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Can The Twins Win With Dozier And Mauer?

'It does suck.'

Brian Dozier was blunt in expressing his feelings about the front office's deadline approach, with the decisions to flip Jaime Garcia and Brandon Kintzler symbolizing a white flag of sorts.

Dozier's frustration is understandable, the culmination of a career's worth of surrender. The clock is ticking on the veteran second baseman if he's ever going to accomplish anything with the team that drafted and developed him.
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA Today
Since he arrived in the majors in 2012, Dozier has been party to an awful lot of losing. He hasn't sniffed the playoffs in five seasons, and that will now more than likely extend to six. Next year is his last under contract with Minnesota, and given the organization's depth in young middle infielders, it seems unlikely they'll pony up to keep him around.

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are taking a pragmatic big-picture view, but to Dozier, the big picture is this: he's been doing his part – and then some – for half of a decade, and he's barely experienced a hint of serious contention. This year the team spent much of the first half in first place, and made a move toward going for it, then turned around and traded away their rental starter and best reliever.

Joe Mauer hasn't been as vocal (say what??), but he can certainly relate to Dozier's discontent. Mauer is the only longer-tenured Twin, whose career at least merits Hall of Fame arguments, and he has not one single postseason victory to show for it. On the one hand, his journey as a hometown kid turned MVP is the stuff of storybooks. On the other hand, the wasting of his generational talents by a team that could never build enough around him to go anywhere... it's kinda heartbreaking.

Of course, as far as 2017 is concerned, Dozier and Mauer would both be wise to look inward before directing their angst at the front office. They've been having perfectly solid years, but the Twins need more from them than that, and they have to recognize it. Dozier and Mauer are supposed to be the experienced, veteran cornerstones of the league's youngest lineup, but each has been downright ordinary.

Dozier has been his usual self: one of the game's better power-hitting middle infielders, and a fine defender, but not an upper-echelon player. Last year he was vastly better with the bases empty than with men on, and this year the contrast has only been sharper (stats entering Sunday):

Bases Empty: 295 PA, .268/.342/.517, 17 HR
Runners On: 169 PA, .208/.302/.318, 2 HR
Dozier's production with no ducks shouldn't be downplayed, because everything helps. But he hasn't risen to the occasion enough. Overall his performance doesn't amount to anything special; he ranks 13th out of 22 MLB-qualified second basemen in OPS, 14th in WAR.

And Mauer? It's still a pleasure to watch the man take an at-bat, and he's been exquisite with the mitt at first, but his offensive results are as pedestrian as ever. He ranks 22nd among 25 qualified MLB first basemen in OPS. He's still a nice enough piece to have in the lineup, but more of a role player than a game-changer, and that doesn't do much for this team right now.

Dozier and Mauer have been in the Twins organization for a combined 24 years, and it's commendable if they are adamant about winning before their tenures simultaneously come to an end next year. Is that realistic, though? And does their presence prevent the team from moving forward with a blueprint that, by necessity, doesn't include them?

Barring an improbable late-season charge this year, the 2018 season is shaping up as the first in Minnesota's true winning cycle. But for Dozier and Mauer, it will mean a lot more. Will they be able to make a run with the rising core before departing?

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105 Comments

I don't mean to derail discussion about the premise of the post, but shouldn't the question be "Can the Twins win with the so called core 4"?  Dozier and Mauer of the last few seasons (Brian's career year last year not withstanding) are not players you build a championship team around. They are just along for the ride next year ( and possibly beyond).

 

There are plenty of questions surrounding those 4 core players that need to be answered,  the biggest of which is Buxton going to be a superstar or just a nice player.  The next biggest is Berrios an Ace/strong#2, or a #3 pitcher.  the answers to those 2 things will go a long ways towards determining if the Twins can really become a championship caliber team.

    • frightwig and markos like this
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ChiTownTwinsFan
Aug 06 2017 07:20 PM
Mauer and Dozier are not the difference makers between winning and losing on this team. I think we can win with them.. I think both are adequate but not outstanding so I think the answer to the question lies more on who else is on the team.. But of course they would need to step it up, but so does everyone else around them, especially the pitchers.
    • Blake, Ryan Atkins, Puckett34 and 8 others like this

Mr. Dozier may be frustrated but the team had more more than a few chances to show they were worth making moves for and they failed.

