It would be both easy and logical to tremble and shake at the news out of Minnesota. “Eight years is a long time,” some might say, “especially when those eight years are happening largely at the American League Central’s expense.”
Or, “Man, I wish the Sox had someone worth $184 million.”
Or, “The Twins? Really? The Twins?”
But you know something? There’s no reason to be afraid, or at least no more reason to be afraid than you, like me, probably are every time Minnesota Nice comes up to bat.
For starters, Mauer will be 27 next month, so it’s not like there’s that much more damage he’s capable of doing. What’s he going to do up there in Minnesota, hit .350-something with a perfect grasp on situational hitting while calling great games and developing great pitching staffs out of nothing? I mean, really, why would you ever, uh . . . yeah, maybe he . . um, moving on then.
Did you know that, despite his wizardry at the plate, the Sox, somehow, have managed to contain the Great Mauer? Admittedly, .296/.366/.460 is still a fantastic line, but it’s at least less fantastic than what Ol’ Sideburns has done to the rest of the league. So we have that to celebrate.
But look, it’s eight years as a catcher and eventual designated hitter (or, depending on what happens with Justin Morneau down the line, first baseman), and common baseball logic suggests that, for all intents and purposes, the next four are really the seasons we need concern ourselves with. And yet, Mauer is already a great player, so what else can he really have up his sleeve? With all the upcoming talent and top-tier free agents the Sox will inevitably chase down in a good old-fashioned battle of mid-market clubs, the whole concept of a Silver Slugging MVP will be rendered moot. And remember, while their team may have the best catcher in the game, our team has the best shortstop and the best center fielder.*
That said, we really only wish personal injury on a very specific handful of players and personnel around here, so I’m not going to say “I hope Joe Mauer breaks his leg and returns from injury a shell of his former self.” But if he wanted to, say, walk away from the game forever while still cashing that sweet, sweet Pohlad-endorsed paycheck, I would be okay with that, because then we all win. Except the Twins. Which is the whole point.
All this as the competition busies itself with bold statements about its future, and the Sox make waves through tantrums from recently-departed low-level employees. How embarassing.
(*) Of 1997.