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Playing the "what if" game with Joe Mauer

Feb 17, 2010, 1:20 PM EDT

Mauer bat.jpgIt’s Mauer day. In addition to this morning’s piece, USA Today ran a scary “what-if” article about the 2001 draft when, as most of you know, the Twins had to choose between Mark Prior and Mauer, with most people at the time thinking that Prior was the better choice. That’s certainly changed now:

The Twins made the pick that perhaps forever changed franchise
history. Mauer won the American League MVP last year and is a
three-time batting champion and two-time Gold Glove winner. He is
considered one of the finest players in the game. Prior won 41
games his first four seasons with the Cubs, but just one game since
2005, and is now out of baseball. He still is battling shoulder woes
and is home in San Diego trying to resurrect his career . . .

. . . “You look back, and wow, it would have been a whole different things
going on if we had not taken Mauer,” [Mike] Radcliffe said, “and taken the
other guy. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if we didn’t.”

Hindsight obviously makes the choice a no-brainer, but hindsight could make it less of one if we think about it a bit. For example, what would have happened if the Twins had taken Prior and, instead of abusing him like Dusty Baker and the Cubs did, they brought him along slowly and carefully?  Maybe he still gets hurt — we’re still kind of guessing what pitcher abuse truly means — but maybe he turns into that Tom Seaver v.2.0.  Likely? Eh, probably not, but the point is that every point of historical divergence throws hundreds if not thousands of variables into play.  Think George Bailey not being born times 1000 and then cut Mark Prior some slack.

But if you insist on living in a what-if fantasy world when it comes to Joe Mauer, you can just start reading the Colorado Springs Gazette, because they’ve got the market cornered on that stuff:

Imagine Joe Mauer catching and hitting in the middle of the Rockies
order next to Troy Tulowitzki for the better part of the next decade. Crazy talk? Yes. It is wild speculation and, as far as I know, a
thought that hasn’t been entertained by anyone in the Rockies front
office. But it’s not as far-fetched as it seems . . .

You can probably guess where that’s heading. It’s the flipside of what Yankees and Red Sox fans say about the guy. Instead of expecting to get him because they’re entitled, the writer here thinks they should get him because, gosh, wouldn’t that be great!

Please, Minnesota, sign Mauer already and return us to the land of certainty.

  1. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 17, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    For example, what would have happened if the Twins had taken Prior and, instead of abusing him like Dusty Baker and the Cubs did, they brought him along slowly and carefully?

    According to this article in si.com from a few years back by Tom Verducci about Tim Lincecum, Rick Peterson (and Lincecum’s dad)insinuates that Prior’s injury was almost a foregone conclusion. As much as we all can’t stand Dusty “Clogging up the basepaths” Baker, this injury might not have been his fault.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/tom_verducci/07/01/lincecum0707/index.html

  2. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 17, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    How many championships has Mauer won for the Twins, he has accomplished alot of personal goals and I like the guy but
    come on.The Yankees have Three catchers in their system
    right now who they believe can be good catchers, one of them
    is Montero, rated as the fifth-best prospect in the game by Baseball America, might be the best hitter in the minor leagues, a player who swings his way to Yankee Stadium before his defense can catch up.
    “His bat may not be too far from the big leagues,” says a rival baseball executive, “But they’ll have to decide his position. Jesus has a chance to be a very, very big hitter. He reminds me of Carlos Delgado at that age.
    “When you have a guy who hits that well, you may want to get him out of there even if he can’t catch.”
    Then the executive invokes the name of a player who comes up often when discussing Montero – Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, the reigning AL MVP. Mauer is big like Montero – Mauer is 6-5 and 220 pounds, Montero 6-4, 235 – and an amazing hitter. He is also a terrific defensive catcher.
    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2010/02/13/2010-02-13_yankees_catcher_is_a_rising_star.html#ixzz0fpB7qCp1
    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2010/02/13/2010-02-13_yankees_catcher_is_a_rising_star.html#ixzz0fpB7rxpa

  3. Charles Gates - Feb 17, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    Montero, rated as the fifth-best prospect in the game by Baseball America, might be the best hitter in the minor leagues, a player who swings his way to Yankee Stadium before his defense can catch up.
    Montero 6-4, 235 – and an amazing hitter. He is also a terrific defensive catcher
    Please reconcile.

  4. Joey B - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Verducci ruined an otherwise good article by leading in with this:
    “Not since Mark (the Bird) Fidrych spoke to baseballs, manicured mounds and baffled hitters more than 30 years ago has a pitcher been this consistent and this captivating from the start of his career.”
    Has he not heard of Dwight Gooden? Lincecum has been crazy good with 40-17, a 676/217 K/W ratio in 598.2 IPs, a 1.151 Whip, an ERA of 2.90 and a 152 ERA+.
    Gooden, in his first two seasons, was 41-13, 544/142 in 494.2 IPs, a 1.013 Whip, an ERA of 2.00 and an ERA+ of 188.
    I’m not bagging on Lincecum, but if the writer needs hyperbole to boost his article, they need to be a little more accurate. Gooden was better than both those guys.

  5. YX - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    Huh?

  6. Joey B - Feb 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    “Huh?”
    In other words, Verducci tried to add some flavor to his article by claiming Lincecum is the best young pitcher since Fydrich. He isn’t. He is the best young pitcher since Gooden, and probably neither Fydrich nore Lincecum are as good as Gooden was at the age.

  7. Coby - Feb 17, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    He’s not going to make it as a catcher.

  8. D-Luxxx - Feb 17, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    He is no Joe Mauer. That is all.

  9. Joey B - Feb 18, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    “He is no Joe Mauer. That is all.”
    He’s trade bait is what he is. For 2-3 years, all I heard about from NYY fans was Jose Tabata. Then it was Austin Jackson 24/7. Now it’s Montero. Too big for catcher, so he is working out at 1st, which of course belongs to Tex. So they could try him at DH, but that will belong to ARod for 8 more years.

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