Monday, August 29, 2011

Playing Hurt

It was bound to happen.

Joe Mauer's decision to ask out of the lineup with a sore neck last week on the same day that Michael Cuddyer asked in with a sore wrist unleashed a torrent of fury from the media, with Mauer being labeled "soft" -- either explicitly or implicitly -- by no less than three local scribes.

The crux of all three pieces linked above is that Mauer ought to set a tone for his teammates by forcing himself into the lineup and playing through pain. Apparently, there's some sort of unspoken honor code that is being violated by Mauer's lack of eagerness to play when he deems himself physically unable. One of the articles went so far as to suggest that the backstop would be fulfilling his duty as a leader by playing hurt and striking out three times.

Never mind that Mauer -- whose neck strain has only tacked onto leg problems that have bothered him all season and sapped his production -- hadn't sat out an entire game since coming off the disabled list in mid-June. And never mind that Cuddyer, who is cast against Mauer in all three articles as some sort of heroic iron man, missed nine games earlier this month after hurting his own neck during batting practice.

No, there's an axe to grind, because the highly paid and soft-spoken Mauer is an easy target for columnists who have run out of scapegoats in this joke of a season. What exactly would he be accomplishing by talking his way into the lineup for this completely irrelevant club? Playing poorly in a meaningless game and exposing himself to further injury risk?

What should be obvious is apparently not to everyone, so let's put it out there: an injured player is NOT helping his team by taking the field against his better judgment. This is a lesson we've learned many times before, like when Mauer rushed himself back in spring training, and when Nick Blackburn withheld an achy elbow from the team last year on the way to career-worst numbers, and when Cuddyer battled through numerous ailments back in 2008 to finish with a sub-.700 OPS.

You don't turn into one of the game's premier players by being a sissy. This perception that Mauer is "soft" is being perpetuated by accusatory columnists and a manager that seems oddly reluctant to stick up for his star player. For his part, the catcher has tried his best to fight through a mysterious and debilitating ailment that has surely frustrated him more than anyone else.

Even setting aside the neck injury, it'd probably be in the team's best interests at this point to shut Mauer down for the season with an eye on getting him strong and healthy for 2012. Contrary to what you might have read, brazen stupidity is not an admirable trait.


Twin #1 said...

Thank you for writing this. This is exactly how I feel, but apparently many fans and even media members don't get it. They just want to pile on Mauer and blame him for this season, when there are so many other, more legitimate problems.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, "brazen stupidity is not an admirable trait," and that is why you will be pleased to learn that "like" is not a conjunction (rather than "brazen stupidity," this misunderstanding is merely "conventional ignorance"). To be clear, your clause beginning "like when ..." ought to read "as when ...". Why not concentrate on grammatical trifles during such a trivial season?
-VP, a fan

Dan said...

I wouldn't call Mauer 'soft', but this is just another incident where a Twins player is day-to-day and puts Gardy in a bind when he's making out his line-ups. I don't know if the players aren't being honest with how they are feeling or if the training staff is having issues diagnosing, but it's just getting old.

I would say that I'm disappointed that Mauer hasn't taken the responsibility to ask to be put on the DL. Maybe that's not really his call, but if he keeps having these nagging problems, I'd rather see him go on the DL and get right. That would free up a roster spot for Gardy and, if it had happened earlier, possibly allow Bill Smith to acquire someone more suited to start than Butera.

Ultimately I think it's the player's call as to whether they can still help the team when they are hurt. Cuddyer felt like he could still play with his bruised wrist, while Joe Mauer seems to be unsure if he can play or if he should seek a resolution to his ailments. At this point, I vote for the Twins to shut him down anyways...

Anonymous said...

I agree with your basic point Nick. While Mauer's season has been extremely frustrating - it's only 1 of many troubling events. Gardenhire's reaction this week borders on the bizarre. On the one hand he doesn't really defend him against the accusation of being "soft", but on the other hand he repeats the same old party line that Mauer is the catcher and that's what they signed him to be. I would not shut Mauer down for the season, but I would give him 3-5 days off so he can rest his neck - and then I would burn his catcher's glove and equipment and paint a big sign on the wall in right field calling it Mauer's mauer (German for wall). This is your new home Joe - make the best of it.

Anonymous said...

