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  • Shut Down Joe Mauer. Now.

    It occurs to me that since I’ve been a little preoccupied with writing about the Cedar Rapids Kernels the past five months, I have written very little about the Minnesota Twins.

    Now that the Kernels’ season has come to a close, I’m going to try to remedy that situation and I’m going to begin by posing a question to the Twns’ front office: Why the heck have you not announced that you are shutting Joe Mauer down for the season?

    I mean it. Shut Joe Mauer down and do it right frigging now!
    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com)

    I know he wants to play. I know he wants to put on the gear and get behind the plate again this season. I know he doesn’t like sitting and watching his teammates play (and frankly, many days, the rest of us aren’t enjoying it much either).

    I don’t care. He is not (or at least he shouldn’t be) the one calling the shots.
    Check out these quotes that Star-Tribune beat reporter LaVelle E. Neal III attributed to Mauer in Neal’s blog post Thursday:
    “I start feeling symptoms when I start to get my heart rate up,” Mauer said between workouts at Target Field on Thursday.

    Mauer is determined to return to the Twins lineup before the end of the regular season – but he has to wait until the symptoms go away for good.


    “This process has been a little longer than I hoped,” Mauer said.

    Tell me that doesn’t sound like something we might have heard Justin Morneau say during the summer of 2010.

    That summer, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com authored a piece on the concussions of Morneau and Jason Bay, and quoted another former member of the Twins, Corey Koskie, extensively. This quote from Koskie should resound with Twins fans who think Mauer should return to the field for any part of what’s left of this third straight lost season:
    Koskie doesn’t profess to know everything about concussions, but he’s compiled a list of “do’s” and “don’ts.” He advises any athlete with concussion symptoms to consult a doctor with no vested interest in the player’s return to the field. His blood pressure also spikes when he reads a news story that Player X suffered a “mild” concussion in the line of duty.

    “That’s a pet peeve of mine,” Koskie said. “The brain is the most important organ in the body. You’d never hear somebody say, ‘This guy just had a minor heart attack. He should be able to play in two days.’ ”

    When Morneau caught a knee to the helmet in Toronto three years ago, he was hitting .345 and had an OPS of 1.055. Last week he was traded for two guys 99% of us had never heard of.


    Joe Mauer

    Look, I’ve got plans to attend a Twins game a week from Saturday (assuming I survive the #GrandDrunkRailroad pregame festivities) and I’d like to see Mauer play. I don’t care if he doesn’t hit home runs, I appreciate what he does with a bat and he’s almost certainly going to be enshrined in Cooperstown someday. I want to see him play any chance I can get.

    But Justin Morneau’s career path was just as promising as Joe Mauer’s three seasons ago and a concussion that was originally thought to be minor robbed Twins fans of getting to see him at his best in his prime… not to mention robbing us of the opportunity to see what difference he might have made in a couple of Twins’ postseason appearances in 2010 and 2011.

    I want to see the Twins improve in 2014 and I want to see them return to contention in 2015 and beyond. The Twins organization has a number of very good prospects who will be arriving by then.

    But if prospects like Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton had been concussed with three or four weeks left in their seasons, is there any way the Twins WOULDN’T just shut them down immediately rather than try to get them back on the field for a couple weeks at the end of the season, even if it might involve minor league postseason games?

    There is no way they would take that kind of risk with such critical assets.

    After all, the chances of the Minnesota Twins returning to relevancy in the next few years depend on a healthy Miguel Sano and a healthy Byron Buxton.

    They also depend on a healthy Joe Mauer.

    And the remaining games on the Twins’ schedule are every bit as meaningless as minor league games are, at this point. They simply do not matter at all, except for the purpose of evaluating players with an eye toward what, if any, roles they should play on a future Twins roster.

    The Twins need to find out if Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann can handle catching at the Major League level. They need to find out if Chris Colabello and Chris Parmelee can hit Major League pitching well enough to take over at first base.

    There may be a legitimate question as to what position Joe Mauer should play in the future, but there is absolutely no question concerning whether he’ll have a role somewhere – unless he tries to return too soon from his concussion and spends an offseason dealing with symptoms the way Morneau did leading up to 2011.

    If the Twins’ brass ask Mauer if he wants to continue to work toward getting back on the field this season, of course he’s going to say, “yes.” He’s a competitor and you would expect no other answer.

    That’s why the question shouldn’t even be asked.

    The Twins should simply tell Mauer his season is over and he should focus on being ready to take the field when pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February.

    Doing otherwise is illogical and perhaps even irresponsible.

    SD Buhr covers the Cedar Rapids Kernels for MetroSportsReport.com. His alter-ego, Jim Crikket, opines about the Twins and Kernels at Knuckleballsblog.com.

