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Off The Rails: Mauer Raked by Souhan

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 24 June 2018 · 1,642 views

minnesota twins jim souhan joe mauer
I don't typically find myself sitting down to write on a Sunday evening, but with my foot in a cast, and a level of frustration in tow, here we are. The first part of that formula is thanks to my achilles deciding to part ways with my foot, the second half is the fault of none other than the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan. On Sunday night, the Tribune Twitter account sent out Souhan's latest with this attached to the piece, "Affordable contract would keep Mauer in good standing with #MNTwins."

Prior to getting full blown defensive, I needed to dive in further. So, I hopped into an incognito window and got to reading.

There were some quotes from Twins President Dave St. Peter defending the $184 million deal that any team would've jumped at the opportunity to ink. There was some talk with Molitor about wanting him back, and then there was what Souhan added on his own.

The journalist quipped "Mauer’s desire to play probably will be based on his health. He has recovered from concussion-like symptoms to return to the everyday lineup, but is batting just .222 with a .556 OPS since his return. Before his injury, his on-base percentage was .404, ranking among the league leaders. His on-base percentage since is an uncharacteristically low .300."

From Mauer, Souhan went on to talk about Dozier. A late-bloomer that has an impending pay day ahead. The Twins don't look like they'll pony up, and there's baseball reasons for that (even aside from his typical slow start). He could end the piece without returning to Mauer however, in which he offer "the best thing Mauer could do for his image is to sign an affordable contract, to give the hometown team a break, and finish his career as a bargain instead of a financial burden."

Now that you've read as much as you need to, I'm sorry.

Over recent seasons, Souhan has been raked himself by plenty a fan of his poorly written pieces. Whether suggesting Phil Hughes as soft for not pitching through injury requiring surgery, or calling Miguel Sano out prior to him having an All Star caliber season. In both of those occasions however, you could argue the pieces had a level of journalistic integrity. Here however, Souhan comes out looking like more of a clown than he ever has.

In noting Mauer's production, Jim points to Joe's return from the disabled list. While noting his numbers, he fails to mention that's literally an eight game sample size (including Sunday). The .759 OPS and .404 OBP come in a 38 G span to open up the year. Had he been leading off during that stretch, the Twins offense may have benefitted even more (but that's another story). In a game that decides realities over the course of 162 games, cherry picking eight of them (and failing to mention it), is poor at best.

Should the idea that noting statistical production in an lackluster manner not bother you, Souhan then doubled down with his final remarks. Noting that Mauer should give the Twins a break, and not be a financial burden. If the brigade wielding pitchforks at the notion of Mauer's previous contract didn't already have enough poorly derived information, they've just been handed a bit more fuel for the fire.

The horse is so far dead, there's not even reason to beat it at this point. That being said, Mauer's $184 million deal was already a hometown discount. There isn't an organization in baseball that wouldn't have signed on that dotted line in a heartbeat. He was the best catcher in the game, and on pace to be among the best to ever play the position. He took less to stay home, and has been unappreciated by a fanbase that saw a living legend because a brain injury drastically altered his career.

With baseball being an uncapped sport, and the Twins rarely being in a position to land big fish over the course of his deal, spending to supplement Mauer hardly seemed to be the right move. In 2018, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine executed a near flawless offseason to bring in talent while pushing the payroll to an organizational record. The reality is that even the most sensible dollars don't always come together at the right time in terms of the on field product.

Given the current climate of free agents, and the new front office, I'd guess that Falvey and Levine would chuckle at the notion of giving Torii Hunter $10 million for a 2015 season at 39 years old. Veteran leadership is a great thing, but I'll be damned if suggesting it trumps performance on a good team makes any semblance of sense. Hunter was a defensive liability and on his last legs at the plate. It was a fine last hurrah, but the dollars didn't make sense. The beautiful part of it however, was that it didn't make a difference on the bottom line either.

A season ago, Joe Mauer was robbed of a Gold Glove that would've made him the third player to ever win one at multiple positions (and first catcher). At the present time, he's the best defensive first basemen in baseball, and it doesn't really matter if opposing managers are blind to that because of his lack of power numbers. Should Mauer want to return next year, Minnesota should jump at the opportunity. He can help Miguel Sano make that defensive transition, and earning something like $10 million is peanuts for the benefit he'd bring on the diamond.

When the dust settles on his career, Joe Mauer will go down as the best player to ever play in the Minnesota Twins organization not named Harmon Killebrew. Whether you can't come to grips with his contract, or the fact that a season of inflated home runs in the Metrodome didn't transform who he was doesn't really matter. Tonight Jim Souhan tried to summarize what Mauer has been, and can be going forward, while failing to do even a shred of journalistic justice.