 

Too many runners left on base in winnable games was, I think, the difference between buying and selling.

 

 

    • Ryan Atkins, LaBombo, Siehbiscuit and 5 others like this
The stats above show exactly why Dozier would not work in the middle of the lineup. This year, for the third straight year he going on his annual statistical binge when it is least needed. Two years ago he flatlined during the heat of the 2nd WC hunt. Last year he awoke about the time the team was statistically eliminated. The fact that this was at the ASG break is irrelevant. And this year he has been pretty low key during his teams rise, albeit temporarily, to the top of the division. Needless to say upon the waving of that "white flag" he has again went on a meaningless tear.
    • Taildragger8791, chpettit19 and sploorp like this

It's a shame the Pohlads, Ryan and co never actually tried to win a title during Mauer's tenure here.
The guy is easily one of the 5 best players in Franchise History and helped lead the team to several playoff berths. He is a future hall of famer, him not success in the playoffs is a true waste of amazing talent.

I few Dozier is a somewhat similar but not nearly as tragic way.

    • Blake, Mike Sixel, Siehbiscuit and 9 others like this
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jorgenswest
Aug 06 2017 08:19 PM
Yes.
    • Ryan Atkins likes this

The Twins simply were not good enough to "go for it".  Most every year some team overplays their talent and has a record for the first portion of the season that is better than it should be. However, even a cursory look at the Twins 2017 run differential showed that this team was nearer to the bottom of the league than being an above 500 ball club and division leader, even in a weak division.  

 

THe Twins have a handful of guys that figure over the long run, but their roster is far from complete.  They fooled themselves this season by pretending that they were better than they were and because of that we are going to pay the price of not bringing up players like Mitch Garver and a lot of pitching prospects because they are going to have to get their major league adjustments in future years, costing the team losses in those years that they should have incurred in 2017.

 

Brian Dozier has unfortunately been part of an organization that had management stall their rebuild by clinging to the "Twins Way" despite the need to radically rebuild from scratch.  

    • frightwig likes this

 

It's a shame the Pohlads, Ryan and co never actually tried to win a title during Mauer's tenure here.
The guy is easily one of the 5 best players in Franchise History and helped lead the team to several playoff berths. He is a future hall of famer, him not success in the playoffs is a true waste of amazing talent.

I few Dozier is a somewhat similar but not nearly as tragic way.

Not True.  They did try in 2010--but failed.  The failure to develop top pitching internally proved their undoing--considering they were never going to spend to the level necessary to actually buy it.

 

In fact that development failure continued and when they did start to buy pitching--well you know the rest.

    • Twins33, KGB, sploorp and 2 others like this
I mean, the FO decided to buy initially and the team responded by completely going into the tank.
It would have been foolish, IMO, to throw good assets after bad once it went from long shot but doable, to microscopic shot.
It surprises me that Dozier doesn't seem to have the self awareness to realize that, he seems like a bright guy.
I get the frustration, but if he must, he should focus it towards himself and the rest of the locker room where it belongs.
    • Ryan Atkins and Taildragger8791 like this

Yes, the front office did buy a couple of years back. Maybe not the best use of monies, but they did spend money. Not sure what the purpose is...just to look to be competitive or what.

 

Comes back to Target Field, the most beautiful stadium in baseball. The Twins ahd a given for the first couple of seasons where the stadium sold the tickets (and they sure did their best to use the stadium to sell tickets). And the baseball experience, once the product on the field is made whole, can be truly beauitiful.

 

The new stadium was supposed to make the Twins competitive in the free agent market, and also able to spend money to keep their own under contract.

 

Name the splashes they made on the free agent market.

 

Name the home-grown talent that walked away to other teams.

 

See the front office cry because they truly did want a winning team, selling out the stadium constantly, so they could really jack tickets, instead of the nickle and diming they are doing for select games and sections right now...squeeze that lump of coal and you'll get something...maybe.

 

So maybe we all can afford to go to a Twins game because they haven;t been that god,really. And even that bit of light a couple of years back...like this year...barely creeping above the .500 mark and with the added wildcard, you can almost seem like a post-season threat.

