Thursday, July 07, 2011

Catastrophe

When Joe Mauer first landed on the disabled list back in April, I tweeted that if he "can't get healthy and productive, this situation has potential to turn into one of the biggest catastrophes in franchise history." A lot of people accused me of hyperbolizing.

Up to this point, however, that potential has been fully realized. Mauer spent a whopping two months on the DL trying to strengthen his legs and the entire ordeal hasn't yielded any apparent benefits.

After sitting out yesterday's game due to "general soreness," the backstop shared with reporters that he was "pretty beat up" after catching three consecutive days, while also acknowledging that he's still not generating any power with his back leg (the same affliction that bothered Mauer last year, and which December's surgery and multiple lubricant injections during spring training were supposed to alleviate).

If you read Phil Mackey's somber piece linked above, you can find three separate instances in which Mauer refers to what a "grind" he expects the rest of the season to be, basically letting fans know that we probably won't be seeing him at 100 percent the rest of the way, which unfortunately is what the Twins need more than anything to jolt their patchy offense and make a surge in the standings.

Unlike a certain local columnist, I'm not angry at Mauer and I'm not going to belittle him for being unable to get on the field. More than anything, I feel sorry for him. His body is inexplicably breaking down on him at the age of 28, and he's letting a lot of people down.

That can't be a good feeling.

38 comments:

Matt said...

Souhan is frustrated, like many in Twins territory. I can't really blame him for that. We're watching a guy making buku bucks saying he can't play because he's "sore."
I don't pretend to understand how Mauer really feels. All I or anyone else can hope for is that he actually gets himself healthy this offseason and comes to spring training in good shape next March.
If this pattern continues, will we hear overwhelmingly loud boo birds when the Hometown Hero of the Midway takes the batter's box?

JB_Iowa said...

My frustration about all of this is exacerbated by Gardenhire putting him in the 3 spot whenever he plays. At some point you have to acknowledge that Joe Mauer just isn't playing like "JOE MAUER". Gardy did the same thing in August and early September 2009 with Morneau. We all could see that something was wrong with Morneau (although we didn't know what it was) and that he should either sit or be moved down in the line-up but Gardenhire persisted in having him bat clean-up every day until it was almost too late.

I know the Twins are short-handed right now but moving Mauer down a little might help the line-up in general AND take a little pressure off Mauer.

Beyond that, I just hope they find some way to get him healthy in the long run.

Brittani Burnham said...

I hope they can get him healthy in the long run as well. But it's becoming more apparent that maybe his body isn't made for catching anymore. I don't want to see him play any other position, but I feel like it may come down to that soon. I can't pretend I'm not a little frustrated with using "general soreness" as an excuse not to play. think every Twins fan is.

Adam Krueger said...

Nick, I know if HIGHLY unlikely that Twins management would go in this direction, but say the Twins are 10 games out towards the trade deadline and they deem that the season is lost and start dealing. Why not shut Mauer down for the rest of the season as well, let him rest for the remainder of the season and all of the off-season and see if he can't get back on his horse at 100% next year? Is that so crazy? I guess I just don't see the benefit of him continuing to play at 70 or 80% when there's really nothing to play for. Curious what your thoughts are there.

Chris J said...

I agree that you have to entertain the idea of shutting Mauer down if the Twins are out of the race and become sellers at the deadline. However, there are going to be a lot of fans that want to see him play not matter what given the money he is making. If they don't shut him down, maybe this would be an opportunity for them to expirement playing Joe at other positions (ie first base, third base, or right field).

Anonymous said...

Mauer last 10 games
AVE - 290 OBP - 352

Anonymous said...

Mauer is done as a hitter too. If you can't plant the back leg and drive the foot firmly into the ground (which Mauer can't) then you are forced to use the upper body, torque the back, and lose power. He's not going to recover because his knee is shot. When you have to rehab in a pool, it's because your knee is unable to handle pressure. Get it? His knee is GONE! Like Tony O. Knee is shot career over. I'd bet money in Vegas on this. The twins are keeping this hushed, but the lid is coming off fast!

