Thursday, August 20, 2009
Two days in a row, the Twins have fallen behind in the early innings. On Tuesday, it was Carl Pavano. On Wednesday, it was Scott Baker. But on each night, the Twins had a big inning and made a comeback complete. Baker was able to work into the 6th inning, and then Jose Mijares came in and put forth his best effort of the year. He immediately got a much-needed double play to end the 6th inning. He then was perfect through the 7th and 8th innings before Joe Nathan completed the game with a scoreless ninth. The win puts the Twins back to 5.5 games behind the division-leading Tigers.
JOE MAUER – Everyone is talking about him, putting his numbers this year (and his career), up against the greats of the game. And rightfully so. In my approximately 25 years of really following baseball, I have never seen a baseball season like Joe Mauer is having, not with the Twins. Barry Bonds is the best hitter I have seen. Albert Pujols is right there. But Mauer’s added power, continued on-base skills and flirtation with .400 is something you just don’t see from a catcher. Asked yesterday what this means for the odds of the Twins signing Mauer to an extension, I insist that this is really putting the Twins in a bad spot. Simply put, they can’t trade Mauer, not with a new, publicly funded stadium opening next year. They don’t want him to become a free agent after 2010 or the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets representatives will put a contract in front of him with a Blank before the Years and another Blank right after the dollar sign. So, they really need to sign him this offseason, but the fact that he’s having an historic season means that his value is as high as it will ever be.
So what do they do? What should the Twins offer? I truly believe that Mauer would prefer to spend his career with the Twins. However, at no point since the Twins drafted him first overall has he accepted a “hometown discount.” Again, if he becomes a free agent, you have to assume that those aforementioned big spending teams will consider offering Mauer eight, or even ten, year deals. They could offer as much as $25-28 million per year. Could the Twins sign him now, or early this offseason for something closer to six years and $126 million? Is that fair for both sides?
The Twins are in a horrible spot. If they don’t come up with huge dollars, and Mauer were to walk, they would be considered cheap. However, the additional revenues brought in by Mauer could make up for some of his salary, right? Is it possible that the right “baseball decision” would be to trade Mauer? Imagine the package of current young talent and big-time prospects the team could get for him. Adding several possible impact players for one makes sense, if the package is correct. The Twins have to remember that Mauer is a catcher, and with that there is the normal reduction in performance once the catcher is on the wrong side of 30. Much of Mauer’s value comes from the fact that he is a catcher. He is not as valuable if he DHs.
And finally, I am always feeling the need to write this paragraph, and I don’t know why. Is anyone else annoyed by some people’s need to bash Justin Morneau in an attempt to make Joe Mauer look better. First, Joe Mauer looks just fine all by himself. Secondly, Justin Morneau is a great player. I understand that there are many more strong offensive 1B than catchers, but that only means that Joe Mauer is better than an average catcher than Justin Morneau is better than the average 1B. The fact is that that Twins are very lucky to have both.
And they are lucky to have Denard Span and Jason Kubel. Those four players are all top 10-15 players in the league. Michael Cuddyer is having a very good year. The Twins have five very good hitters in there lineup, but it is a great reminder that no one player or no five players alone can win. It takes a 25 man roster, and with injuries and such, it really takes the entire 40 man roster.
So… what do you do about Mauer? It’s easy to say “Sign him!”, but tell me how, and be sure to think about how it affects other decisions for the team.
SEND QUESTIONS –
I’d like to welcome everyone to send me two True or False, or Yes or No, questions. I will answer them for tomorrow’s blog! I did this one other time and said people could ask up to three questions, and I had to post three separate blogs. So, send your questions to me and I will answer them.
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Wednesday - SethSpeaks.net Hitter of the Day – Dustin Martin, Rochester Red Wings
Wednesday - SethSpeaks.net Pitcher of the Day – Yohan Pino, Rochester Red Wings
Wednesday – Game 1 – Rochester 6, Pawtucket 0 – Yohan Pino continues to impress as a AAA starter. In this game, he threw eight shutout innings. He gave up just three hits, walked on and struck out eight. Anthony Slama struck out two in his perfect ninth inning. Matt Tolbert went 3-5 with his ninth double. Danny Valencia hit his 15th and 16th doubles. Dustin Martin went 2-3 with a walk and his 21st steal. Drew Butera went 2-4.
Wednesday – Game 2 – Rochester 5, Pawtucket 1 – Jason Jones returned to the starting staff in this game. He did well. He gave up one run on four hits and two walks in seven innings. Sean Henn and Tim Lahey each threw one scoreless inning. Trevor Plouffe went 2-4 with his 20th double. Brock Peterson and Dustin Martin were also 2-4. Martin stole his 22nd base. Justin Huber went 2-5 with his 19th double.
Wednesday – Game 1 – New Britain 5, Binghampton 7 – This game actually started the day before but was suspended. Mike McCardell started and pitched the two innings on Tuesday. He gave up one run. Frank Mata started the third inning and got just one out, but not before allowing four runs on three hits and a walk. Kyle Waldrop went the next 3.2 innings and gave up one run on three hits. Loek Van Mil gave up a run on two hits and two walks in 1.1 innings. (An observer at the game said Van Mil hit 97, and sat consistently between 94 and 96 according to the field’s radar gun.) Spencer Steedley got the final two outs. Yancarlos Ortiz went 3-4 with two RBI. Whit Robbins went 2-4 with his 19th double. Brandon Roberts went 2-5. Rene Tosoni went 1-3 with two walks.
Wednesday – Game 2 – New Britain 6, Binghampton 1 – Ryan Mullins recorded his ninth win of the season in this game. In six innings, he gave up one run on six hits. He walked none and struck out three. Alex Burnett gave up two hits and a walk, but no runs, in the 7th inning. Brandon Roberts was 2-3 with three runs scored and his 16th base. Rene Tosoni was 2-3 with his 14th home run and two RBI. Brian Dinkelman went 2-3 with his 35th double and two RBI.
Wednesday – Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 3 – Tyler Robertson put together another strong start. He went the first seven innings. He gave up two runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out seven. Bobby Lanigan got the 8th inning. He gave up one run on one hit. Blair Erickson recorded his 13th save with a scoreless ninth. The Miracle won despite just five hits. The big hit was a solo home run off the bat of Joe Benson in the top of the 9th that gave the Miracle the lead and eventually the win. It was his fifth homer of the year. Ben Revere stole his 40th base.
Wednesday – Beloit – No Game Scheduled.
Wednesday – Elizabethton – No Game Scheduled.
GCL TWINS GOINGS ON
Wednesday – GCL Twins 3, GCL Reds 6 – Eliecer Cardenas started and went just three innings. He gave up five runs (1 earned) on four hits and a walk. Raynard Doran threw two perfect innings. Jean Mijares gave up one hit over two scoreless innings. Leonardo Parra gave up an unearned run in his inning. Richard Calcano had a perfect 9th inning. The Twins managed just five hits. Kennys Vargas went 2-3 with a walk and a three run homer (his third homer of the year). Trayvone Johnson went 2-4. Nick Freitas was 1-2 with two walks.
Programming Note – I will be on am710 The Fan during the 11:00 am. central time hour this (Wednesday) morning. I’ll be on the Jack Michaels Show, talking Twins. Check it out if you’re got a chance!