Justin Morneau said this about Joe Mauer during Monday’s MVP excitement: “The biggest thing now isn’t the money. It’s going to be whether or not he feels we can win every day with the talent we have.”
Morneau was talking, of course, about whether Mauer will sign a new contract with the Twins or choose to make his fortune elsewhere.
Right now, everyone is saying the right thing.
Mauer, especially: “I think it will all work itself out I definitely enjoy playing in front of my family and friends here in Minnesota, and that’s all I know. So can we win here? Yes, definitely, I hope so. And that’s what I would like to do.”
Whether the Twins can afford Mauer was the hot topic of the national media Monday.
As Minnesotans, we have an obligation to remind the outside world of the absurdity of that notion.
The Pohlads can afford anything they want. It’s a question of what they choose to do.
I will not whip the Santana horse (too much), in part because he may be a healthy arm and a leg less than he was with the Twins for the rest of his career. But, in (unfair) hindsight, the best course of action would have been to keep him through 2008, let him walk and take the free-agent compensation that would have come from losing him. It’s a pretty good bet that a surly Santana, pitching a showcase season, would have made the Twins at least one game better than they were that season — which would have meant a division title.
The best course of action with Mauer, obviously, is to get this deal done well before anyone even pretends to play contract chicken. With a new ballpark and a superstar behind the plate, the Twins could actually become a destination team for players who wouldn’t give Minnesota a second thought under the conditions that have existed. Target Field looks to be a player-friendly place, complete with a double-wide corner clubhouse locker for a certain No. 7 and the extra things he carries as a catcher.
If Mauer is happy, he will stay.
If Mauer stays, it will send the right message to teammates and others.
You can fool a guy paying $36 for a ticket. You can’t fool a .365 hitting catcher.
So Joe Mauer is the best advocate that a Twins fan has right now.