Tag:Joe Mauer
Posted on: November 23, 2009 6:19 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2009 6:27 pm
 

WONDER BOY - Joe Mauer

Wonder Boy Joe Mauer Wins MVP

By: Christopher Torola

 

Minnesota Kid Makes Good On Promise! 26 year old Joe Mauer was named the American League Most Valuable Player today, prompting me to take a brief look at his career to date, as well as a peak into the future.

In the 2001 MLB player draft the Twins used the number 1 overall pick to draft Joe Mauer right out of high school. This was considered by many at the time as an attempt to save money. Mark Prior was tagged as the consensus best player in the draft. Although Joe was a local kid, hailing from St. Paul Minnesota, criticizers of the pick claimed that the Twins drafted Mauer because the team wouldn't spend the money to sign Prior. Some went on to say that they had no intention of signing Mauer, who also had signed a letter of intent to play Quarterback for Florida State University. 

Obviously the Twins were able to sign Joe, and he sky rocketed through the Twins minor league organization and being names Minor League Player of the Year in 2003.

After the 2003 season the Twins traded All-Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants to make way for Joe. A.J., then just 26 years old, was coming off a .312 batting average season. In his first season with the big club, 2004, he played in only 35 games due to a knee injury. Notably he hit 6 home runs that year in just 107 at bats. In spite of the injury, the Twins had seen enough and signed Joe to a multi-million dollar deal on the off season. In 2005 Joe played in 131 games in which he batted .294. The power that look so promising before his injury did not seem to be there, but Joe had an eye for the ball and was able to do plenty of damage with the base hit.

In 2006 Joe had his coming out party. He was selected to his first All-Star game, won his first Silver Slugger Award, and was the first American League catcher to win a batting title... ending the year with a .347 batting average. The Twins rewarded Mauer with another off-season contract. Re-working his deal with the Twins for a reported $33 million through the 2010 season.

2007 was a bit of a down year for Joe comparatively. He has a stress reaction in his leg that caused him to miss some games. It also, caused the Twins to rest Joe on a regular basis. As a result Joe only played in 109 games. He hit for .293 batting average, his lowest average as a major leaguer.

In 2008 Joe played in 146 games, was a starter in the All-Star game for the first time, won his 2nd batting title, his 2nd Silver Slugger and his 1st Gold Glove. This was a Joe's best year for personal accomplishments; however, the team missed the post season by losing a 1 game play in game to the White Sox.

The start to Joe's 2009 season was not a good one. He had off-season kidney surgery that bothered his back as the start of the season was nearing. Mauer ended up missing almost a month of the regular season. With his first swing of the bat this year, Joe sent went into the bleachers. He was on fire his first months back. He was named MLB's player of the month in May. Mauer went on to hit for career highs in home runs - 28, hits - 191, RBI's - 96, and batting average .365. All that in an injury shortened season. 

Joe Mauer and the Twins garnered a lot of national attention towards the end of the regular season, as all the play off spots except the AL Central were already decided. The Twins made an amazing come back to force its second 1 game play in game in as many years.  Although, they were swept by the eventually World Series winning Yankees in the first round, Joe had one of the top years ever by a catcher. As a result he won his 1st MVP trophy today. This to go along with his 3rd All-Star game, 3rd batting title, 3rd Silver Slugger, and 2nd Gold Glove.

With Joe coming up on the last year of his contract, it would be great to see the Twins extend him this off- season. They are opening a new stadium next season, and after letting go of the likes of Johan Santana and Torii Hunter over the last few years, it would be a travesty for Joe to end up playing for another team, especially after the Minnesota fans and tax-payers were promised a bigger budget to go along with a new ball park. Local insiders have been heard saying that the two side are likely to reach a deal this winter. The Twins seem willing to pay the salary, they just may have to offer a few more years onto the end of the contract.

 

Posted on: August 24, 2009 6:29 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2009 11:42 pm
 

Keeping the Faith

Keeping the faith.

By: Christopher Torola


The Twins are only 4 1/2 games out and have plenty of games left to play. That being said, you will have to excuse my morose attitude towards the team last week. 5 straight losing series is a tough pill to swallow. Luckily, all it took was a road split against a good Rangers team, and a road sweep against a bad Royals team to turn my attitude right back around.

