Headline in today’s Star Tribune: “Is Mauer worth the long-term risk.”
I play around with headlines sometimes too, but in this case I’m not
sure what the answer could be besides yes. And Joe Christensen agrees
in the body of the article:
My view is simple: Get it done. Give him a blank check. If he wants eight to 10 years guaranteed? Fine, whatever it takes.
Well, maybe not ten, but if there’s any player you have to give the big, long-term deal to, it’s Joe Mauer. Still, Christensen runs down the risks involved with Mauer and points to guys like Brian McCann, Jason Kendall and Jorge Posada as players with which to compare Mauer. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense given that McCann was way younger when the Braves gave him his much cheaper deal, Posada way older and Kendall not worthy of holding Mauer’s jockstrap-holder’s jockstrap.
The comparison that appears nowhere in the article but, in my mind at least, seems most apt: Mike Piazza. While he was a much better hitter than Mauer, he wasn’t nearly the defensive catcher either. Maybe that washes out and maybe it doesn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is that he, like Mauer, was a franchise catcher, the sort of which with whom, if he was your best hitter, you could win a championship. If the Dodgers had signed Piazza to an eight-year deal after his age-26 season they would have been pretty darn pleased with the results, as Piazza proved highly productive and durable, at least until the eighth year. And he also remained behind the plate that entire time.
I’m not saying you make your decisions based on what the second or third best catcher of all time did, but it’s not like the kind of production the Twins would need from Mauer to make an eight-year deal worthwhile has never happened before. And given that not signing Mauer is guaranteed to alienate your entire fan base, yeah, you take the risk.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.