Tag: Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer Comments on Impact of Concussions on Vision, Hitting, More

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is no longer the superstar he once was, which he revealed can be blamed partly on lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered in 2013.

Speaking to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, Mauer said he still has bouts of blurred vision in the batter’s box. 

To combat the problem, he said he’ll use sunglasses while hitting: “I’ve always been kind of weird about my routine when it comes to stepping into the [batter’s] box, but it’s something I’ll give a shot this spring and see if it helps.”

Murphy added that Mauer will experiment with the shades during spring training, as the Twins will have their first workout February 22. The former American League MVP said he was first diagnosed with a concussion in August 2013 due to at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was catching. 

The Twins announced in November 2013 that Mauer was moving to first base on a full-time basis as a result of the concussion he suffered. He hasn’t been the same player the last two seasons as he was early in his career. 

Some of that drop-off in production can be attributed to a player in his early 30s in 2014 and 2015, but as recently as 2013, he posted a .324/.404/.476 slash line, so clearly something was not right for Mauer. 

Physically, the 32-year-old admitted there was a time after his concussion diagnosis when working out was a problem: 

Some of the exercises we tried to do last year, I’d come up and be like, ‘Whoa.’ Now it’s gradually getting better. I’m excited for that. That’s why I’m excited to get down there (to Fort Myers) and try some different things.

It could be a lot of things. There are so many different symptoms. For me it was lighting, I couldn’t really pick up the ball. It was blurry at times. Where I am here versus last year at this time, I can tell my workouts are better.

Even though lighting can seem like a silly issue for a hitter as talented as Mauer is, he provided a very sound reason why it does make a difference: “If you’re just a little off, you’re fouling off pitches you should be driving into the gap. In the big leagues, you don’t get too many more opportunities to see good ones to hit.”

The Twins shocked baseball pundits last year, winning 83 games and staying in the wild-card race until the final weekend. Their young talent is starting to make its presence felt in the big leagues, with Miguel Sano finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting and Byron Buxton getting integrated into the mix. 

If Sano and Buxton continue their evolution next season and Mauer plays closer to his 2013 level with a new approach and deeper understanding of what was wrong, the Twins will be a dangerous team in the American League.   

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Twins’ Joe Mauer Reaches 1,500 Hits and 300 Doubles

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer has reached a pair of milestone since returning from the disabled list Monday, recording his 300th career double and 1,500th hit.

Mauer, who was out for nearly six weeks with an oblique injury, hit double No. 300 in his first game back Monday against against the Houston Astros.

He then reached 1,500 hits in Wednesday’s game against the Astros, with a first-inning single doing the honors. Later in the same game, Mauer made No. 1,501 count, hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give the Twins a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 victory.

It seems some time off was just what the former catcher needed, as he heads into Saturday’s contest against the Kansas City Royals with six hits in 16 at-bats (.375 batting average) over four games since returning from the disabled list. In addition to Wednesday’s home run, two of Mauer’s hits have gone for doubles, and he’s also drawn a pair of walks.

Even with the recent outburst, Mauer is still on track to have arguably the worst season of his prestigious career. His .276 batting average and .347 on-base percentage would easily be the worst of his career, while his .370 slugging percentage would be just a smidgen better than the low-water mark of .368 that he posted in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.

Of course, it would be rather unwise to count Mauer out, as he finished the last two years with an on-base percentage above .400, despite playing more than 70 games behind the plate in both seasons.

Now limited to first base and designated hitter, Mauer should be in for a productive final six weeks of the season, assuming he stays healthy.

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Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Disappointments of 2014

Like all fantasy sports, the key to success in fantasy baseball is understanding value. Failure to understand value can lead an owner to mislabel a player as a disappointment, while understanding value can give an owner a late-round steal.

To determine value, you must consider what you gave up when you selected a certain player in the draft. Did you grab an elite catcher early because of the scarcity of that position? Or did you simply draft the best players, regardless of position? 

Jose Abreu, whose ESPN average draft position was 134th (only five spots ahead of Alfonso Soriano), has obviously exceeded the expectations of a 13th-round pick. Yet Yadier Molina and Dustin Pedroia, players considered to be the class of their positions, have vastly underwhelmed. The price paid to grab these players early in drafts has been far higher than their actual production.

For the sake of clarity, the following list of disappointments is composed only of position players. A player can only be considered a “disappointment” if his current ESPN Player Rater ranking is at least 100 spots worse than his average draft position. Also, all players must currently be owned in 100 percent of standard ESPN fantasy baseball leagues. Players who have missed time due to injury, such as Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce and Bryce Harper, are excluded.  