Head into this week the Twins start a 9 game home stand that includes games against the Orioles, Rangers, and White Sox. All are winnable games if the Twins' pitching can find a way to stop giving up so many runs. Since the teams last break, they gave allowed almost 6 runs a game (5.9). To put that into prospective, MLB's worst team, The Washing Nationals, has given up 5.1 runs a game in the same amount of games. That is almost a run a games less then the Twins pitching staff.

I do believe that both the bull pen and the rotation are just going through a slump. They won't become world beaters this season by any means, but they are not as bad as the have been playing in the last few weeks. And while the pitching has been struggling, the BATS of the Twins have continued to mash. Joe Mauer is on his way to hitting over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs while maintaining a batting average around .375. If anyone else were to win the MVP it would be a travesty. Delmon Young has even hit 5 home runs in the last 3 weeks.

So here is to keeping the faith that the Twins hot hitting can continue to carry the team while the bull pen and rotation can attempt to right the ship.

 


Category: MLB
Posted on: August 2, 2009 9:40 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2009 10:57 pm
 

.500, is that it for the AL Central?

No Big Moves For The Home Team.

By: Christopher R Torola

The Minnesota Twins are at 52 - 52, 2 1/2 games out of first place. Behind both the Tigers and the White Sox. It looks like a 3 horse race until the end, but most likely one of the teams will drop out of the race before the end. So the question is, Who will join the Royals and the Indians as spectators during the pennant race and play-offs?

The Twins have the easiest remaining schedule, but they did the least of the 3 prior to the trading deadline. They eeked out a trade for Orlando Cabrera, seemingly to appease Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Joe Nathan more than trying to win come play-off time. They need more than anything another starting pitcher. Having lost Kevin Slowey for the season and an uncertainty with Fransisco Liriano's forearm, the Twins will be in even greater need of rotation help as the year goes on. They were also in need of a a 7th-8th inning guy to go with Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares, but failed to do so before the trading deadline passed.

The Tigers and the White Sox both faired better in the battle of the trades. The White Sox got both Mark Kotsay and ACE Jake Peavy to bolster their rosters. The Tigers acquired Jarrod Washburn to round out their rotation. They also have a lot more home games left than the Twins.

I still have faith that the Twins will rally to win the division, but with questionable pitching they will most likely be out quickly come the post season when they have to face off with a team like the Red Sox, who picked up 5 players including Casey Kotchman and Victor Martinez.

Posted on: July 13, 2009 7:21 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2009 11:55 pm
 

Mid-Season Report Cards

Minnesota Twins Mid-Season Report Cards

By: Christopher Torola

The GREAT:

Catcher: Joe Mauer - Games - 64, BA. - .373, R - 49, HR - 15, RBI - 49, SB - 1 

Not only has Joe Mauer been the the teams MVP, he should be on the short list for MLB's MVP award this year. After missing the first month of the season, he has put up amazing numbers. Most notably, his increased power. Given he has one of the best swings in baseball the jump in power does not seem to be taking away from his MLB leading batting average, which if he maintains, will be his 3rd batting title in just 4 years. Add his amazing hitting numbers with his Gold Glove caliber defense behind the plate and we have an overall grade of: A+.

1st Base: Justin Morneau - Games - 88, BA. - .311, R - 59, HR - 21, RBI - 70, SB - 0

Justin is the Twins' other candidate for both the team's and the American League MVP. He has managed to increase his power numbers while also increasing his batting average. Hitting behind Joe Mauer and Denard Span has really helped Justin's RBI numbers as well, as he is on pace for 130 RBIs, a number that should increase being that both Mauer and Span missed significant time in the first half. Maybe the most under-rated part of Justin's game is his steadily increasing defense. He has only one error at 1st this year and plays in almost every game. Although he was not voted to start at 1st in the All-Star game by the "fans", I tend to agree with the players that voted him number 1 at first base, and strongly beleivethat Justin is the AL's best first base men, not an easy task with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, and Kevin Youkilis in the field. Overall grade of : A+.

Closer: Joe Nathan - Innings Pitched - 34 1/3, Wins - 1, Loss - 1, ERA - 1.31, Saves - 23, Ks - 43

Joe Nathan has been one of the, if not the most reliable, closers in all of baseball since taking over the job for the Twins. This year is no exception. Before last year most followers of the Twins, myself included, thought that we would lose Nathan along with Johan Santana and Torii Hunter. When the Twins resigned Nathan to a multi-year deal, they may have made the biggest impact signing of the three. He continues to do an amazing job slamming the door shut in the final inning for the Twins. Overall grade: A+.

