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Rocky
10-23-2013, 03:07 PM
I don't see any reason why not move Mauer to first. We are in need of a first baseman and it would surely lower his risk to injury. Then we could go about picking up a free agent like McCann or Navarro, plus about 4/5 2014 mock drafts have us picking up a solid catcher in Alex Jackson.

gunnarthor
10-23-2013, 03:28 PM
It makes sense but I think they'll have Mauer stay behind the plate and catch some more. (Twins won't spend 80m or more on McCann). His durability has been frustrating these last few years but it works best for the team if he can catch.

PSzalapski
10-23-2013, 03:36 PM
I'm assuming that you want Josmil Pinto to start at Catcher in the near term, right? Is he good enough behind the plate to play 100 games there?

mike wants wins
10-23-2013, 03:36 PM
I think having him at first/DH 160 games, is signficantly more valuable than 80 at catcher and 40 at 1B/DH. But I dont' think anyone is going to change anyone's mind here.....

stringer bell
10-23-2013, 04:23 PM
I am totally on board with Mauer converting to a full-time first baseman, who would catch only in an emergency. I would expect that he could play 150+ games and hit better and probably for more power. While Mauer is a fine catcher, he isn't the freak of nature that the most durable catchers have been. He is a Hall-of-Fame hitter and moving to first is good for his long-term future as a hitter. The next blow to the head from a foul tip could cost him at least a month or might cost him the rest of his career. Something like 50% of the players disabled on the concussion list were catchers. It is undoubtedly less risk for him to be a first baseman. That the Twins have a clear vacancy at first only makes this decision easier.

SpiritofVodkaDave
10-23-2013, 04:29 PM
They should do the same plan as this year, the concussion was a freak injury and they kept him out for the rest of the season out of an abundance of caution.

80 games at C
40 games at 1B
25 games at DH

Let Pinto and Doumit catch the other 80 games.

Marta Shearing
10-23-2013, 04:59 PM
It makes sense but I think they'll have Mauer stay behind the plate and catch some more. (Twins won't spend 80m or more on McCann). His durability has been frustrating these last few years but it works best for the team if he can catch.
So you're saying its best for the team having a banged up Mauer behind the plate? His offense suffers when he catches. It wears him down. Not to mention the whole concussion thing. Not to mention Pinto deserves a shot and looks very promising. Not to mention I don't want Chris Colabello at 1B.

TheLeviathan
10-23-2013, 05:15 PM
So you're saying its best for the team having a banged up Mauer behind the plate? His offense suffers when he catches. It wears him down. Not to mention the whole concussion thing. Not to mention Pinto deserves a shot and looks very promising. Not to mention I don't want Chris Colabello at 1B.

He's been a better hitter as a catcher.



C - 408/481/889
1B - 397/435/831

We need to just kill that falsehood. The Twins are best when that 800+ OPS is behind the plate and he should continue to play there primarily until Pinto or someone else can full time.

LaBombo
10-23-2013, 05:21 PM
I think having him at first/DH 160 games, is signficantly more valuable than 80 at catcher and 40 at 1B/DH. But I dont' think anyone is going to change anyone's mind here.....
What about 80 at catcher and 80 mostly at DH with some 1st mixed in?

Gardenhire doesn't believe DH'ing is a day off. But even a man of Mauer's advancing years should be able to handle the exertion of running out two grounders and an opposite-field single, plus a walk to first, every other game between starts at catcher.

gunnarthor
10-23-2013, 06:40 PM
So you're saying its best for the team having a banged up Mauer behind the plate? His offense suffers when he catches. It wears him down. Not to mention the whole concussion thing. Not to mention Pinto deserves a shot and looks very promising. Not to mention I don't want Chris Colabello at 1B.

Yes, it's better for the Twins to have Mauer get as many AB as a catcher because he is one of the 10 best catchers of all time, his bat is incredible for a catcher (For his career, his OPS+ (not adjusted for position) is better than Adrian Gonzalez, Teixeira, Hamilton, HanRam etc). Moving him for Pinto is not a good idea. If Mauer isn't healthy enough to play catcher, obviously that changes things.

Twins hopefully will have more options that Colabello at first.

Willihammer
10-23-2013, 06:42 PM
The Twins are best when that 800+ OPS is behind the plate and he should continue to play there primarily until Pinto or someone else can full time.

Or until he hits the DL, whichever comes first.

Alex
10-23-2013, 06:53 PM
He's been a better hitter as a catcher.



C - 408/481/889
1B - 397/435/831

We need to just kill that falsehood. The Twins are best when that 800+ OPS is behind the plate and he should continue to play there primarily until Pinto or someone else can full time.

I agree that Mauer has more value at catcher -- there's no doubt. But for his health, I'd have no problem with a move to first.

And come on, there there's no falsehood to kill. Simply posting those numbers is incomplete analysis at best.

Mauer has just 232 PAs at 1B and most has often played 1B as a day off of catching (so his legs wouldn't be fresh) or coming off of injury (again, likely not at the top of his game). So, it's not surprising that his numbers are lower. Not to mention his peak season, 2009, he didn't play 1B at all. His 29 HR were all hit at catcher, skewing that slugging heavily in his favor.

TheLeviathan
10-23-2013, 06:59 PM
I agree that Mauer has more value at catcher -- there's no doubt. But for his health, I'd have no problem with a move to first.