Nick N. said...

ut it's becoming more apparent that maybe his body isn't made for catching anymore. I don't want to see him play any other position, but I feel like it may come down to that soon.

You'll get no argument from me on that point.

Why not shut Mauer down for the rest of the season as well, let him rest for the remainder of the season and all of the off-season and see if he can't get back on his horse at 100% next year? Is that so crazy?

Not at all. I could see this happening.

Jack Steal said...

Nick,

You feel sorry for a guy who is making $184 million dollars, has not contributed at all since signing biggest contract in Twins history, sits every third game, dictates his own rehab schedule, and worries more about doing commercials instead of getting healthy.

Well perhaps you could learn a thing or two from a professional jounalist like Jim Souhan. You are a journalist major right?? Stop playing favorites!! The bottom line is Joe Mauer has made every excuse in the books for not helping his team when they need him most. The two people who deserve all the blame are Joe and manager Ron Gardenhire. The reason Gardy has to shoulder some of the blame is his Country Club approach to being the skipper. There is no way this crap would ever happen in NY, Phily, or Boston. He turned 2 of the top 10 players (Mauer & Morneau) min all of MLB into two of the biggest pussys on the face of the world. Neither one of them have no heart.

How do you know the last part is not just some rant. Albert Pujols broke his wrist and was expected to be out 6-8 weeks. He was back 2 1/2 weeks later. See King Albert knows how important he is to St. Louis and wants to win. He has heart, desire, and passion. He also has a great manger willing to call him out when it's necessary.

Anonymous said...

"ut it's becoming more apparent that maybe his body isn't made for catching anymore. I don't want to see him play any other position, but I feel like it may come down to that soon.

You'll get no argument from me on that point."

This should the last thing the twins try. Its unlikely mauer can play 3b just because hes athletic and it would be convenient. That means hell have to play corner OF or 1b which will marginalize his bat a lot. Changing positions also opens a hole at catcher which the twins can fill with a number of players on the list of worst players in baseball.

Nick N. said...

This should the last thing the twins try. Its unlikely mauer can play 3b just because hes athletic and it would be convenient.

I generally agree, but what else is there to try? Extended rest and rehab did nothing. He's lost half a season already. This isn't acceptable. I guess you could shut him down for the year and give him a full offseason to gain strength, but if things aren't better next year you're looking at an even worse situation, and the entire process could further endanger his long-term health.

jesse said...

Good post, Nick.

Alex said...

I am with Nick. I just don't understand those belittling Mauer. If his injuries are preventing him from playing well, no amount of money or fan pressure can change that. If you are a sales person and a stroke impairs your ability to speak, can you just power through it? If you are in contraction and you blow out your back, can you force a comeback?

His ability to perform well depends on his body's to function. Just look at Justin and his concussion.

This is a guy who lives for baseball and relishes being the hometown superstar. I imagine he feels like crap that he is underperforming. From the reports we got, it sounded like he was the one who fought his way back up to the Twins while the team wanted him at AAA. He wants to perform.

Alex said...

*construction no contraction

USAFChief said...

The fantasy world in which Joe Mauer is a full time catcher no longer exists, if it ever did. Just to reiterate...Mauer has been a starting catcher for as many as 120 games in a season once in his career. He has started at catcher less than 60% of the games the Twins have played in his career.

The process to find him another position is at least two years behind schedule.

How long do you think the Twins should be paying $23M per year for a part time player, who is increasingly not even that? How much further long term damage should the Twins risk?

Anonymous said...

