Brian McCann and Joe Mauer
As I’m sure you know, Brian McCann and Joe Mauer are two of the top young catchers in baseball. McCann has hit homeruns in each of his first two games this year, while Mauer is starting the year on the DL with lower back inflammation. This could be the year that McCann breaks out and cements his place as one of the best hitters in the NL. At 25 years old and entering his fourth full season, it’s a good time to bet on him kicking it up a notch.
That said, I really think the Braves ought to move McCann to 1B and use him only as the back-up catcher, playing only 50 or 60 games a year at the position. Catching is incredibly hard on the body, and this is especially true for big catchers like McCann and Mauer. McCann is listed as 6’3″ and 230 lbs, while Mauer is listed at 6’5″ and 225 lbs. All that weight on their knees, backs and ankles will take its tole very quickly. Mauer has already had many injury problems associated with position, and with McCann having played 394 games at catcher over the last three seasons, I suspect it is only a matter of time before the injuries start to nag him too. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Mauer is starting the year on the DL after catching 139 games last year. When you have guys who hit this well you really can’t afford to have them out of the line up with injuries.
After signing Morneau to a 6 year deal before the 2008 season, there is no reasonable chance that Mauer will be moved to 1B, absent a major injury to Morneau. Of course, he can always play DH. The Twins should make it a priority to develop a second young catcher so they can limit Mauer to a maximum 100 to 110 games at catcher each year. McCann can’t DH in Atlanta, but, looking at the Braves’ roster, it looks like they are determined to go with Casey Kotchman as their starting 1Bman. Given his age and past performance, there is a good chance Kotchman won’t give the Braves enough offense for the position. If that’s the case, it could be a blessing in disguise, if they use that opportunity to get McCann into some games at a position other than catcher.