And come on, there there's no falsehood to kill. Simply posting those numbers is incomplete analysis at best.

Mauer has just 232 PAs at 1B and most has often played 1B as a day off of catching (so his legs wouldn't be fresh) or coming off of injury. So, it's not surprising that his numbers are lower. Not to mention his peak season, 2009, he didn't play 1B at all. His 29 HR were all hit at catcher, skewing that slugging heavily in his favor.

Please provide some evidence that he is a better hitter when he's not catching. The stats don't back that claim. Until they do, it's a false claim. This isn't a matter of opinion or excuses....stats tell the story.

As for the DL, the day may come to protect him but you can't ever completely do it. The only certain thing is that you dramatically reduce his value to the team.

Alex
10-23-2013, 07:21 PM
Please provide some evidence that he is a better hitter when he's not catching. The stats don't back that claim. Until they do, it's a false claim.

If you think throwing up those two statlines (one of which involves less than 300 PAs) is sufficient evidence that he'd be a better hitter at catcher, that's fine. To me, because I realize the context that those at-bats came, they mean pretty much next to nothing, especially in terms of future predictability. If he gets 500 PAs at 1B in the next season (2014) and then returns to catching after that and hits better (2015) I could be convinced.

Or, have there been a lot of studies that show players hit differently moving positions? If there are, I haven't read any.

To your question, I'm not convinced he WILL be a better hitter at 1B, but I can't imagine he'd be worse. It's also tough to compare as he'll be a year older (unless something similar to what I suggested happens above).

Back to DL---no, you can't protect him completely, but if he catches, he will get more foul balls off the facemask, which led to concussions for several catchers last season, and the next time it happens is likely to be more severe. Did first baseman last season have more concussions? If so, I'd agree that we should keep him at catcher. At some point, especially in terms of brain injuries, I think there's more responsibility involved than simply what value he provides. If that does nothing for you, then consider that the next foul ball of his mask could end his career and then you get very little value after that.

Finally, if the Twins are headed to 90 losses again next season, there's really no point, in my opinion, to him catching at all.

diehardtwinsfan
10-23-2013, 07:35 PM
I'll say what I've said before, moving him to first permanently is foolish. His value as a catcher is far greater than his value as a 1B. I don't have a problem playing him at both positions in order to get him in more and keep him from wearing down as much, but he should be playing catcher until he can no longer do it. He isn't there yet.

Marta Shearing
10-23-2013, 07:42 PM
He's been a better hitter as a catcher.



C - 408/481/889
1B - 397/435/831

We need to just kill that falsehood. The Twins are best when that 800+ OPS is behind the plate and he should continue to play there primarily until Pinto or someone else can full time.

Three words: Small sample size. So lets put that to rest. Remind me what his numbers are when he's not playing. I want him in the lineup for 162 games. 1st base is the least physically demanding position. He needs to play EVERYDAY. This team needs offense.

TheLeviathan
10-23-2013, 07:46 PM
If you think throwing up those two statlines (one of which involves less than 300 PAs) is sufficient evidence that he'd be a better hitter at catcher, that's fine. To me, because I realize the context that those at-bats came, they mean pretty much next to nothing, especially in terms of future predictability. If he gets 500 PAs at 1B in the next season (2014) and then returns to catching after that and hits better (2015) I could be convinced.

This isn't a "convincing" matter. The claim was that he hits better when he's not catching. Other than his injury shortened 2011, that has never been true even in individual seasons. So it's both not true over his career and it's not true even in isolated seasons.

Again, I'll repeat:There is zero evidence that shows he is a better hitter when he's not catching. Zero. So you can't make that claim.

As for next year - I'm fine resting him more in bad seasons, but I don't "move" him anywhere at this point.

TheLeviathan
10-23-2013, 07:48 PM
Three words: Small sample size. So lets put that to rest. Remind me what his numbers are when he's not playing. I want him in the lineup for 162 games. 1st base is the least physically demanding position. He needs to play EVERYDAY. This team needs offense.

You claimed he's a better hitter when he's not catching. There is no truth in that statement. You can claim small sample size until you're blue in the face, but you made a very definitive statement that is not supported by the stats.

If it was true you'd have a persuasive argument for moving him. But it's not true - so find a better argument and drop that one.

mike wants wins
10-23-2013, 07:58 PM
What is better, Mauer at first and pinto at catcher, or Mauer catching and random guy from the system playing first? What is better, more at bats from Mauer, or less at bats from Mauer? Who gets hurt more, first basemen or catchers? Is Mauer more or less likely to play longer if he moves off catcher sooner, or later?

USAFChief
10-23-2013, 08:57 PM
What about 80 at catcher and 80 mostly at DH with some 1st mixed in?

Gardenhire doesn't believe DH'ing is a day off. But even a man of Mauer's advancing years should be able to handle the exertion of running out two grounders and an opposite-field single, plus a walk to first, every other game between starts at catcher.
The next time Mauer appears in 160 games in a season will be the first.

He doesn't even have a 150 game season under his belt. He's gotten 600 PAs in a season 4 times.

If he catches 80 games, he won't get into 80 more no matter the position.

Alex
10-23-2013, 09:42 PM
This isn't a "convincing" matter. The claim was that he hits better when he's not catching. Other than his injury shortened 2011, that has never been true even in individual seasons. So it's both not true over his career and it's not true even in isolated seasons.