 

I like Dozier. Not sure what we will replace him with. He is not a premiere second baseman, sadly, otherwise there would be more knocking on the door. Mauer is a solid player, good on the field, can hit decently...but each year his numbers put him further and further away from a Hall of Fame vote. He would've made it had he stayed a catcher and played accordingly, even 2/3rds time behind-the-plate. I don't fault the move, really don't...but we now have no place to put him on the field or the lineup where he scares the other side.Players 

 

want to play on winning teams? They want to go to the post-season? Good luck if you can predict who and when. Best is to play 200% the first half of every year and hope someone needs you badly as a position replacement and you are a worthwhile investment.

 

Joe and Brian, right now, have contracts that other teams really don't need to take. It's a sad state that you aren't a GREAT deal, maybe not even a good deal, especially when compared to what a team already has or other pieces in the marketplace.

 

 

    • Original Whizzinator likes this

I don't see much sign that the team is on the verge of starting a new winning cycle, even next year. Not unless Buxton, Rosario, and Kepler all step up in a big way, and Berrios becomes a #1-2 level starter, and Romero and Gonsalves settle in without an issue, and Santana gets his HR rates back down, and maybe Mauer and Dozier play a little better, and maybe Sano is more consistent, and the bullpen somehow comes together. There are a lot of holes, and the club is counting on a lot of young, developing players to fill them.

 

I would guess that Falvine have their eyes on a post-Dozier/Mauer future, already, and we'll see Dozier and Santana traded for prospects this winter--even if it's too late to sell high on either of them, anymore.

 

 

I mean, the FO decided to buy initially and the team responded by completely going into the tank.
It would have been foolish, IMO, to throw good assets after bad once it went from long shot but doable, to microscopic shot.
It surprises me that Dozier doesn't seem to have the self awareness to realize that, he seems like a bright guy.
I get the frustration, but if he must, he should focus it towards himself and the rest of the locker room where it belongs.

Jeez, we are still in long shot but doable territory. 3.5 games back with 53 games to play.  Odds were 4.6% before the win today. Win 3 of 4 against the Brewers and see how the odds change.  Fate is still in the players hands.  It won't take a miracle.  Not at this point anyway. It will take a good stretch of playing good baseball.

    • glunn, Puckett34, bluechipper and 4 others like this

More than feeling sorry for their plight, perhaps we should question their leadership.  The team has some fine young players who could use the leadership and clutch performance of two vets.

Jeez, we are still in long shot but doable territory. 3.5 games back with 53 games to play.  Odds were 4.6% before the win today. Win 3 of 4 against the Brewers and see how the odds change.  Fate is still in the players hands.  It won't take a miracle.  Not at this point anyway. It will take a good stretch of playing good baseball.


3.5 games back from a one game lottery ticket on the road to hope to make the REAL playoffs... I don't know why people are so excited about the possibility of being a wild card team... that isn't really that good of a thing in baseball. We need to build to winning a division and being serious playoff contenders
    • Ryan Atkins, Danchat, spanman2 and 1 other like this
I don't think the Twins tanked after the ASG. I think they simply found the level of their current talent was not competitive with real playoff level baseball. This is not a knock on Falvine. I think they realize it, and I think they intend to do something about it. It might be a very active winter.
    • Twins33, LaBombo, LA VIkes Fan and 4 others like this
So, one of the tricks used by mathematicians is to replace a simple problem we can't solve with an even simpler problem we still can't solve, but may gain some insights.

In this case let's take the original query: "Can the Twins win with Dozier and Mauer?" We can use substitution of variables to re-pose that as the system:

"Can a team with above league average pitching win with Dozier and Mauer?"

and

"Can a team with below league average pitching win with Dozier and Mauer?"

May 2015 and April-June 2017 suggest the answer to the first is maybe yes; the rest of the time since Dozier's debut are a pretty solid no.

I'd submit we need to collect more data on the first case before concluding.
    • ChiTownTwinsFan, Blake, 70charger and 3 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 07 2017 06:07 AM

I don't see the Twins doing much winning with Dozier. Next year, I think should be another step forward, but that will also be his last season with MN and given the pipeline, he will be off somewhere else in 2019. Mauer, on the other hand, could have some role, albeit fairly reduced as he hasn't exactly aged well. He still takes good at bats and can be an on base machine. I'd prefer a bit more flexibility in that he play some 3rd and RF as well, but I think Mauer as a bench bat and positional flexibility should have value, especially as the pen improves and the team no longer needs to carry this many pitchers.