Mauer isn't soft and he isn't playing RF anywhere close to full-time. I once again have to stress to the jackanapes our there that Mauer can still play catcher. While this season has been a bust he is still a postive in WAR at the Catching spot. RF is the least value position out there. Putting him out there decreases his value especially at 23 mil a year. In the past I thought he'd probably suck in right but not he would probably be superior there like he is a 1st. That's not the point though. The point is he needs to play catcher. He still does it well, so keep him there. His problem this year has been his lack of driving the ball and he has acknowledged this. Despite this he still has an solid average and OBP especially for a catcher. His slugging is holding him down. But I'm sure we all want him in RF so Butera can start full-time...

k-bro said...

Nice level-headed piece, Nick. Although I'm not sure I'd agree to shutting him down for the rest of the season, I certainly think he should get plenty of days off.

BTW, using "like" as a conjuction is acceptable in contemporary writing, and people have been doing it for over 100 years. Only super-uber-tradtionalist grammarians find fault with it.

Mike said...

@anonymous #1- Don't come on here and provide a mini lecture about antiquated grammar. The clause you're nitpicking at has been acceptable for quite some time. Further, even in academic texts, using the word "like" as it was used in the clause in question is typically acceptable because it is being used for comparison purposes.

As for the post itself, I appreciate the common sense approach that was used. Since 2009 when Morneau sat out the end of the season with his back problems, I've been saying that it's just foolish for players to play hurt in most cases. All the fans whined about how poorly Morneau played when he was playing hurt, but whined more and called him soft when he sat with the injury.

It's a pretty simple concept- when a player plays hurt, his production drops off. Fans and columnists are asking for an impossible situation- that Joe Mauer play like a healthy Joe Mauer even when injured.

Anonymous said...

While I can understand frustration with Mauer's inability to play, I agree that the demand for him to play hurt is hilarious given the impact a more damaging injury could have on this team for years to come.

And as I've stated elsewhere, all of the hype regarding Cuddy's "nearly shattered wrist" is just hiliarious. Okay, it's nearly shattered. What does that even mean? Is there damage? Is it just a big bruise/bump? If I smack my head on a cupboard I forgot to close did I just suffer a "near-concussion"?

And it's also odd that people are so eager for Mauer to rush back and play hurt when we saw that exact scenario play out with Span coming back too soon from his concussion issues and basically being unable to do anything productive.

But that raises a whole host of issues, as similiar concussion concerns were what shut down Morneau for most of last season, with likely the same group calling him soft and mocking the Twins careful advancement of his recovery.

The TLDR version? I agree Nick. Much like Punto, pitch-to-contact, and Scott Ulger as 3B coach, Mauer's issues are being over-analyzed by a horde of local media all too eager to find something to moan about.

Anonymous said...

Did it go over everyone's head that the grammarian was making a joke by saying we can focus on trifles. He was supporting Nick's view and being a comedian more than a grammarian. Wake up people and learn to read between the lines!

Anonymous said...

I guess part of the outrage is that in this case it was a stiff neck. Everybody had a stiff neck once in a while, and even it is a "pain in the neck", we go about our business. The thing that makes the Twins let him sit in this case is that the Twins are basically playing for nothing so it does not make sense to risk Mauer at this point. To say that loud is considered bad PR by some guys, so you get the worst PR that the player is labeled "soft". On top of that the previous history is that Mauer comes from a long DL period with a mysterious "weakness" and/or "soreness" that apparently was just bad conditioning. In summary all this results in a lot of noise that will be quickly forgotten if next year Mauer comes back and plays like Mauer.

frightwig said...

I get that people get hung up on semantics. Fans don't want to hear that a player is sitting out because he's "stiff" or "sore" or feeling "weakness." If we don't hear that something is BROKEN or TORN or RUPTURED, then it must not be SERIOUS, right?

But Mauer also said, about this latest injury, that he could barely drive his car to the ballpark. Shouldn't that tell people that it wasn't exactly your common "ooh, I feel a little stiff this morning" kind of thing? Shouldn't it be a point in his favor that at that point he hadn't missed a game in over two months? And while people are all over Mauer for not driving the ball with power, shouldn't that in itself be a clue that he has been dealing with a serious leg injury all season?

And how did Cuddyer become the poster boy for toughness and leadership, all of a sudden? Like Nick said, didn't he miss 9 games this month after hurting his neck in batting practice? Have people forgotten his own extensive record of hitting the DL? Suddenly it means so much that he'll play wherever the team needs him (it used to be because he didn't have a position that suited him), but when Mauer shifts to 1B or even RF on short notice... *shrug*.

