Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Joe Mauer saved Baseball

As we all know by now, Joe Mauer signed a contract extension with the Minnesota Twins. The eight-year $184 million deal makes Mauer the highest paid player not on the New York Yankees. Mauer has solidified that he is the face of the Twins for years to come, more over he will not be a Yankee, Angel or Sock.

Joe Mauer, with the swipe of his pen, just saved baseball.

The lament of the mid-market teams, especially the Orioles, Rays and Jays, for the last decade has been the spending habits of the leagues big-city clubs. You could lump them all together but the team that everyone really looks at is the New York Yankees. With a payroll just over $0.2 BILLION the Yankees spend $60 million more a year than their nearest salary competitor, the Mets. To put that in perspective, if you subtract $60 million from the Mets you go all the way down to the Colorado Rockies, number 20 on the salary scale.

In baseball today, the difference between number 1 and number 2 is the same as the difference between 2 and 20.

For the last decade the cry has been that the big-time New Yorks and Bostons of the world just have to sit and wait for the league to develop talent then swoop in with a blank check laced with bright lights and big promises. Essentially the rest of MLB was little more than the farm system for Boston, New York and LA. The Twins had suffered through this once before having to trade Johan Santana away for a rather paltry return, it was certainly no Erik Bedard deal.

And this was the lot of the small to mid-market team. The prospect of having a small window of competition before your players get too expensive and then another five to six years of being a second class citizen. And in the AL East that is simply magnified beyond belief.

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