It's a sad look for the Star Tribune, it's an expected offering from Souhan, and it's a reminder that Mauer has deserved so much better than what Minnesota has given him for far too long.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • TwinsTakes-RD, wagwan, brvama and 4 others like this



 

When the dust settles on his career, Joe Mauer will go down as the best player to ever play in the Minnesota Twins organization not named Harmon Killebrew. Whether you can't come to grips with his contract, or the fact that a season of inflated home runs in the Metrodome didn't transform who he was doesn't really matter. Tonight Jim Souhan tried to summarize what Mauer has been, and can be going forward, while failing to do even a shred of journalistic justice.

 

Many of your conclusions drawn in this article are debatable. (And this is coming from someone who shares your opinion that Jim Souhan is anathema to what it means to be a sports journalist.)

 

I'll address this one for starters:

 

Greatest Twins list who are better than Joe Mauer, besides Harmon Killebrew, has to include HOFers, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven and Kirby Puckett. Jim Kaat, Carew and Blyleven all accumulated more WAR value while playing just for the Twins than Mauer can ever realistically reach; meanwhile Puckett's career, which was tragically cut short, still included starring roles in 2 World Series wins.

 

If determination of greatest Twins player ever is based on quantifiable achievement and impact, all of the players above are clearly greater than Mauer.

    • h2oface, KGB, laloesch and 1 other like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 24 2018 10:42 PM

 

I'll address this one for starters:

 

Greatest Twins list who are better than Joe Mauer, besides Harmon Killebrew, has to include HOFers, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven and Kirby Puckett. Jim Kaat, Carew and Blyleven all accumulated more WAR value while playing just for the Twins than Mauer can ever realistically reach; meanwhile Puckett's career, which was tragically cut short, still included starring roles in 2 World Series wins.

 

If determination of greatest Twins player ever is based on quantifiable achievement and impact, all of the players above are clearly greater than Mauer.

Assuming you started with the one of greatest debate, there isn much to go off of beyond that I'd imagine.

 

Also, Carew, Kaat and Blyleven played for other organizations. Puckett is behind Mauer in career fWAR, and I'm willing to die on the hill that he wasn't the player Mauer was.

 

That all said, it's really not the crux of the issue at hand.

    • bizaff and MN_ExPat like this

 

Assuming you started with the one of greatest debate, there isn much to go off of beyond that I'd imagine.

 

Also, Carew, Kaat and Blyleven played for other organizations. Puckett is behind Mauer in career fWAR, and I'm willing to die on the hill that he wasn't the player Mauer was.

 

That all said, it's really not the crux of the issue at hand.

 

The WAR I credited for Carew, Kaat and Blyleven was what was accumulated ONLY while they played for the Twins. All played on either or both WS, ALCS teams with the Twins. Blyleven additionally on the '87 champs.

 

Of course Puckett is behind Mauer in WAR, his career was tragically cut short. You can die on your hill of Twins 21st Century play that ranged from stubborn immutability, mediocrity, to downright abominability. Face facts, the Twins failed to produce championships repeatedly this century, despite multiple Cy Young, MVPs and batting champions. Puckett is in the HOF, Mauer is a long shot at this point.

 

By contrast to Mauer's individual excellence in his first 7 years, Kirby Puckett was a cornerstone for two objectively and obviously, less-talented World Champions than the teams of Joe's 2000s group. Again, Kirby's teams are the only WS winners in the team's history, Mauer's teams folded like cheap suits and curled into a fetal posiiton in each playoff run. Kirby openly told his teammates to jump on his back. Nuff said there, methinks. The guy that actually helped bring about the Twins the biggest hardware back home has to get the edge, especially playing for inferior teams. And when ownership and management appeared to surrender to an inevitable decade of mediocrity after 1992- Kirby took a public stand that that notion was not acceptable to him.

 

By yet another contrast, Mauer has always shunned a public leadership role on the team, admitted to not being a Type A personality, and further, has steadfastly never publicly pushed management and ownership to acknowledge that during the bulk of the years of Joe's big contract they have never made a serious effort to be competitive. I mean, what was the point of that $184M contract, if they never even tried to put legitimate pieces around Mauer? And no knock on Joe, but if Kirby had been in the same situation, he would have publicly and privately pushed the organization to deliver on their promise to fans to raise their yearly competitive intensity based on the new stadium revenue streams. Joe has steadfastly remained silent on these last 8 years of futility- not necessarily a knock on him, but also not a credit to Hall-worthiness or "Greatest Twin not named Harmon".

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 24 2018 11:31 PM

 

The WAR I credited for Carew, Kaat and Blyleven was ONLY while they played for the Twins.

 

Of course Puckett is behind Mauer in WAR, his career was tragically cut short. You can die on your hill of Twins 21st Century play that ranged from stubborn immutability, mediocrity, to downright abominable. Face facts, the Twins failed to produce championships repeatedly this century, despite multiple Cy Young, MVPs and batting champions.