Again, I'll repeat:There is zero evidence that shows he is a better hitter when he's not catching. Zero. So you can't make that claim.


That's fair, that there's no evidence to support it. I just pointed out that you arguing it as a "falsehood" based on 200ish PA isn't useful evidence either as it ignores the context of those PAs. I don't think that arguing he's a better hitter at catcher is any more valid because, imo, we just don't know.

You can argue it's not a "convincing argument" but I don't find your statistics, in this case, compelling, and I'm normally way on the side of the "statheads" on this site. I'd like to see what he does at 1B for a full season before I make that judgement, especially in a meaningless season, which looks like it will be the case next season...

TheLeviathan
10-23-2013, 10:15 PM
That's fair, that there's no evidence to support it. I just pointed out that you arguing it as a "falsehood" based on 200ish PA isn't useful evidence either as it ignores the context of those PAs.

The falsehood is arguing to move him because he's performed better when not catching. That isn't true. If it was, it'd be a compelling argument. But it's not true in what evidence we have.


I'd like to see what he does at 1B for a full season before I make that judgement, especially in a meaningless season, which looks like it will be the case next season...

Then you THINK he'll hit better. If you claim that he HAS hit better - you're stating a falsehood. And it's one repeated on this issue often by posters here and by talking heads in the local media.

twinscowboysbulls
10-23-2013, 11:09 PM
I would venture to guess that status quo (assuming his head is FINE) means he will play about 50 games at 1B
75 games at C
25 games at DH

This would mean they A) need to make sure Pinto is ready to catch 75 Games and platoon 1B with Parmelee or B) Sign an actual backup Catcher, Doumit can't catch. If we keep him he is strictly a DH/3rd catcher. That is all he should ever be used as, but then again what do I know about baseball.. Gardy just keep doin' what works.

glunn
10-24-2013, 01:17 AM
if he catches, he will get more foul balls off the facemask, which led to concussions for several catchers last season, and the next time it happens is likely to be more severe. Did first baseman last season have more concussions? If so, I'd agree that we should keep him at catcher. At some point, especially in terms of brain injuries, I think there's more responsibility involved than simply what value he provides. If that does nothing for you, then consider that the next foul ball of his mask could end his career and then you get very little value after that.


We already know from Koskie and Morneau that concussions can destroy a career. The more concussions the greater the risk. And it is impossible to know how many "minor" concussions Mauer has suffered over the years -- maybe none, maybe twenty or maybe fifty -- we just don't know.

I will be jubilant if Mauer recovers from his last concussion. I am worried that his career may already be over, but no one yet realizes it. I pray that this is not the case, but Koskie and Morneau both taught me that concussions can ruin players despite my most fervent prayers for them to recover.

Sadly, no one seems to be developing a catcher's mask that uses modern materials and design to absorb more of the force of a foul tip. Unless that happens, Mauer's entire career could be ended by a single foul tip.

I would love to see Mauer catch, and I completely agree with those who say that he is most valuable as a catcher. However, it seems to me that this is not worth risking his career or his long-term health.

Since the Twins probably won't contend next year, why not let Mauer's brain have one year to heal, leaving open the possibility for him to go back to catching in 2015? Maybe by then someone will come out with a catcher's mask that is more protective. And if we have any engineers here who are capable in the field of modern materials and design, please PM me if you might be interested in a joint venture to create a better catcher's mask.

Alex
10-24-2013, 07:41 AM
The falsehood is arguing to move him because he's performed better when not catching. That isn't true. If it was, it'd be a compelling argument. But it's not true in what evidence we have.



Then you THINK he'll hit better. If you claim that he HAS hit better - you're stating a falsehood. And it's one repeated on this issue often by posters here and by talking heads in the local media.

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."

There's a lot of room for interpretation there, for example did the poster mean on a daily basis or over a season? Still no evidence either way for that as he's played significant numbers of games at catcher every season, so it's tough to know for sure. However, it's actually a very reasonable stance to take that Mauer would be a better hitter at 1B based on the lack of evidence but other things we know about catching and catchers.

For example, look at Mike Napoli. He had one of his better and most healthy seasons playing first base all year. He did it at age 32 and also said he's never had legs this fresh this late in the year.

Does that mean a loss of potential value within a season? Absolutely, even though Napoli had one of his healthiest and better hitting seasons, his overall value was not where it would be if he were at catcher (based on BBREF WAR). But, like we've said, there are plenty of other reasons to move Mauer.

Alex
10-24-2013, 08:20 AM
We already know from Koskie and Morneau that concussions can destroy a career. The more concussions the greater the risk. And it is impossible to know how many "minor" concussions Mauer has suffered over the years -- maybe none, maybe twenty or maybe fifty -- we just don't know.

I will be jubilant if Mauer recovers from his last concussion. I am worried that his career may already be over, but no one yet realizes it. I pray that this is not the case, but Koskie and Morneau both taught me that concussions can ruin players despite my most fervent prayers for them to recover.


