I want to make you aware of one of the worst “hot takes” I’ve ever seen, but first some background information just so we’re all on the same page.
Joe Mauer spent a decade as a catcher, winning three batting titles and one MVP while making six All-Star teams and snagging three Gold Gloves. Then in August of last season he suffered a concussion from a foul tip to the mask, the symptoms for which remained months later and forced him to move from catcher to first base at age 31.
And now, following an underwhelming first season at first base for Mauer, newspaper columnist Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote something that has me shaking my head after nearly every sentence. Let’s go through it:
What will the Twins’ next manager do about Joe Mauer? Here’s a thought: Let him catch again.
Reminder: He stopped catching last season because of a brain injury.
The reason he was told to pack away his catcher’s mitt was because he kept getting hurt and there was a belief sticking him at first and having him DH would mean fewer injuries and more games played.
To write “he kept getting hurt” without mentioning the specific injury that forced the position change was to Mauer’s brain and was caused by catching seems misleading at best. An alarming number of catchers across baseball have unfortunately also suffered brain injuries caused by catching in recent years.
Well … Mauer played in 113 games and had 445 at bats while still a catcher in 2013. This season, no longer catching, he played in 120 games and had 455 at bats. Yep, a difference of seven games and 10 at bats.
He did manage to avoid another brain injury, which was the entire point. The fact that Mauer spent time on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle–also an increasingly common injury across baseball in recent years–is secondary to his avoiding further trauma to his brain.
Face it, the guy is brittle wherever you play him. So why not let him play where he’s happiest? Maybe he’ll get his batting average back over .300 if he’s not in sulk mode.
Because he suffered a brain injury while catching and catching puts him at further risk to suffer more brain injuries. And perhaps Mauer had a hard time getting his batting average to its usual mark because he suffered a brain injury last season and dealt with headaches, mood swings, sensitivity to light, and other symptoms for months. Twins fans watched a concussion nearly ruin Justin Morneau’s entire career. Also, “sulk mode” is made-up garbage.
As for current catcher Kurt Suzuki, give him a first baseman’s glove and he can rotate between first and DH with Kennys Vargas when Mauer is catching. Or just sit Suzuki when Mauer catches.
So, to recap: Sansevere wants to move Mauer from first base/designated hitter to catcher and move the current catcher, Kurt Suzuki, to first base/designated hitter. What would that accomplish, exactly? They’d both still be in the lineup taking up the same two positions. And the one with previous brain trauma would be at the more dangerous position.
Bottom line here: The new manager has to stop the Mauer coddling and have him catch again.
Bob Sansevere, veteran, high-profile newspaper columnist and radio host, thinks the Twins were “coddling” a player by moving him away from catcher following a brain injury and thinks moving that same player back to catcher is now the best plan. And he literally never mentions the concussion in the entire column.
UPDATE: Sansevere has now edited the original article in attempt to make it less offensive, adding in several new paragraphs and altering others, but barely notes the changes. One such alteration:
News flash: You can suffer a concussion anywhere on the field, including while playing first base.
Seriously. He added that to the original article.