Jim Souhan is basically Jay Mariotti in disguise. He called out Mauer because he wanted to incite the Mob. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are the reason the Twins won the Div in 06, 09 & 10 and had a shot in 08. 2010 1st half being Morneau and then Thome being Morneau is disguise for the 2nd half. They are the guys that made this team 10-20 games over 500 when they were just a 500 team without them. Take that to the bank gentlemen. In those years they were good for 10+ wins a year. Justin Morneau is the guy to be concerned about he may be washed up and has 30 million and 2 years left on his contract and they need him to play 1B NOT Mauer going foward. Mauer will be playing the majority of his time at catcher.

Sean

Anonymous said...

"He has started at catcher less than 60% of the games the Twins have played in his career."

You keep using this stat, but if I recall you base it on games where he wasn't actually available (such as time on the DL).

Questioning Mauer's durability at the catcher position is one thing, but questioning his overall durability without seeing what happens if moved to another position is just hilarious.

I also find it hilarious some of the same people calling for Mauer's head now are some of the same who were setting up to call for Smith's (and the org in general) if they were unable to retain Mauer beyond 2010.

Matt said...

I also find it hilarious some of the same people calling for Mauer's head now are some of the same who were setting up to call for Smith's (and the org in general) if they were unable to retain Mauer beyond 2010.
Sports is full of "hindsight is 20-20" cliches. What you find "hilarious" is just another one.
This is the first year in the contract.
Let's wait to call for his head in another year or two? Five? Jeez, chill out people.
The bottom line is, if he's really hurt, he should say so. Any star on any team, particularly the hometown hero, needs to be forthcoming with the fan base. If "general soreness" is the cause of him missing time, then Mijares and whomever else Souhan claims is calling him out has every right to do so. Maybe it's time the manager calls him out, too.

But I don't believe that. What I believe is that he's hurt much more than he's saying, and for that, he deserves a ripping for lying to fans who pay good cash to watch him smack liners to left field.

Anonymous said...

He feels so bad that he continues to film television commercials....

Anonymous said...

I don't feel sorry for anyone making his salary. The Twins are paying him an absurd amount of money to play baseball. So far, he's on pace to play half the season and bat somewhere near Molina numbers without the power. The decision to do other than baseball activities following last season caused an injury to drag into this season. For anyone who is gonna pull the "He deserves a break after the season" card, cry me a river. The are a couple hundred thousand soldiers in the desert right now that get two weeks of vacation a year and get shot at. The average salary of a soldier is around $30,000 a year....Glass Joe's salary - $23,000,000. He's getting paid 750 times more for less than a third of the dedication. Every time Glass Joe films another commercial or makes a personal appearance he takes away from time that should be spent figuring out how hit an inside pitch, how not to ground weekly into a double play, or not throw a high and right ball to second - Also known as EARNING HIS PAYCHECK!!

perkins said...

I think what scares Twins management the most about moving Mauer is the fact that he's not worth 23 million at 1st/3rd/right. The only place he warrants (I use that term loosely) is backstop. Now obviously they don't think about it in those specifics every single time Joe takes the plate, but I think they realize that they're in it for the long haul with this guy and they're too damn scared that if they lose him as a catcher then he's not worth the money they paid for him (which I think is absolutely true). This is why I think the transition for Joe to another position will become more and more gradual in the coming years. He's certainly not switching to full time first base within the next two years, and the Twins are going to have to decide if they think Valencia is a legitimate pro-caliber 3rd baseman if Joe has any shot of playing there, not to mention the current dearth of outfielders in the Twins roster (and some intriguing prospects as well). The Twins are so far backed into the corner as to where they can put Mauer and balance the rest of their lineup that, taking into account that his paycheck is only worthwhile when he's healthy and at catcher, his transition to other positions will be a slow and (excuse the pun) painful one for all parties involved. I'd like to see him move to 1st/3rd/right soon too, I just don't think it's gonna happen immediately by any reach of the imagination.

Mike said...

The anti-Mauer posters are ridiculous.

Complain all you want about Mauer not playing enough. I don't know how you want that to be fixed. He tried playing hurt at the start of the season. How did that work out for him? I think people were calling for his head then.

