There is no doubt that Joe Mauer is the best catcher in MLB today. He is the "whole package" at the catching position. Mauer has Gold Glove skills, size, poise, and have the best swing in baseball. He hits for a consistently stellar average while also taking walks. Definitely Mauer has grown into a top-tier home run threat and run producer.
Mauer is the 2009 AL MVP, 3 time AL Batting Champion, 3 time Silver Slugger , 2 time Gold Glover, and a 3 time All-Star. Mauer got it all. That is why many teams are after him when he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2010 season. The powerhouse Yankees are also interested, knowing that their prize catcher (Jorge Posada) will be retiring soon.
However Mauer looks like is never going to leave the Twins. Remember that Mauer is a Minnesota local boy. Mauer is Minnesota's hometown hero. And the Twins will do everything just to keep their star in their organization.... hell, the Twins are willing to give the moon just to keep him.
The Minnesota Twins ownership wished to move from the Metrodome to a site behind the Target Center, claiming that the Metrodome generates too little revenue for the Twins to be competitive. Therefore it is wise for them to keep their prize catcher to fill in those seats in their new stadium.
So is this bad news for the Yankees? Not exactly. Look at it this way, the Yankees will be free on their financial budget. Mauer would most likely get $ 20+ million annually for 10 years. That means if the Yankees sign Mauer they will have difficulty acquiring an Ace type starting pitcher (assuming their sticking to their $ 200 million budget). It is better for the Yankees to invest on pitching first than a catcher. Posada's highest salary is just $ 13.1 million and he is also a good offensive catcher.
Yes, a Joe Mauer type doesn't come everyday. But where talking about a catching position here. A position where injuries always catch up. Even the star caliber Mauer incurred several injuries in the past and has suffered back problems that forced him to miss the entire month of April last season. A catcher's position is the toughest position in baseball. You have to get down on your knees for 160 games in a season. Catching everyday will affect the knees of the catcher and will lose their speed and agility. We don't see a catcher stealing 20+ base in season do you?
Their main goal is to catch and have some bat along the way. So for the Yankees seeing Mauer sign with the Twins is a good thing. The Yankees can now divert their attention to starting pitching (which should be their top priority). Cliff Lee and Josh Beckett will be free agent at the end of the 2010 season. The Yanks will certainly would like to have an additional good starting pitchers to bolster their already strong rotation.
And in regards to the catching position... well the Yankees still have Jorge Posada don't they? And Posada can still catch this season and maybe half of it in 2011. Plus the Yankees have catching prospects down in the minors. Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are the prime candidates. If Montero is as good as advertise and turns out to be an average defensive catcher, then the Yankees have solve their catching problems.
But if not, there is still Romine or the Yankees can go for a trade and the free agency route. If your going to ask me I would rather have a good defensive catcher with some bat than an offensive catcher with poor defensive skills. Remember that the success of the starting pitcher also comes from their battery mates.
Mauer is good as gone and the Yankees must look for a replacement for Posada soon. Either they get a catcher in their farm system, or through a trade, or from the free agency pool. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that the Yankees must get a good defensive catcher with some pop that falls accordingly to their budget. And that ladies and gentlemen is how you define success.
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