Minnesota Twins bring in Joe Mauer, Taylor Motter but send out the wrong player in Jake Cave
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins made the move to bring Joe Mauer back to the team on Thursday. They also sent out a player that should get a chance to stick around.
The Minnesota Twins made a series of moves Thursday. The biggest news was that Miguel Sano would be sent out to Single-A Fort Myers to work on whatever is holding him back at the plate. Something we covered in more detail here. The Twins also announced that Joe Mauer would be coming off of the disabled list, utility player Taylor Motter would be joining the big league club, and outfielder Jake Cave would be headed back to Triple-A Rochester.
The most exciting news here is that the Twins will be adding back into their lineup and defense Mauer. Mauer continues to be a top-level player when it comes to getting on base. It is always hard when a player has missed significant time like Mauer has to stack him up against the rest of the league. Taking his 38 games played as a minimum requirement, Mauer ranks fifth in MLB with his .404 OBP. What everyone will have their eye on is to see if Mauer’s “concussion-like symptoms” set him back at all at the plate.
The other boost that Mauer will give the team is defensively. There haven’t been an overwhelming amount of plays, but enough plays at first that Logan Morrison and Sano have not been able to make that Mauer may have. It still seems that a heavily underrated portion of the Twins 2017 was how much Mauer helped the rest of the infield look like a middle of the pack to good defensive group.
Taylor Motter gets the call
Taylor Motter will add to the Twins bench a versatile defender. Specifically, with Sano going down, the Twins needed another player who could play on the left side of the infield. Motter will now become the backup at third base and shortstop behind Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza.
If Motter stays true to his MLB track record his value will come almost entirely from his defensive versatility. His career slash line is .198/.269/.326 and a .595 OPS. His 2018 batting numbers have looked initially better in seven games played with a .267/.353/.467 and .820 OPS, but it has only been seven games. While we shouldn’t expect much from Motter offensively, this was still a move that needed to be made for an infielder until either Jorge Polanco is off suspension or Sano returns.
Jake Cave optioned to Triple-A
This is the move that makes me shake my head. The Twins have treated Jake Cave as a left-handed bat who is entirely unable to hit left-handed pitching. That has caused them to place him in a platoon with right-handed hitting Ryan LaMarre. When looking at Cave’s minor league splits he has actually hit lefties better than the Twins seem to be giving him credit for.
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This season he has fared better against lefties with a .327 batting average versus the .263 against righties. In 2017 it was a clear weakness for Cave as he only hit .188 against left-handers, but was about even in his splits in 2016. It seems that there is reason there to give Cave at least a chance to try to read and hit pitches from a left-hander at the major league level.
Instead, the Twins are putting their faith in LaMarre. LaMarre has done some good things for the Twins but he is still simply a 29-year-old journeyman who isn’t doing anything to boost a weak Twins offense. He is a right-handed bat who is only hitting .231 against lefties. LaMarre is also only hitting .212 over the past two weeks.
This seemed like the time to give Cave some run and see what he could provide in the Twins lineup. He already almost single-handedly won a game for them with his bat. I would love to see him get some regular run and if some warts were exposed the move was always there to send him down and bring LaMarre back up.
Next: Finding a trade partner for Brian Dozier
The next couple weeks could fully define the Twins position come the trade deadline. Hopefully, Mauer’s bat will be able to spark the rest of the lineup into doing something great. If not, at some point the Cleveland Indians aren’t going to continue to simply hang around.