I have always been a huge Twins fan. When I moved away from Minnesota in the 5th grade, the Twins were my way of maintaining my connection to home. My earliest memories are getting the chocolate ice cream at the Metrodome that was served with a wooden spoon. It was a privilege to watch Kirby Puckett, one of the greatest players of the generation, roam center field. I couldn’t imagine going to a game to boo the best player on the field, which is exactly what is happening in Minnesota with Joe Mauer.
Let’s Talk About That Contract
Mauer isn’t the first Twin to have a major contract. Going into the 1990 season, Kirby Puckett signed the richest baseball contract ever (3 years, $9 million, $2,816,667 in 1990). The total Twins payroll that year was $14,602,000. This means Kirby accounted for 19.29% of the Twins payroll. Obviously, this is a lot to dedicate to one player, but when you have a player with the talent and charisma like Kirby, it’s worth the risk. I lived in Minnesota at the time and I never heard a fraction of the outrage at Kirby that Mauer gets.
Now let’s compare Mauer. In the first year of Joe Mauer’s contract (2011), his salary was $23,000,000 on a team with a total payroll of $113,237,000. This represents 20.31% of the teams total salary. Given historical context, the Mauer contract is statistically no different than the Puckett contract (19.29% vs. 20.31%). Booing Mauer because of this is a fan’s right, but given the history of the Twins and superstars, it seems extremely misguided.
Mauer is on pace to be one of the greatest catchers ever.
People like to complain about Mauer’s HR totals, but that’s only a small part of the equation. Did you know that according to mlb.com, if Mauer retired today, he would have the highest batting average of all time for a catcher and second all-time for on-base percentage? That’s amazing. Furthermore, Mauer is only the third catcher ever to win a batting title and the only catcher in the American League to accomplish that. On top of the hitting, he is also a 3-time gold glove winner at the most demanding position on the field.
It’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Mauer to retire as the greatest catcher of all-time. Imagine if the Reds fans boo’d Johnny Bench or the Yankees boo’d Yogi Berra. It would be an embarrassment. I understand the frustration with Mauer being injured the last few years, however, Mauer has played in 29 out of 30 games this year so that shouldn’t be a factor. It’s time fans start appreciating the outstanding aspects of his game.
He’s From Minnesota. He’s one of our Own.
I currently live in Columbus, OH, home to The Ohio State University. Each time a native Ohioian suits up for the Buckeyes, there is an added amount of pride for that player knowing that he could have gone anywhere, but he choose to play for his home state. The same is true for Mauer. Mauer could have easily taken the money and played for Boston or New York. Instead, he chose to stay close to family and play for his hometown team.
Let’s look at this from a purely financial aspect, think of the added tax money Mauer is contributing to the state. At the current rate (7.85% for a high earning single filer), Mauer contributes around $1.8 million dollars a year directly to Minnesota. I don’t know about you, but I know that I didn’t contribute that much last year.
Additionally, Mauer is the present and future of the Twins. The Twins (for better or worse) have gone all-in on Mauer. His contract runs until 2018. If the Twins are going to succeed, Mauer will be a big part of the reason why. Booing a player this will be on your favorite team for the next 6-7 years doesn’t seem like the greatest idea.
If You’re Adamant to Boo, Here are Some Better Options
Scott Ullger – I’m still bitter from an Indians game I was at a few years back when he held the go-ahead run on third when he could have scored easily (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bo…00809160.shtml)
Justin Morneau – Aside from the concussion, here are some of the injuries since 2009: Stress Fracture in his Back, Sore Wrist, Pinched Nerve, Bruised Foot, Left Shoulder and whatever he’s currently on the DL for.
The Twins Medical Staff – See Morneau, Justin for a small example of their work.
Alexi Casilla – I’ll give you three sets of stats, you pick which player you would rather have…..
Player 1 – .252/.308/.643
Player 2 – .248/.325/.650
Player 3 – .257/.303/.681
Player 1 is Alexi, Player 2 is Nick Punto and Player 3 is Luis Rivas…. so when you compare those numbers, Alexi Casilla is inferior to Luis Rivas… if anyone deserves booing….
I understand there is a lot of frustration with the Twins this year, and rightfully so, but my hope is that the great people of Minnesota come to realize what an amazing player they have on their team and start to fully appreciate all the things that he brings to the table, instead of focusing on the few things that he doesn’t.
1990 – Kirby Puckett and Twins Salary Information – http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/14/sp…-rich-man.html
Historical Twins Salary Information – http://twinstrivia.com/salaries-2/
The Ohio State University is one of two universities to have ‘The’ as part of the official title. The other is ‘The Citadel’
Minnesota Tax Rate – http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxe…minnesota.aspx