Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Everytime I write something nice or even neutral on Joe Mauer, I get emails. Oh, I get emails. Mostly from people telling me he's overpaid.
Well, if he is overpaid, it's not by much.
There are two ways of assessing a veteran player's monetary value. One is anecdotal. Talk to people in the game. They said Mauer would have made a killing as a free agent had he become one. Can you imagine what the Red Sox would have paid for a potential Hall of Fame catcher in his prime with a swing that might produce 50 doubles a year off the Green Monster, and who would constantly be on base in front of their sluggers? Probably $25 million a year. And all quality free agents end up being paid more than their actual value, because the bidding becomes a competition between super powers.
So Mauer is certainly worth $23 million anecdotally.
In terms of statistical valuation, I always turn to the great site Fangraphs.com, which calculates the obective value of a player.
Here is how Fangraphs values Mauer, year by year, since 2006: $23.1 million, $12.7 million, $26.6 million, $34.5 million, $21 million, $6.1 million and $21.2 million. This year, he is valued, so far, at $21.5 million.
Obviously, when he doesn't stay on the field, he's not worth the money, which is why 2011 was such an abomination.
When he is on the field, he's worth about what the Twins are paying him. Factor in that the Twins signed him in part to keep his contract status from ruining the opening season at Target Field, and he was an incredible bargain from 2006 through 2009, and the Twins and their fans have little to complain about other than the mystery ailments of 2011.
Mauer's real problem is he plays for a bad team. He doesn't have people on base ahead of him, and he doesn't have people who can drive him in batting behind him. He's not as valuable as Miguel Cabrera, but he's more valuable than the great majority of players with big-money contracts.
He's also the Twins' only above-average position player. He's not the guy you should be complaining about.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd & Dubay. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
My list of Twins players who might be traded:
1. Justin Morneau: It makes sense to trade him. The Twins can't make a qualifying offer of about $14 million to an aging player who hasn't regained his power since his concussion in 2010. If they're going to let him walk away and get nothing in return, it makes sense to deal him now.
But how much can be bring in return? He's had a horrible month. I asked Twins general manager Terry Ryan if he would trade a player he expected to lose for the highest bidder, or whether he would have to get something he liked in return. He said, ``The latter.''
At the time of this writing, my impression is that the Twins are trying to deal Morneau but haven't gotten an offer they like.
2. Ryan Doumit: He fits the team well but could be replaced by Chris Herrmann, who has impressed in his limited big-league time as a similar player. He probably wouldn't bring much in return but could be of use to a National League team as a bench player.
3. Jared Burton: Has value as a power righthanded arm, but is signed through next year. It might make more sense to keep him until next year. If the Twins are surprisingly good, he'll be valuable as a pitcher. If the Twins tank again, Burton might be able to reestablish his value and be traded next July.
4. Glen Perkins: They don't plan to trade him. He doesn't want to be traded. They know they can keep him around for a reasonable price in the future, because he wants to keep commuting from Lakeville. I'd trade him only for a front-line pitcher or top pitching prospect, someone who projects to be an ace or a quasi-ace.
5. Jamey Carroll: He's a pro, but the Twins are going to have lots of utility infielders in the future. If you can get something for him, trade him. But that's unlikely.
6. Clete Thomas: Outfield version of Jamey Carroll. If the Twins traded Thomas, they could call up Oswaldo Arcia, who is tearing it up at Class AAA.
7. Mike Pelfrey: Was surging until giving up four runs in the third inning to the Royals on Tuesday night. Might not be a market for him.
8. Kevin Correia: Probably can't get much for him. The key here is whether the Twins think he can provide quality innings next year. If they think he can survive a second year in the American League, it would be wise to keep him around. If they think his recent slump is due to the league catching up to him, then moving him would be smart, if it's possible.
9. Brian Duensing: Pitching version of Jamey Carroll.
10. Samuel Deduno: Keep him. Might be the ace of the 2014 staff.
I've been told by several Twins officials that there isn't a lot of demand for the players they're willing to deal, although that can change quickly. This is why the Twins are having a third straight lousy season: Their roster just isn't very good. The only Twins who could be traded for a franchise-altering player or players are Joe Mauer, who has a no-trade clause, and Perkins, who is an affordable All-Star.