And why was Gardenhire, of all people, encouraging the notion that his star player doesn't measure up to Cuddyer's toughness and commitment to his team? What does he imagine that will accomplish? Tool.

Anonymous said...

Fire Smith and Gardy and the whole coaching staff. Bring in Ozzie. He'd be just what the Twins need, a firebrand of a manager. With the ChiSox Ozzie has been frustrated.

Gardy has gotten fat and complacent.

Anonymous said...

The twins do all these things for Joe (sitting him day games after night games, DHing him whenever HE doesn't "feel like catching," etc.) and he STILL sits for weeks on the most minor of injuries. That is the definition of a "soft" player (it is a universal standard) and you're obviously drinking too much of the Mauer kool-aid if you don't see that. If Mauer had a more serious injury I would feel different but a "sore neck?" Come on, man.

He is undoubtedly the FACE OF OUR FRANCHISE so yes, he should play through a minor, non career threatening "injury" to come do his best for the team. A lot of people have given up on this season but the absolute LAST person on the planet that should do so is Joe Mauer, and it appears he is doing so.

And if catching is "too hard" on him? We need to switch his position. I realize his value goes down if he's at a position different than catcher but he's MUCH more valuable as an everyday 1B or RF than a catcher on the DL for half the year.

Anonymous said...

that comment about him being "barely able to drive" is BS. he's been taking swings at BP and walking around the clubhouse just fine.

Anonymous said...

Ditto, Twin #1. Easy to pile on Joe now. And, yes, handled badly by everyone involved. I also think people are too quick to accept/understand injuries that are obvious -- "seen" with their own eyes, eg. Cuddy's wrist, and disregard those less visible. Just because Joe isn't limping around and bleeding doesn't mean it's not serious.

And, yes, I got the "trifles" joke. ;)

USAFChief said...

"For his part, the catcher has tried his best to fight through a mysterious and debilitating ailment that has surely frustrated him more than anyone else."

I don't think there's a whole lot of evidence he's "tried his best" to get back on the field--and stay on the field.

If there is something actually wrong with his leg(s), then take care of it. If not, then expecting him to get his azz on the field and play through a little "soreness" or even "pain" isn't asking too much. Every major league player must do so at times during a season.

On the DL 12 days after the season starts? Two months to come back? He had enough time to repeat spring training, plus a couple weeks, while on the DL, and was still complaining when he came back.

Plus, at least one article in the local paper has implied that Mauer hasn't exactly been a guy who devotes himself to preparing in the off season.

"Soft?" Maybe, maybe not. But not so ridiculous that it's out of the realm of possibility.

jokin said...

Nick is doing a near 180 from his "Mystery Injuries" article of a couple weeks ago, he is now seemingly a passionate defender of the parties involved in the still-unexplained situation:

Nick: "Joe Mauer has been the most frustrating and perplexing example. He underwent a knee operation that was considered minor last December, but hadn't recovered in time for spring training and -- after subsequently spending two months on the disabled list -- still hasn't shown that his legs are anywhere near full strength. He hit .356 in July but managed only four extra-base hits. In 18 August games he's hitting .268/.312/.352. This is just not the premier hitter we've come to know."

Now Nick and Gleeman are coming to Mauer's defense with some flawed stats (Gleeman cited his post-All Star batting stats) and in Nick's case, some pique at some of the local writers. In fact, the local media has gone super-easy on Mauer- up until the last week, when apparently, Gardy and Smith have ostensibly given the "all-clear" signal for these writers to finally write some criticism of Mauer.

The fact is, Mauer has been AWOL from the catcher position since August 20. The presumptive public assumption proffered by the Twins was the now-infamous "general soreness", which is the reductio ad absurdum of "bilateral leg weakness". That the Twins would go for 7 straight games with only one healthy catcher stongly suggests they know as little about Mauer's condition as they did when he was first DL'd in April and are using the media to vent their frustrations with the situation.
The fact that he spent two TWO MOINTHS on the DL- presumably doing the training that he neglected to do in the offseason- and yet only being able to produce at his current popgun level should have sent up red flags all around the organization.

