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    • 533 posts
    November 29, 2018 7:08 AM PST
    The Minnesota Twins have already traded Brian Dozier , Eduardo Escobar, Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, Ryan Pressly and Fernando Rodney, seemingly with little difficulty.It won't be so easy to move their resident All-Star, batting champion and American League MVP.That would be Joe Mauer. According to Mike Berardino ofPioneer Press, the 35-year-old first baseman cleared revocable waivers last week. That means none of Major League Baseball's 29 other teams put in a claim on him.Mind you, this doesn't mean Mauercan't be traded.If anything, it's easier for the Twins to deal him. Had a team claimed him while he was on waivers, the Twins only could have worked out an agreement with that club. They're now free to trade him anywhere ahead of the August 31 deadline to acquire postseason-eligible players.This will take three to tango, however. And the Twins may be the only ones willing to show up for this particular dance.There's a question of whether Mauer would accept a move or exercise his no-trade clause. He's a native of nearby St. Paul, Minnesota, and he indicated in July he would prefer to stay where he is."These types of decisions, I think most people think of just the baseball and not the big picture," Mauer told Berardino. "I have a lot more than just the baseball part. I think I've made it pretty clear over the years where I want to be and what I want to be doing and that really hasn't changed."The Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees are three contenders who could use an upgrade at first base. But none of the three trulyneeds one, and they may be unwilling to reach for one with a salary as big as Mauer's.He's in the final season of the eight-year, $184 million contract extension he signed in 2010, when he was fresh off winning the AL MVP award as baseball's foremost two-way catcher. He's still owed roughly $7 million of the $23 million he's making, per Berardino.That's a lot of money for a guy who doesn't bring much to the table anymore.Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesMauer has become a decentfirst baseman in the years since he moved out from behind the plate in 2014. But he's not the same hitter who posted a .323 average and .873 OPS between 2004 and 2013. In fact , the .705 OPS he has this year is on track to be the worst of his career.Mauer isn't fundamentally broken as a hitter. He still draws plenty of walks (10.5 BB%), and he's still bucking baseball's ever-worsening strikeout trend (14.0 K%). He's also racking up hard contact at a rate that he hasn't since 2010.Mauer is thus proving he's still good for batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.349). The problem, however, is these things aren't good for much without power.Indeed, the veteran'spoweris virtually nonexistent:Mauer's .086 ISO ranks seventh from the bottom among all batting-title qualifiers and dead last among primary first basemen.He's tallied just 21 extra-base hits all season, and just three of those have been home runs. That puts him on track to repeat his 2014 feat of qualifying for the batting title yet finishing with fewer than five homers. Before him, the last primary first baseman to do that was Jose Offerman in 1996.Of course, Mauer has rarely been a big-time power hitter. He peaked with 28 home runs in 2009, and he's never come close to repeating that. And at this point, he sure looks like an old dog who's uninterested in learning a new trick.While many hitters have found extra power by giving in to the launch angle craze, Mauer has barely changed his own:2015:3.8 degrees2016:3.8 degrees2017:5.6 degrees2018:4.5 degreesBy doing so, he's kept the bulk of his batted balls on the ground. That's not a recommended way to hit for power.Jim Mone/Associated PressAs for the fly balls and line drives Mauerdoes hit, he still prefers to send them to the opposite field. That's the toughest direction in which a hitter can try to clear the fence, and Mauer isn't getting better at doing so with age. The one opposite-field homer he has this year accounts for just 2.5 percent of the fly balls he's hit to left field.To boot, outfield shifts appear to be taking away other extra-base hits. According to Baseball Savant, he's slugging just .667 on fly balls and line drives against "strategic" outfield alignments. That's his lowest mark in the four-year Statcast era."Right now, it's probably tougher to be a hitter than any time at any point in my career," Mauer conceded to Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.If a team is going to take a chance on a hitter like this, it won't be as a $7 million experiment. The Rockies, Mariners Cheslor Cuthbert Jersey , Yankees or whoever would have to convince the Twins to eat some money.But that might not get it done. Even if Mauer is willing to waive his no-trade clause, the Twins may not agree to eat any of his remaining salary unless they get a real prospect or two back. A Mauer experiment isn't necessarily worth that price.Ultimately, Mauer is probably stuck where he is, and maybe that suits him just fine. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant. NEW YORK (AP) — At first, the New York Mets reached out to Brodie Van Wagenen simply for recommendations.Preparing to begin a general manager search last summer, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon already had a long relationship with Van Wagenen and figured the powerful player agent could offer some quality candidates thanks to his vast network of contacts developed during nearly two decades of negotiations.Turned out, the more they talked, Wilpon started to think Van Wagenen himself was the right man for the job — despite his unorthodox background.And when Wilpon late in the season suggested Van Wagenen switch sides at the bargaining table to take over the Mets’ baseball operations, Van Wagenen was intrigued. They discussed all the parameters over a private breakfast, and an atypical idea soon became a reality.