 

By contrast, Kirby Puckett was a cornerstone for two objectively and obviously, less-talented World Champions. The only WS winners in the team's history! Kirby openly told his teammates to jump on his back. Nuff said there, methinks. And when ownership and management appeared to surrender to an inevitable decade of mediocrity after 1992- Kirby took a public stand that that notion was not acceptable to him. By yet another contrast, Mauer has shunned a public leadership role on the team, and further, has steadfastly never publicly pushed management and ownership to acknowledge that during the bulk of the years of Joe's big contract they have never made a serious effort to be competitive. I mean, what was the point of that $184M contract, if they never even tried to put legitimate pieces around Mauer?

I'm entertaining this one more time, but genuinely believe we've gotten off track here.

 

I realize that was Twins only WAR. My comment is reflective of players only appearing in the Twins uniform.

 

It's convenient to note that Puckett's career was cut short, while dismissing the fact that Mauer's prime (which was on a much higher trajectory) suffered the same fate.

 

If you want to fault Joe for not being the vocal leader he never claimed to be, and never displayed intentions of being, I don't know what to tell you. In regards to his $184m, that figure never hampered the Twins front office from executing on supplementing talent. Their failure to do so, again, isn't a reflection of what Mauer brought to the table on his own.

 

Again, love the discussion, just don't see it being the backbone of the discussion I was trying to have within the blog.

    • Oldgoat_MN, Platoon and MN_ExPat like this
Souhan is a provocateur, and I always read his stuff with that perception in place. But he does owe his reader some semblance of rationality. Mauer could have gotten far more in NY or Boston than here. LOTS. Nor does he owe us the personality of a Hunter, Hrbek, or Puckett.. Both Puckett and Mauer had injuries seriously impacting their careers in different manners. Both were good at their positions. I will say that Mauers talent was far more impressive at his postion than Pucketts was. Kirby may be in the HOF, thanks in large part to a couple plays one October. But he wasn't the talent at his position that Mauer was at his. As for Mauers future, I personally wish he would retire. He could still help the Twins, lord knows they need it. But I would hope he considers his health for the rest of his life and his family. I can't believe he would want to risk yet another concussion or concussion symptoms. It's frankly not worth it. He doesn't owe the Twins anything whatsoever, nor there fans.
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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 08:06 AM

 

Souhan is a provocateur, and I always read his stuff with that perception in place. But he does owe his reader some semblance of rationality. Mauer could have gotten far more in NY or Boston than here. LOTS. Nor does he owe us the personality of a Hunter, Hrbek, or Puckett.. Both Puckett and Mauer had injuries seriously impacting their careers in different manners. Both were good at their positions. I will say that Mauers talent was far more impressive at his postion than Pucketts was. Kirby may be in the HOF, thanks in large part to a couple plays one October. But he wasn't the talent at his position that Mauer was at his. As for Mauers future, I personally wish he would retire. He could still help the Twins, lord knows they need it. But I would hope he considers his health for the rest of his life and his family. I can't believe he would want to risk yet another concussion or concussion symptoms. It's frankly not worth it. He doesn't owe the Twins anything whatsoever, nor there fans.

I can't high five you through the computer, so give yourself one and call it a day!

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Man, your nerves seem a bit raw on this one. When I read Souhan's column, I didn't view it nearly as negatively as you seemed to have, and that's really saying something.

 

And the part about being a financial burden at the end, I took that to mean - don't give him a $15-20 million contract, not "pay him the league minimum or it's too much."

 

It feels like you reached a bit to find something to get upset about here. And now I'm upset because I've had to partially defend Souhan :)

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Miles Death
Jun 25 2018 09:11 AM

It's bizarre how many people disregard basic facts and reason when judging Joe Mauer. If you have that toward of attitude it's because you simply don't like him on a personal level. Your tweet in February is pretty simple: Fangraphs value of Mauer - $298.8 million, total earned - $195.025 million. I enjoyed catching the national TV shows (MLB Whiparound, Intentional Talk) the day after his 2,000th hit and contrasting the praise the national media gives him, with some of our local media's treatment.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 09:14 AM

 

Man, your nerves seem a bit raw on this one. When I read Souhan's column, I didn't view it nearly as negatively as you seemed to have, and that's really saying something.

 

And the part about being a financial burden at the end, I took that to mean - don't give him a $15-20 million contract, not "pay him the league minimum or it's too much."

 

It feels like you reached a bit to find something to get upset about here. And now I'm upset because I've had to partially defend Souhan :)

I guess I expect someone paid to publish something in a widely distributed newspaper to do better than quantify statistics on 8 game sample sizes and suggest common sense realities. If the assumption is that Mauer returning would net him a $15m+ deal, I can't help you. He doesn't owe the Twins any sort of "make good" deal, and the figure he'll land on will be plenty fair in context.