I think it's time for some statistical analysis of Mauer's career timeline. Some offensive and defensive stats reveal that he has been breaking down since he was 24-25- well before 2009. Shoulder soreness and knee damage has drastically decreased his value as a catcher. He was far and away the MLB leader in CS, at 53%, in 2007, which was also the last year he was above the MLB norm in range factor/9, the league is now stealing bases at a far higher amount and rate ever since. Additionally, pitchers seem to prefer to have others catching for them- does it make any sense that they would prefer Blanco, Rivera or Butera over a future potential HOFer?

Certain batting metrics have also been in decline during the same time frame, beyond just the glaringly obvious last two years of power drought. He no longer has the luxury of routinely taking two immediate fastball strikes, and yet he isn't fast enough or strong enough to consistenly get around on an inside pitch. Did you see his last double against the Yankees? NY RF Nick Swisher was practiaclly playing him in center field when Mauer was- shockingly- able to pull a ball off the wall to straight right field, not a lot of respect for a former MVP. This is happening at an age where he should still be looking forward to steadily INCREASING his production numbers until at least 2014.

Finally, his wet blanket personality was much less a problem when there was a surplus of strong leaders and reliable back-up catchers. Sadly, it now appears to be that he is an inoperable cancer on the Twins body politic and the org should have:

1) better analyzed Mauer's potential value relative to the risks of an 8-year, $184 million commitment


2)doesn't have a clue how to deal with it, except call him out through thier voices in the media.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who's still making the argument that Mauer is a catcher because that makes him more valuable has his/her head in the sand - or another place with very little sunshine. Using that same logic means the Cardinals should move Albert Pujols to SS or the Rangers should move Josh Hamilton to catcher because his bat would be more valuable there. What's that - neither one of them can play that position? That's exactly the point. Mauer can't play catcher any more either. Hamilton is more valuable as a LF than Mauer is as a slap hitting singles hitter who plays 90 games a year. I can't believe how delusional so many fans are - and worse - this organization still is.

Nick N. said...

On the DL 12 days after the season starts? Two months to come back? He had enough time to repeat spring training, plus a couple weeks, while on the DL, and was still complaining when he came back.

And his paltry numbers would indicate that there are legitimate problems behind those complaints. Obviously something is wrong here and the "general soreness" excuse doesn't pass anyone's sniff test, but I don't really find it appropriate to blame a player because his body is breaking down.

Maybe he didn't condition enough during the offseason, I don't know, but his weakness at the outset of the season (after non-stop daily conditioning in ST) and his continued weakness to this day (after two months of non-stop daily conditioning while on the DL) would seem to suggest there's more to it than that.

Nick is doing a near 180 from his "Mystery Injuries" article of a couple weeks ago, he is now seemingly a passionate defender of the parties involved in the still-unexplained situation:

It's not a 180. You can be frustrated by injuries without blaming the players in question for being hurt or being unable to play through them.

If Mauer says he can't play, I believe him. He's played his entire career at the game's most physically taxing position and he's accrued more playing time there over the past six years than almost anyone else in the game. You simply don't rack up that kind of playing time at catcher if you're soft or unwilling to play hurt.

Anonymous said...

Cant tell me there isn't a darker story to Mauer's injuries.

Dean Rusk said...

sounds like nick is entering the acceptance phase of the season. or did he have you at hello at twins fest?

Mauer is getting paid 23 million friggin dollars. Most people in the real world would lose their
50k job missing 6 days for a stiff neck, or general soreness, or whatever minor injuries joe has suffered. Of course, this is despite his employers more than reasonable accomodations, that of course your average person would never be privy to. If a person making 23million, and is woefully underperforming, and misses work all the time isn't ripable than who the f*** is? Please!

Laches said...

Great post, Nick. After reading the cess pool of ignorant anti-Mauer rage in the Strib comments, it's good to be reminded that there are other rational Twins fans out there. The only thing I can really blame the Mauer camp for is not being more forthcoming. Information abhors a vacuum, and when they offer these crpytic explanations for his absences, it leaves a lot of room for fans to fill in the blanks will all kinds of things. The other issue here is his contract. Almost every anti-Mauer post I've read references the $23 mil salary. I've seen many calls for him to be traded, placed on waivers or for him to give back his salary. It's good for chuckles if nothing else. I don't get it with Twins fans. For years, they whined incessantly about the team being too cheap to spend the money to keep current players or bring in new ones. Now after the pony up to keep Mauer and bring in Nishioka and those moves haven't worked out so far, they complain constantly about the team spending too much money. Guess what folks: spending money involves risk. There are no guarantees. Welcome to the big, bad world.

