08-27-2012, 08:48 AM #1
08-27-2012, 08:53 AM #2
Yeah, some Twins fans are strange. When he was catching 130-135 games a year and getting other days off, they would complain about that. Now that he's catching about 85-95 games and playing 155+ games this year, they're complaining about him not catching enough... I'll never understand.
08-27-2012, 11:37 AM #3
It's fair to point this out, given the criticism before and the fact that most fans don't really understand how catchers are used across baseball, and that virtually no catcher is behind the plate for 162 games, or usually even 135 games, for that matter.
But this is a Twins record, and it's not like he's passing Carlton Fisk or Pudge Rodriguez or something. And to be fair, you have to put the criticism in the proper context. Mauer didn't play 1B until last year, and if he wasn't catching, Gardy would often sit him completely in favor of Mike Redmond, Butera, or whoever the backup catcher happened to be.
I don't think the fans really ever complained that Mauer wasn't catching enough games. They were pointing out that Mauer's so-called "positional scarcity advantage" (which is a farce to begin with) doesn't even exist in the other 80-100 games he's not catching.
So, yes, if there are any fans still complaining about his playing time THIS year, then they're absolutely wrong. But it's also disingenuous for other media/bloggers to treat this guy's work load like he's Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Kurt Suzuki or something. Mauer is not comparable to other catchers - he's supposed to be a $184 million mega-superstar, and when you compare him to those guys (realistic or not), he does fall short of the production and impact of a Cabrera, Fielder, etc.
08-27-2012, 12:00 PM #4
08-27-2012, 12:02 PM #5
AJ has started at catcher for the White Sox 946 times since joining the team in 2005.
BJ is working on his 799th career start at catcher... since 2004.
Not that I'm insisting Mauer catch more... but "games started at catcher for the Minnesota Twins" is a fairly dubious stat to hold the record in.
08-27-2012, 12:05 PM #6
Second, I'd say that's at least the fifth or sixth time I've seen you claim there isn't such a thing as positional scarcity, so I figured since I was replying anyway, I'd go ahead and mention that there is such a thing.
08-27-2012, 12:17 PM #7
There was no era when he was catching "130-135 games" a year.
NTM, there remains some doubt about whether he'll catch "85-95 games" this year.
But I guess complaining about the complaining, while using made up "facts" is OK.
Last edited by USAFChief; 08-27-2012 at 05:50 PM.
08-27-2012, 12:54 PM #8
But on a slightly related note, I thought guy above who pointed out how many games A.J. has played at catcher since '05 hit it out of the park. A.J. has had a great career as a durable, productive catcher. He's playing out of his mind this year, but even a "typical" boring year from A.J. is something like .285 and 15 HR's a year (in about 130 games played). But if you took those numbers and put A.J. pretty much anywhere else on the diamond (except for 2B or SS), he'd be considered an average or even blow-average MLB hitter.
Now that Mauer is a part-time catcher, I think you can finally evaluate him as a hitter for what he is, which is a guy with an elite, selective eye at the plate, and a good contact hitter, but who isn't above-average at much else. People say that Mauer "doesn't strikeout", as if that's some type of useful skill. No, avoiding OUTS is a useful ability. Mauer actually strikes out twice as much as A.J. and has a career high already of 69 K's this year. Also, because so much of his game is prefaced on putting the ball in play on the ground (while not being as fast as someone like Span or Revere), you're better off striking out than grounding into a double play, which Mauer has done 20 times this year.
So, look, you can argue semantics about positional scarcity, etc. all you want, but at the end of the day, this was supposed to be "Mauer's team", but the team is terrible, and nobody fears this guy. He's a .838 OPS guy, which is lower than the career line for Josh Willingham, a guy who strikes out 150 times a year.
08-27-2012, 01:33 PM #9
The information in the second half of that tweet is interesting information. I would expect him to set the bar higher down the road.
The first half of the tweet is an unjustified jab -- part of the nonsense that often is twitter.
08-27-2012, 05:30 PM #10
It's to Terry Ryan's credit that the team fulfilled a top priority in the offseason to structure the team with the goal at keeping Mauer on the field as much as possible- with the acquisition of Doumit and elimination of Thome- Mauer currently is on pace to play in 150.5 games, which will be a career high, he's only been above 140 twice.
There are downsides in completing this objective, Mauer is also currently on pace to play catcher in 76.5 games, certainly not 85-95, and as the season winds down into the first week of October, it's reasonable to assume that actual number will be closer to 70.
