Tag:Joe Mauer
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 7:22 pm

Mauer won't be switching positions anytime soon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe MauerWhen Joe Mauer returns to the Twins, he will be behind the plate, manager Ron Gardenhire said on Tuesday.

Asked if Mauer, who is currently DHing in extended spring training in Florida, would play any other position than catcher when he returns, Gardenhire said no.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

No, Joe’s a catcher. He’s coming back as a catcher. He signed an eight-year deal to catch in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins, so we’re trying to get him back as a catcher. If it doesn’t work out when he comes back, then we’re going to have to figure somewhere else, and that’s a lot harder than everybody makes it out to be. We have some corner people who are pretty good baseball players, and (we) try not to fire the really good players that we have.

He could play anywhere. Joe could probably move around pretty good. He played in the infield as a young player; we could probably make him the tallest shortstop since Cal Ripken. But right now he’s a catcher -- until Joe deems that he can’t do it anymore, or we deem that he’s not physically able to do that. But we believe he is, if he just gets healthy.

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Posted on: May 28, 2011 1:07 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

By Matt Snyder

As Joe Mauer continued to try and work himself back into game shape this past week, Buster Posey went down with a likely season-ending injury. Not far away are discussions of when and where each should be moved on the diamond to limit the injury risk in future years. The narrative is that they're more important offensively than defensively to their respective ballclubs, so it would behoove both the player and the team to make a change.

But here's why it doesn't: The offense provided by Mauer and Posey isn't near as valuable at a different position. They are elite sluggers when their peers are the other catchers in baseball. But what if Posey was a first baseman and Mauer was moved to the outfield (since Justin Morneau is entrenched at first)?

Here are the arguably five best hitting catchers in baseball: Mauer, Posey, Carlos Santana, Victor Martinez (even though he mostly DH's) and Brian McCann. That's in no particular order, but it's apparent that Mauer and Posey blend in nicely, if not fill the top two spots.

Here are arguably the 10 best hitting first basemen: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Paul Konerko, Gaby Sanchez and Justin Morneau (if he ever gets things figured out). Where would Posey fit here? Maybe ninth or 10th, at best? Not even in the same ballpark as the top five and overall pretty run-of-the-mill at this position. That much is certain.

Here are 15 of the top hitting corner outfielders: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Lance Berkman, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Matt Holliday, Matt Joyce, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Mike Stanton, Carlos Quentin, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Shin-Soo Choo. Where would Mauer fit there? Obviously if Mauer could hit every season like he did in 2009, he'd be fine -- though still behind the likes of Bautista and Braun. Otherwise, the lack of power leaves him a bit behind the pack. Probably behind everyone listed here. If nothing else, he's extraordinarily overpaid. You don't give a 10-home run right fielder $184 million.

Speaking of money, what about Posey's first free agent paycheck? That's one reason it would be good to try and stay behind the plate, assuming he comes back fully healthy and proves it for at least a full season. When it comes time to extend Posey long-term, the Giants will certainly be much more willing to cough up big-time money for Posey's offense if it fits behind the plate. If he's playing first base, his 25 or so home runs don't look nearly as appetizing when you see what guys like Votto, Fielder, Teixeira and Cabrera are capable of doing. There's a reason Posey's agent has been all over the league to better protect catchers instead of telling the Giants to move his client out of harm's way.

Obviously the long-term health of two talented ballplayers -- and incredibly likable guys, too, I must point out -- is much more important than how their offensive numbers fit from the humanitarian perspective. But Major League Baseball teams are a business. Presumably, they're in the business of winning. It's pretty clear the offensive numbers Mauer and Posey produce are worlds more valuable at the catcher position than at first base or in the outfield. This is why the moves haven't been made yet and why everything will be done to prevent the move going forward.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:41 pm

Mauer, Nishioka making steps toward return

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tsuyoshi NishiokaThe reinforcements are coming for the Twins, as both Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Joe Mauer are closer to returns, MLB.com reports.

Nishioka, who suffered a broken left fibula on April 7, is expected to play five innings at shortstop on Saturday in extended spring training.