Drew Madison said...

If the Twins weren't 56-77 and looked like the second worst team in the majors this season, maybe the criticism wouldn't be so loud. It's only natural that when a team goes from first to (almost) worst in the span of 1 year, the highest-paid guy, the most talented player, will be the one who gets it the worst. Mauer is having his worst season when the Twins are playing their worst sonce 2000. There has to be some correlation there, and if it's OK to be frustrated with the number of injuries Mauer has suffered this year than it is also acceptable to question how the man goes about his business because maybe some of this could be preventable by Mauer himself. At least in theory; all we can do is speculate because we don't know anything about why "general soreness" is so devestating to Mauer.

Some of this Mauer has brought on himself by not being more forthcoming in public with his issues. There must be something more going on that Mauer has some info about, but for some reason is keeping to himself. If he has an illness or disease, he really should go public with it. If it is serious and is the reason why it has affected his performance, it would put everything into its proper perspective. I can't think of anything that's not life-altering that could be making Mauer feel so poorly this year. Baseball is a grind for everyone, but not everyone gets so worn down and is as slow to recover from injury. It's the single most baffling aspect of one of the most inexpliciable Twins seasons ever.

Anonymous said...

Good thing Mauer chose baseball over football. Remember Jay Cutler last year when he was sitting on the sidelines, not encouraging or speaking to anyone because he was "sore". Sounds familiar doesn't it? I think Mauer should get a clean slate for next year, and if he doesn't produce like years before, then he owes it to the Twins and it's fans to renegotiate his salary.

Jay Hamilton said...

I truly suspect that there is a missing piece of information re. Baby Jeebus' true medical condition. Lyme? M.S.? Or, is he, and Justin (and Tiger Woods for that matter) ex-juicers who are suffering the woes of playing clean? If there is a larger medical issue, that is private and Baby Jeebus' and the Twins' business. Has anybody asked he, or Justin, if they have EVER failed a steroids test? That information is private as well, but I wonder how they would respond. Oh, by the way, fire Gardy.

Anonymous said...

"If there is something actually wrong with his leg(s), then take care of it."

Oh! So that's all he has to do! Just take care of it! LOL

"I think Mauer should get a clean slate for next year, and if he doesn't produce like years before, then he owes it to the Twins and it's fans to renegotiate his salary."

They don't renegotiate contracts in baseball. Not when a player has become a disappointment. Not when a player gets hurt. Not when a club claims the need to free up payroll to improve the roster. Not unless the end of a contract is absorbed into a new, better extension. Otherwise, not ever. Baseball contracts are guaranteed.

Landon said...

Joe Mauer seems to be the typical Minnesota kid. Soft-spoken, nice, and a overall great guy. Its hard to not like him & want success for him. However, the fact remains that the contract given to him is looking like an extremely poor investment. He will never produce enough power to justify $23 million per year. He has only topped 80 RBIs three times and has never topped 100. He does not seem to be able to hit the long ball at Target Field and even if he hit 175 singles I'm not sure that's justification for $23 million. We all want him to succeed and we were all so thankful he stayed home because that's what Minnesota fans are like. However, the reality is showing we are stuck with a GIANT contract that will saddle us cellar dwellers for the next 7 years. Payroll is going to be cut with this year and the cupboard is pretty bare on talent to replace the bloated salaries of other veterans on the roster. Being a Twins fan means staying loyal and hoping for the best - but it also seems to look like we're in for a long run of misery.

USAFChief said...

Oh! So that's all he has to do! Just take care of it! LOL

Yes. Take care of it. If it requires surgery, get the surgery. If it requires medication, get the medication. If it requires something else, get whatever something else is required.

Otherwise, stop bringing up "minor knee surgery" in December as an excuse for a truly pathetic performance. After you've been given 2 months of offseason and 2 spring trainings to recover.

Hythloday said...

