One of my favorite pastimes is taking credit for things I have little or nothing to do with, so I'm pretty sure that Joe Mauer's contract extension is a direct result of me wearing my "Long Live Chairman Mauer" t-shirt all day on Sunday.
I've also noticed there are a lot of haters out there. Said haters seem to fall into two camps:
1) Those who are jealous that Mauer will never play for their team.
2) Those who think we spent too much and therefore disagree that the Twins signing Mauer is a positive sign not only for the Twins but for small market teams in general.
To (1) I would say - meh. Too bad for you.
To (2) I would say - yes. It's an expensive contract, there's no denying that $184 million over 8 years is a whole lot of money. As my esteemed colleague pointed out, this is a Yankee-level contract. While I agree that it's hard to argue that Mauer took a Hometown Discount, it's also hard to argue that the Yankees (or the Red Sox, etc.) wouldn't have offered him more.
It is also true that the Twins currently have the advantage of a new stadium and the revenue streams that come along with it, and are therefore in a better position than other small-market teams to afford to keep their star player. Still, $23 million is a lot for any small market team to spend on one player, and it shows that the Twins are willing to make some sacrifices to keep a player they really care about.
I won't lie - I'd become a little disillusioned with Major League Baseball. Small markets with excellent management and great players (MN, St. Louis, etc.) were starting to seem like glorified farm systems for...certain teams whose names start with Y and rhyme with Stanky. We watched it happen with Torii, and with Johann, and it felt like the powers that be didn't care at all about having a winning team or, perhaps more importantly, about goodwill with their fans. Signing Mauer, even though they likely have to make some sacrifices in order to do so, indicates otherwise.
Imagine the fan reaction if the Twins had let Joe go. I would have even had a tough time making it to Target Field this year, and that's saying something. Signing Joe was expensive, but the opportunity cost of making legions of fans feel betrayed could have been much worse, and the goodwill gained by signing him is invaluable.
I'm starting to feel like we're the victims of some bizzare Tommy John curse. Maybe Bill Smith has been using the numbers for their draft picks? Either way, we're three for three in 2008, 2009 and now 2010, losing a key member of our pitching staff every year to Tommy John surgery. Something, as the melancholy dane would say, is rotten in the state of Lutefisk.
THE OPPORTUNITY COST
And finally - as much as I hate to say it - the other opportunity cost. I'm worried that signing Joe, as great as it is, does not bode well for our ability to hang on to a certain shapely-buttoxed Canadian. If we're spending this much on Joe, our chances of being able to afford Justin when the time comes are not that great.
OK happy note.
YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!! Joe Mauer saves baseball!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!