"They did another X-ray and everything looked great, so he got the OK to go," Twins trainer Dave Pruemer said. "He's fired up and has been doing a lot of drills at shortstop."

The Twins say they'd like him to get at least 50 at-bats in the minors.

Mauer is already playing at extended spring training. He served as the team's designated hitter on Friday.

Left-hander Jose Mijares is scheduled to pitch at Class A Fort Myers on Friday and Saturday.

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 6:24 pm

Pepper: Duel in Fenway

By Matt Snyder

BASEBALL TODAY: There's no more tasty matchup than Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander squaring off in Fenway Park as the Tigers take on the red hot Red Sox. Also, how will CC Sabathia, Jair Jurrjens and Madison Bumgarner fare? I discuss all of these items in CBSSports.com's Baseball Today. See above.

MOST MARKETABLE: Three baseball players check in as members of the top 50 most marketable athletes in the world. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is at the top with LeBron James second. The MLB guys are Albert Pujols (25), Joe Mauer (31) and Brian Wilson (34). (SportsMedia.com) Great, so now everyone is going to grow out a beard like that?

MORE ON PHILLIPS' VISIT: Remember the story about Brandon Phillips going to watch a 14-and-under All-Star game being played by one of his Twitter followers? Well, the Dayton Daily News has the full story. Not only did Phillips show up, but he stayed for six innings. Here's what the parents of the young Twitter follower, named Connor, had to say about Phillips: "[He was] bombarded by people. He must have signed a hundred autographs. Connor kind of wanted to invite him into the dugout to give him some relief, but it seemed like Brandon was enjoying himself. And whenever Connor got up to hit, he’d always stop and watch him." Connor ended up gathering two singles and a double in front of Phillips, as his team won 12-4. As for Phillips' comments? “I had a good time. The parents were really into the game. Everybody had a lot of fun, and it reminded me again of why I play and why I do what I do on the field ... and off. It’s about love. I just love the game.”

ACKLEY KID: Michael Pineda's done a decent job (understatement alert) in his rookie campaign, so what about the Mariners promoting their top hitting prospect, Dustin Ackley? Once Stephen Strasburg was off the board, you may have quit paying attention, but Ackley was the second overall pick in that draft. Ackley plays second base and is swinging a good bat in Triple-A -- .280 average with six home runs, 21 RBI, 27 runs, nine doubles, six stolen bases and an .844 OPS in 40 games. Thus, it's rather obvious why Mariners fans would be pining for the 23 year old. The always-thoughtful Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times discusses why Ackley hasn't gotten the call yet and when he might get it (hint: sometime in June).

NEW RIVALRY: A good discussion with the writers on StLtoday.com: Has the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry been surpassed by the Cardinals-Reds? I'll weigh in as our resident Cubs fan. I think there's a difference between historic fan rivalries and present on-field rivalries. I don't think the rivalry between Cubs and Cardinals fans would ever be surpassed by that of the Reds vs. Cardinals in terms of historic stature, but in 2011 as a stand-alone season, it's Reds-Cardinals and it's not even close. This is because those are the two best teams in the division and they seem to genuinely dislike each other. To use another midwest example, Indiana and Purdue are always top rivals in basketball, but with Indiana down the past few years, Purdue had much bigger games on the slate.

MORE ON THE CARDS-REDS: Meanwhile, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan calls remarks made by Reds announcer Marty Brennaman "classless." (StLtoday.com)

THE UNKNOWN: The first round of the MLB draft is June 6, and the Pirates are narrowing down the field for their first selection. It's interesting to say that because for the first time since 2008, it's not a foregone conclusion who the top pick is going to be. Both Strasburg and Bryce Harper were the obvious No. 1 picks in the past two drafts. On the flip-side, the Pirates are considering around five different players. Reportedly, the three favorites are UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen. (MLB.com)

POSTING CHANGE: NPB (that's Japan's professional league to those unaware) may change it's posting system for players looking to sign with Major League Baseball. The most famous posting issue is when the Red Sox ponied up just over $50 million just for the rights to exclusively negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. By the time the Red Sox signed him to a contract, they'd paid over $100 million. There are lots of other cases, obviously, that's just the most notorious. Anyway, the proposed change would be to award negotiating rights to the top three bidders. This would probably help the players make more money and be more fair to the bidding MLB teams. (NPB Tracker)

