Bad news for Rochester
As you may or may not know, I live in Rochester, NY. Just two days after Rochester hosted a major sporting event for the first time since 1971 (a 2-2 tie between the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils), it seems the city has gotten some bad news. Apparently, the Minnesota Twins have traded catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants.
How is that bad news for Rochester? Well, if you didn't know already, Rochester is home to the AAA affiliate of the Twins. The Twins have a catcher in their minor league system you may have heard of named Joe Mauer.
Mauer tore apart A and AA last year, and many people were expecting him to do the same thing in Rochester next year, at least for the first half of the season. I am one of the people who was very excited about the prospect of watching this prospect play. I've only been to about 10 Red Wings (that's the name of the Rochester team) games in the five years I've lived here, but I likely would have gone to at least that many next year if Mauer was on the team (especially if fellow prospect Justin Morneau was on the team as well).
Now, however, it appears that Mauer may very well start the season in the majors with the Twins. Minnesota does have other options, but neither are as exciting (or likely to be as good) as Mauer. Matthew LeCroy hit .287/.342/.490 (.832) for the Twins last year, and he did play 22 games as the catcher (his most since catching 49 games in 2000). I don't think LeCroy could catch every day, but he could catch half the time with Rob Bowen, who was in the unenviable situation of being stuck between Pierzynski and Mauer, catching the rest of the time.
Like I said, though, that's not a really appealing option. It will especially tough to keep Mauer in Rochester if he goes to spring training and starts tearing the cover off the ball, which he's certainly capable of doing.
Only one thing seems certain to me today, the city of Rochester will not get to see Mauer as long as we would have liked. If the Twins had kept Pierzynski, Mauer almost certainly would have started the season in Rochester and there's a chance that he might have stayed here until the rosters expanded in September. With Pierzynski gone, however, the longest I could envision Mauer playing for the Red Wings is about a month.
It's a shame, because the city was hoping that Mauer would be the next great player to pass through Rochester, following the likes of Stan Musial, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr., Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina and others. Now, it's much less likely to happen.