If there is one player who the Twins cannot afford to lose this season, it's Joe Mauer. Mauer is the heart and soul of this Twins team and provides so much both offensively and defensively. Losing Mauer for a significant period of time is the worst case scenario.
Twins fans have to be nervous about Mauer and his now infamous back. The guy has not played in spring training yet and seems "doubtful" for Opening Day.
"When asked if it’s doubtful that he would be ready for Opening Day, he said: “Yeah, I just have to get healthy. I don’t think I’m ready to get out there and play any games. I know it’s getting closer. I really don’t know if I’m going to be there or not.”Not good news for Twins fans.
So the question remains, can the Twins survive without Mauer? There is no doubt that Mauer is vital to the team's success, but just how long can the Twins stay competitive for?
The answer obviously depends on how severe Mauer's injury turns out to be. If he is out for a significant period of time, then I'm sure many would be quick to eliminate the Twins from playoff contention. And quite frankly, I don't blame them.
But keep in mind that the Twins as a whole are a very good team. They have a bunch of quality arms in the rotation, a healthy Francisco Liriano, the beast that is Justin Morneau, a developing outfield, and what looks to be a solid bullpen. There is alot to like here, with or without Joe Mauer.
I still think the Twins would struggle without Mauer, but I don't think they would fall off that badly. There is simply too much talent here for the Twins not to be pretty competitive. The AL Central is not a terribly deep division, while again would play into the Twins hands if they were to lose Mauer.
Make no mistake about it: the Twins need Joe Mauer. Mike Redmond and Jose Morales might be able to produce for some time, but I have a hard time believing that either guy would be effective for a entire season. Twins fans need to pray to the baseball Gods that Joe Mauer gets healthy and remains healthy throughout the entire season.