The GOOD:

Starting Pitcher: Kevin Slowey - Innings Pitched - 90 2/3, Wins - 10, Loss - 3, ERA - 4.86, Walks - 15, Ks -75

Despite average numbers, Slowey has been able to accumulate an amazing win/loss record. He is 10 - 3 which is tied for 3rd best in the American League with Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver. In the mold of Twins pitchers Slowey has excellent control, averaging one walk every six innings. Although currently on the disabled list, he should be back shortly. His overall grade: A-.

Starting Pitcher: Nick Blackburn - Innings Pitched - 123 1/3, Wins - 8, Loss - 4, ERA - 3.06, Walks - 29, Ks -54

Although Blackburn's record is slightly behind Kevin Slowey, he have been the better pitcher up to this point. He has the teams best ERA, 6th best for starters in the American League. He has been able to go late into games, saving on the bullpen. 15 -17 wins is not out of the question is he continues to command his dominating sinker ball. Overall Grade: B+.

Outfielder: Denard Span - Games - 73, BA. - .292, R - 50, HR - 5, RBI - 31, SB - 16

Span has been the lead off hitter that the Twins have been missing for so many years. He has excellent plate discipline taking many pitches per at bat. In doing so he reaches base at a good clip, as seen by his .387 on base percentage. He also, has speed on the base paths and is leading the team in stolen bases. Pair is excellent stick work with his ability to play all outfield positions with great range and a strong arm, and Denard's overall grade: B+.

Left Fielder/DH: Jason Kubel - Games - 77, BA. - .311, R - 38, HR - 14, RBI - 45, SB - 0

 Kubel has finally stepped up with his bat, proving that he can be the Twins everyday designated hitter. He will likely never be better then adequate in the field since early career knee surgery, his bat has kept him in the line up in most games. He will spell players at left field from time to time but is best served as a masher. He definitely has his splits vs. right and left-handed pitchers, hitting under .200 against leftys with no home runs. Against rightys, on the other hand, he is hitting .351 with 14 long balls,  16 doubles, and 1 triple. Overall grade: B

Right Fielder: Michael Cuddyer - Games - 82, BA. - .273, R - 50, HR - 14, RBI - 47, SB - 4

The biggest step forward for Cuddyer this year may be that he is actually playing. Last year seemed to be a series of fluke injuries for the Twins right fielder. After a slow start, he has been on fire at the plate. He also expertly play's the Metrodome's baggy in right field. With his strong and accurate  arm most opponents have learned not to even try take the extra base on him. Overall grade: B.

The current Twins bull pen: Wins - 5, Loss - 2

The bullpen currently consists of Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Bobby Keppel, Brian Duensing, and R.A. Dickey. Guerrier had been great as a set up man this year. Dickey was able to completely save the teams bullpen pitching in both long relief as well as high pressure close game situations. Mijares has been the Twins left handed specialist. Keppel has been great since coming to the Twins, while Duensing is still to fresh to call. The bullpen as a whole has seen its ups and downs, but the crew currently holding down the fort gets an overall grade of: B-.

3rd Base: Joe Crede - Games - 68, BA. - .234, R - 32, HR - 14, RBI - 40, SB - 0

Crede does not hit for average. He also misses a lot of games due to his back problems. I guess it is good that we knew that when he was signed. He does hit for power, and is top of the line at defending the hot corner. If i were grading him compared to what the Twins have had recently at 3rd, his grade would be much higher. As is, overall grade: C+.

The BAD:

The rest of the Rotation. Scott Baker - 7-7 5.24 era, Fransisco Liriano 4 - 9 5.47 era, and Glen Perkins 4 - 5 4.71 era.

None have wining records. Baker and Liriano were expected to be the 1-2 punch in the rotation. Both have started to pick their games up but will need to improve for the Twins to see the post season. Perkins has been about as good as should be expected for a #5 pitcher. Overall Grade: C.

The UGLY:

Shortstop : Brendan Harris - Games - 76, BA - .275, R - 30, HR - 5, RBI - 26, SB - 0

Harris has had the ability to ride out a couple hot streaks this season, but has also had extended slumps. He is forced to hit in the 2 hole in the line up, but would be better suited as an 8 or 9 hitter. He has a strong arm at short, but is lacking in range. Overall grade : D+.

