Word has come down to us today that our great home-town boy, Joe Mauer, is dealing with “bi-lateral leg weakness”, causing him a lot of pain in his legs, hips, and other parts of his body. He has been placed on the 15-Day Disabled List. Joe had knee surgery during the off-season, and has had knee surgery before as well. He is also a very tall catcher, said to be at least 6’5″ tall. This in itself can put a lot of strain on a young body.
There has been talk for several years, almost since Joe came to the Twins, that he and the team are going to have to confront the issue sooner or later of moving him from catcher to another position. My thoughts, since I think he is dealing with a serious issue in his lower back (possibly a disc issue), are that they need to confront the issue as soon as possible. In other words, immediately. If Joe continues to catch, I think he will injure himself even more seriously, and his great talent will be wasted.
As for this season, he’s on the DL right now. See how he does with rest after a couple weeks. Then start him off easy, let him be the designated hitter in a game or two. See how he does. If it works out, let him DH frequently during the season; his bat is his most valuable talent.
Then they will have to look at finding him a position to play. It won’t be catcher for obvious reasons. Pitcher? He could probably do it, but his bat is too valuable to let him pitch. So where to put him?
First base is probably a pretty obvious position for Joe. He could be a very fine first baseman, but Justin Morneau is showing signs that he may be back from his concussion injury and in fine shape. So barring another injury to Morneau, Joe probably won’t be seeing much time at first base.
Joe is such a fine athlete, he could probably play second, short, or third as well as anybody on the team. With Nishioka out for a few weeks with his broken leg, second could be a place for Joe to try his hand. The Twins could use a good shortstop, too, but Joe’s a bit tall for that position, isn’t he? But then, who said a shortstop couldn’t be tall? Casilla isn’t exactly proving himself to be the worlds greatest shortstop either, so maybe Joe could try that position, too. Danny Valencia is a fine young third baseman, but why should he be immune? Let Joe try his hand over there, too.
How about the outfield? Outfielders can be tall, and it would probably do Joe’s back and legs good to roam around out there. Sure, we have Delmon Young, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Jason Repko already trying to be the everyday outfielders. Can’t they move over and make room for Joe?
Maybe it appears I’m being facetious. But the fact is, Joe Mauer is too great a baseball talent to let him go to waste! I think Joe Mauer could win a gold glove at whatever position they let him play, and I’m not just saying that because of his incredible contract. The guy really IS that talented. I don’t think any position should be off-limits when it comes to finding Joe a spot. (Except maybe pitcher and catcher. And to make him the regular DH would be a waste!)
All I know is, it’s gonna be an interesting baseball season. The Twins will need to find themselves a good catcher somewhere, because I don’t think it’s gonna be wise to let Joe continue there much longer.