The plain fact of the matter is that there is absolutely nothing Joe can do to make you people happy. Play catcher full-time, even when hurt- no good, because the production will be down. Play a different position- still no good, because you people don't think he's worth the money at any other position. Rehab an injury until healthy- no good. But let's whine about how much money he makes.

Get over it. Sometimes players get hurt. If I were an up and coming superstar playing for a Minnesota team, I'd probably bolt after seeing the way people respond to Mauer being hurt. If you're going to get chastised for not being an MVP every year, you may as well go to the big market and make more money. People forget so quickly that Mauer signing for $23 million/year was a bargain by several million dollars.

Oh- and for the several people who brought up filiming TV commercials... really? You do understand that those were filmed months and months ago, right? It's not like he's ducking out of rehab and practice now to go shoot a commercial.

Mike said...

Also, people don't really seem to understand the economics of baseball when talking about Joe Mauer. Yes, he gets paid a lot of money, and yes, there would be more money available to sign other players if Mauer were getting paid less.

But if they didn't pay him the bargain salary of $23 MM/year when they signed this extension, he would be gone. Joe Mauer is essentially a brand in Minnesota. People show up to see Mauer, he's excited the fan base like not many have done since Pucket, and he gets Twins gear to sell. He gets paid a lot, but he brings in a lot more money than the average (or even good) player does.

USAFChief said...

You keep using this stat, but if I recall you base it on games where he wasn't actually available (such as time on the DL).

Huh? It's based on dividing the number of games he's started at catcher by the number of games the Twins have played since his debut. Of course DL time counts. That's part of the point.


Questioning Mauer's durability at the catcher position is one thing, but questioning his overall durability without seeing what happens if moved to another position is just hilarious.

Huh?

USAFChief said...

People forget so quickly that Mauer signing for $23 million/year was a bargain by several million dollars.

I don't think paying $23M/yr for a part time player is a bargain in any way, shape, or form.

If he stays at catcher, he's a part time player no matter his health.

Anonymous said...

The crybabies here are the Mauser defenders. The real issue is Mauer's injury, vis a vis with the fact he has not been forthcoming that his left knee is likely never going to be the same. This is why he says it'll "be a grind" the rest of the season. The money is not relevant to his failure to simply say he is seriously injured. IMG and the twins mgmt in no way will allow the information hurt their client's cause. Gardy should not be defended on playing hurt players. Most of you defend your feelings. Of course his production is down. Mauer's toughness has nothing to do with it; anybody who thinks it's that is too weak a thinker to see it's simply the injury. Thus, criticism and derision is invited by Mauer and the twins for obfuscating the condition.

Anonymous said...

USAF keeps whining about Mauer only playing 60% of the time at catcher but can't name another catcher that plays more than him at any level near Mauer in the Majors. Since 2005 he can't it's that simple. The point then is 60% of the time is close to a full-time at catcher in today's World for MLB. The most durable play 70% of the time at the spot and are nowhere near Mauer's level. So 60% is a bench mark and would be even higher in Mauer's case if he wasn't hurt for the entire 2005 season. Cathcer don't start 130 games at the spot in the majors for extended periods of time. It's too difficult. To say Mauer should but no other catcher is pathetic. What he does in 60% of the time compared to 3-4 guys at 70% is well worth it.
Oh and Mauer has been hitting like around 370 now in his last 10 games. Small sample obvious but it looks like he is coming around.

Sean

Jay Hamilton said...

Is it totally insane to suspect that MAYBE Justin, Jason, and Baby J. MIGHT have gotten into the last round of the steroid culture, and now their bodies are breaking down? All three of them are huge enough to make Bob Allison look like a college sophomore in comparison. It would explain a few things, if true. I'm just saying...

Anonymous said...

U fair weather fans are so unbelievably rediculous I wonder if you don't. Have NY tattoos on your ass one of the best hitters in baseball 3time batting champion / AL MVP has a rough start and all u do is talk down this hero has made MN he is our home town hero he'll be amazing the rest of his career wake up

Anonymous said...

