Twins thinking about using Joe Mauer in the leadoff spot

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Joe Mauer has been hitting well to start the season, batting .308 coming into Sunday’s action, but he has yet to homer and is slugging just .396. The Twins have written him into the number three spot in the lineup all season, but they’re considering a change. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Twins are discussing moving Mauer to the leadoff spot.

“You can go to your sabermetrics experts and a lot of them have him high in the order,” Molitor said. “How that would play in terms of him getting chances to get hits with men in scoring position and do some other things he’s been doing pretty well, I’m not sure. There are some things about that as a consideration. I don’t know if it is something that will happen or not, but we’re looking at various options.’’

Indeed, a Sabermetrically-optimized lineup would likely have Mauer batting first. For instance, using this lineup analysis tool from Baseball Musings (using Twins’ stats entering Sunday), all of the lineup variations that result in the highest runs scored average have Mauer first. There’s no doubt Mauer can hit for a high average, but he hasn’t shown his power stroke since 2013. Without power, the Twins would get the most use out of Mauer moving him from third to first in the lineup. Then, he could use his high on-base percentage to set the table for those who do have power, like Trevor Plouffe.

Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.