Ryan has excelled at minor deals in the past, landing players like David Ortiz and Johan Santana in trades that didn't draw much attention at the time. But it's hard to replicate miracles.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon every weekday. Scott Korzenowski will be my new co-host on Sunday Sports Talk. We'll be at the 3M Championship Sunday, starting with the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30, then our shot 10-noon.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Scott Diamond allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday, and it could have been worse. Clete Thomas saved a home run and Aaron Hicks made a diving catch of a line drive in centerfield.
In fact, those two plays preceeded a stretch of five batters that knocked Diamond from the game, a walk, single, single, popup and bases-clearing triple in the fifth.
I spoke with Twins' pitching coach Rick Anderson about Diamond after the game. Diamond has failed to contribute a quality start (six innings or more and three earned runs or fewer) in seven of his last eigth starts.
``He's inconsistent right now,'' Anderson said. ``He'll throw a good curveball, then he'll try to throw one that's even better, and it will just spin up there. He needs to get back to throwing strikes early in the count.
``I called down and asked (bullpen coach) Bobby Cuellar, `Is this the same guy we saw warming up earier?' Scott just has to relax and have some fun with the game.''
Although the Twins don't have any pitchers at Class AAA they consider worthy of an immediate callup, they could find a way to give Diamond a break from the rotation. They could always use a long reliever for a spot start if they think Diamond would benefit either from a mental break while in the big leagues, or if they think he needs to work on his pitches in the minors.
I think Diamond could return to being a good big-league starter, but he falling behind in the count right now, and his stuff isn't good enough to allow him to pitch in those situations. He has to get strike one, then turn to his breaking pitches and try to get hitters to at pitches down in, or out of, the strike zone.
``He's just trying to do too much right now,'' Anderson said.
Bits: Joe Mauer's eight-game hitting streak ended on Sunday. He hit .483 during the streak...Justin Morneau's slugging percentage fell to .405. That's going to dampen his trade value. I wrote the other day that the Twins need to trade him, but they won't get much...Brian Dozier leads all big leaguers with 18 doubles since July 1.
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon every weekday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 on Thursday.
He has at least one hit in his last eight games at Target Field, hitting .423 in that time. He's hitting .424 at Target Field in his last 16 games with a .521 on-base percentage.
He's hitting .378 at Target Field this season. Entering last night's game, he ranked second in the AL and third in baseball in home average.
He's hit only two of his six home runs at home.
The dimensions of Target Field, with a deep leftfield fence, limit his power production.
The Twins are 29-34, and I'm not sure how their record is even that good.
Their rotation hasn't been good enough. Their fielders lack range. They don't have speed to create runs. They have only one true home-run hitter on the team, Josh Willingham, and his 10 home runs are offset by the slump that has reduced his average to .214.
The bullpen has been the team's strength, but the bullpen tends to be most important for good teams that frequently attain leads.
Wrote about closer Glen Perkins for the Friday paper. He's a Sabermetrician who doesn't think Sabermetrics properly appreciate the way a bullpen should be set up in real life.
Ben Revere, who had four hits last night, is hitting ..319 in his last 35 games.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.
P.J. Walters is now the Twins' ace.
Seriously. The guy is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has shown the aptitude known in the big leagues as ``pitchability.'' Tuesday, he limited Philadelphia to one earned run in 7 1/3 innings by throwing his breaking pitch as slow as 73 mph. ``That makes his fastbal look like it's about 95,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Justin Morneau (the subject of my Friday column) went 3-for-4 with the game-winning hit, and Jamey Carroll broke out of a slump with two hits and a walk, and Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save and lowered his ERA to 2.66.
But there were a few mistakes that shouldn't happen on a major-league diamond.
Brian Dozier ran into a doubleplay in the fourth inning, ending a rally that had already produced two runs. He was on first with one out when Clete Thomas hit a chopper to second and ran into the tag so the Phillies could turn an easy double play, preventing the runner on third from having a chance to score.
Shortstop Pedro Florimon has looked good compared to many of his teammates this season, but he made a low throw that was ruled an error on Morneau when the ball went under Morneau's glove, and was playing Ben Revere up the middle when Revere's single went into leftfield to produce a run.
Miss Aaron Hicks? You should. While Clete Thomas made one spectacular catch on Tuesday, he couldn't get to two balls that Hicks routinely catches.
Sometime in the next two years the Twins hope to field an outfield of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia made a fine running catch in left on Tuesday. Hicks is an outstanding centerfielder, and Buxton could become the best centerfielder in the game.
Spoke with Morneau before the game. He's gone 168 plate appearances without a home run ,and he admits it bothers him. He was gracious when speaking about it. That column will be in the Friday paper on on the web site.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow.
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