A couple of weeks ago at my blog (SethSpeaks.net), I vowed not to discuss the Joe Mauer rumors anymore. I was not going to discuss any number of years, or the tens of millions of dollars. So, when a local TV personality talked about a ten year agreement, it intrigued me, but now it is a month later. A week ago when a local radio personality said he had a source claiming that Mauer would sign an eight year contract with two option years at an average of $22 million a year, I didn’t even really acknowledge it. Mauer’s agent was in Ft. Myers. And now Mauer’s agent has left Ft. Myers.
And here we sit, as Twins fans, still not sure what is going on and what is going to happen, if anything.
Let’s fast-forward a month. On April 5th, the Twins will open their 2010 season in California, playing the Angels. Will the Twins have signed their MVP catcher to a long-term contract?
If the answer to that question is No, Twins general manager Bill Smith will be bashed mercilessly. The Twins front office will be called names in the comment section of blogs that may or may not require editing and censorship.
In an offseason that the Twins front office should be very proud of, their Number One priority was to work out a long-term contract with Joe Mauer. Reality tells me that if they do not lock up Mauer, the front office will receive all of the blame.
But should they? Or should the blame be pushed in another direction. Some may want to blame Mauer’s agent, Ron Shapiro, but he is just working for his client. If Mauer wants to sign with the Twins, all he has to do is tell his agent to accept the deal.
How much blame would Joe Mauer get from Twins fans? My guess would be none. How much blame would Joe Mauer deserve? My opinion is that he should get plenty of blame.
Early in the offseason, Mauer claimed that he was not concerned with being one of the highest paid players in baseball. He said he wanted the team to show a commitment to winning. Can anyone say that the Twins have not done that? First, five division titles in eight years shows that not only are they committed to winning, but have an extended track record in doing just that. Second, the Twins front office acquired JJ Hardy in a trade, and then they signed free agents Clay Condrey, Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson.  They have spent money on player development, on the draft, and in international signings in an attempt to ensure winning over extended time.  
So now it is Mauer’s turn to commit. Does he want to play in Minnesota or does he want to make as much money as he can?  Mauer has earned the right to make that decision through his service time and incredible play.
If we get to April 5th and a deal is not done, it is important to remember that it is not the end of the world. In fact, at that point, the risk completely shifts to Mauer himself. And just because he becomes a free agent doesn’t mean he’s going elsewhere.
If a deal is not worked out, I have no problem with fans blaming the Twins front office. I get that. But I would hope that most Twins fans would also be able to realize that at least half of the blame belongs to Joe Mauer himself.
As Minnesotans, and Twins fans, can we find it in ourselves to blame Joe Mauer? I mean, you know, he is one of us, right? At least that’s what The Twins Geek and the Geek Chorus always say. We watched him grow up in state football and basketball tournaments and read about his high school baseball days at Cretin-Derham Hall. We have watched him remain soft-spoken and humble as he quickly was promoted through the Twins minor league system to the big leagues. We watched him win three batting titles, three Silver Slugger awards, two Gold Glove awards and his first MVP.
The Twins have offered him a huge amount of money, for presumably more years than they probably are wise to give. Can Minnesotans blame Joe Mauer if this deal doesn’t get done, or will it be the same old story and we’ll put the entire blame on the front office?
·         If you would like to talk about Joe Mauer and any other Twins-related topics, please join the TwinsCentric Guys at Majors Sports Café in Apple Valley on Saturday (March 13th) during the Twins/Phillies spring training game (noon until To Be Determined). All four TwinsCentric members will be there. There will be drink and appetizer specials for those there for the Viewing Party. There will also be several drawings for prizes, including copies of the Twins 2010 Annual, the SethSpeaks.net Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook, and even tickets to Twins games at Target Field. So, if you can make it, be sure to stop by and talk Twins with a bunch of Twins fans!
·         SethSpeaks.net continues its series of Spring Training Q&As this week with interviews with Nick Lockwood (SS, 9th round pick 2009), Kyle Gibson (RHP, 1st round pick 2009) and Dan Osterbrock (LHP, 8th round pick, 2008).  
·         The TwinsCentric guys are active in the social media world. All four of us are on Facebook, as is Twins Centric. So if you are on Facebook, be sure to add us as friends. And if you are on Twitter, you should follow us at @TwinsCentric, @TwinsGeek, @nnelson9, @OverTheBaggy and @SethTweets.