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Joe Mauer is fantastic for the Minnesota Twins. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 19, 1983. He was drafted #1 overall in the 2001 MLB Draft by the Twins, passing up a scholarship to play Quarterback at Florida State to stay home and become the eventual face of the franchise. Outside of the hometown deal, the Twins aren’t getting their money-worth in the contract. It’s been a very disappointing season for Mauer and a possible sign of the worst contract in baseball history. There are several contracts that can be viewed as terrible (Bobby Bonilla and Vernon Wells are great examples), but not everyone can hit their 2nd homerun of the season on September 4th and be making $23 million in the same season.
Big money contracts were and have been given to those who showed continued dominance for a long period of time, excluding the Yankees terrible contracts to A.J. Burnett (5 yr/$82.5 million) and Kei Igawa (5 yr/$20 million, plus a $26 million posting fee to get negotiating rights), the likes of Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Roy Halladay, and Miguel Cabrera are at the top with several rotting, overpaid types (Wells, Johan Santana, Todd Helton, Carlos Lee, Barry Zito and Mauer). Wells, Helton, Lee, Santana, and Zito have one thing in common, though – they all were considered elite at their position due to continued production prior to the contracts:
Carlos Lee averaged 29 homers and 100 RBI from 2000-2006 before his deal, Wells averaged 26 homers and 96 RBI from 2002-2007, Helton re-worked his contract to defer money but he had 7 straight elite seasons in the middle of his payday, Santana was 82-35 with 2 Cy Young awards from 2003-2007, and Zito was 102-63 from 2000-2006 with 1 Cy Young.
Mauer was a great catcher from 2004-2009, rating well above averaged defensively. He’s won the Gold Glove each of the last three seasons, he was the Silver Slugger at catcher in 2006 and 2008-2010, and an All-Star in each of those seasons, as well. However, Mauer is different from the guys listed above. He isn’t an elite run producer. He broke out in 2009 and hit 28 homers and drove in 96 runs. If you take that season away, he averages 9 homers and 72 RBI. Granted, his career batting average is .324 and his career on-base percentage is .403, but imagine if Casey Kotchman was getting paid $23 million for the Rays this year. Kotchman is hitting .317/.383/.437 this season with 8 homers and 41 RBI. He is a slap-hitting, on-base-type who plays wicked-awesome defense. Is he worth that type of investment? If he was doing that for 6 seasons, would he have been worth that type of investment? No.
Joe Mauer has shown a lot of things this season: 1) He doesn’t play hurt, 2) He wasn’t worth the money, 3) He needs to move off of catcher to EVER be worth $23 million per season (so he can play 162 games), and 4) You never pay a catcher elite money because if Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, and Ivan Rodriguez didn’t age well (and they ALWAYS hit as elite players), then what was going to become of Mauer. He was bound to fail based on his production leading up to 2009, prior to the breakout, and what he had shown. He totally cashed in on his potential to hit the free market and the Twins fear of losing a homegrown talent. As Mauer mocks Troy Palamalu in shampoo commercials and is the posterboy of video games, he is collecting a check that he can cash. He shouldn’t have ever received a contract worth $184 million from a small-market team. He is going to eventually destroy the franchise…the same franchise that the owner was willing to eliminate on his own several years ago…Target Field isn’t helping the Twins offensively and neither is Joe Mauer, until his contract runs out in 2018.