“I recognize I am not the path of least resistance,” Van Wagenen said Tuesday.At a crowded news conference in a sprawling club area on the fifth floor of Citi Field, the 44-year-old Van Wagenen was introduced as the 13th general manager in Mets history. Given a four-year contract, he vowed to bring a winning culture of positivity to a stumbling organization coming off consecutive losing seasons.“I intend for players to be the priority of this franchise going forward,” Van Wagenen said, wearing a necktie in Mets blue and orange. “We have a lot of work to do in the coming days and weeks to build a championship roster and to put a good process in place for good decision-making. But I want to assure all Mets fans that every person in this organization will be fearless and relentless in our pursuit of greatness. Everyone will be working together in this effort.”Wilpon called the GM search exhausting. He said it began with a list of about 40 names that was narrowed to 10-12 candidates and then three finalists. And he detailed why he and his father, Mets owner Fred Wilpon, chose Van Wagenen to replace Sandy Alderson and build a “sustainable” winner.“He’s a leader. He’s organized. He’s going to be collaborative with our entire staff,” Jeff Wilpon said. “He’s got a plan. He’s got a deep analytic background. He’s got deep scouting background. He finds players before we even get to see them in the minor leagues and things. His player development and scouting will be tremendously important to the entire organization.“He’s going to bring some excitement. He’s going to bring a different look at things than we’ve had from traditional GMs,” the COO added. “We’re really energized by this.”Van Wagenen represented big names all around the majors Brian Flynn Jersey , including Mets stars Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier. Seven players on the team’s current 40-man roster are clients at CAA Baseball, where Van Wagenen was co-head after co-founding the division in 2006.And that number doesn’t even include another now-former Van Wagenen client, Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow — the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and ex-NFL quarterback.Jeff Wilpon said he spoke with the commissioner’s office and players’ union chief Tony Clark about the hire, and there are provisions in Van Wagenen’s contract “to deal with any conflicts of interest.”Van Wagenen, who had to give up his career as an agent to take the Mets job, said he has divested his interests at CAA. He said he kept clients apprised of his plans throughout the process, and many were supportive and enthusiastic about the “fresh perspectives” he could bring to a major league front office.But when buzz began to build about Van Wagenen flipping labor-relations roles, some players and rival agents did express concern.“Some decide to use situations as a platform for their own self-benefit, but I’m not concerned with those people,” he said.His switch is not unprecedented.Dennis Gilbert, Rick Hahn, Jeff Moorad and former big league pitcher Dave Stewart previously made the move from baseball agent to front-office executive. NBA general managers have done the same. NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum, vice president of football operations for Miami, worked as an agent between jobs with the Jets and Dolphins.“Tony Clark and I have been in constant communication throughout this process,” Van Wagenen said. “I’m very confident that I’ll be able to work with everybody on both sides of the aisle.”Van Wagenen insisted his new job actually won’t be that different from his old one. He said he already has a scouting network in place from his 18 years as an agent, when his mission was talent acquisition — same as it will be with the Mets.“I think this team needs to build, not rebuild,” he said.Van Wagenen voiced support for Mickey Callaway, who went 77-85 this year in his rookie season as Mets manager. The new GM also noted the valuable experience of assistant GM John Ricco and special assistants Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi Abraham Almonte Jersey , the trio running baseball operations since Alderson stepped down in late June following a recurrence of cancer.Jeff Wilpon has said he would like all three to return — though that didn’t ensure they would be retained. Ricco, Minaya and Ricciardi all attended the news conference, but Van Wagenen said he hadn’t made any final decisions about his staff.“We will invest in our scouting department, we’ll invest in our player development, our health and wellness, and our analytics,” he said. “All will be priorities. Throughout my career I’ve come to understand that character and makeup are critical keys to success. I intend to make character the backdrop of this organization. We will identify it, we will develop it and we will build around it.”He does not anticipate an unusual level of owner involvement.“They’ve given me full autonomy for building the systems, hiring people that I want to, putting (together) a major league roster,” Van Wagenen said. “There is no general manager, there is no president of baseball operations in the game that has the ability to write checks, so I will be working together with them to determine what the right price points are for all of those investments.”Large scoreboards and smaller television screens all around the ballpark displayed a welcome message for Van Wagenen, with a photo of him smiling. He opened his formal remarks by paying tribute to the man he’s replacing, saying Alderson was a role model to him since his college days at Stanford and he hopes to lean on him going forward.“It’s humbling to stand here today as I try to follow in his footsteps,” Van Wagenen said.
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    January 25, 2019 2:07 AM PST

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