Here are the top five fantasy disappointments as we approach the halfway point of the 2014 season.


Statistics are accurate through June 19 and are obtained from MLB.com, ESPN.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

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Joe Mauer Proving Catching Workload Wasn’t at the Bottom of Power Limitations

Minnesota’s Prairie Home Baseball Companion is mostly everything you would want for $184 million over eight years, at $23 mil per season: On-base machine, world-class bat speed, face of the franchise, astute baseball mind, flexible enough to change positions, hometown hero, clubhouse icon.

He is everything you would want, except for one not-so-subtle thing: Joe Mauer does not put baseballs over the fences.

That is not such a secret, hasn’t been for the past couple of years, but it again is becoming the elephant in the on-deck circle. Because not only is he not putting baseballs over the fences this season, but so far he’s not even finding the gaps.

One of the most remarkable numbers in a game filled with them right now is this: Through 39 games and 177 plate appearances, Mauer has just six extra-base hits.

That is correct.

Of his 43 knocks, 37 have been singles.

Yes, it is eating at him. Now would not be the time to drop one of those “Well played, Mauer” lines on him.

“It’s frustrating,” Mauer, who also has two homers and four doubles, told Bleacher Report this week. “Overall, I feel pretty good at the plate.

“But this year I haven’t had much to show for it.”

The man with three American League batting titles on the back of his baseball card—2006 (.347), 2008 (.328), 2009 (.365)—is hitting just .283. He does have a .373 on-base percentage, though that is down from his career average of .404.

He has hit the ball hard more than it might appear, such as a couple of rocket at-ems Tuesday night in San Diego. Caught.

“That’s been the story of my year so far,” Mauer says. “[Tuesday] night, I hit four balls right on the screws, and nothing to show for it.”

Forget, for a moment, the restless Twins fanbase and assorted armchair general managers who are quick to say that Mauer’s contract one day will rank among the worst ever.

When the sunny and optimistic Mauer himself admits frustration, there isn’t much else that needs to be said.

He is healthy. That is in no small part attributable to his much-celebrated-and-analyzed move from behind the plate to first base this season after assorted aches and pains kept him to 113 games last summer and 82 in 2011.

So far, so good. But there is no question the learning will continue throughout much of the summer. Legendary former Twins manager Tom Kelly spent much of spring tutoring Mauer on the finer points of playing first base.

Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was schooling him the other night. One of Molitor’s recent points: That Mauer can take ground balls to the bag himself without having to toss to the pitcher every time.

“He’s getting better,” manager Ron Gardenhire says. “Tell him something, it clicks. All he’s got to do is go about his business, and he’ll get it done.”

“It’s becoming more comfortable,” Mauer says. “I’m still seeing a lot of new things. But I’m not worried. You see new things in this game all the time.”

Like what Mauer is going through at the plate right now.

This is a guy who cracked 43 doubles in 2010, the year Target Field opened. He had 35 last year in 113 games.

This year, four.

We’re talking about one of the best hitters of our time.

It’s crazy.

It’s also baseball, so you figure that, eventually, the dams will open and the flood of extra-base hits will begin. Maybe not home runs, because, really, that discussion ended a couple of years ago. Mauer’s 28 in 2009, the final season of the Metrodome, was an anomaly. He’s never had more than 13 in any other season of his career, in the cozy Metrodome or spacious Target Field.

Whether he was ever going to hit 28 homers again, it’s difficult to blame the Twins for handing him that megadeal the next March. The guy is from St. Paul. He had won three batting titles. The Red Sox, among other clubs, already were sending signals that they were prepared to offer a blank check were he to reach free agency after the 2010 season.

Can you imagine Mauer’s swing in Fenway Park? He would have spent the past three seasons playing handball with the Green Monster. And he’d probably be known as a power hitter by now.

Instead, he’s searching for holes in outfields that seem to be playing him perfectly every night in 2014.

Rob Antony, general manager Terry Ryan’s assistant, notes that there have been seasons in which Mauer has had just two homers at the end of May and still finished in double figures (2012, when he finished with 10).

He also makes a fair point circling back to Mauer’s move to first base: Not only should the move keep the former catcher healthy, it also should give him fresher legs in August and September.

“The main thing is we’re looking to get him in the lineup every day,” Antony says. “And we’re getting that.”

Mauer will be playing under the shadow of that contract through the end of his days. You cannot get away from that price tag, especially in a market like Minnesota.

