Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Playing the “what if” game with Joe Mauer

Image (1) mauer%20bat.jpg for post 4020

It’s Mauer day. In addition to this morning’s piece, USA Today ran a scary “what-if” article about the 2001 draft when, as most of you know, the Twins had to choose between Mark Prior and Mauer, with most people at the time thinking that Prior was the better choice. That’s certainly changed now:

The Twins made the pick that perhaps forever changed franchise history. Mauer won the American League MVP last year and is a three-time batting champion and two-time Gold Glove winner. He is considered one of the finest players in the game. Prior won 41 games his first four seasons with the Cubs, but just one game since 2005, and is now out of baseball. He still is battling shoulder woes and is home in San Diego trying to resurrect his career . . .

. . . “You look back, and wow, it would have been a whole different things going on if we had not taken Mauer,’' [Mike] Radcliffe said, “and taken the other guy. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if we didn’t.’'

Hindsight obviously makes the choice a no-brainer, but hindsight could make it less of one if we think about it a bit. For example, what would have happened if the Twins had taken Prior and, instead of abusing him like Dusty Baker and the Cubs did, they brought him along slowly and carefully? Maybe he still gets hurt -- we’re still kind of guessing what pitcher abuse truly means -- but maybe he turns into that Tom Seaver v.2.0. Likely? Eh, probably not, but the point is that every point of historical divergence throws hundreds if not thousands of variables into play. Think George Bailey not being born times 1000 and then cut Mark Prior some slack.

But if you insist on living in a what-if fantasy world when it comes to Joe Mauer, you can just start reading the Colorado Springs Gazette, because they’ve got the market cornered on that stuff:

Imagine Joe Mauer catching and hitting in the middle of the Rockies order next to Troy Tulowitzki for the better part of the next decade. Crazy talk? Yes. It is wild speculation and, as far as I know, a thought that hasn’t been entertained by anyone in the Rockies front office. But it’s not as far-fetched as it seems . . .

You can probably guess where that’s heading. It’s the flipside of what Yankees and Red Sox fans say about the guy. Instead of expecting to get him because they’re entitled, the writer here thinks they should get him because, gosh, wouldn’t that be great!

Please, Minnesota, sign Mauer already and return us to the land of certainty.