Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My two cents on Joe Mauer's knee

My apologies to anyone who dropped by earlier today only to find yesterday's news. I've been busy this evening adopting a new kitty, buying supplies, and playing with the cute little monster. If our other cats had veto power, she'd be returned first thing in the morning, but the people here think she's smart and a lot of fun. Her name is Amber, because her eyes are a deep amber color. Anybody know if that's typical of a particular breed? I've never seen anything like it. You'll see this weekend. Something to look forward to in our next edition of catblogging.

Well, everyone is atwitter about Joe Mauer's latest knee problem. I'm as sick about it as anyone, but I can't say it's taking me by surprise. Put me in the group of those who expect him to move to 3rd base; it's just a question of when. Not that I claim any medical expertise or anything. It's just a gut feeling. If you've had significant amounts of cartilage removed from your knee, would it seem like a good idea to go back to a position that requires getting in and out of a deep crouch for most of the afternoon or evening in about 120 games--not counting spring training and postseason? If he doesn't take to sitting down on one leg, Tony Pena-style, maybe it would be for the best to start training him to play 3rd base or an outfield position, sooner rather than later. I know he's a special all-around package as a Catcher, so I can't blame the Twins for hoping he can stay there, but having him at 3rd base wouldn't be such a terrible alternative. He has a strong arm, quick reflexes, good footwork, and a sharp mind; he should be able to handle learning a new position on the job. It would keep his bat in the lineup, and bump Rivas out when Cuddyer moves to 2nd base. Mike Redmond is a veteran Catcher who typically posts an on-base pct. as good or better than we've come to expect out of Rivas. The lineup might lose a little pop at the bottom of the order then, but the trade-off of keeping a more sprightly Joe Mauer in the lineup for 140+ games seems worthwhile to me.

By all means, let's see how he feels by the end of spring training, or in May and June. But there should be a point where enough is enough, and it's no longer worth it to put him back at a position that only puts too much stress on his knee and leads to these periodic setbacks. If he's still having these bouts of soreness and inflammation come summertime, make a change.


At 3/09/2005 10:16 AM, Blogger SBG said...

Like the page. Drop me an e-mail sometime at stickandballguy@hotmail.com. I'd like to chat with you.

At 3/09/2005 10:46 AM, Anonymous YankeeFan said...

I would love to be a fly on the wall during that conversation...

...more importantly, because the Twins don't have a DH per se, why not let Mauer rehab the knee DHing 5 days a week, catching 1 day a week, and resting the 7th day? Sure, it pushes your fourth outfielder/DH out of the lineup temporarily, but considering the alternatives...

Sure, if Mauer can make the switch to third, it might eventually be the best solution, but that would take time no matter what (consider that the baseball world worried over the transition to third by arguably the best shortstop in the game). Short term, it would seem that the DH spot would fit Mauer well (provided his considerable talents were not wasted by a career there).

Just a thought,

At 3/09/2005 10:53 AM, Blogger Third Base Line said...

I'm hoping he can still catch, because from the few games he played last year he looked to me like a very smart catcher--knows the batters, knows his pitchers, knows their stuff. He called some great games, sometimes without the benefit of a starter displaying his best stuff.

That catcher's mind, the analysis of your guy on the mound versus their guy at the plate, the delicate mathematics of probability and possibility that takes into account not only the immediate at-bat but the runners on, the score, the inning, and the next few batters in line...ah, that's a rare thing, and not to be discarded lightly.

There are plenty of good defensive catchers out there, but how many of them can consistently call a good game without constant input from the dugout? When you get a catcher with that insight and acuity, you can put the whole defensive and pitching game in his hands. Your manager and coaches can have the luxury of worrying about how their boys are doing, because the catcher will pretty much take care of the other team for you, at least in the defensive half-innings.

I half-believe, half-hope, based on the admittedly little we've seen of him, that Mauer is one of those catchers. So I'm for thinking of the future and easing him in. Maybe start him out mostly DH-ing, let him catch a game every four or five days. Then as the season goes on, close the gaps between starts, very slowly. Let the knee rest and rebuild, let his bat be his primary impact on the team. For now, for this season. For the sake of the future.

At 3/09/2005 11:21 AM, Anonymous YankeeFan said...

I meant what third base line said. Only I have neither the intelligence nor the eloquence to have said it like that.



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