If anyone believes mauer lakes desire or dosnt give 110 % they are pessimistic fairweather phonies who don't deserve to be apart of the great state of Minnesota

Baseballpaul said...

Joe Mauer is starting to hit like Joe Mauer. If he can get a night off from behind the plate to DH or play 1B every now and then to give himself a break, he's going to stay healthy and his bat is going to continue to be a big part of the Twins push back towards .500 and the Division Title.

Anonymous said...

Mauer looks very natural at 1B - but unfortunately we've got this other big lefty hitter who plays there about 155 games a year. Yes I still believe Morneau is coming back so once he does, Mauer won't be playing there any more than 5-10 games a year. That's why I still believe his best position is RF. I think the Twins should use the rest of this season to work him into the OF and make a deal to find a catcher.

James said...

Allowing him to learn first base can set up the typical situation where he catches three days, DH's one and plays first one in a typical five game week. He's put a couple non trivial swings on balls and its hard to believe that he'll never contribute again. This isn't some line where Mauer moves to first and never puts pads on again, he'll be our opening day catcher every time he's healthy on opening day, even if he's pounding everything he sees into the ground.

Anonymous said...

oooo... us 'fair weather fan's' feelings are hurt by the "Mauser" defenders. I'll call him Mouser to just get under your skin - since your type(s) think emotionally and would love to get in bed with your hometown boy. The criticism Mauer is facing is credibly deserved for the lack of honest communication and nothing else. I agree that saying he “lacks toughness or desire is complete bullshit” – if not just stupid. Arguing about his pay scale is irrelevant. Unlike Kirby Puckett - and other players who show unbridled enthusiasm - Mouser's personality doesn't help his cause. He sounds like a meal-mouthed schmiel at times, and thus unfortunately, it's natural for some humans to question a person who lacks spunk and chutzpa. This is not hyperbole - but a fact. When do we see Joe Mauer acting with emotion? His 'singing' commercial was comical. I don't give a rip he made commercials - again, irrelevant to the injury and time on the DL. But failure to disclose an injury tantamounts to practically lying. Fans did not create the shroud of mystery. If anything, the people who speak up are the real fans, and you Brown-Nosing-Mousers are more akin to sycophants, afraid to say things that hurt people's feelings. This is the Minnesota Nice Disease.

Ryan Keapproth said...

To the person who said the average catcher only catches 60-70 percent of his games, look at AJ Pierzynski, hes been catching about 80 percent of his games EVERY YEAR since 98, hes been in the league 13 years now, and is still as durable. Then check out my man Russell Martin, who catches about 85 percent of his teams games. How about Victor martinez, who catches about 75 percent of his games. Its obvious that Joe isnt quite as durable...

Anonymous said...

The guy that thought Mayer's 60% avg is good is stupid. Thanks for looking up other players averages.... it was fairly obvious that usafchief was correct from the beginning. But it's nice to have corroboration!

Kelly said...

You know, with the horrible luck we've had, to be only 6.5 games out at the All Star break, and to expect Delmon and Justin and Jason back in the second half..... I gotta like out chances. Adversity makes you stronger. But for the love of Mike would someone tell me why Gardy is so enamored with Burnett? He sucks, and Mijares is just a fat guy with no heart.

Call up James and give him a shot.

John from Minneapolis said...

Mauer has caught the fifth-most games of any catcher in baseball over the last five years. His durability going forward is questionable, but his durability to this point is not.

The fact is, he caught a hell of a bad break, tearing up his knee in just his second major-league game. That's a real shame. But it is what it is.

No question, he's not worth $23 million as a first baseman. At that position, he's basically Mark Grace -- good fielder, .300 hitter with 85 RBI. A nice player to have on your team, but not an elite difference-maker.

Yet if Morneau returns to form, then what do you do with Mauer? I don't have the answer. I do think his career as a catcher is in serious doubt.