Love it...Mauer can no wrong...Delmon Young has nearly identical offensive stats (RBIs, HRs) at 25 as did Mauer, with a considerably lower AVG, OPS, and OBP but Young can't have a bad year without being dumped. Mauer's time as a catcher is over if you want him to play any relevant time length, so we can't consider his obnoxious salary factoring his defense any more. Twins and fans wanted Mauer to be a Messianic superstar, so they thought merely paying him like one would make him one because they've never had one. Pujols has 3 MVP's and a ring, does that mean he should get at least $69 million/year because he's 3x the valuable player? No, because comparative stats can't outpace economic possibility. But that should be applied in reverse too. Young putting up Mauer numbers isn't the same as Mauer putting up Young numbers. In fact, Young can't keep a job because he's put on a different standard than the rest of the team, as is Mauer. Come to think of it, so is Morneau. Hell, every player (or former) on the Twins gets their own standards removed from the team. This is why a ring won't come out of Target Field for a long time, long after the M & M boys waste their entire careers here, because that's all this organization will have given a crap about for 15+ years - 2 injury plagued, under-achieving false prophets. 2 MVP's between the two of them, big deal...NO RINGS, but maybe more importantly, NO CONSISTENCY!!

Matt said...

Mauer won't (and shouldn't) renegotiate anything. Take the money and run if everyone wants to run him out of town.
The problem isn't his supposed toughness level issues or toughness itself. The problem is that if you sign a contract like this and become the team's marketing cornerstone, you have to be more forthcoming with fans. I think he's held back quite a bit and that's angered some people.
Besides putting up the #'s, contracts like his come with the responsibilities of community service and open conversation with reporters (to an extent) if you're banged up or stuck in a slump. Right or wrong, those are the expectations of mega contracts and Joe's just going to have to learn how to meet them all to be viewed as a success by fans.

Anonymous said...

Mauer is at the center of the Twins dyspepsia and I don't know how they are going to fix their problems with rest and better spring training programs. Something is way off with Mauer and I think it is psychological as much as physical. I think the Twins were counting on Mauer being the guy who would carry the team and he simply is not that guy. It's not Gardy's fault, he is stuck between the FO and the wall of Mauer. Not alot of breathing room there!

Mike said...

All the Mauer haters on here are pathetic. If you can't make a rational point and need to resort to whining about how much Mauer gets paid, just keep your thoughts to yourself. How much he gets paid isn't relevant to whether or not he should be on the playing field. If he's too hurt to perform at the MLB level, there's no point in playing him, regardless of how much he gets paid.

The Mauer haters will never be happy and rather than just accept the reality of the situation, they whine like children. Here's the deal- he's hurt. Get over it. So either he doesn't play, and you whine, whine, whine about it. Or he does play, but since he's playing hurt, his performance isn't very good (see most of this year, particularly his April numbers), and you whine, whine, whine about it.

I'm not saying professional athletes are better than regular people (sorry Chris Johnson), but their jobs surely are different. You may have an office job or something more physical, but your job doesn't require the skill and physical precision required in baseball. I've hurt my neck so I had a hard time turning it to one side for a week. If Mauer can't turn his head, or turn it fast enough, to keep up with the fast pace of baseball- guess what? He won't be very good on the field.

And to the person referencing roids- congrats. If you're serious about that one, you're in an extreme minority that thinks either of those players have relied on steroids. Also, Morneau's injury in 2009 was stress fractures. In 2010, it was a concussion, which was lingered until now. Steroids can't fix that.

Mike said...

As far as Joe Mauer, people like to rip on his performance and how he's not carrying the team- aside from being injured, Mauer's been doing his part in helping this team win. The Twins have experienced what's largely been a team-wide slump in all aspects of the game- pitching, fielding, and hitting. It doesn't matter if Mauer was having an MVP type season this year or not- this Twins team would still be 15 games under .500.

Of course I wish Mauer hit for more power. Hopefully he comes back healthy next yea, spends more time at positions not catcher, and hits with some power. As for this year, Mauer still has the highest BA on the team (aside from Liriano and Baker). And people still whine about how much of a down year this is for him. For people with more than 14 ABs, his OBP is .004 lower than Cuddyer's for the team lead.

It's crazy to read comments from so many Twins' "fans." Last year, Cuddyer and Span were the big pariahs. Now, Cuddyer is being upheld as the ultimate player because he plays in a lot of games. Valencia too. Nevermind that Valencia's defense has been quite bad in terms of range and in number of errors and that his offense hasn't been very good. He plays in a lot of games, so that's the mark of success for the Twins this year.

Mike said...

@USAchief- the comment: "Oh! So that's all he has to do! Just take care of it! LOL" was made because the statement just take care of it is ridiculous.

Of course he wants to take care of the problem. That's never been a question. It's always been a question of how. I'm willing to bet that you have no idea how to fix the problem and people much better at fixing the problem than you will ever be have been working on fixing the problem for a very long time.