DEROSA DOWN: Giants third baseman Mark DeRosa is out "for a long time" after re-injuring his surgically repaired wrist. This may speed up a move of Aubrey Huff across the diamond with Brandon Belt taking over at first base -- at least until Pablo Sandoval is ready to come back. (SFgate.com) While we're here, I'm going to stand up for DeRosa as a man to the Giants fans (it's a minority, so let's not paint the entire fan base with one brush) celebrating his injury just because he's underperformed on the field. DeRosa is a great guy and great teammate. It takes a special kind of (bad) person to wish chronic injuries on someone else, especially when those bad wishes are upon a good person. Oh, while we're here ...

WHY THOLE QUIT TWITTER: Mets catcher Josh Thole joined Twitter to interact with fans, and instead had to close his account because he was tired of everyone taking shots at him -- including one loser who said he didn't care if Thole died. (NYDailyNews.com) It's amazing how "tough" people get under the cloak of anonymity. Actually, amazing is the wrong word. It's pathetic. There are few places where I'll ever break out the sanctimony, but this is one of them. If you use the Internet to tell people you want them dead because of how they play baseball -- or anything comparable such as political views, religious views, favorite musicians or taste in TV shows -- you are dregs of society and seriously need to get a life.

RECOVERED RINGS: Kyle Kendrick had his 2008 World Series championship ring stolen from his home on March 30, but it has been recovered by police in an unrelated investigation. There were several other items recovered by police, including Kendrick's 2009 NLCS ring. (CSNPhilly.com)

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Posted on: May 11, 2011 2:42 pm

Mauer wishes he knew return date

By Matt Snyder
And now, your obligatory Joe Mauer update for the day ... if you can call it that.

The star Twins catcher, who has been sidelined for the last several weeks with bilateral leg weakness and a viral infection that weakened him even futher, wants those wondering when he's going to be back that he's one of them.

"I'm getting my strength back and my weight back, so hopefully I can get back on the field. You've got to get back into baseball shape. But yeah, I still got some work to do, and I wish I knew when I would be back, and I know everybody else wishes too, but you just got to keep going in the right direction." (via MinnPost.com)

If Mauer truly started over, like it sounds, he'd need about as long as a full spring training would take to get back. He's been rehabbing since April 20 and a full spring training is five to six weeks -- which puts things at about June 1. Of course, I'm completely speculating and Mauer himself just told us he wishes he knew when he'd be back. Basically, it sounds like something that needs to be wagered upon. I'll set the over/under at June 1 for you. Proceed from there.

The Twins need Mauer back -- as long as he's himself and not the injured/weakened version -- pretty badly. Not only is he one of the team leaders, but MinnPost.com notes the replacement catchers have hit .102 with a .136 slugging percentage, which is worse than NL pitchers have collectively done this season (.133 and .167).

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:01 pm

Mauer progressing, but long way to go for return

MauerBy Evan Brunell

There's good news and bad news about Joe Mauer. Which do you want first?

OK, there's no way for you to respond, so let's get the bad out of the way. Mauer still isn't close to coming off the disabled list after losing 15 pounds thanks to a viral infection. He's also had to deal with a curious ailment that has sapped all strength from his legs.

The good news? "It feels like I'm finally turning a corner," Mauer told the Star Tribune. Any progress is a good sign for the catcher, despite lack of baseball progress -- that is, no catching, hitting or running has taken place yet.

"He's still in the strength phase of his program," head trainer Rick McWane said. "He's getting stronger, he's feeling a lot better, he's improved his flexibility, improved his strength in his legs, his upper body, his shoulder, his elbow -- everything's getting stronger."

The 2009 MVP's health problems to date and sheer size (he's listed at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds) have caused some to wonder if Mauer should stay behind the dish.

Of course he is, for a multitude of reasons. For one, the Twins don't have anyone near capable enough of stepping in the lineup full-time behind the plate, accentuated by last season's trade of Wilson Ramos to the Twins. Second, Mauer still has yet to turn 30, lending some optimism that he can remain a catcher for a few more years. Mauer's $184-million contract is valuable if he produces out of the catcher's spot but when you transition him to another position, that contract takes a big hit.

