the Twins have recent experience with a complete Morneau meltdown, and yet moving him to first base isn't the OBVIOUS choice here? Mauer should be the third catcher. Moving him to first base is not the end of the world and, by the way, none of the other positions even make sense . . . 3B, RF, LF . . . all totally not worth considering. When Kennys Vargas and Dalton Hicks are truly knocking at the door, then considerations can be made. The WAR hit is legit, but it is mitigated by good performers at the catcher position and by replacing other pieces in the roster.

glunn
09-26-2013, 01:09 AM
Moving him to first base is not the end of the world and, by the way, none of the other positions even make sense . . . 3B, RF, LF . . . all totally not worth considering.

In light of the fact that other posters stated their beliefs that RF might make sense, this is somewhat inflammatory. It would be better to preface something like this with IMO or IMHO so as to be more respectful. How would you feel if someone said moving him to 1B is "totally not worth considering" without giving any analysis of why they believe that.

Let's keep the debate lively, but with respect for other points of view.

jokin
09-26-2013, 03:38 AM
I haven't been advocating one way or the other. I get that Mauer's value is higher when behind the plate but we knew the amount of time there would always diminish.

Question, though: there was always interest among some fans in Mauer going to 3rd instead of 1st. Do we now find that to be an impossibility? Has he aged out of playing 3B? Are we so sure that Sano will be at 3rd that we aren't even interested in trying Mauer there?

Joe Torre went to 3rd at the age of 30, and played 161 games at the position despite barely having played there ever before (just 73 games the previous year), and oh, BTW, he won the NL MVP award. We all know about Killebrew and Cabrera, so no, definitely not impossible, IMO, it should be the Twins first option for consideration. Moving Sano to an easier position would make his transition to the major leagues that much smoother.

jokin
09-26-2013, 03:43 AM
Don't Feed the Greed Guy,

Really? The centerpiece of the franchise suffers a conclusion a few weeks ago that is still clouding his experience, the Twins have recent experience with a complete Morneau meltdown, and yet moving him to first base isn't the OBVIOUS choice here? Mauer should be the third catcher. Moving him to first base is not the end of the world and, by the way, none of the other positions even make sense . . . 3B, RF, LF . . . all totally not worth considering. When Kennys Vargas and Dalton Hicks are truly knocking at the door, then considerations can be made. The WAR hit is legit, but it is mitigated by good performers at the catcher position and by replacing other pieces in the roster.









I don't see your "mitigating good performers" at catcher. Pinto has gotten a great start to his major league career, but 23 games doesn't make him a shoo-in for 2014 (remember Parmelee 2 Septembers ago?). It looks like the "the book" is already identifying how to attack his hitting weaknesses- and he's definitely a work in progress behind the plate.

jokin
09-26-2013, 03:59 AM
The Mauer to 3B thing never made sense, and it was never something given and credence by the Twins or by Mauer...

It's made a lot of sense and has gained a lot of credence in Oakland. Josh Donaldson is tied for the WAR lead among 3rd basemen with Miguel Cabrera at 7.7WAR- and that 7.7 WAR is the third-best WAR total in all of baseball. Much, much, much less chance for concussions, seems to make a lot of sense to me to strongly consider moving Mauer there for the majority of his games next year.

Don't Feed the Greed Guy
09-26-2013, 07:07 AM
How about this angle...

Joe Mauer likes to catch. He's an elite athlete who turned down a potential career as a professional quarterback in order to play catcher. It's what he likes to do, and he has done so at the highest level for the last ten years. There is no position in baseball like being behind the plate, calling the game.

Mauer is not a cage rattling, fiery personality. He has a low key, understated quality, especially when interacting with the media. But he has been very outspoken regarding his desire to catch next year. Again, here's Mauer in his own words, three days ago, taken from an article by Tyler Mason of FSN:


"Mauer reiterated Monday that he still wants to catch.

