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The Ripple Effect of Mauer's Move to First

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The Twins made it official on Monday... Joe Mauer's days behind the plate are over.

After consulting with doctors at Mayo Clinic, it was felt that Mauer needed to avoid the chance of re-injuring himself at the roughest position on the baseball field. Even though Mauer is now symptom free and able to go about his regular offseason routine, the club felt this was in the best interest of the team and their star player.

The move away from catcher has been something Mauer has tried to avoid in the past. Even after missing most of the 2011 season because of leg issues, Mauer wanted to prove he could handle the rigors of being a full-time catcher again. The seriousness of his concussion in 2013 must have been enough to convince him the time was right for a move.

In my offseason blueprint, I listed Mauer as the primary first baseman for the 2014 Minnesota Twins. It seemed likely for the club to give him more time at first base especially with the exit of Justin Morneau and the rise of Josmil Pinto. These two players are just part of the ripple effect of Mauer's move to first.

Pinto's Chance to Start
The Twins were impressed with the performance of Pinto in the final month of the season. Over 21 games, the rookie backstop batted .342/.398/.566 with four home runs and five doubles. His defensive skills might not be as good as Mauer but he did throw out 33% of base runners with a .982 fielding percentage in his eight seasons in the minor leagues. Minnesota could always add a veteran catcher but Pinto deserves a chance at some point next year.

Morneau Won't Return
Within the inner circle of Twins Territory, there might have been the hopes of a return of their former MVP. As Mauer shifts to first base, it seems as if there is no spot for Morneau on the roster. It probably didn't make sense for the Twins to spend money on Morneau with other first base options currently under contract. This allows Morneau to try and find a spot on a team that can contend before his career is complete.

Parmelee and Colabello Left Searching for ABs
Both Parmelee and Colabello have put together impressive numbers at Triple-A in the last two seasons. These performances haven't translated to the big leagues and this leaves question marks about them moving forward. Parmelee got some time in the outfield last year and this might be his best chance at sticking with the team long-term. Colabello's independent baseball story was great but he might be more of a organizational player.

Sano's the Future at Third
With a full offseason to prepare, Minnesota could have moved Mauer to third base. They didn't because Miguel Sano is making his way to Target Field. There is a small chance of Sano starting the year with the club so Trevor Plouffe will keep his place warm at the hot corner. It seems a waste to use Mauer's athletic ability at a lowly position like first base but Sano has one of the best arms in the Twins system and the spot should be saved for him.

What other ripple effects are there from Mauer's move to first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

Comments

  1. MileHighTwinsFan's Avatar
    I thought that a FA signing for 1B (my personal fav was Youklis) would bring a veteran presence into the locker room. I now think that it makes sense to do the same at catcher. Doumit should become a near full time DH, with spot starts at C and RF. I would also suspect that Doumit will be on the trading block sooner, rather than later.

    With Doumit on the way out, the Twins might be willing to lock down Willingham for another 2 years - to play left and eventually DH full time once Hicks is ready to lock down an outfield spot permanently.
  2. James's Avatar
    This might also signal to Plouffe as well that his days may be numbered. He has to be aware that we've got quite the 3B prospect in Sano making his way up the system. What position will Plouffe end up at now? The Twins are definitely not handing the spot over to Plouffe now that Mauer is there, and the outfield looks to be filling up with Willingham, Arcia, Hicks, Presley, and eventually Buxton. Maybe he ends up at DH?
  3. Dainir's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MileHighTwinsFan
    I thought that a FA signing for 1B (my personal fav was Youklis) would bring a veteran presence into the locker room. I now think that it makes sense to do the same at catcher. Doumit should become a near full time DH, with spot starts at C and RF. I would also suspect that Doumit will be on the trading block sooner, rather than later.

    With Doumit on the way out, the Twins might be willing to lock down Willingham for another 2 years - to play left and eventually DH full time once Hicks is ready to lock down an outfield spot permanently.
    If there isn't bad blood, I would go for AJ Pierzynski at catcher. The bad blood part though is a big if. But lets assume there isn't. The past couple years the Twins have seemed flat with no real emotion. AJ definitely brings that. He also knows the catcher position extremely well.

    As for Doumit, I put him in the same camp as Parmelee and Colabello, competing with those three for playing time at DH. Arcia and Willingham should get a majority of the starts at right and left field. Doumit will stay with the team as its 3rd catcher, back-up outfielder and first baseman, but that doesn't amount to a lot of actual playing time.

    When you add James' comment about Plouffe in, we are looking at four guys who will quickly be losing there places on the Twins. Hopefully we can trade most of them before mid-season. There are too many minor leaguers knocking on the door to keep around AAAA players.
  4. Rosterman's Avatar
    With Mauer at first we pretty much have closed the book on Parmelee and Colabello. One will return to AAA, the other is tradebait. We also have to strongly look at the need for Doumit, especially if the Twins would sign another catcher. Of course, Doumit is here for a season and a veteran signing of a catcher would allow a good season and a half of Pinto at Rochester with the vet catcher becoming the DH/bench guy. Even the ripple effect of someone like Bartlett means that there is no room in the home for Escobar or Florimon if Bartlett rebounds.

    Ultimately, the Twins have a lot of roster spots they can free up if they do sign comparable players. Most of the names I mentioned above are already replacement level players, placeholders until someone better comes along. Throw in Willingham, and the Twins even have more free salary base for years to come.

    Likewise, if the Twins sign a starter or two and a bullpen guy they have names like Albers and Hendriks and Worley to remove from the 40-man. Hermsen is gone, Welker would probably pass thru waivers at this point. You can argue the need to keep Duensing or Swarzak at the moment. Is Pressly really that good? And Fien and Burton could both be comfortable tradebait if the need arise. There is a little value on the Twins 40-man roster if Ryan plays his cards right, or at least flipping AAAA guys for possible prospects (preferably pitching). You hate to just let guys walk, but.... not like Ryan and Co. haven't done it in the past.
  5. NoCal's Avatar
    I disagree that first base is a "lowly position". I expect that Mauer will excel defensively at first base, and with Dozier, gives the Twins an excellent right side; and with Floriman at short, the Twins should provide excellent infield defense (Ploufe is another story). Considering their ballpark, I feel that the Twins should also put a premium on swift, good fielding outfielders also. Eventually, that will mean Hicks, Buxton, maybe Rosario, but for now they should emphasize Willingham as a DH, and try and upgrade their outfield defense. It can't hurt their pitching if they put some resource into defense.
  6. gil4's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dainir
    If there isn't bad blood, I would go for AJ Pierzynski at catcher. The bad blood part though is a big if.
    Teams have always had to weigh AJ's personality vs. his performance. The Ozzie Guillen quote "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less." is a classic. (I still hate Ozzie more than AJ.) Hopefully the personality has mellowed with age, because the performance isn't what it used to be.

    If it was up to me, I'd pass.
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