Saturday, January 26, 2013
Twins need Mauer to catch more
Joe Mauer is already the Minnesota Twins' most valuable player. Now he's looking to make himself even more valuable next season.
Mauer said he's planning to catch more frequently in 2013 than he did last season. In 2012, the former American League MVP caught only 74 games, with the rest of his time coming at first base and designated hitter.
Part of the reason for that was to keep Mauer fresh after he'd dealt with a mysterious bi-lateral leg weakness in 2011. Another factor was that Justin Morneau, the Twins' regular first baseman, was still dealing with various injuries and the fallout from numerous concussion-related problems.
Question is, why change something that worked so well? Last year, Mauer played in a career-best 147 games and hit .319 with an AL-best .416 on-base percentage.
Despite the potential risks that could come with putting Mauer behind the dish more, the 29-year-old insists he's back to full health and can handle an increased role as catcher. For now, GM Terry Ryan said the goal is to target 120 games for Mauer.
Having Mauer at catcher allows the Twins to put their best lineup on the field. Morneau, who's also returned to health, can return to being the everyday first baseman, while Ryan Doumit, who split catching duties with Mauer in 2012 and hit .275 with career-highs in homers (18), doubles (34) and RBIs (75), can plan on holding down the DH spot. Considering the lack of quality hitters elsewhere -- particularly up the middle, at second base, shortstop and centerfield -- Minnesota needs Mauer, Morneau and Doumit playing together as much as possible.