What do you think? Mauer and the Twins' org just enjoy having lingering problems?

Ed Bast said...

Here's Joey's problem in a nutshell. Last week he said his neck was so sore he could hardly drive to the ballpark. How the hell does he drive, with his neck to the pedals? That's like saying I'm so hungry my foot hurts. If it hurt Joey to drive, it surely hurt him to stand there and tell reporters it hurt him to drive, so get the hell in the training room and ice it!

I'm sure he gets hurt and he's not looking for ways not to play. Still, someone needs to educate both Mauer and the training staff on the PR of injury management. (Frankly, the entire training staff should be dismissed after this year, but that's another topic).

Look, I don't know why this has to be so black and white - either "Mauer can do no wrong" or you're a "pathetic Mauer hater". I don't know how you can look at the whole "bilateral leg weakness" affair and believe Mauer was doing everything possible to get back into a lineup that sorely needed him (refusing to DH, not getting the original surgery after 2010, not ever telling anyone what the injury really was, taking longer to rehab than Josh Hamilton's broken arm, etc).

Likewise, you shouldn't just sit him down for the rest of the season just for the hell of it, because your team is out of it. If he has an injury that forces him out that long, fine. But Nick is suggesting he should get special treatment because he's Joe Mauer? He's been hurt before so let's only play him when the games are meaningful? That seems an awful lot like coddling, and the last thing this org. and Joey Mauer need is more coddling.

More than anything, this whole "Mauer is soft" thing is a product of terrible PR, both by the Twins and Mauer himself. Be honest and forthright with fans, for god sakes. Is that too much to ask?

You know, for how much we fans pony up to go down to Target Field and support the club, we really get treated like garbage...ah well, that's the Twins Way!

Matt said...

More than anything, this whole "Mauer is soft" thing is a product of terrible PR, both by the Twins and Mauer himself. Be honest and forthright with fans, for god sakes. Is that too much to ask?
No, it's not. But, if you really don't know what's going on, you have to say just that. If Joe said that he had minor leg pains but misses three months, he's getting ripped twice as bad as now.

He's a convinient scape goat due to his salary and silence. He's far from the Twins biggest reason for this terrible, forgettable season. Everyone slumped as once, Liriano wasn't "the guy" they hoped he could be (I don't think he will ever be very good, but I digress), and their pieced together bullpen was an epic failure save for a bright spot or two. Then you've got starting pitching from your system either getting hurt or getting shelled, plus a plethora of underachieving veterans.

My point? Take it easy on Midway Joe or at least dump on him in moderation. Let us not forget that our "Twins MVP" Cuddy has spent more time in the ice tub than most players his age, and has been, at best, an average MLB player when he is on the field.

Anonymous said...

Ed Bast hinted at something that most all of you miss, ignore or fail to understand. First, Mauer is managed by IMG - a story unto itself that would be discursive to go into it here. This is about soft tissue management, training, comprehending recovery, etc. The team trainers, docs and Mauer are primarily responsible for his condition. Bungled - is the word to describe how they have taken care of Mauer. Mauer's wet blanket personality may be autism or he may not be that bright. Where the heck is the trainer/massage therapist/chiropractor? Is Mauer not bright enough - after all his injuries - to know when to ask for help, or moreover, comprehend his problem? I wonder how smart Mauer really is? He is handled by IMG - and if any of you knew anything at all about these guys, you'd know that they handle the PR. Pat Reusse allude to this a few years ago... went virtually unnoticed. Nobody hates Mauer or is whining you fool, they simply smell a rat. Mauer's problem appears to be he doesn't think for himself. Who do you think engineers his moves? You got it... IMG. His smarts, not his toughness should be questioned. And if anybody doesn't think PR has been bungled, then your intelligence is definitely under question also. It's hard to like an athlete - or get excited for a guy - who doesn't look like he has fun. Sports are entertainment too. It's not Joey's job to entertain, but if he had any backbone, smarts, emotion, and at this point balls - maybe he'd say something for himself and actually connect with the fan base. But wait.. what's IMG telling him to do? The whole thing smells. Conclusion. Mauer doesn't know how to speak for himself. Has he been coddled or just handled? I think 'handled' - cuz Joey hasn't found his adult voice. He hasn’t had to overcome any real problems in his life, and he appears feckless to overcome some simple physical ailments. Conclusion. Team trainers and Mauer are not too bright.