Friday, February 6, 2009
Thinking the Unthinkable
Just a couple of quick notes before we get started today:
· First, be sure to click here to read a Guest Posting by Brandon Warne called Just Say No to Joe (Crede). Brandon may write an occasional article for the website so be sure to check for those.
· KFAN’s Phil Mackey profiled Joe Crede at his blog, P-Mac.
· It’s not surprising that the Twins and Matt Guerrier met in the middle and signed a contract before going to an arbitration hearing. It is good to have Guerrier signed. In fact, I would not mind seeing them work on a two year deal now that they have 2009 covered.
· Aaron Gleeman posted Prospects 16-20 yesterday.
· See why Chris Parmelee was Josh Johnson’s choice for the Twins #13 prospect.
And that leads us into today’s discussion topic and question, Should the Twins Consider Trading Joe Mauer? I know. It is unthinkable, unfathomable, sacrilegious, and against the laws of nature. I get that. I fully understand that trading Joe Mauer would have some horrible affects. Let’s consider:
1. Joe Mauer is one of us. He’s from Minnesota.
2. Joe Mauer is a historically great player, having won two batting titles at a position (catcher) where no other American League player had before.
3. Joe Mauer was drafted #1 overall, ahead of Mark Prior – you may have heard?
4. Joe Mauer has cool sideburns.
5. Joe Mauer is an icon.
6. Joe Mauer is Minnesota-nice.
7. Joe Mauer won a Gold Glove.
8. Joe Mauer is the face of the Twins franchise.
9. Joe Mauer is an All-Star.
10. Joe Mauer is still quite young.
11. Joe Mauer has the sweetest swing in baseball.
12. Attendance would drop 50% (not-so-slight exaggeration) if Joe Mauer were traded.
13. Who would be the second M of the M&M Boys?
14. Many Twins fans would call the team “cheap” for trading him when he got really expensive. (What?? There are already a lot of Twins fans who think the Twins are cheap?)
15. Joe Mauer, based on all of the above, NEEDS to be on the field in a Twins uniform when they move into Target Field.
I know, I could go on and on and on with reasons that trading Joe Mauer makes no sense. But let’s take some of the emotion and the ties out of the picture for just a minute or three and just consider the idea of trading Mauer.
There are actually a couple of things that should be considered:
1. Joe Mauer is a 6-6 catcher. As much as it annoys me when people say he is an injury risk, the reality is that he is an injury risk, especially when he turns 30… in several years.
2. How much is too much? If Joe Mauer is asking for $20 million, or even $25 million for five or maybe six or even seven years, and won’t accept any less, does it make sense for the Twins to allow that big of a percentage of the salary to be taken by just one player?
3. The Twins have proven several times that they can be very successful in dealing veteran players for young, talented contributors that can help them continue to be competitive for years to come.
4. The big money teams that can afford Mauer are already rumored to be drooling over the idea of Mauer joining their team via free agency in two years.
So as I say all the time… each trade or signing needs to make sense on its own merit. There are basically no scenarios in which trade Joe Mauer makes much sense. The Twins front office would have to be overwhelmed beyond belief.
But what about this… What if Theo Epstein (Red Sox GM) called and said, “Hi… we want Mauer… we will offer you (Clay) Buchholz, (Justin) Masterson, (Jed) Lowrie, (Lars) Anderson, (Ryan) Kalish, and we’ll throw in (George) Kottaras. What do you think?”
What if the Angels called up and said, “We want Mauer, and we will send you (Mike) Napoli, Brandon Wood, Nick Adenhart and Jose Arredondo… OK, name one more prospect.”
What if Brian Cashman called and said, “OK, for Mauer, we will send Jorge Posada, and pay for the remainder of his contract, catcher Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, 3B Brad Suttle, and a Player to be Named Later (hush hush, Andrew Brackman). What do you think?”
In such scenarios, you have to at least stay on the phone and ask some follow-up questions, don’t you?
No, I don’t think that the Twins would consider trading Joe Mauer. I believe that he will be kept beyond 2010, when his current four year, $33 million contract expires. I think locking him up before the 2009 season would be best. But let’s also be honest. Joe Mauer has never accepted a hometown discount. He and his agent, Ron Shapiro, didn’t settle when Mauer was the #1 overall pick. He signed for $5.5 million. His four year $33 million contract that bough out a year of free agency. If the Twins let Mauer go to free agency after the 2010 season, there is no doubt in my mind that he will use the offers of the Red Sox and Yankees an maybe the Angels and Mets, to force the Twins to increase their offer. In that worst case scenario, I still believe that Mauer would end up with the Twins for quite some time.
The Twins are in a tough spot. It is best for them to not let Joe Mauer get to free agency. It is best to take care of it now because the closer they get to free agency, the less incentive for Mauer to sign a long-term deal. However, Mauer is coming off of a season in which he won his second AL Batting Title, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove as well as stayed healthy and caught in the second most innings of all AL catchers. His value is very high now too.
So what do you think? How will this Joe Mauer situation be resolved? Will he get signed this spring, and for how much? Will he go to free agency, and what effect will that have? Is it completely wrong for the Twins to consider trading the catcher? Let me know what you think.