Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully 2011 will give me more to blog on, but seeing that Bill Smith is in hibernation right now it has become hard to write things. So my apologies for the lack of posting lately. Anyway...
One of the things I have been pondering lately, is where our expectations lie for our superstar catcher Joe Mauer. Mauer, 27, is coming off what some believe to have been a down year hitting .327 with 9 HR and 75 RBI. Not exactly what we had hoped for following his 2009 (.365, 28 HR, 96 RBI) MVP season.
Now Mauer enters into his new 8 year, $184 million contract. And with that will bring much higher expectations. But realistically, what more can you ask from Mauer. He is a gold glove and silver sulgger winning catcher. He is without a doubt, the face of the franchise. Numbers wise, its hard to add to what he normally does in a given season. And with Target Field playing as a pitchers park, we might never see the same home run numbers from Mauer that he posted in 2009 (The final season in the Metrodome). In 2009, at home (Dome), Mauer hit .388 with 16 HR and 53 RBI, while posting a ridiculous 1.111 OPS. Flip the page to 2010 (Target Field), Mauer hit .314 with 1 HR and 29 RBI and saw his OPS dive to .812.
Do keep in mind that with those numbers, Mauer battled various injuries in 2010 that noticeably kept him off the bases more than anyone would of liked. And also keep in mind, that Justin Morneau missed the last half of the season, so Mauer was more exposed and pitched more carefully. But still, Mauer was able to drive the ball. But despite his numbers recession, he did manage to crank 43 doubles compared to 30 in 2009. Problem is, he now plays in Target Field. And the home run has become a rare thing to see (For Joe at least). So now people think of Mauer as a home run hitter, which to me, is just going to be a letdown. Because Mauer should continue to be that great average hitter, but those days of hitting 25+ long balls are gone. And if you think he is over paid because he doesn't hit the long ball. Please take a closer look at what he does. He handles the pitching staff like no other, is a team leader, and hits better than most catchers ever have.
Out of this $184 million contract, I would like to see Mauer keep doing what he has done the past 5 years. Get on base consistently for the big bats behind him, remain a gold glove caliber catcher, and possibly win some October games! We all got what we wanted when Mauer signed this extension. He will be a Twin for the rest of his (what should be) hall of fame career. And to me, I hoped they gave him whatever he wanted to stay here. Because losing him was unthinkable. And he did stay. But now comes the big contract with the big expectations. The 2009 power numbers are long gone. And with this new contract, you should expect Joe Mauer to post numbers along his career average every year (.327, 16 HR, 81 RBI). And I fully expect him to play catcher for the majority of this contract. And if he follows suit, I have no complaints. But the question is...Will you?