I absolutely agree. One thing I've found interesting, at least with Twins that have been out for a significant time with concussions, is their sports background, even if they haven't had concussions, or rather been diagnosed with them, in their past. Mauer has caught and he played football in high school. Denard Span played football. Morneau and Koskie were both hockey players. Now, it's probably true that a lot of pro players were multi-sport athletes, but it's just something I thought was interesting

gunnarthor
10-24-2013, 08:36 AM
Now, it's probably true that a lot of pro players were multi-sport athletes, but it's just something I thought was interesting

I think every single one of them were multi-sport athletes, at least in high school as Mauer was. Perhaps the exception might be the international guys - Kepler, Sano - who signed at 16 to just concentrate on baseball. I think we remember Mauer's HS stuff a bit more b/c he, like Stewart and Bundy and Bradley, was a top flight QB who could have gone to a football power.

spycake
10-24-2013, 08:43 AM
I think having him at first/DH 160 games, is signficantly more valuable than 80 at catcher and 40 at 1B/DH. But I dont' think anyone is going to change anyone's mind here.....

It's pretty unlikely than any player plays 160 games in a season. In the Gardy era, Hunter did it once and so did Morneau. Most guys top out closer to 150, even under good circumstances.

On the other hand, Mauer usually tops 120 games, even when primarily catching. He's averaged 127 games the past 9 seasons, but even that is a bit misleading -- his missed games are usually bunched up, like 2011 or the end of 2013. Outside of the standard weekly game off, he's not chronically missing time. Under normal circumstances, he usually approaches or exceeds 140 games per season, which is comparable to other players. (Hunter, a pretty durable guy, only averaged ~140 over his first 9 full seasons, or even just through age 30 like Mauer)

Of course, all of this could go out the window pending his concussion recovery.

spycake
10-24-2013, 08:49 AM
I absolutely agree. One thing I've found interesting, at least with Twins that have been out for a significant time with concussions, is their sports background, even if they haven't had concussions, or rather been diagnosed with them, in their past. Mauer has caught and he played football in high school. Denard Span played football. Morneau and Koskie were both hockey players. Now, it's probably true that a lot of pro players were multi-sport athletes, but it's just something I thought was interesting

The Twins in general seem cursed in this regard, although it's really just Morneau so far. Koskie's issues were post-Twins, and Span seems to have been unaffected long-term. Hopefully Mauer falls into that latter group too.

Koskie was apparently a goalie -- is that position less susceptible to concussions?

mike wants wins
10-24-2013, 09:02 AM
So two of the last three years, he's had injury issues? Isn't that what happens as guys age, and isn't that an argument for moving him?

Also, if he's the 1B/DH, and Gardy doesn't play him more than 150 games, then I'm looking for a new manager......

spycake
10-24-2013, 09:05 AM
The next time Mauer appears in 160 games in a season will be the first.

He doesn't even have a 150 game season under his belt. He's gotten 600 PAs in a season 4 times.

If he catches 80 games, he won't get into 80 more no matter the position.

This I agree with, but I will add again that most players are unlikely to play more than 150 games no matter what their position. And 600 PA is a pretty high bar. Kirby Puckett is an outlier in playing time, not any kind of standard.

Torii Hunter, through his first 9 full seasons, averaged 13 more games and 30 more PA than Joe Mauer.

Cuddyer, in his 6 seasons starting for the Twins, averaged 9 more games and 25 more PA than Mauer.

Jacque Jones, in his six seasons starting for the Twins (through age 30, just like Mauer) averaged 24 more PA than Mauer.

Those are 3 of the most durable Twins of the Gardy era, and Mauer is basically right there with them, within 1 PA per week. Concussion and bilateral leg weakness and all.

EDIT TO ADD: I'm beginning all of the above averages with their first full starting seasons, so Mauer 2005, Hunter 2001, Jones 2000, Cuddy 2006.

spycake
10-24-2013, 09:11 AM
So two of the last three years, he's had injury issues? Isn't that what happens as guys age, and isn't that an argument for moving him?

That might be a good point, although his most recent missed time is in a pretty special category (concussion).

If Torii Hunter had missed the last month of 2007 with a concussion, would you have suggested moving him due to increasing "injury issues" even if he was fully recovered for 2008?

nicksaviking
10-24-2013, 09:12 AM
I don't like it but I might be able to be convinced that Mauer should move to 1B. But I'm not there yet. He still has a strong SLG/OPS but yuck, I have a hard time penciling in a guy at 1B who's going to top out at about 12 HR and 80 RBI. It's 1B! It's supposed to be where the run producer plays!

The smart rebuttal would be, "What the hell kind of fantasy world are you living in where you expect Parmelee and Colabello be a middle of the order bat?"

Winston Smith
10-24-2013, 09:19 AM
"Sadly, no one seems to be developing a catcher's mask that uses modern materials and design to absorb more of the force of a foul tip. Unless that happens, Mauer's entire career could be ended by a single foul tip."


As I understand it most catchers use a "modern" mask. The problem is they switched to titanium which is lighter but also much harder than the old style. The older type mask had give, softer metal, which helped absorb the energy. The new harder metal does not.

They could use a goalie type mask which provides a lot more protection but is very hot in warm weather. It seems most catchers have opted for comfort over safety.

mike wants wins
10-24-2013, 09:22 AM
No, because Hunter didn't play the most dangerous position in the game. But I gotta say, the stats from your post are pretty enlightening......and they point out just how valuable Mauer has really been in his 9 years.

My belief, since we can't know the future with certainty, is that he's more likely to play more games, and longer in years, if he moves to 1B/DH sooner rather than later. And, I am willing to roll the dice on Pinto more than on random 1B from the system.

I'm not certain I'm right, but I'm more confident in him moving than staying.

