Sunday, April 4, 2010

Joe Mauer's Contract is Worth the Risk

In 1989 the Minnesota Twins fans feared the lost of the team’s best and most loved player; the man who had helped the Twins win their only World Series title. Fans were convinced the Twins would not be able to win another title without him. The Twins signed superstar Kirby Puckett to contract that made him the highest paid player in baseball at 3 million dollars per year. Fans rejoiced, and Kirby Puckett did indeed lead the Twins to another World Series title in 1991.

Puckett’s contract was again up after the 1992 season. Now even more loved than before, Puckett was seen as the player that could not leave. He almost did, but after some wrangling a 5 year 30 million dollar contract was signed. Fans rejoiced again. Kirby Puckett would be a Twin for life and more winning was ahead.

That was not how things turned out. Kirby Puckett was hit in the eye with a pitch at the end of the 1995 season and never played again. The Twins did not have a winning season again till 2001.

The example of Kirby Puckett shows the promise and the peril of signing even the best and most popular players to big money long term contracts. Puckett was a great player who was universally love and highly durable. He had never been on the disable list till 1995 when his career came to a stretching halt.

I thought about this when I heard the Twins signed Joe Mauer to an 8 year 184 million dollar contract extension. Joe Mauer is the best player in baseball. He will likely been seen as greater than Kirby Puckett. He is more popular. Joe Mauer is from Minnesota. He more than universally loved, he is ionic. The Twins had to sign him. He had to finish his career as a Twin and yet…

This years Twins team is the best on paper since 1991. Even with the lost of closer Joe Nathan many people think this team can win it all. The Twins are moving into their new, higher regarding home of Target Field. I like many fans cannot wait to see the Twins play there. To open Target Field without so be free agent Joe Mauer signed to a contract extension would have been problematic to say the least and yet…

Like Kirby Puckett in 89 and 92 Joe Mauer deserved the money he has received. He is that great. I believe Joe Mauer can lead the Twins to a World Series title. I believe he will be one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He will be the greatest Minnesota Twin of all-time. I also believe Joe Mauer can easily get hurt and stick the Twins with a huge contract and nothing to show for it.

So the question is would I have signed him if I were running the Twins? The answer is yes. Why? Because the rewards outweigh the risk; Joe Mauer is too good, too popular. If he were to left the Twins would not have the chance to win the World Series. Morneau, Span, Kubel, etc are good players, some great, but they are not at Joe Mauer’s level.

Yes, Joe Mauer could get injured, but he also could his .400 win multiple MVP awards and lead the Twins to multiple titles. Sports teams have to go for it when they can. Joe Mauer is a once in a lifetime talent.

Even with his $23 million a year salary the Twins probably have another $75 million to spend on rest of the team thanks to addition revenue from their new ballpark. That $75 million is what their payroll was last in year which was the highest it has even been.

The Twins have the chance to do something special like 1991 they must go for it.