"I have every intention of coming back and catching," Mauer said. "That's what I do. But right now I have to take care of this situation so I can. I look forward to getting out on the field next year as a catcher and whatever else they need me to do."

Catching is what Joe Mauer does. He likes to catch. He wants to catch, and he will catch if his mind and body allow it. Previous posters say, "move him to first base. Try him at third." Yes, the positions of Koskie and Morneau. Playing those postions sure protected those two from concussions... Hey, the man thinks he can catch at a high level for a few more years. He's good at it, and it sounds like the general manager is supporting him, saying things like, "that's his position." Let the man do what he wants to do. In this case, he wants to catch.

cmathewson
09-26-2013, 08:36 AM
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.

DJL44
09-26-2013, 09:54 AM
"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.

jokin
09-26-2013, 10:00 AM
"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.

StormJH1
09-26-2013, 10:10 AM
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.

StormJH1
09-26-2013, 10:12 AM
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...

5722

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).

stringer bell
09-26-2013, 10:46 AM
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.

Nick Nelson
09-26-2013, 11:04 AM
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.

USAFChief
09-26-2013, 11:09 AM
What Mauer wants is immaterial.

Concur.

jokin
09-26-2013, 11:23 AM
Only if you know what you're doing...

5722

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.

Steve Penz
09-26-2013, 11:52 AM
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.

jokin
09-26-2013, 12:04 PM
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.

Steve Penz
09-26-2013, 12:35 PM
http://twinsdaily.com/images/misc/quote_icon.png Originally Posted by Steve Penz http://twinsdaily.com/images/buttons/viewpost-right.png (http://twinsdaily.com/minnesota-twins-talk/8972-article-catching-no-longer-option-mauer.html#post168298)
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 (http://twinsdaily.com/members/jokin.html) - 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.

spycake
09-26-2013, 12:41 PM
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.

jm3319
09-26-2013, 02:57 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.

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.

jokin
09-26-2013, 04:04 PM
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.

YourHouseIsMyHouse
09-26-2013, 04:12 PM
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.

mike wants wins
09-26-2013, 04:19 PM
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......

YourHouseIsMyHouse
09-26-2013, 04:24 PM
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.

cmathewson
09-26-2013, 06:19 PM
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.

TheLeviathan
09-26-2013, 06:47 PM
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.

jokin
09-26-2013, 07:01 PM
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.

Not in my proposal. I'm proposing the Twins sign a slugging FA 1st baseman, Mauer to 3rd (w/ a platoon with Plouffe)/PT catcher. You upgrade/maintain ~2.33 positions to significantly above average.

(And Brian McCann and Salty are available for big bucks, while Doner Navarro or AJ would be available on the cheap- to get the full 3 position upgrade)

DJL44
09-26-2013, 08:33 PM
If even a neurologist can't convince you then you're stubbornly ignoring medical evidence. What Mauer wants IS important. He's not an infant who needs to be protected from harm. He's an adult who can determine if he's willing to take a risk.

Trev44
09-26-2013, 11:32 PM
Mod note: nice thread so far. The moderators will be taking a dim view of trolling, so keep up the good work.
Not worth the money at any other position-plain and simple- zero power!

jokin
09-27-2013, 12:36 AM
Yeah, the idea that Mauer should go learn 3rd base in his Age 31 season is something out of fantasy baseball, video games, or whatever...but it isn't set in reality.


Except for the reality that Josh Donaldson has done it cold turkey and is a plus defender, but not nearly the athlete that Mauer is.... and Joe Torre did it at age 30 virtually cold turkey and was the NL MVP......and Miguel Cabrera did it at 29 and was the AL MVP and Triple Crown winner.......and Killebrew.

Donaldson and Cabrera are the #1 and #2 ranked 3rd baseman, and Donaldson ranks 3rd in WAR, with Cabrera #4 overall. Moving there to third opened up options for both clubs to putting more offense on the field. This is not that hard to delineate.