“You know what?” Gardenhire says. “People worry about a lot of things in this game. I have a lot to worry about. Joe Mauer is not one of my worries.

“He hits more balls on the screws and on the nose than anybody. They’re just playing him different ways now, and pitching him, and he’s hitting rockets to left field that could be doubles. But they’re playing him that way. You know what? I don’t really think he needs to do too much different.

“He’s hitting the ball on the screws, he hasn’t changed his swing, he’s still a great hitter. I’ll worry about a lot of other things, but I’m not going to worry about him.”

Throughout most of his career, Mauer has hit third in the Twins lineup. But beginning last season, he’s now spending the majority of his time hitting second. No matter where Gardenhire hits him, it’s the same, consistent approach.

“He’s not going to try to change,” Gardenhire said. “Why should he? He’s a batting champion. He hits the ball on the screws more than anyone else.

“What you want on the top of the order more than anything is a guy who’s going to hit the ball, get base hits and also get on base, and that’s what he does better than anybody in the game. He’s right up there with the best of them, and always has been, so I’ll say it over and over and over again.

“I’ll worry about a lot of things. I’ll worry about this interview. But I don’t worry about him.”

Yes, this three-time batting champion is acutely aware that he’s stacking up more singles than Kraft in a processed-cheese package. Yes, he knows folks are accustomed to seeing him drive the ball more. But his approach, now and forever, will remain the same.

“It’s more about having good at-bats,” Minnesota’s favorite Prairie Home Baseball Companion says. “It is what it is. Good at-bats. Hit the ball hard.

“Hopefully, they will start dropping.”

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball here.

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Minnesota Twins: Are Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau Headed for the Hall of Fame?

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are two players who will be prominently featured in the history of the Minnesota Twins. Each has won an MVP award, but together they’ve been vital cogs in what has been a banner period for the franchise, with six division championships in nine years during the 2000s.

Despite their record of success together, nobody knows if the two will someday shake hands in Cooperstown or if they’ll both be members of the Twins Hall of Fame (which I assume will someday be added onto a wing of Target Field.)

However, the two players’ careers have certainly headed in different directions.

Mauer has taken the role of the face of the franchise after signing his massive contract extension prior to the 2010 season. Despite the bickering of some fans, he has mostly performed at a high level, with the exception of the 2011 season, which was largely lost due to injury.

As a catcher, Mauer has won three American League batting championships. There are few players who can take claim to three batting titles, but nobody can say they did it behind the plate in the AL, as Mauer was the first to even win one, let alone three.

Mauer’s defense has propelled him to win three Gold Gloves. That’s a big reason why despite the bilateral leg weakness and a recent concussion, the Twins refuse to move him from behind the plate.

When it comes to catchers, it simply doesn’t get any better than the St. Paul product in his 10 seasons with the Twins.

We know we’ll see Mauer enshrined in the Hall of Fame someday, but what about his partner in crime, Morneau?

Morneau got off to a slow start in his first full season in 2005, but he took off after the midway point of the 2006 season, which saw him win his only MVP award to date. Winning one is an incredible accomplishment for any player, but it’s staggering when you consider that he could have been a three-time winner.

The Twins overachieved in the 2008 season, and Morneau was a big reason for that, hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBI. An MVP award was possible, but the team fell to the Chicago White Sox in a one-game playoff for the division championship, and the nation fell in love with Dustin “The Little Guy” Pedroia so much that voters leaned toward the Boston Red Sox’s second baseman.

Morneau also was on his way to an incredible season in 2010 with a career-high .345 average and 18 home runs in his first 81 games of the season, but that’s where his turn for the worse began after taking a knee to the head from Aaron Hill on July 7.

Before the injury, Morneau enjoyed a stretch between 2006 and 2010 where he dominated the American League and had a line of .298/.372/.528 with 136 home runs and 526 RBI. Since his return in 2011, those numbers have declined to .257/.318/.411 with 38 home runs and 79 RBI in roughly three seasons.

Does a five-year stretch get a player into the Hall of Fame? I don’t believe so.

If it were up to me, I would put Morneau in the Hall of Pretty Good. He was a leader for the Twins and will probably have his No. 33 jersey retired by the club someday, but he’s an example of what could have been if it weren’t for his laundry list of injuries.

Chris Schad is a Minnesota Twins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. His work has also been featured on the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Pro Football Spot. You can follow Chris on Twitter @crishad.

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Selecting the AL Central’s Position Player First Quarter All-Star Team

The American League Central is one of the most interesting divisions in all of baseball this season.