 

I have a problem with a journalist attacking a contract like the uninformed fan. The $184m was never a bad step, and because abilities changed over the course of that, doesn't mean you get to retroactively react to it.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 09:16 AM

 

It's bizarre how many people disregard basic facts and reason when judging Joe Mauer. If you have that toward of attitude it's because you simply don't like him on a personal level. Your tweet in February is pretty simple: Fangraphs value of Mauer - $298.8 million, total earned - $195.025 million. I enjoyed catching the national TV shows (MLB Whiparound, Intentional Talk) the day after his 2,000th hit and contrasting the praise the national media gives him, with some of our local media's treatment.

Thanks for following, I love having that pinned.

 

Also, last night I tweeted something similar to your sentiment. Mauer is universally praised for what he was, and could've been, by fans of nearly ever other market. I'd like to think it's the minority that are clueless here, but man they sure are vocal.

    • TwinsTakes-RD and Platoon like this

 

 

 

I have a problem with a journalist attacking a contract like the uninformed fan. The $184m was never a bad step, and because abilities changed over the course of that, doesn't mean you get to retroactively react to it.

Even informed fans seem to retroactively react to his contract. I wonder how many of these same fans would have reacted if Mauer accepted a larger contract with the Yankees or Red Sox, or a list of other teams who would have paid him more than the Twins offered him. (I can see "fans" throwing quarters at him from the seats on $1 beer night)

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jun 25 2018 11:11 AM
I don't see a problem with Mauer agreeing to $5 million per year or so, one year at a time.
    • jud6312 likes this

I stand by my previous statement of raw nerves.

 

Just like Mauer doesn't owe the Twins a "make-good" contract, the Twins don't owe Joe another contract just to keep him around. And that, I think, is what the actual point of the column was.

 

I'm not sure who overreacts more - the hardcore Mauer detractors or the ones who feel they need to defend him at every turn.

    • KGB and laloesch like this

 

I don't see a problem with Mauer agreeing to $5 million per year or so, one year at a time.

You're gonna get torched for low-balling our hometown hero. Get ready for numbers from 6 years ago and arguments about how Eric Hosmer went Great Muppet Caper on Joe's gold glove.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 11:27 AM

 

I don't see a problem with Mauer agreeing to $5 million per year or so, one year at a time.

Hunter got $10m/1 yr while being a detriment to the club. That was a different/worse front office, but that number for Joe next year wouldn't be out of line.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 11:32 AM

 

I stand by my previous statement of raw nerves.

 

Just like Mauer doesn't owe the Twins a "make-good" contract, the Twins don't owe Joe another contract just to keep him around. And that, I think, is what the actual point of the column was.

 

I'm not sure who overreacts more - the hardcore Mauer detractors or the ones who feel they need to defend him at every turn.

No one is suggesting the Twins owe Mauer something to keep him around. The column used cherry picked, and ignorant stats, to suggest that Joe should take below market value because he was overpaid in his last deal (which also isn't factual).

 

I'm not sure where we're getting off track here, but you've got to be doing a lot of glossing over in reading the piece to decide it has any shred of integrity.

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jun 25 2018 01:54 PM

Hunter got $10m/1 yr while being a detriment to the club. That was a different/worse front office, but that number for Joe next year wouldn't be out of line.

That's a reasonable opinion. Mauer can still contribute.
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jun 25 2018 02:08 PM

You're gonna get torched for low-balling our hometown hero. Get ready for numbers from 6 years ago and arguments about how Eric Hosmer went Great Muppet Caper on Joe's gold glove.

Yep, I don't think the Hunter contract is the benchmark for this. Joe is one of a kind. He has the money. He either wants to play next year, or doesn't, and if he does want to play I'm not sure why he would drive a hard negotiation.
    • jud6312 likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 04:25 PM

 

]Get ready for numbers from 6 years ago and arguments about how Eric Hosmer went Great Muppet Caper on Joe's gold glove.

There's people in the world that think Eric Hosmer deserves a GG period, let alone last year over Mauer? Yikes...Those mental gymnastics sound like a workout.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jun 25 2018 04:26 PM

 

Yep, I don't think the Hunter contract is the benchmark for this. Joe is one of a kind. He has the money. He either wants to play next year, or doesn't, and if he does want to play I'm not sure why he would drive a hard negotiation.

There's no reason for him to drive any hard negotiation. Whether he gets paid $1 or $10 million isn't the point. The part that seems to be getting lost here is there's zero reason for him to say, give me pennies because I got hurt and didn't win more MVPs. I don't know how to make that any more simple.

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