And not only can Mauer hit well enough to play third, he would quite likely play it better for most of the entirety of the current contract, than any of the above names, and certainly far better than Plouffe or Sano. Makes a lot of sense to me. (BTW---Colabello returning for anything other than call-up fill-in duty next year would be absolutely shocking.)

cmathewson
09-27-2013, 07:23 AM
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.

I don't think Pinto is bad offensively or defensively. He's no Pudge or anything, but he's a better hitter than either of the first base candidates. And the combination of him behind the plate and Mauer at first is a better defensive alignment than the combination of one of the first basemen and Mauer behind the plate.

cmathewson
09-27-2013, 07:25 AM
Not worth the money at any other position-plain and simple- zero power!

A .476 SLG is not zero power. It's among the best at his position. Further, his power is dampened at catcher. When he has fresh hands, it goes about .500, which is elite power.

Alex
09-27-2013, 09:37 AM
A .476 SLG is not zero power. It's among the best at his position. Further, his power is dampened at catcher. When he has fresh hands, it goes about .500, which is elite power.

Not to mention that his money is moot since it's not keeping the Twins from spending.

Steve Penz
09-27-2013, 09:57 AM
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.

It is not hard to understand at all. I was clear on that before this thread was posted. You said, "He hardly has any value if you move him somewhere else." This I do not understand.

Early in this thread I said, "His career hitting numbers vs the 1B numbers from the whole league this year would have him 1st in Avg, 2nd in OB% and 6th in OPS. Not to mention that I feel he could step in and contend strongly for a gold glove right away. I'll take it."

If that makes him not a HOF player then that stinks but vs not playing due to injury I would prefer he spend most of his time at 1B putting up those numbers.

KGB
09-27-2013, 10:07 AM
[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.[/QUOTE]

Agree, the Twins need to do what's best for the team, not what make Mauer more likely to get voted into the HOF or what he wants. I'm sure he wants to win and keeping him on the field and making the best lineup is the best way to do that.

TheLeviathan
09-27-2013, 11:28 AM
I don't think Pinto is bad offensively or defensively. He's no Pudge or anything, but he's a better hitter than either of the first base candidates. And the combination of him behind the plate and Mauer at first is a better defensive alignment than the combination of one of the first basemen and Mauer behind the plate.

By all accounts Pinto has a long way to go defensively but is working hard, but hes still not nearly as good as Mauer. And i would address 1B in FA, finding an average to above average 1B in FA is easier and cheaper than maybe any other position.

DJL44
09-27-2013, 02:46 PM
There are two things a third baseman has to do that a first baseman doesn't have to do.

1) Make long throws across the diamond. I am 100% certain Mauer can do that.
2) Charge bunts. That is an open question but Mauer can probably do it as well as A-Rod or Cabrera.

cmathewson
09-27-2013, 02:50 PM
By all accounts Pinto has a long way to go defensively but is working hard, but hes still not nearly as good as Mauer. And i would address 1B in FA, finding an average to above average 1B in FA is easier and cheaper than maybe any other position.

I'm not convinced Pinto is that big of a downgrade from Mauer, especially with the tall catcher/low strike issue. Yes, he's a downgrade, but not huge. It comes down to risk/reward: The risk of losing your best player maybe forever vs. the small reward in improved defense. Plus I do think he's a better hitter when he doesn't catch, especially multiple games in a row.

jokin
09-27-2013, 04:48 PM
I'm not convinced Pinto is that big of a downgrade from Mauer, especially with the tall catcher/low strike issue. Yes, he's a downgrade, but not huge. It comes down to risk/reward: The risk of losing your best player maybe forever vs. the small reward in improved defense. Plus I do think he's a better hitter when he doesn't catch, especially multiple games in a row.