The Detroit Tigers once again entered the year as runaway favorites to take the division crown, and are once again struggling at the first quarter mark, trailing the Cleveland Indians by 2.5 games.

The Indians, who finished 20 games back in the division last year with only 68 wins, are on pace to reach close to 100 wins this season, and are the hottest team in baseball, winning 18 of their last 22 games.

But unlike the Tigers, the Indians aren’t doing it with star power.

The Tigers lead the AL in runs, average and on-base percentage, but have struggled lately, going 4-6 in their last 10 games, with two of those wins coming against the dreadful Houston Astros.

Yet, most of the players on this list are donning the Old English D.

It has been a fun first quarter to watch, and has definitely been unexplainable at times, but here is my list for the AL Central Position Player All Stars at the first quarter mark:

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Minnesota Twins: 5 Mega-Trades They Should Consider for Joe Mauer

The Minnesota Twins are in a position where they need to make moves to improve the active roster. In such situations, a team may decide to trade their biggest piece in order to make a quick upgrade.

On the surface, the Twins may not have that piece. However, that could change if they decide to make Joe Mauer available.

The 29-year old catcher has had difficulties staying on the field over the past two seasons and may be considered damaged goods by some teams. Still, he has a bat that teams covet at the catcher position and could provide an immediate upgrade for any lineup.

With a $23 million salary due through 2018, the Twins will need to pay a team a fair amount in order for a trade to work.

Minnesota will also need to get either an impact player or high quality prospects to restock their meager farm system.

With that, here are five trades the Twins could explore if they wish to put Joe Mauer on the trading block. 

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Can the Twins Get Enough in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau Trades to Rebuild?

The Minnesota Twins have been busy bees in the last week, trading Denard Span to the Washington Nationals and Ben Revere to the Philadelphia Phillies for much-needed young pitching.

Even with Span and Revere gone, the Twins still have pieces they can trade to aide their rebuild, including a couple guys named Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Trading either or both of them wouldn’t be easy, but dealing them would help a rebuilding process that is already on the right track.

And these trades could very well happen. The Twins are still short on young arms and GM Terry Ryan refused to rule out the possibility of dealing more bats for more arms when he spoke on MLB Network Radio on Thursday.

“I think we’d have to,” said Ryan when he was asked if he’s willing to listen on more position players. “We’ve lost over 90 games the last two years. For me to sit here and tell you that we shouldn’t listen would be a bad thing for an organization. We have to listen.”

He added: “I think it’s safe to say if you don’t pitch, you don’t play.”

After watching his starting pitchers combine to post an AL-worst 5.40 ERA in 2012, he would know.

The two names brought up specifically during the interview belonged to Morneau and left fielder Josh Willingham. But since Ryan indicated that he’s willing to listen to offers for any position players so long as pitching would be in play, he presumably won’t turn away callers interested in Mauer.

The Twins could definitely get a nice arm or a nice package of arms for Willingham. His value is higher than ever after posting an .890 OPS and hitting a career-high 35 home runs, and he has a very team-friendly deal. He’s locked up through 2014 at a grand total of $14 million.

As for Morneau and Mauer, well, they’re a little different.

Ryan may not be able to get what he seeks in a Morneau trade because his value is low and his salary is high, as he’s owed $15 million in 2013. He still has power and he’s coming off a halfway decent season at the plate, but his hitting has greatly diminished and his health is a red flag.

Any team that trades for Morneau runs the risk of only getting him for fewer than 100 games and then waving goodbye to him at the end of 2013 without making him a qualifying offer, and that would mean no compensatory draft pick.

Mauer, on the other hand, proved in 2012 that he can still hit, as he finished with a .319 batting average and an AL-best .416 on-base percentage. He also played in a career-high 147 games. 

But Mauer was able to play that many games only because he was behind the plate only about half the time. He caught 74 games and played first base or DH’d in 72 games. The Twins would no doubt try to sell him as an elite hitting catcher in trade talks, but likely to no avail. 

Then there’s the matter of Mauer’s contract, which has a no-trade clause in it that he would have to waive in order for the Twins to move him. Beyond that, it’s a contract that only a handful of teams in baseball can afford to take on. In order to expand their list of suitors, the Twins would likely have to broadcast a willingness to eat some of the money Mauer is owed. 

If they do that, they’ll be able to ask for better players in return. If not, they’ll have to accept a lesser package and just be content to have a ton of extra breathing room on their payroll. Given the market they play in, Door No. 2 is the more likely outcome.