2nd Base: Nick Punto - Games - 63, BA - .201, R - 26, HR - 0, RBI - 16, SB - 8

While never know for his bat, Punto is barely holding a .200 batting average, which is pathetic for a major league baseball player. He has great defense, and can make many highlight reel stops, but I would argue that his batting short comings outweigh his defensive prowess. Overall grade: D.

Center Fielder: Carlos Gomez - Games - 77, BA - .235, R - 28, HR - 2, RBI - 18, SB - 7

The Twins would love to be able to go 1-2 with Denard Span and Carlos Gomez, but until Gomez learns some plate disipline, he will continue to be relegated to splitting time in the OF with Kubel and Young. A large number of Gomez's games have been as a defensive replacment, so although he has 77 games, he has only 187 at bats. Carlos Gomez has the raw talent, but until he learns how to be a major league hitter, he will continue to be below average. His defense on the other hand is amazing. His year to date grade is low, but should improve as he gets more at bats. Overall Grade: D.

Left Fielder: Delmon Young - Games - 56, BA - .266,  R - 20, HR - 3, RBI - 25, SB - 2

Delmon has seemed lost at the plate since joining the Twins. His power has virtually disappeared. He has been swinging at the first pitch seemingly more often then not. He is still very young and has plenty of talent, but lacks the defensive skill of Carlos Gomez, which will continue to cause him to split at bats with Gomez against left handed pitching. He has not lived up to expectations since being traded for Matt Garza. With more time Young should improve, but I would be very surprised were it to happen this year. Overall Grade: D-.

Posted on: July 9, 2009 7:03 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2009 7:09 pm
 

Thank GOD that's over.

Twins limp away from their series with the Yankees.

By: Christopher Torola

The saddest part about this series, other than the Twins failing to win even one game against the Yankees this year, is it seemed like the Yankees weren't really trying that hard. They made multiple base running mistakes, throwing errors, and didn't hit for power until they were extending their lead in the late innings of the third game. I am not sure what it is about the Yankees, whether it might be the mystique or something more tangible, but the Twins do not play good enough baseball when facing the Bronx Bombers. 

The one great moment in the series was watching gifted young outfielder, Carlos Gomez, make a perfectly timed jumping catch to pull back a would-be grand slam off the bat of Alex Rodriguez. It is also nice that Joe Mauer has enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, which he is currently winning by a landslide. None of which changes the fact that the Twins will have as many wins versus the Yankees this year as Justin Morneau had hits in this series; zero.

Today's game, in my opinion, was even hard to watch. Half of the Twins runs were on bases loaded walks, and a third was a result of a throwing error. To me that says that the Yankees gave the Twins more runs than they earned today, even though they did have to take the walks. I imagine it was even hard for Yankee's fans to watch two teams make so many amateurish plays. Their lone bright spot, other then picking up a game on the Red Sox, may be Mark Teixeira finally ending an almost month long homerless streak.

As of now, the Twins are four games back of the Tigers and two and a half behind the White Sox (who misplaced their minor league starting pitcher today... How do you lose a guy the size of Bartolo Colon anyway?) and are in third for the division.

Posted on: July 6, 2009 8:27 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2009 8:36 pm
 

It took the Tigers 16 innings...

It took the Tigers 16 innings to keep the Twins from tying them for 1st in the division. 

By: Christopher Torola

The three game series the Twins played against the Tigers is what baseball is all about. Each game was relatively close, with the possible exception of Sundays game. It seemed that any mistake a player made at any point was likely to cause your team the game.

The Tigers took the series opener in what was truly a marathon of a game. Kevin Slowey pitched only three innings and gave up six runs, putting the Twins behind right out of the gate. Slowey has since been put on the disabled list, and will have his strained wrist looked at. After giving up a couple runs Tigers manager, Jim Leyland, replaced starting pitcher Luke French with Zack Miner so as not to let the game get away from his team. Miner was able to close out the fifth inning, but only recorded one out while giving up five runs to tie the game. Then in the fourteenth inning, Twins super reliever of June, R.A. Dickey gave up a RBI hit to Placido Polanco one pitch after Poloanco fouled a pitch into his own family jewels. In the top half of the inning Michael Cuddyer hit a RBI single scoring Joe Mauer; however, Justin Morneau got thrown out at third base trying to advance on the throw. Dickey then gave up three more earned runs to Polanco in the sixteenth. The Twins were only able to score one unearned in the top half of the inning, losing a heart-breaker to the Tigers.