Siehbiscuit
10-24-2013, 09:43 AM
Mauer will stay catching as long as he possibly can whether right or wrong, because HE wants to. I do wonder two things though:

1) Would our very below-average pitching staff be improved enough to offset Mauer's offense if the Twins go with an elite defensive/pitch calling FA behind the plate (like a Jose Molina-type)?

2) Mauer had stated in an interview in the midst of his MVP season in 2009, that being out and not catching during spring training and most of April (which includes all the daily catching and not just games) that his hands felt incredibly "fresh." What would an entire season of the most valuable hands in the organization look like if he put on a first baseman's glove and hung up the catcher's pud? He may not return to his .365/.444./.587 slashline again, but could we see a .340/.425/.575 -type season again?

gunnarthor
10-24-2013, 09:51 AM
Mauer will stay catching as long as he possibly can whether right or wrong, because HE wants to. I do wonder two things though:

1) Would our very below-average pitching staff be improved enough to offset Mauer's offense if the Twins go with an elite defensive/pitch calling FA behind the plate (like a Jose Molina-type)?

2) Mauer had stated in an interview in the midst of his MVP season in 2009, that being out and not catching during spring training and most of April (which includes all the daily catching and not just games) that his hands felt incredibly "fresh." What would an entire season of the most valuable hands in the organization look like if he put on a first baseman's glove and hung up the catcher's pud? He may not return to his .365/.444./.587 slashline again, but could we see a .340/.425/.575 -type season again?

I think the move from the Dome to TF had more effect on his power than a position change would have.

spycake
10-24-2013, 09:53 AM
And, I am willing to roll the dice on Pinto more than on random 1B from the system.

Agreed. That's why I'd like to see Mauer and Pinto basically share C and 1B or DH (assuming Mauer recovers and Pinto keeps hitting), unless another decent 1B/DH emerges or can be signed.

I was advocating for something similar back in 2010 with Wilson Ramos.

Side benefit: it keeps Butera-type catchers off the roster.

spycake
10-24-2013, 09:57 AM
He may not return to his .365/.444./.587 slashline again, but could we see a .340/.425/.575 -type season again?

Those slashlines are basically equal, when accounting for league and park.

There's no way that slugging ever comes back -- that wasn't hands, that was a Dome fluke. He had a barrage of HR just over the opposite field fence.

I think his line from the last two seasons is about as good as it will get. And it's still very good, which is why I hope this concussion stuff passes.

nicksaviking
10-24-2013, 10:05 AM
How about we let Mauer continue catching and instead just convince the front office that the best way to reduce foul tips is to get starting pitchers who can miss bats more often? Much, much more often.

Seems like that skill migh come in handy in many facets of this game, not just in reducing foul tips of the All-Star catcher's head.

Shane Wahl
10-24-2013, 10:24 AM
The issue isn't that Mauer is better or worse as a hitter depending on the position he plays. The point is that catching wears him down, reducing his playing time.

Maybe nuance is needed in this discussion? (haha, imagine that . . .)

The issue comes down to 600+ plate appearances as a 1B (no need to spend much time DHing, then) vs. risking not even getting 500 plate appearances if he is the primary catcher.

Of course the concussion issue adds the total disaster scenario. And that isn't good.

But the issue comes down to weighing the position vs. the number of likely plate appearances.

I am comfortable with Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann.

stringer bell
10-24-2013, 10:29 AM
The issue isn't that Mauer is better or worse as a hitter depending on the position he plays. The point is that catching wears him down, reducing his playing time.

Maybe nuance is needed in this discussion? (haha, imagine that . . .)

The issue comes down to 600+ plate appearances as a 1B (no need to spend much time DHing, then) vs. risking not even getting 500 plate appearances if he is the primary catcher.

Of course the concussion issue adds the total disaster scenario. And that isn't good.

But the issue comes down to weighing the position vs. the number of likely plate appearances.

I am comfortable with Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann.I'm not sure I am comfortable with Herrmann as Pinto's alternate. It is nice to have a guy that can play serviceably both behind the plate and at an outfield corner, but Herrmann couldn't hit in AAA, and his numbers for the Twins overall were uninspiring.

DJL44
10-24-2013, 10:30 AM
"What is better, Mauer at first and pinto at catcher, or Mauer catching and random guy from the system playing first?"

Mauer catching and a random guy from the system playing 1B is the right answer. Mauer is by far the best defender they can put behind the plate. Colabello has outhit Pinto on the same minor league teams.

I can't stress this one enough - Mauer is the only good defensive catcher on the roster. Moving him to 1B would be a huge minus for team defense. Mauer could probably be equivalent to John Olerud at 1B but they win more games with him behind the plate at this time. If they go out and get a free agent catcher like John Buck then moving Mauer to 1B makes a lot more sense.

Shane Wahl
10-24-2013, 10:35 AM
Oh well.

twinsnorth49
10-24-2013, 10:35 AM
Despite a strong September (offensively), Pinto still has a lot to prove, the dropoff in value from Mauer to him at catcher may have more effect than whoever else the Twins have to man 1st and playing Joe more at catcher.

Platoon Parmelee and Colobello at 1st until June and then throw Plouffe over there in place of Colobello if Sano is ready for 3rd. I'd rather see that lineup come June than Mauer playing steady 1st this early.

