Joe “no nickname yet” Mauer is moving to first base next year, rather than risk further injuries behind the plate. Joe’s 2013 season was shortened when he sustained a concussion from a foul tip off the catcher’s mask, and they figure that putting Mauer at first will keep him healthy and in the line up. Well, hard to argue with that. The downside of this is that while Mauer ranks very highly as an offensive force at catcher, he has lacked the home-run swing you traditionally like to see in a first baseman. However his OPS numbers are plenty respectable as a first baseman, and perhaps he’ll hit with more power since he won’t be banged-up from catching.
Mauer’s move to first makes it even more unlikely that the Twins will sign free agent first baseman Justin Morneau, who some might remember as having played first base a bit for the Twins in the past. At catcher the Twins have high hopes for young Josmil Pinto, who hit .342 with four home runs for the Twins in 21 games in 2013. There’s also Ryan Doumit — who also suffered a concussion that kept him from behind the plate at the end of last season.
I wonder if Doumit can play short?
While Morneau is now unlikely to return, (even more unlikely,) former Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett has returned, signing a minor league deal with the club. Bartlett is 34 now (how did that happen?) and last played in the majors in 2012 with the San Diego club. He had a knee injury that limited his play in 2012, and he spent 2013 trying to heal up. As you recall, Bartlett was traded to Tampa Bay along with the pitcher Matt Garza for Delmon Young, who now happens to be back with the Rays. Garza is a free agent currently, and certainly the Twins could use him. Is it crazy to think that the Twins will sign Santana, Santana, and Garza? Yep. It is.
It would be nice to see Bartlett regain some of his old form. With Florimon’s limited offense, perhaps there might be a place for Bartlett, if he’s healthy and capable and regains some significant portion of his misspent youth.
Okay, seriously, Bartlett’s a long shot. And I like Florimon in the field. Bartlett has sentimental value, but he’s a long shot.
There was a great comment on the Twins Daily website about Bartlett’s signing:
“This is the kind of serious move I think we all have been waiting for.”
Well said, jctwins, well said. Funny, but I think not serious criticism.
Joe “The Tower of Power” Mauer? I’m sure somebody’s suggested that all ready. No good.