    This article was originally published in blog: Shut Down Joe Mauer. Now. started by SD Buhr
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. jm3319's Avatar
      jm3319 -
      Agree 100%. There's no such thing as a minor head injury or concussion. We're a million games out, he plays a high risk position, and he clearly is still having symptoms. Sit him down. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose with him pushing to come back to play more meaningless games this season.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      + 100% and he should be done catching!
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      I agree SD. The Morneau analogy gives one pause....
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Not to nitpick, but a "minor heart attack" is actually a legit term.
      I suffered one a few years ago when I had a newborn baby, and was putting 100+ hours/week into getting my business off the ground, and was drinking 4 or 5 pots of coffee a day, plus pounding red bulls.
      Those were the ER doctor's exact words, "it looks like you may have suffered a mild heart attack. Cut back on the coffee, and get some sleep."

      That said, a "minor heart attack" is still a pretty bleeping scary event.
    1. RodneyKline's Avatar
      RodneyKline -
      ...and how about making him the teams full time third baseman. He is very athletic and I think he would be great at third. Very agile and an amazing arm. It would be such a waste to put him at 1B. Sign Morneau back and put Mauer at a more valuable position. 1B is for a big power hitter or an aging guy that can't contribute anywhere else on the field. Play him there regularly and by mid season he is a gold glover over there. Plus make him the starting Quarterback for the Vikes!
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by RodneyKline View Post
      ...and how about making him the teams full time third baseman. He is very athletic and I think he would be great at third. Very agile and an amazing arm. It would be such a waste to put him at 1B. Sign Morneau back and put Mauer at a more valuable position. 1B is for a big power hitter or an aging guy that can't contribute anywhere else on the field. Play him there regularly and by mid season he is a gold glover over there. Plus make him the starting Quarterback for the Vikes!
      And where do you put Sano when he is up in June?
      He's too young to go straight to DH without being given a shot at 3B first.
    1. Larsbars08's Avatar
      Larsbars08 -
      Look, if he can come back and play with no problems, than let him do it. I have no problem if they played him at DH for the rest of the year, but it's still premature to shut him down immediately. It's become clear that no two concussions are alike. Morneau and Koskie are one end of the spectrum, but there are also guys who come back relatively quickly. This is not to call Mauer out. If he's still feeling symptoms, than don't let him near the ballpark. But if next week he feels fine, and the doctors have signed off on it, then why not let him get a few at bats.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      In an article in the Strib today, Terry Ryan says Mauer "will" play again this year, and that he "will" catch.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Totally agree, JC. There is no need to play.

      Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Brooks View Post
      In an article in the Strib today, Terry Ryan says Mauer "will" play again this year, and that he "will" catch.
      Add this to the thousands of reasons that Ryan needs to go, he doesn't "get it"...
    1. CGNikolic's Avatar
      CGNikolic -
      Ryan does not need to go, calm yourself Thrylos. Ryan is trying to be optimistic and tell fans/media not to worry. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if neither of Ryan's statements come to fruition.
    1. adjacent's Avatar
      adjacent -
      Quote Originally Posted by CGNikolic View Post
      Ryan does not need to go, calm yourself Thrylos. Ryan is trying to be optimistic and tell fans/media not to worry. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if neither of Ryan's statements come to fruition.
      My thinking too. The twins always come with some statement that is what the casual fans want to hear, not necessarily the whole truth. I will put that statement in the category of "the Twins will be contenders this year".
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Great article JC. 100% agree. No reason Mauer should play rest of year--so what if Twins win only 72 games instead of 75. Not sure whether Mauer should catch next year--I know he wants to, but why risk injury.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by CGNikolic View Post
      Ryan does not need to go
      Ryan needs to go. He cannot win. Had about 25 chances to prove that.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      It is a scary thing for Mauer right now. I certainly can't live in his head and know what to do. But what about Willingham? Why is he still in the lineup and batting 4th? If the lame duck manager insists on playing him while he is still hobbling, can't he take his walks and strikeouts somewhere else in the lineup?

      Today's Gardenhire quote was so telling..........
      "I can't figure it out," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
      For three years he can't figure it out. Doesn't he have a mirror in his house?
      Can the manager be shut down for the year and try someone else in his position in September. After all, his contract is up.

      I am so tired of the current "Twins Way", and would welcome a clean house as the new prospects make their way to the majors. Ryan being replaced is part of the solution. Look at Boston. Not doing too bad with their choices...... and they didn't even spend that much money, just what they should spend, and that doesn't mean making the payroll approach 40 Million a year.
    1. exrugger9's Avatar
      exrugger9 -
      First off, Seth- no need to apologize for focusing more on the Kernels than the big club. It's been far more interesting to follow the doings on the farm than in the Cities this year. And last year. And the year before that. And probably the next couple of years, too.... But I'm in total agreement. From years of rugby, ice hockey, and boxing, I've been on the end of a few of those. When you have that much of an investment in a part of your team- THE major part of your team, you don't take chances with his health, or even his life. It's not like we're anywhere close to playoff hunt. Besides, I'm sure they're spouting that line to keep selling what few tickets they can at this point. Please, TR, please RG, shut the guy down.
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