Saturday, June 11, 2011

Preparing for the return of Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer has spent most of the past two months in
Fort. Myers, Fla., on a rehab assignment.
This jab at the AL All-Star voting has a more subtle implication as well: It illustrates how much better Joe Mauer is than the rest of the league's catchers. Mauer has played in nine games this season, and he still leads all backstops in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) year-to-year.

Speculation has Mauer's return to the lineup near -- perhaps as soon as Tuesday -- and that, in turn, has me wondering how the Twins will make room on their roster.

Obviously, one of the two current catchers will be removed from the 25-man roster. I don't know what Rene Rivera's option status is, but I'm sure Drew Butera has options left. It would be easy to clear space off the active roster by demoting Butera.

But there's more to it than that. Mauer is on the 60-day disabled list, which means he's not on the 40 man roster. To put him on the 25 he has to be on the 40, and right now there's no room for him.

If the Twins (a) prefer Butera to Riviera and (b) doubt anyone would claim Rivera, they could designate Rivera for assignment. I think it more likely that they'll waive a pitcher (Dusty Hughes would be a prime candidate) and option out Butera. That will let the Twins keep control of both.

I wish, however, to point out that Butera now has a seven-game hitting streak (yes he does),  including three doubles, a home run, six runs scored and six RBIs. This burst of heavy hitting leaves him with a slash line of .174/.207/.261, which is still pretty pathetic.

Rivera isn't a great hitter either -- if he were. he wouldn't have washed out with Seattle, wouldn't have gone five years between major league appearances -- but he's better than Butera. Butera probably has better defensive skills than Rivera, but Rivera is a good receiver too.

If Mauer's sound, either is an acceptable reserve.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it time to finagle a bidding war between the Yankees and the Red Sox over Scott Baker?