Like everyone, I 'm encouraged by what Pinto's done thus far, but it's very premature to seriously be contemplating ensconsing him behind the plate full-time next year. Just last night it was obvious for all to see that Albers and Pinto not only weren't on the same page, they were barely on the same planet in terms of pitch-by-pitch game-planning....and this wasn't the first time we'd seen this. As far as his bat, despite his heroics last night, his overall gaudy numbers are rapidly falling back to earth>>>>ie, his slash over the last 14 days: .244/.292/.444. It remains to be seen if he's a Parmelee/Lou Ford September mirage or the real thing. From what I've seen and read, he's a great kid who wants to learn and is willing to put in the work. At the plate, he uses all fields like an advanced major leaguer and the ball jumps off his bat, but to categorically say that in the Pinto/Mauer "What If?" equation that it's only a slight downgrade by going with Pinto is still very premature.


Were you referring to Mauer or Pinto in your last sentence? Mauer defies convention, he's clearly better hitting when he catches. In 2013 he had a .330 BA and .901 OPS while catching////.286 BA .810 OPS @ 1st base////.319 BA .854 OPS @ DH. These numbers are similarly indicative of his career stats: .329 BA .889 OPS @ C////.324 BA .831 OPS @ 1st////.308 BA .828 OPS @ DH.

If you meant Pinto, his 2013 minor league split between C and DH were virtually identical.

by jiminy
09-28-2013, 01:30 AM
I would be curious to hear from those who have advocated him remaining as catcher because of the greater difficulty of finding a catcher who can produce offensively than a first baseman. I wonder if the length of his being sidelined, which is far longer than most people were anticipating, has given them any pause.

I'm one of those people, and yes, Nick just convinced me. This injury is a tipping point for me.

I have always thought that what made Mauer uniquely valuable was the incredible offensive production he brought to a defensive position. It was almost like having an extra DH: Starting a batting champion at catcher, AND being able to park a slugger at first, is way more valuable than playing him at first. Moving Mauer to first means swapping a hitter like Butera for a hitter like Morneau. That drop off is so huge, I always thought you should drag out his catching as long as possible, or at least phase it out slowly.

But this concussion changes everything. Once you have one this bad, you're primed for another. Even a small collision can reactivate symptoms. You saw it with Coskie and you saw it with Morneau. (Both of whom were Canadian, and presumably took a lot of shots to the head playing hockey, leaving them primed for further brain damage.) When you have as much invested in one player as you do in Mauer, it just makes taking that risk even more unthinkable. But the money is minor compared to the physical risks.

It was almost worth moving him just to protect his knees, because of that long term contract. But now, playing catcher has become like putting a gun to his head. So to answer your question, yes, this column changed my mind.

by jiminy
09-28-2013, 01:35 AM
p.s. This scenario is exactly what made me gnash my teeth when they foolishly, foolishly traded Ramos. The idea that Ramos was expendable because we had Mauer was insane. He was indispensable BECAUSE we had Mauer. Mauer needed to be protected, and he couldn't be properly protected because if he didn't catch, you were stuck with Butera. Dumb, dumb trade.

Don't Feed the Greed Guy
11-11-2013, 10:28 PM
Earlier quote by me: "I tend to enjoy and agree with your articles. Not this time. You write, 'And here's another reality we must face: Mauer's days of catching are done.'

Reality? Are you sure you want to name reality as a columnist/blogger, or would you be willing to defer to a neurologist?"

Nick, you were an accurate predictor of reality. I apologize. Still, It's a sad day when a player with Mauer's tools hangs up his catching gear.

LaBombo
11-12-2013, 12:12 PM
Earlier quote by me: "I tend to enjoy and agree with your articles. Not this time. You write, 'And here's another reality we must face: Mauer's days of catching are done.'

Reality? Are you sure you want to name reality as a columnist/blogger, or would you be willing to defer to a neurologist?"


At which point Mr. Nelson said that he would more or less tell a neurologist who cleared Mauer for catching duty to go stuff himself.

It probably makes perfect sense to Nick to think way despite his having dismissively ridiculed people who were critical of the Twins' medical staff in 2012 because they were 'not doctors', but it doesn't to me.