The "not catching enough" stat comes with the territory on the "position of scarcity" argument, which "justified" (at least to stat-geeks with their fantasy leagues and apparently the Twins braintrust who made the offer) the $184M contract in the first place. I don't think there's so much complaining about how much he's catching (as he's clearly declined in his catching skills in the last 3 years), it was clear to many early on in his career that potential health issues were always going to have to be weighed and factored into how to maximize his value to the team. Rather than complaints, this is just further recognition of the extraordinarily bad deal that was crafted by the Twins brass caught up in the stadium transition.
Cautionary thought, 1B Todd Helton's production was already on the downward peak in 2004, at age 31, just as he was starting in making his big money. Mauer's career numbers, starting at age 21, and 1B Todd Helton's declining years since 2004 are similar, Helton with 43 more HR:
Certainly there is some Coors Field/NL inflation, but Helton's 9 year contract deal averaged out at $15.7M. As Mauer continues to further transition to a DH/1B/Other? set of roles in his 30s, can he maintain the career numbers he has established or are the Twins to endure the huge dropoff in numbers reminiscent to Helton who had extraordinary career number leading up to 2004?:
Helton career from start in '97, through 2003 (ages 23-30): 337/425/616/1047
So, in Helton, you're looking at about a 15% drop in overall production and a 21% drop in slugging production.
Even just a 10% drop in production by Mauer, for a high singles/BB/OPS champ, good-glove-1B/DH/PT C is hard to justify at $23M/yr for the next 6 years.
08-27-2012, 10:48 PM #11
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Mauer should be behind the plate about 2-3 times a week as long as this team is not in contention. If this were a playoff team, they should be ramping up Mauer's catching to prepare him to start nearly every game in the playoffs behind the plate.
08-27-2012, 11:39 PM #12
This year, AJ's K% is 12.8 and Mauer's is 13.4. Career has Mauer slightly lower than AJ.
Who have you talked to about their "fear factor?" He walks more than almost anyone in the league (6th?) with Willingham hitting behind him. And he sees below average % pitches in the strike zone (a lower % than Willingham, btw).
08-28-2012, 12:05 AM #13
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I don't think the issue now is justifying the contract- It can't be done. This issue is how to get the most value out of Mauer for the next 7 years (I believe that the contract runs for 7 more years, not 6)
You have to keep him healthy, otherwise your paying 23m for a player to sit on the DL.
08-28-2012, 12:07 AM #14
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08-28-2012, 12:29 AM #15
I agree that you have to keep him healthy, and as I mentioned in my opening paragraph, Ryan addressed that issue as a top priority in the offseason and got it done and it has been executed masterfully. But, you are obligated to a contract at $23M for a singles-hitting, high-OBP part-time catcher who has most likely already hit his ceiling and even in the best-case scenario, where Mauer maintains his career averages as Mark Grace did, he projects out to Grace-like numbers in his 30s: 303/388/455/843.
These aren't bad and, crossing our fingers, are probably the best-case scenario. It still doesn't yield a decent-enough return on $23M/yr for the next 6 years assuming that Mauer's full-time catching days are long-gone.
08-28-2012, 12:58 AM #16
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Good god, this amounts to another hate Mauer's contract thread. Get over it. He's worth a bunch of money. He is NOT the problem. The problem has been Liriano, Baker, Blackburn, Pavano, Marquis, Capps, etc. That is where there is wasted money.
08-28-2012, 01:48 AM #17
Why is it "hate" when you point out facts? You have a superstar past his peak in production and out of phase with the next cycle of potentially productive prospects, playing on a team that is probably at least 3 years away from contending, a team that is absurdly pretending that it is contending now, when they should be entirely focused on rebuilding, so yes there is also "wasted money" involved in Mauer's contract, too.
Last edited by jokin; 08-28-2012 at 02:16 AM.
08-28-2012, 07:11 AM #18
"Positional scarcity" claims that Mauer's offense has added value when he does it as a catcher. I don't think there's any way to look at the Twins this year and agree with that theory. Scarcity arguments make sense in fantasy baseball where you have a 10-team league and everybody has superstars at every position. The idea goes that if you have a catcher that hits as well as an OF or 1B, you basically have an "extra hitter" that other people don't have.
In real baseball, however, that almost always falls apart, since you DON'T have a lineup of 9 guys who are superstars. If you have 3 or 4 guys who are replacement level hitters, your resources could just as easily go to replace one of them with a better hitter than they could to improve the catcher slot. In fact, since there are more good players available at that position, it would be more efficient to address the other positions than to try and find a superstar catcher.
Mauer's bat is what it is. Were he an OF or 1B, his production would be considered average to good, but not elite. It doesn't suddenly become "elite" because he moves to catcher on defense. The scarcity argument would only work if you had a lineup FULL of offensive Mauers, and the 9th version of Joe Mauer could only get into the lineup IF he played catcher. That's clearly not the case.