"I just think I can help the team a lot more behind the plate," Mauer said of switching positions. "That's what I signed here to do is catch. I think we're a better ballclub when I'm behind the plate."

Sure, the Twins are better when he's catching, but at what cost does that come? Mauer underwent offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left knee which set him back in spring training, then the virus arrived along with leg weakness. His bat is too valuable to leave out of the lineup, even if it means a position change.

 "He wasn't strong enough to handle everyday catching," McWane said. "It wasn't a matter of his knee not being ready, he just didn't -- I don't think -- have the repetitions, catching or in anything else. Once the season started, he started to wear down. Then he got sick on top of that. ... So it was just a perfect storm of several things that happened at same time."

Before Mauer can assume his duties, however, the leg issue has to be addressed. The virus has been ruled out as a cause of his leg weakness, as McWane said, along with several other possible causes. One thing that's for sure is that Mauer can't play through it, as he tried to do in spring training.

"I thought I got myself to a point where once we got to the season, my legs would continue to get stronger and get to where I needed to get to," he said. "And it just kind of went the other way."

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 28, 2011 1:12 pm

Twins admit Mauer wasn't ready for opener

By Matt Snyder

Perennial MVP candidate Joe Mauer only played nine games before going on the disabled list with leg weakness and a bad viral infection. Before he was shelved, however, he got off a pretty bad start for his standards. Thursday, Twins trainer Rick McWane gave an update on Mauer's progress -- we'll get to that in a second -- and also acknowledged that Mauer probably wasn't 100 percent physically ready to play when the regular season began. (Star-Tribune )
“He wasn’t strong enough to handle everyday catching,” McWane said. “At the end of spring training, he said that’s the best he had felt and he’s doing fine. He didn't have any issues with his knee at end of spring training. And still his knee feels good.

“It wasn’t a matter of his knee not being ready, he just didn't -- I don’t think -- have the repetitions, catching or in anything else. Once the season started, he started to wear down.

“Then he got sick on top of that. We've had a couple guys get sick. So it was just a perfect storm of several things that happened at same time.”
Mauer was attempting to come back from surgery on his left knee in December and had played in eight spring training games, but that apparently wasn't enough.

Moving forward is what matters at this point, though, and Mauer is progressing -- even if slowly. He should soon begin baseball activities before going on a minor-league rehab assignment.

The good news is that the leg weakness was merely soreness due to trying to rush back from the surgery. Several other possible causes of bilateral leg weakness -- such as bulging discs in the back -- that may have ended Mauer's season have been ruled out.

It's good that Mauer is getting stronger, but due to what happened at the start of the season, there's no way the Twins rush him back. Expect him to miss another few more weeks, if not more. 

Mauer, 28, hit .327 with nine home runs, 75 RBI, 88 runs, 43 doubles and an .871 OPS last season in leading the Twins to another playoff appearance. He also won his third straight Gold Glove.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 26, 2011 5:19 pm

Mauer not ready to come off DL

By Matt Snyder

Joe Mauer has been on the disabled list for almost the full 15 days, as he's eligible to come off and rejoin the Twins Thursday. It's just that he's not ready. (Star Tribune )

Mauer, 28, was originally placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 12 with what was called bilateral leg weakness. Just a few days later, however, it was discovered that he had a viral infection that could have also contributed to the severe weakness Mauer was feeling.

Reportedly, Mauer was set back a week in his recovery time due to the viral infection, so now he's just trying to rebuild the strength in his legs. He appears likely to go on a minor-league rehab assignment before getting back into the Twins' starting lineup.

The star catcher was the AL MVP in 2009, when he hit .365 with a .444 on-base percentage and 30 doubles, 28 home runs, 96 RBI, 94 runs and a Gold Glove in 2009. Last season, he regressed in power, but that was about it. He hit .327 with a .402 OBP, 43 doubles, nine home runs, 75 RBI, 88 runs and another Gold Glove.

Mauer is presently in the first year of an eight-year, $184 million contract with his hometown club.

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Category: MLB
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