Fortunately for the Twins they were able to take the next two games, reducing the Tigers lead in the division to just two games.

Justin Morneau is on a complete tear. He was named player of the week for last week, hitting just shy of .500 and blasting four home runs (including a fountain shot in Kansas City). He was also named to his third straight All-Star game. Although the "fans" selected Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, the players made Justin their top choice.  Joe Nathan, like all pitchers, was selected as one of the coaches picks, and Joe Mauer was picked by the fans to start the game. The only player to receive more votes than Mauer was Derek Jeter, take away what you will from that. Some local fans are upset with the "life-time achievement" pick of Tim Wakefield over over Nick Blackburn, who has lowered his era below the 3.00 mark.

The Twins still have two tough series to get through before the All-Star break though, hosting the Yankees and the White Sox. They will need to play well to hold serve with Detroit, as the Tigers will be hosting the Royals and the Indians.

Posted on: June 22, 2009 9:02 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2009 10:52 pm
 

A home split vs. the NL...

Not good enough.

By: Christopher Torola


The Twins took two out of three from the Pirates and one out of three from the Astros last week. This was a great opportunity wasted. The Twins played two bad National League teams at the Metrodome, and should have faired better. Meanwhile the Tigers went four and two, increasing their lead in the American League Central to four games over the Twins.

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that the Twins have found their power stroke this year; but they seemed to have lost their identity in doing so. They already have five players (Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Crede) with more then 10 home runs. The Twins had only three players reach that mark all of last year. The only problem with this is, they seem to have forgotten how to play baseball. They are not advancing runners, stealing bases, or properly laying down sacrifices. Far too many base hits have been wasted by double plays and runners swinging for the fences and striking out. Worse yet, they seem to be making an abundance of base running errors recently. I noticed a lot of Twins base runners caught in run downs over this last home stand.

 

Some of this can be chalked up to injuries. Both Nick Punto and Denard Span who combined for a third of the Twins stolen bases last year, are currently nursing injuries. Span is on the DL because of an inner ear infection and Nick Punto, who was recently activated, may be heading right back as a result of a head first slide into first base. Joe Mauer missed some time with Flu-like symptoms. Even Twins Iron-Man Justin Morneau missed a game with general soreness.

It is not much longer until the All-Star break. If the Twins can stay strong through the remaining inter-league games, they may be able to take some momentum into a three game series at Kansas City, followed by a tough home stand that will have the Twins playing the Tigers, Yankees, and the White Sox prior to a much needed resting period over All-Star weekend. 

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 16, 2009 2:33 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2009 2:42 pm
 

One For The Road.

Despite a recent slew of injuries, the Twins play .500 ball on the road.

By: Christopher Torola

The Twins just completed a ten game road trip, and came away with as many wins as losses. Not bad considering that Nick Punto spent most of that time on the DL, and during the trip the Twins lost at least some playing time from Michael Cuddyer (finger), Denard Span (dizziness), and Joe Crede (back). If the Twins can win games with only eighty percent of the best players on the field, they should be able to play even better once back at full strength. All that being said, the rest of the American League central played just as well or better over their last ten games, and the Twins are now three games out of first place.

On the road trip where the Twins played the Mariners, the Athletics, and the Cubs; the boys from Minnesota never gave up more then four runs in any of their losses. Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker each pitched two games and had quality starts on all of their outings. If they can keep that up, the Twins should quickly pick up games on the Tigers to sit atop the division. Justin Morneau has not completely broken out of his slump. The most telling stat for him on this road trip is that he struck out seven times and only walked once. As if we need a reminder how good Joe Mauer is playing, as he continues to seemingly hit the ball at will his average actually dropped while getting fifteen hits in forty-two at bats. It also appears that Twin's outfielders Delmon Young (ten hits) and Carlos Gomez (six hit in the seven games he got at-bats) are starting to play their way back to respectability.

The rest of the month is spent in inter-league play (and two games at Kansas City). The Twins will host the Pirates and the Astros this week. Both teams have been playing well their during the last 10 games, but remain tied for last place at the bottom of their division. Taking that into account as well as the fact that the Twins are five and one in the National League Central so far this year, it would seem like a perfect time to pick up some ground on the Tigers who just lost two out of three to the Pirates and are now playing the much tougher Brewers and Cardinals.

It should be an enjoyable rest of the month to watch, as inter-league play is always fun to watch, especially if your a Twins fan.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com