Answering the most frequently asked questions following my Mauer column in the Friday paper:
-Do I hate Joe Mauer?
No. Nothing to hate. He's a nice, polite guy. I don't even hate his contract. He got paid what he could negotiate. I hope to someday be grotesquely overpaid myself. It's actually a career goal. I just don't think his offensive production should guarantee him a spot in the lineup, especially batting third and playing first base.
-Should Mauer be moved to catcher?
It can't happen. Or at least probably won't happen. The Twins moved him because of concussions. They can't ethically move him back for baseball reasons. Unless he begs for the move and doctors approve it, and I doubt either of those things happens.
-How can I criticize Mauer and praise Torii Hunter?
Mauer is underachieving. Hunter overachieved last year. Hunter was also the clubhouse presence the Twins needed to become competitive again, while Mauer remains a quiet presence, at best.
Bringing Hunter back next season may be problematic. You don't to see him spending the season on the bench or getting released. I see him as an ideal fourth outfielder and part-time DH. I think if used properly he can hit home runs and remain a big part of the clubhouse. I also don't know if Buxton will be ready to start the season in centerfield, or whether he'll need more time in the minors to learn how to hit high-level pitching, and I don't trust Aaron Hicks to put together a full season.
I do think my new ideal Twins future outfield is Eddie Rosario in left, Buxton in center and Max Kepler in right.
Thanks for reading, and for all of the responses.
Roy Smalley and I got into Mauer, Hicks, The Big Lebowski, Buddy Guy, the Rolling Stones, airplanes crashing into ballparks and The Dude on our latest podcast. You can find it at MalePatternPodcasts.com or at SoundCloud.com or on Itunes. Easiest way to subscribe is via Itunes or by downloading the Soundcloud.com app.
I'm also doing weekly shows with Michael Russo, Jon Krawczynski, Viking Update's Tim Yotter and my own interview show. This week my show featured local author and motivational speaker Ross Bernstein, who is also a former Goldy Gopher who spent last week with the Colorado Avalanche, helping them prepare for the season. (Wild fans may insert jokes here about Ross' work with the Avs on holding third-period leads.)