Monday, November 11, 2013

The Ripple Effect of Mauer's Move to First

The Twins made it official on Monday... Joe Mauer's days behind the plate are over.

After consulting with doctors at Mayo Clinic, it was felt that Mauer needed to avoid the chance of re-injuring himself at the roughest position on the baseball field. Even though Mauer is now symptom free and able to go about his regular offseason routine, the club felt this was in the best interest of the team and their star player.

The move away from catcher has been something Mauer has tried to avoid in the past. Even after missing most of the 2011 season because of leg issues, Mauer wanted to prove he could handle the rigors of being a full-time catcher again. The seriousness of his concussion in 2013 must have been enough to convince him the time was right for a move.

In my offseason blueprint, I listed Mauer as the primary first baseman for the 2014 Minnesota Twins. It seemed likely for the club to give him more time at first base especially with the exit of Justin Morneau and the rise of Josmil Pinto. These two players are just part of the ripple effect of Mauer's move to first.

Pinto's Chance to Start
The Twins were impressed with the performance of Pinto in the final month of the season. Over 21 games, the rookie backstop batted .342/.398/.566 with four home runs and five doubles. His defensive skills might not be as good as Mauer but he did throw out 33% of base runners with a .982 fielding percentage in his eight seasons in the minor leagues. Minnesota could always add a veteran catcher but Pinto deserves a chance at some point next year.

Morneau Won't Return
Within the inner circle of Twins Territory, there might have been the hopes of a return of their former MVP. As Mauer shifts to first base, it seems as if there is no spot for Morneau on the roster. It probably didn't make sense for the Twins to spend money on Morneau with other first base options currently under contract. This allows Morneau to try and find a spot on a team that can contend before his career is complete.

Parmelee and Colabello Left Searching for ABs
Both Parmelee and Colabello have put together impressive numbers at Triple-A in the last two seasons. These performances haven't translated to the big leagues and this leaves question marks about them moving forward. Parmelee got some time in the outfield last year and this might be his best chance at sticking with the team long-term. Colabello's independent baseball story was great but he might be more of a organizational player.

Sano's the Future at Third
With a full offseason to prepare, Minnesota could have moved Mauer to third base. They didn't because Miguel Sano is making his way to Target Field. There is a small chance of Sano starting the year with the club so Trevor Plouffe will keep his place warm at the hot corner. It seems a waste to use Mauer's athletic ability at a lowly position like first base but Sano has one of the best arms in the Twins system and the spot should be saved for him.

What other ripple effects are there from Mauer's move to first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

No comments: