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
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close