Yes, Joe Mauer is worth the long-term risk
Headline in today’s Star Tribune: “Is Mauer worth the long-term risk.”
I play around with headlines sometimes too, but in this case I’m not sure what the answer could be besides yes. And Joe Christensen agrees in the body of the article:
Well, maybe not ten, but if there’s any player you have to give the big, long-term deal to, it’s Joe Mauer. Still, Christensen runs down the risks involved with Mauer and points to guys like Brian McCann, Jason Kendall and Jorge Posada as players with which to compare Mauer. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense given that McCann was way younger when the Braves gave him his much cheaper deal, Posada way older and Kendall not worthy of holding Mauer’s jockstrap-holder’s jockstrap.
The comparison that appears nowhere in the article but, in my mind at least, seems most apt: Mike Piazza. While he was a much better hitter than Mauer, he wasn’t nearly the defensive catcher either. Maybe that washes out and maybe it doesn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is that he, like Mauer, was a franchise catcher, the sort of which with whom, if he was your best hitter, you could win a championship. If the Dodgers had signed Piazza to an eight-year deal after his age-26 season they would have been pretty darn pleased with the results, as Piazza proved highly productive and durable, at least until the eighth year. And he also remained behind the plate that entire time.
I’m not saying you make your decisions based on what the second or third best catcher of all time did, but it’s not like the kind of production the Twins would need from Mauer to make an eight-year deal worthwhile has never happened before. And given that not signing Mauer is guaranteed to alienate your entire fan base, yeah, you take the risk.