Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mauer, Holm and Eli Whiteside

Assuming that the current Joe Mauer diagnosis is correct -- that his "bilateral leg weakness" comes from a viral infection, not from a ruptured disk or Lou Gehrig's Disease or any of the other, life-altering possibilities -- we've had a lot of angst for nothing.

Which is better than having legitimate angst.

I don't, off what is currently known, foresee an imminent position shift for Mauer. Nor do I think it advisable. While Mauer's bat will play at any position, and while he would likely be in the lineup on a more regular basis were he an outfielder or third baseman, his value to the Twins is immensely increased by the fact that he is not only a catcher, but a very good catcher.

The time for a position change will come before his contract expires, but the longer Mauer can remain behind the plate, the more likely the Twins are to get their money's worth out of his contract.


Steve Holm probably
isn't going to match
his career major-
league average.
I heard Ron Gardenhire on the radio talking about his current catching tandem of Drew Butera and Steve Holm. Butera, Gardenhire said, is the better defensive player, but Holm "can swing it."

Holm is likely a better hitter than Butera, but that doesn't make him a good hitter. Yes, his major league average is .264, but that's in just 91 official at-bats. Of more relevance, I think, is that in 500 Triple A at-bats (spread out over four seasons), he's hit .248 -- this despite the fact that most of that playing time has come in the hitter-happy PCL.

Gardenhire's only seen Holm this spring, and Holm hit .400 -- six hits in 15 at-bats, hardly the basis for a sound judgment.

One thing I find intriguing: In 2008, the Twins had a catcher named Eli Whiteside in camp (I remember seeing him catch in spring training that year). Whiteside caught that season for a month in Triple A for the Twins before being released, then moved on to San Francisco, where he won the backup job in 2009 and has held it since.

One of the guys Whiteside beat out for the job: Steve Holm.

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