This is provided the starting pitching is decent enough not to require 13 pitchers however.



ha ha ha ha ha ha............like the Twins are going to platoon anyone.......ha ha ha ha!!

mike wants wins
10-24-2013, 10:49 AM
The risk aversion on this thread is amazing to me. When would any rookie coming into the league not have stuff to prove? And, there is not a lot of evidence that mauer is a great or even very good defensive catcher anymore......

And, people state opinions like they are facts so often, it is hard to have a nuanced, actual, discussion.

Winston Smith
10-24-2013, 11:14 AM
Comes down to this for me, you have $115m future investment in Mauer. Mauer catching increases the chances that a good amount of that money could be lost with little or zero return. If that was my investment I'd do everything I could to put him in the position that he'd play the most games and remain healthy. That would be no more catching!

On top of that we don't have a 1b ready to take over for Morneau and there are several decent free agent catchers that could share the job with Pinto or someone else.

The risk vs the minimal reward means imo, that the only common sense thing to do with that much money invested in the teams best asset is move him.

Riverbrian
10-24-2013, 11:26 AM
I am strongly in favor of positional flexibility for our Joe Mauer.

I don't want to think of Joe Mauer as a catcher only anymore. I also don't want to think of him as our new everyday 1B.

Positional Flexibility for Joe Mauer creates options for Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire.

Ryan can shop at 1B or C or both if he needs to and that opens all doors for improvement.

Gardenhire can play matchups better during the season with Joe being flexible.

Joe should play wherever the context of the team needs him to play. Positional Flexibility will allow us to get Joe on the field more often and where we need him.

The only thing I don't want to hear... Is Joe saying that he wants to catch and catch only and then lock him into the position or any position.

Alex
10-24-2013, 12:45 PM
For what it's worth, through Sept 13, 18 players in the MLB had been placed on the 7 Day Concussion DL. Of those 18, 10 were catchers.

With that information, it's tough to argue there's equal risk at other positions.

A link to the article: For catchers, concussion dangers all too real (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/09/12/head-injuries-concussion-on-the-rise-in-mlb/2807979/)

DJL44
10-24-2013, 01:03 PM
there is not a lot of evidence that mauer is a great or even very good defensive catcher anymore......

Actually, he was really good last season according to Fogging the Measure: Catcher Defense Ratings, August 29, 2013 | Getting Blanked | Blogs | theScore.com (http://blogs.thescore.com/mlb/2013/08/29/fogging-the-measure-catcher-defense-ratings-august-29-2013/)

mike wants wins
10-24-2013, 01:32 PM
From 2011 to 2013, 21 players had 1000 at bats that were catchers.....Mauer is 18th in defensive WAR over that three year span. now, that is largely driven by him being awful in 2012, but even in 2011 he was (of the 26 catchers with 300 ABs) 20th in defensive WAR. So, ya, he was really good in 2013, but awful in 2012, and below average in 2013.

Until 2013, his defensive WAR had dropped every year since its peak in 2007.

Shane Wahl
10-24-2013, 01:36 PM
From 2011 to 2013, 21 players had 1000 at bats that were catchers.....Mauer is 18th in defensive WAR over that three year span. now, that is largely driven by him being awful in 2012, but even in 2011 he was (of the 26 catchers with 300 ABs) 20th in defensive WAR. So, ya, he was really good in 2013, but awful in 2012, and below average in 2013.

Until 2013, his defensive WAR had dropped every year since its peak in 2007.

Meanwhile, it is reasonable to expect that Mauer could be elite defensively as a first baseman. Maybe that sounds oxymoronic, but he would appear to be immediately an above average defensive first baseman.

Willihammer
10-24-2013, 01:52 PM
Mauer is solid with the run game and blocking pitches but you can wipe away some of that contribution with the reduction in PAs. And then if you want to get into framing - he isn't especially great at getting the low strike, which would seem to be pretty important to a staff that is constantly told to keep the ball down.

Compounding the problem is that Doumit is notoriously lousy and what minor league data there is suggests Pinto was among the worst framers too. The answer then, IMO, is that none of these guys should be catching next year.

YourHouseIsMyHouse
10-24-2013, 02:40 PM
Mauer catches 50, goes as 1B/DH for 80. That's what I'd like to see. No reason to explain it since everyone has their mind made up.

Major Leauge Ready
10-24-2013, 03:13 PM
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.

Craig in MN
10-24-2013, 03:37 PM
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.

DJL44
10-24-2013, 03:37 PM
Mauer was injured in 2011 so it should be expected that he's below average. He was lousy in 2012, recognized it and improved. He probably has 2 more seasons max as an above-average defensive catcher just due to his age. I think his defensive decline will push him to 1B eventually and I expect him to be above average at 1B after he moves. He is an outstanding athlete.

My guess is 2014-2015 are "transition" years where he only catches 80-100 games and he doesn't catch much after 2015. Ted Simmons caught 50 games past age 33. Joe Torre moved at age 30 but he was not a good defender. Yogi Berra was done catching full-time after age 34. Bench was done catching at age 32. Eventually Mauer will move to 1B and commenters can all say "I told you so".

Marta Shearing
10-24-2013, 03:48 PM
What is better, Mauer at first and pinto at catcher, or Mauer catching and random guy from the system playing first? What is better, more at bats from Mauer, or less at bats from Mauer? Who gets hurt more, first basemen or catchers? Is Mauer more or less likely to play longer if he moves off catcher sooner, or later?
Thats solid reasoning that any clear thinking person not caught up in "positional value" should see.

