Monday, April 9, 2007

Switching Positions? No Way.

A lot has been made about Joe Mauer and his future as the Minnesota Twins catcher. Sure, he just signed a four year deal, but that’s not the type of future I am talking about. The type of future that I’m referring to is whether Mauer is going to remain the Twins catcher, or if he’ll eventually be removed from behind the plate and put into a different position.

Mauer injured his knee on April 7th, had surgery to remove his meniscus on April 8th, and remained on the disabled list until June 2nd. Was this a serious injury? You bet. Whenever someone gets their meniscus removed, it’s serious. For those of you not familiar with the role of a meniscus, it disperses friction, or acts as “padding” in between the tibia and femur. So since Mauer doesn’t have a meniscus in his left knee, it does raise a good question whether Mauer will remain behind the plate or not.

If you ask me, I think Mauer will remain the Twins catcher until three things happen…

1) He is no longer a Minnesota Twin.

2) He retires.

3) He can no longer play everyday as a major league catcher, and is therefore forced to be removed from the catcher position.

Notice that I italicized the word forced. I feel as long as Mauer is able to play an average catcher, he’ll remain there. His value, both offensively and defensively, is far too great to be moved to another position. From a financial standpoint, for Mauer, and a baseball standpoint, the Twins and Mauer would be foolish to switch positions unless he absolutely has to.

A popular position that people have talked about Mauer moving to is third base. Could Mauer play an average major league third base? I have no doubt that he could. Mauer is one of those special athletes that have it “all.” He could’ve played division one football, a high level of basketball, heck, he probably could’ve starred on the Bachelor. Have you seen those sideburns? I mean, they’re outrag…never mind, let’s stick to the topic.

Mauer could play third base, first base, outfield, whatever. But that’s really not the point. The point(s) I’m trying to make is that it’s hard to make a position transition, even for a special athlete like Mauer. Mauer has played catcher his entire life. It’s something he’s become, and having him switch positions could have some significant impact on the type of player that Mauer is, or may become.

The other point I’m trying to make is that if Mauer doesn’t need to be moved from behind the plate, why do it? Since Mauer’s removal of the meniscus, he hasn’t had one single recurrence or related injury to the knee. Yes, he just had a stress reaction, but that really has no relevance or relation to the removing of the meniscus. It’s been 3 years since Mauer had his knee worked on, and not one related injury has occurred. Plus, he’s the reigning AL batting champ, and is a career .321 hitter. That’s just icing on the cake as to why the Twins shouldn’t even consider moving Mauer from behind the plate.

Could I be wrong? Sure. Crazier things have happened. Another freak accident here, another incident here and Mauer’s knee could become a major issue. But for now, watching Mauer and knowing that he’s the Twins everyday catcher for at least four more years gives me enough reason to forget the talk about switching positions, well until now, and to just enjoy watching him and his mega hunk appearance.

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