It is time once again to announce the Twins Trivia Turkey of the Year award winner and this year it is none other than Minnesota native, former MVP, four-time All-Star and three-time AL batting champion Twins catcher Joseph Patrick Mauer.
The eight year veteran had a season he would like to forget but it was a season that many Twins fans will remember for a long time. It all started in spring training when Mauer once again seemed to prepare on his own schedule. I hung out at the Twins spring training complex on a fairly regular basis and I seldom saw Joe other than on a golf cart riding from the clubhouse to the minor league complex. Mauer only appeared in 8 spring training games and had a total of 20 at bats. Mauer started the season by playing in 9 out of the Twins first 10 games but then the injuries started when he went on the DL on Aril 14 with what was first termed a viral infection and then GM Bill Smith announced that it was “bilateral leg weakness”. There were reports that Joe had lost 15-20 pounds and then the rumors started that Mauer had a “serious” illness. The phrase “bilateral leg weakness” was new and confused everybody but there was no real clarification of Joe’s issues. Joe fianally reappeared on June 17 after missing 57 games. Joe played in his 82nd and final game in 2011 on September 14 and then went on the DL for the rest of the season with what was diagnosed at Mayo Clinic as pneumonia. Who goes to Mayo Clinic to be told he has pneumonia?
Joe played in just 82 games and started behind the plate just 47 times. In his 8 big league seasons, Mauer has started behind the plate 740 times for an average of 93 games per season. Yet, Joe has been hesitant to play else where on the diamond although he did finally consent to playing some 1B (18 times) and appeared in right field in one game this past season.
I know that catching is tough and you are going to need to take a day off now and then, but you need to do what is best for the team if you are pocketing $23 million a year. That means getting your butt in the line-up as frequently as possible no matter what position you play. When I look at Joe Mauer I see a player with Hall of Fame ability but lacking in the durability to get there. Joe has claimed on more that one occasion that no one wants to play more than he does but I only see lip service, show me you want to play Joe! I get the feeling that Joe holds himself to such a high standard that he does not want to play if he can’t play up to his perceived abilities but Mauer has to understand that he is better than most players if he plays at just 80% of his abilities.
Joe Mauer should be the leader and spokesman for this team but he has not filled that role and it does not appear that he will in the short-term unless he really changes his persona. If Joe can’t be the Twins leader in that fashion than he better lead by example, but the $23 million man is not doing that either. I was at several Twins games where the Twins home town hero was booed this past season and he deserved it. Let’s hope that Joe Mauer plays like he can next year and for many years to come because the Twins and we fans need him to step up and show what he is truly made of. In the mean time Joe, enjoy your Twins Trivia 2011 Turkey of the Year award.
Previous Twins Trivia Turkey of the Years awards went to Brendan Harris in 2010 and Glenn Perkins in 2009.