$184 million for this? Joe Mauer wasn't in the lineup today due to being "pretty beat up" and "general soreness from foul tips, blocking pitches, and being hit in the shoulder by a fastball." Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?
Look at the players in the lineup from day-to-day: Ben Revere is a decent leadoff hitter and Cuddy is a major league bat but that's it. Valencia belongs in the bigs and Thome can still unleash from time to time, but everyone else on this roster right now is a back-up at best and a minor leaguer at worst. When that's the case and you are purported to be the best player on the team you CANNOT sit out games due to being "sore."
I know I'm not exactly breaking new ground here, but being injury prone is one thing. It's incredibly annoying and the amount of time Mauer has missed due to injury in his career is staggering and at this point is probably damn near as much time as he's actually played, but it's a more innocent annoyance. Some people are just brittle and get hurt a lot. I grew up with a guy who got hurt nearly every baseball season and missed a good chunk of the games, including both varsity years, and even hurt his wrist playing golf and had to sit out an entire summer league. Mauer's injury history is irritating, annoying, and sucks (and would have been a pretty good reason to balk at his contract demands) but basically it is what it is.
But this unwillingness to play when his team needs him the most is ridiculous on a whole new level because he can control it. I don't know if Mauer is asking for these constant days off (bad) or if Gardenhire is giving them to him and he's not standing up and saying he wants to play (worse) but it's simply unfathomable. According to nerd stats, which I'll spare you, Mauer in an average year creates about 25 runs more than an average batter. Drew Butera is about 10 runs worse than average. So Mauer creates 35 runs more than Butera, so every time he sits out when he should be playing he costs the team big.
Or ate least he would if he didn't completely suck when he does play this year. I mean he's just been dreadful. Hitting .223 with zero power and not walking. His .553 OPS? That would be a career worst for Nick Punto. Nick motherfucking Punto! He has four extra-base hits in 101 plate appearances which, if you extrapolate it out to 500 PAs and 20 XBH, would be just the 15th time in history a player had 20 XBHs or less with at least 500 PAs - a list that includes slap-nancies like Luis Castillo and Chone Figgins. I mean we are talking historically terrible shit here.
He's walking about half as often as usual, striking out about 50% more, and is hitting the ball on the ground 67% of the time when he is usually around the high 40s. His groundball to flyball ratio is 4-to-1, the highest such number in the entire league. Guess who else is in the top 5? Ichiro, Jeter, Elvis Andrus, and Jose Tabata - fast players who beat the ball into the ground and use their speed to reach base. All four of those guys rank in the top 20 in the majors in infield hits with 21, 14, 12, and 13 respectively. Mauer has 2, and I think we all know he isn't the Willie Mays Hayes beat it into the ground type. He needs to drive the ball and he's simply not doing that.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just pissed that the season is on the rocks due in large part to injuries. Maybe I'm sick of dealing with the Butera/Rivera platoon. Maybe Mauer is actually pretty hurt but is playing anyway and that's why he sucks and eventually everything will be back to normal. I don't know. All I know is right now he's completely worthless, yet $184 million dollars richer.