So as far as trade chips go, neither Morneau nor Mauer is perfect. They have neither youth nor cheapness working for them, and the Twins can only sell high on Mauer. And even if they find a buyer for him, there’s a limit to how much they can ask for.

The Denard Span and Ben Revere deals aren’t much help here in terms of guidelines for potential trades. Ryan did well to land Alex Meyer, one of Washington’s top prospects, for Span, but that was because he was dealing a solid hitter, fielder and baserunner who also happens to have a team-friendly contract that runs through 2014 with an option for 2015. 

Revere fetched a major league-ready starter in Vance Worley and a top prospect in Trevor May because his glove and legs are both excellent sources of value, and he’s not even eligible for arbitration until 2014.

Morneau wouldn’t fetch as much as either player in a trade. If the Twins deal him now, they may be forced to make a trade like the one the Texas Rangers are mulling with Michael Young. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reported that they’re on the verge of trading Young to the Phillies for a reliever and a low-level prospect, and that they’re also going to eat some of Young’s salary.

If the Twins were to do a deal like that, Ryan would probably have to choose a high-floor pitching prospect with a low ceiling, or a talented pitching prospect in need of a lot of work (a la Trevor May). Such a trade wouldn’t be ideal, but it would be a deal worth doing since Ryan has no guarantees that Morneau’s trade value isn’t going to get any higher throughout the course of the 2013 season.

A potential Mauer trade is a lot harder to figure, as it’s not every day that a team trades away a player with six years and $138 million left on his contract. The only trade that rings a bell as being even remotely similar was the trade that sent Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers to the New York Yankees back in 2004. At that point, A-Rod had seven years and $179 million left on his contract.

Going to Texas in that deal was Alfonso Soriano, who was no insignificant trade chip. The Twins would no doubt be very pleased if they were to get an All-Star player in a trade for Mauer, but they wouldn’t exactly be trading the best player on the planet, which A-Rod still was at the time he was traded.

Still, the idea would be the same. If the Twins were to trade Mauer, it would likely be for a young, established pitcher with controllability and a bright future. There aren’t many of those around, and there are even fewer around if the focus is restricted to teams that can actually afford to pay Mauer.

If the Twins can find a deal like that for Mauer, though, they should do it. They’d be adding a top young arm to a rotation that already features a couple quality pitchers in Vance Worley and Scott Diamond, with Alex Meyer and Trevor May due to make an impact in a couple of years. Their rebuild would look a lot better than it does right now.

If the best the Twins can do for Mauer is more along the lines of several top prospects and a massive amount of payroll relief, they’d still have to seriously consider letting him go. They’re not going anywhere with Mauer in the next couple of years, so they may as well go nowhere without him if it means having money to spend and a strong farm system to work with.

Between the three top trade chips the Twins still have at their disposal, Willingham and Morneau are a lot more likely to be traded than Mauer, if for no other reason than the likelihood that there are a lot more fits for the two of them out there than there are for Mauer. 

None of the three, however, should be totally untouchable. Given where they’ve been the last two years and what they have to work with, the Twins are in a position where they legitimately have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being totally open for business.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Salary information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts

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MLB Trade Scenarios: Is Joe Mauer or Justin Upton a Better Target for Yankees?

Before we begin this, in no way am I saying the Yankees are in-line to make a deal with anyone right now.

This was a topic that was brought up to me, and we are going to discuss it on here.

So with that out of the way, onto the story.

The New York Yankees have at least two holes in the field that they need to fill: catcher and right field.

Nick Swisher is not coming back in 2013, while Russell Martin has drawn the interest of several suitors, one of which is the Yankees themselves.

Now, if the Yankees wanted to make a big splash this winter, they could make a deal for one of those positions.

Of the trade scenarios that were brought up to me, two players were mentioned: Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Neither player is eligible to be a free agent for a while, so both would require the Yankees to make a major blockbuster to land each player.

Now, of Mauer and Upton, which player would be the better fit for the Yankees if they were ever to show interest in them?

Let’s examine the pros and cons and make a final judgment.

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Why Joe Mauer Can Win the Batting Title: Analyzing the AL’s Top 5 Hitters

With fewer than 20 games left in the Minnesota Twins’ 2012 season, Joe Mauer is ranked fourth in the AL batting race and nine points behind the first-place Mike Trout.

Despite this slightly overwhelming gap this late in the season, Mauer should not be counted out as the 2012 AL batting champion.

This article examines current statistical trends of the AL’s top five hitters to determine Mauer’s favorable odds in winning the batting title for the fourth time in seven seasons.

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