Friday, February 26, 2010

The Catcher Project: A final thought

Monday's print column should have been sufficient wrap-up to this — the idea, after all, was to detail the "case studies" that buttress the conclusions presented in the column.

But having actually written them all up, I see a point as yet unmade, at least explicitly.

One of the running themes through the 14 — or 19, if you include the five I touched on briefly in the "left out" post — has been this: Catch a lot of games in your 20s, and the odds are you won't do much in your 30s.

If the Twins complete this "legacy" extension with Joe Mauer — and they are expected to — they're going to be committed to him well into his 30s. Which means they would do well to avoid breaking him physically.

So far in his young career, Mauer has caught 607 major league games, with a season high of 139. Last season, in no small part because he missed April with his back problem, he caught just 109 games.

That's too few to justify the kind of money the Twins figure to spend on him. And 139 is probably too risky. I'd like to see him limited to 125-130 games caught a season. But in a 162-game season, it's bound to be difficult for Ron Gardenhire to turn to the likes of Jose Morales almost 40 times.


  1. Well done once again. Something that keeps hitting me: most of the early era catchers would have played exclusively day games. MLB has moved to what seems like 90% (yeah that's a guess) night games. Catching is still catching, but not as much sun and usually cooler temps factor in somewhere.

  2. True, but it's probably counterbalanced by today's cross-county flights, repeated time zone changes and irregular hours.

    But then, players of the pre-night ball era created their own irregular hours. I believe Gabby Hartnett died of cirrosis.

  3. We seem to have good and inexpensive catchers to back Mauer up in the future. Morales, Ramos, Ramms. Perhaps a large contract for catching 125 games per year is financially doable for the Twins as the back up would be league minimum.