Marta Shearing
10-24-2013, 03:57 PM
It would be a completely different story if they had a solid starter at 1st base and DH and there wasnt anuwhere else for mauer to play. Thats not the case. As it stands, their most major league ready prospect is Pinto. He hit at every level last season, and appears to be a very promising player. Its ridiculous for Pinto to be held back when there's a glaring opening at 1st base.

Willihammer
10-24-2013, 04:14 PM
Mauer was injured in 2011 so it should be expected that he's below average. He was lousy in 2012, recognized it and improved. He probably has 2 more seasons max as an above-average defensive catcher just due to his age. I think his defensive decline will push him to 1B eventually and I expect him to be above average at 1B after he moves. He is an outstanding athlete.

My guess is 2014-2015 are "transition" years where he only catches 80-100 games and he doesn't catch much after 2015. Ted Simmons caught 50 games past age 33. Joe Torre moved at age 30 but he was not a good defender. Yogi Berra was done catching full-time after age 34. Bench was done catching at age 32. Eventually Mauer will move to 1B and commenters can all say "I told you so".

A lot of those guys fell off a cliff after age 30 with the bat too. Torre never OPSed above .800 after 30. Berra rattled off 9 consecutive .800+ OPS but after age 31 took a pretty good hit. Similar stories with Bench, Pudge, even Piazza to a large extent.

I was going to blog about this actually after Matt Harvey elected to get TJ surgery, but abandoned it due to lack of evidence. But the career arcs of these guys seems to mirror Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Feller, Hunter, etc. The great pitchers who quit or became ineffective early in life due to fuzzy explanations like "sore arm" or "tired arm" which we now know to have been torn UCLs probably.

Maybe a similar thing has been going on with catchers. Maybe their knees and noggins are wearing down worse than anyone realizes.

USAFChief
10-24-2013, 04:46 PM
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.

jokin
10-24-2013, 05:05 PM
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.

TheLeviathan
10-24-2013, 06:26 PM
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.

TheLeviathan
10-24-2013, 06:28 PM
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.

USAFChief
10-24-2013, 08:37 PM
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.

spycake
10-24-2013, 09:07 PM
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.

TheLeviathan
10-24-2013, 09:40 PM
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.

stringer bell
10-24-2013, 09:40 PM
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.

John Bonnes
10-24-2013, 10:07 PM
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).

Alex
10-25-2013, 07:48 AM
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.

TheLeviathan
10-25-2013, 09:29 AM
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.

Alex
10-25-2013, 10:47 AM
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?

Craig in MN
10-25-2013, 10:51 AM
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.

TheLeviathan
10-25-2013, 11:20 AM
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.

TheLeviathan
10-25-2013, 11:22 AM
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.

stringer bell
10-25-2013, 11:50 AM
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.

Alex
10-25-2013, 12:06 PM
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.

Alex
10-25-2013, 12:12 PM
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.

Craig in MN
10-25-2013, 01:04 PM
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.

D. Hocking
10-25-2013, 01:05 PM
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.

stringer bell
10-25-2013, 01:42 PM
I think Mauer was one of the 3-5 top defensive catchers in the AL this year. I don't think he's deserving of the award precisely because of what is being volleyed around here--he caught 75 games.

spycake
10-25-2013, 02:35 PM
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 think the lack of a decent lineup or competitive team has kept Mauer out of the catcher position the past 2 years as much as any injury or inability to catch.

It's been discussed here before, but why force him to crouch behind the plate 120+ games a year when you've got nothing at 1B, DH, etc. and you're way at the bottom of the standings?

Keep Mauer in the mix behind the plate in these lost seasons and you reduce his chance at injury while retaining the possibility of increasing his catching workload someday when you might need it (i.e. a future season where we might be set at 1B/DH and we're actually competitive).

If you find yourself with a quality full-time replacement at catcher, or the concussion issue lingers, obviously you can make another move. But otherwise, I see nothing wrong with the above course of action.

Craig in MN
10-25-2013, 03:51 PM
Keep Mauer in the mix behind the plate in these lost seasons and you reduce his chance at injury while retaining the possibility of increasing his catching workload someday when you might need it (i.e. a future season where we might be set at 1B/DH and we're actually competitive).


That's a pretty reasonable idea. The less Mauer plays catcher, the more likely he is to be healthy long term. That's exactly what the "move Mauer to first" crowd are saying. It just eliminates the concept of "move him back to catcher in 3 years when the Twins are likely going to be competitive".

The guy is 30 and has a history of a pretty serious concussion. The idea that Mauer would have to overcome 100 balls off of his catchers mask and a dozen collisions at the plate in the intervening 2 or 3 years, remain healthy through that, and still have a couple year window of him be healthy enough to catch (productively) full time at ages 33-35 (with another 100 balls off his mask and a dozen more collisions in those years and all that other wear and tear) seems like a stretch. It's certainly possible. But the odds of him contributing to the next competitive Twins team seem much better if you just bite the bullet and get him out of there now.

If he was 2 years younger or didn't have a concussion this year, that would be something else. But the team is risking his long term ability to play at all in exchange for his ability to catch part time in the short term when they aren't competitive, in the hopes that he won't have any more concussions and still be a rare truly excellent catcher in his middle 30's.

TheLeviathan
10-25-2013, 04:52 PM
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.

I meant to go back and edit that discrepancy but ran out of time, so my apologies.