 

Jeez, we are still in long shot but doable territory. 3.5 games back with 53 games to play.  Odds were 4.6% before the win today. Win 3 of 4 against the Brewers and see how the odds change.  Fate is still in the players hands.  It won't take a miracle.  Not at this point anyway. It will take a good stretch of playing good baseball.

Very true. They could theoretically stay in it (they do have SOME talent on the roster), but right now the biggest hurdle they seem to face is themselves.   IF they can hold off those personal daemons then they have a, albeit very small, chance to at least make a small playoff run. 

Yes, this team can with with Mauer and Dozier.  As Chi pointed out, they're not the issue.  If this team had even league average pitching they'd be sitting pretty nicely.

    • 70charger, h2oface and VirginSturgeon like this

The short answer to the original question is yes, the Twins can win with Mauer and Dozier. They just need all the other young players - Sano, Buxton, Kepler, etc. to step up to the next level. But isn't that the way most teams get better?? The young players need to step up.You can't afford enough free agents to fill all the holes. 

    • adorduan and DocBauer like this

The sad part of this is that as others have pointed out, Mauer and Dozier are only league average players at their positions but aside from Sano they are still better than anything else the Twins have on the roster.

 

Dozier needs to go this winter to clear the middle infielder logjam. I'd rather see what Gordon and Polanco can become rather than trade one of them and keep Dozier for one more year.

 

Mauer is a different story. The Twins at this point have no one better than him to play first. Maybe Sano but then who plays third?

 

The really interesting future byline concerning Mauer is what happens after 2018?? Does he retire or sign with the Twins for a reduced salary and reduced role?? With the hope that the young core takes him to the World Series?? Would the Twins want him back at a reduced salary?

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Bill Brown69
Aug 07 2017 07:28 AM

Yes they can, but it is time to quit making the lineup based on their preferences and give them the rest of this season to get used to new roles. This lineup has one big bopper and then a bunch of walks with a black hole when it comes to runners on base.

 

Buxton- see if he can do it for next year.

Kepler- Left handed, takes a few pitches. Let Buck steal if he is on and if he isn't get yourself to 2nd.

Sano- our big masher

Mauer- pitch around Sano and you might walk Mauer also.

Dozier- if he can't get used to it then,,,,,,,,,,,

Rosario

Grossman

Castro- hopefully he doesn't slow up Buxton too often

Polanco

 

I would like to see them give that lineup 30 games to see what happens. In the offseason send Grossman to Tom Kelly to learn 1st base and get a 'real" DH to bat in the middle.

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

Can they? Sure.

 

But that's not the same question as: are these guys GOOD or better compared to other players at their position. To say "they aren't the main problem" is NOT the same "are they good".

 

Mauer is closer to the worst 1B in baseball (by WAR) than a top 5 1B. He's 18th in FWAR. He might accumulate 1.5 WAR if he's lucky the rest of the way. He's just not that good anymore. It's a bummer, because when he was "Mauer", he was one of the best pure hitters we've seen. But he's not that guy anymore at all.

 

Dozier is better compared to other 2B than Mauer is to 1B, but not a by a ton. He's going to accumulate around 2 WAR, which is fine, but not exactly good. They'd be lucky to get a top 30 prospect for him at this point or even a top 100 one.

 

In other words, they might not be the biggest issues, but they aren't exactly going to carry this team either. They are mediocre players, likely nearing the end of their careers. 

    • markos, Winston Smith and DocBauer like this

The Twins can win with Dozier and Mauer when the team has improved enough that they are two of the three worse everyday players rather than two of the three best everyday players.

    • Blackjack and Platoon like this
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Taildragger8791
Aug 07 2017 08:21 AM

So...to sum up the thread: the Twins can win with Mauer and Dozier but not because of Mauer and Dozier. They aren't negatives at their position but they aren't impactful players either.

 

Personally, even if he's not a negative I still think you leave a lot of production on the table by not displacing Mauer (and Grossman for that matter) in the 1B/DH spots. This team is packed to the gills with 50-60 RBI players with mediocre power, Dozier (~80ish) and Sano (>100) being the only exceptions. Guys are generally getting on base but nobody can consistently drive them in.

    • LA VIkes Fan, DocBauer, Vanimal46 and 3 others like this

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