Souhan: With Morneau gone, it's time for Mauer to move to first

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 2, 2013 - 12:45 PM

Morneau, Pinto moves will smooth the way for a transition.

hide

Joe Mauer should get used to wearing that first baseman's glove.

Photo: Paul Sancya, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Even if the Twins hadn’t traded Justin Morneau and called up Josmil Pinto this weekend, they would have been forced to muse over about the future of Joe Mauer.

This weekend’s decisions made the path clear as a manicured base path.

Mauer’s difficulty in recovering from a concussion is the latest and strongest reason to move him from catcher to first base. Without Morneau on the roster to block him, it’s time for Mauer to become a new-age Rod Carew.

The Twins will speak kindly of Morneau and leave open the possibility of re-signing him this winter, but he no longer fits, even if he wanted to return. He hasn’t hit 20 home runs in a season since his 2010 concussion, and the Twins hope to be forced to find playing time in the future for Byron Buxton, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Chris Parmelee, as well as Mauer.

The promotion of Pinto, who performed well at Class AA and AAA this season, should make the transition for Mauer even easier, if the Twins are wise enough to move him to first.

Pinto should be given an opportunity to be the Twins’ starting catcher next year. He’s 24. He can hit. He has a strong arm. Mauer can’t catch without risking further concussions. Writing down next year’s Opening Day lineup just became much easier.

Even if the Twins wanted to force Morneau or Parmelee into the lineup, they could use either at DH.

It’s time to move Mauer to a position that will allow him to stay in the lineup every day. The argument against this is that Mauer can only provide value under the parameters of his contract if he is a catcher.

That’s nonsensical. The Twins spent $184 million on Mauer for a variety of reasons, including the marketing of a new stadium and his status as a homegrown MVP, and that money is gone. It’s guaranteed. Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire need to put the best possible team on the field, and keeping Mauer in the lineup is more important than keeping him behind the plate.

At Class AA and AAA this season, Pinto hit .309 with 15 home runs, 74 RBI and a .400 on-base percentage. If he’s not ready to play in the big leagues now, he may never be.

Chris Herrmann has proved he can be a good backup catcher and utility player this summer. He and Pinto should be able to handle catching duties. With fresh legs, Mauer may again hit .365.

Mauer is not recovering quickly from this concussion, and he will never be able to avoid foul tips and home-plate collisions while catching. It’s time to move him, and if the organization deems Pinto unready to replace him, there is one other, bizarre-yet-logical option behind the plate:

His name is A.J. Pierzynski.

Pierzynski signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers this winter. The Twins could use his durability and competitive at-bats, but what they really need is his personality.

For the last three seasons, the Twins haven’t just been awful. They’ve been lifeless.

They need a player in the clubhouse who hates losing in a demonstrable way. For too many current and recent Twins, Target Field is not a ballpark, it is an ATM with lockers.

There is one other player who should have arrived in the Twins’ clubhouse on the same day as Pinto: Miguel Sano.

What the Twins should learn from Hicks’ awful rookie season is that he should have been called up last September. His first big-league at-bat should have come batting ninth against some middle-of-the-rotation Royal, not batting leadoff on Opening Day at Target Field against Justin Verlander.

Sano will make it to the big leagues next year, which is why he should be at Target Field this September. There’s no reason to wait now.

The Twins need Sano in Minnesota to acclimate, Pinto to replace Mauer and maybe even Pierzynski as an espresso shot for the a clubhouse that is the baseball equivalent of camomile tea.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Rand: Twins roster upheaval is simply reality

    Monday September 2, 2013

    Remember when the Twins won the AL Central in 2010? Three years later, Joe Mauer remains the only regular position player from that team who is still with the Twins.

  • Newest Twins stand out vs. Rangers

    Monday September 2, 2013

    Alex Presley had three hits and Josmil Pinto two more to back Kevin Correia’s strong outing.

  • Presley doesn’t fit M&M mold

    Sunday September 1, 2013

    ARLINGTON, Texas – After beginning his normal pregame routine Saturday in Indianapolis, Alex Presley noticed his phone said he had...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close