Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Who's the decider?

Joe Mauer's concussion has revived the speculation
about a position switch — and the departure of Justin
Morneau opens first base.
I certainly can't claim to have heard everything Terry Ryan has said in his myriad interviews during the past week.

But I've heard enough to draw this inference: The Twins still view Joe Mauer as a primary-position catcher, and they won't change that view until Mauer tells them he thinks he should switch.

I hope that overstates the case. Ryan is hardly likely to announce a Mauer position switch without the player signing off on it first. Even if the consensus of the entire brain trust believes this is the time to move Mauer to a less rigorous position, the move would need the player's buy-in to be effective.

But if the team is indeed going to wait for Mauer to take the initiative, that seems to me a mistake. Players are generally the last to acknowledge the deterioration of their skills, at least for public consumption.

And make no mistake: when Mauer becomes a full-time first baseman, or right fielder, or whatever position he moves to when he moves away from catcher, it will be an acknowledgement that baseball's most physically challenging position is eating away at Mauer's ability.

As I see it, there's still a logical case to be make to keeping Mauer behind the plate. There's also a logical case to be made for moving him now. I've always come down in the past on the side of Mauer as a catcher. Today, I'm not sure which is the wiser decision.

And Mauer certainly has a role to play in making that decision. But it can't be his alone.


Here, by the way, is the link to my Monday print column on the Morneau trade.

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