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Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 Team Preview: Catcher

With the roster probably near complete and Twins pitchers and catchers reporting in three short days, I thought I would begin my 2008 Twins Team Preview.

I decided to start behind the plate, with the team's most iconic and now young leader and star, Joe Mauer.

Behind those dark, long sideburns is a very special player. In 2007, in 406 at bats Mauer batted .293 with 7 homeruns and 60 RBIs. But his season like many in his young career was plagued by injuries. Mauer saw action in only 109 games and compared to his batting title season of 2006 last year was considered a bit of a disappointment.

The All-Star catcher suffered a stress facture at the end of spring training, strains to both his left quadriceps, and a left hamstring strain which resulted in a month-long stint on the disabled list.

Being a leader on a young squad, it will be critical for Mauer to be healthy to have his bat in the lineup. Whether he is catching, batting as the DH, or who knows even seeing some time at first base while Justin Morneau DH's the Twins need Mauer to get on base and drive runners in.

As important as Mauer's bat is, with the young rotation in 2008 his glove may be more important. Mauer calls very solid games and his experience will hopefully bring some stability and confidence to the young starters. Mauer truly is an excellent catcher and I understand why Manager Ron Gardenhire wants to keep the young star behind the plate.

There is no doubt Mauer is the new face of the franchise, and in 2008 the Twins will need more than just his pretty face and sideburns.

YOUR OPINION: Do you think Mauer can stay healthy this year and return to his 2006 numbers?

1 comment:

Dan said...

I agree that Mauer is a huge leader behind the plate, and as anybody that studies baseball knows, that's such a huge position to have leadership and experience...

However, we need to get him outta there. He's injury prone already, and four years from now his knees are going to be so shot we'll be left with a shell of the man we have now (slight sarcasm). I really do think he'd be better suited seeing some time in the infield though. Letting Mourneau DH and putting Mauer at first is a possibility, but with his arm strength and natural ability, and this team's problems at the position, I don't think it'd be so horrible to see him at third either.

Or maybe it would and I'm way off the mark, I just love to comment.

Looking forward to the rest of the position previews.