I'm not convinced he becomes better at first by a long shot, but I'm convinced we can't find anywhere close to a replacement at catcher.

TheLeviathan
10-25-2013, 04:55 PM
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.

This team has enough issues without taking its one special player and making him a whole lot less special.

jokin
10-25-2013, 05:24 PM
This team has enough issues without taking its one special player and making him a whole lot less special.

Bravo. This succinctly bottom-lines this whole argument.

IE, with a real-time example, sign or acquire a Tony Perez-type to play first and produce a .800-.850 OPS, so your HOF catcher can maximize his value- as a catcher. And then, plunk your HOF catcher in the OF/DH/3B on his "rest" days or as he ages into his 30s, further maximizing his value.

Alex
10-25-2013, 06:34 PM
Bravo. This succinctly bottom-lines this whole argument.

IE, with a real-time example, sign or acquire a Tony Perez-type to play first and produce a .800-.850 OPS, so your HOF catcher can maximize his value- as a catcher. And then, plunk your HOF catcher in the OF/DH/3B on his "rest" days or as he ages into his 30s, further maximizing his value.

IMO, it misses massive points of the entire argument.

And while I completely understand the value of Mauer at catcher, the fact that the team has enough problems is exactly why Mauer could move to 1B next year, even if it's only for a season. There's no Prince Fielder over there that he'd be knocking out of position. His "special" status is only necessary if this team is going to compete. Health long term is far more important right now.

Then, who are the Twins going to pursue in FA that hit .800+OPS? Lets see some names.

As I mentioned, there is a smaller number than people seem to think (less than 50 players last season). I'll agree, though, that it would be easier and cheaper to find, say, a .750 OPS first baseman than catcher. But, there are other problems going after a first baseman in FA, like what happens if Mauer isn't going to play C? There isn't a lot known at this point, so it would be tough to move forward at this point on something like that.

jokin
10-25-2013, 06:52 PM
IMO, it misses massive points of the entire argument.

And while I completely understand the value of Mauer at catcher, the fact that the team has enough problems is exactly why Mauer could move to 1B next year, even if it's only for a season. There's no Prince Fielder over there that he'd be knocking out of position. His "special" status is only necessary if this team is going to compete. Health long term is far more important right now.

Then, who are the Twins going to pursue in FA that hit .800+OPS? Lets see some names.

As I mentioned, there is a smaller number than people seem to think (less than 50 players last season). I'll agree, though, that it would be easier and cheaper to find, say, a .750 OPS first baseman than catcher. But, there are other problems going after a first baseman in FA, like what happens if Mauer isn't going to play C? There isn't a lot known at this point, so it would be tough to move forward at this point on something like that.

Well let's see, there was Abreu...this isn't too hard....

How about:

Kendrys Morales career .813OPS
Corey Hart career .824OPS

and Jame Loney was close in 2013 .776OPS

TheLeviathan
10-25-2013, 07:42 PM
the fact that the team has enough problems is exactly why Mauer could move to 1B next year, even if it's only for a season.

That's not a "move" in the context of this discussion. I'm all for half or even quarter-timing him at catcher while we're awful. I endorse that whole heartedly.

I do not accept the reasons to "move" him.(permanently per this thread) Not yet at least.

Rocky
10-25-2013, 08:21 PM
I think the lack of a decent lineup or competitive team has kept Mauer out of the catcher position the past 2 years as much as any injury or inability to catch.

It's been discussed here before, but why force him to crouch behind the plate 120+ games a year when you've got nothing at 1B, DH, etc. and you're way at the bottom of the standings?

Keep Mauer in the mix behind the plate in these lost seasons and you reduce his chance at injury while retaining the possibility of increasing his catching workload someday when you might need it (i.e. a future season where we might be set at 1B/DH and we're actually competitive).

If you find yourself with a quality full-time replacement at catcher, or the concussion issue lingers, obviously you can make another move. But otherwise, I see nothing wrong with the above course of action.
Ding ding ding, best post I've seen so far. Why waste this rebuilding years with him behind the plate? Especially when moving him to 1st/DH gives young guys like Pinto PA's as a catcher. Spot on.

stringer bell
10-25-2013, 09:07 PM
I'm on board for adding Morales (relatively young and can play first base, switch hitter without platoon splits). Hart is another question. He missed all of last year and may or may not bounce back and be a productive hitter. I would avoid Loney, since he had his best year since 2007, seems like an aberration.

jokin
10-25-2013, 09:22 PM
I'm on board for adding Morales (relatively young and can play first base, switch hitter without platoon splits). Hart is another question. He missed all of last year and may or may not bounce back and be a productive hitter. I would avoid Loney, since he had his best year since 2007, seems like an aberration.

Hart is the riskiest option of the three, but also holds the greatest potential reward at the lowest cost. 3rd highest ISO among available free agents for the years 2010-12. Should be available for a very reasonable short-term contract plus incentives ($6-10M/yr?). Not only could his midwestern career proximity in Milwaukee appeal to him.....and his family man/good guy/big teddy bear status play well to the fanbase in Minnesota, if he does have a good rebound physically and production-wise, he would also make an excellent trading chip at deadline.

mike wants wins
10-26-2013, 02:03 PM
So, they should not sign free agents, because they will not be winners next year, but they should risk the long term value of your best player? Does that make sense to those that argue against them trying to be good next year?