The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo is smitten:
How about this for a pregame presentation fantasy: Red Sox catcher Joe Mauer stands on the mound and J.D. Drew trots in from right field. Drew takes off his No. 7 jersey and gives it to Mauer. Underneath, Drew is now wearing No. 77.
OK, it's a little corny and a little far-fetched, but if Jason Varitek can hold on for another year, the timing would be perfect. Mauer, who will be 27 when he becomes a free agent after next season, could solve the Red Sox' catching problems for almost a decade.
I have no idea what the Twins intend to do as Joe Mauer approaches free agency. Maybe they want him to stay forever and will make him a big offer. Maybe Mauer has even bigger dollars and greater fame in mind than can ever be achieved in Minneapolis. But one thing I do know is that I am sick and tired of the fans and media that follow the Red Sox and Yankees putting virtual dibs on every single decent player who even sniffs free agency. We get it: your team has money. We know: you probably will get just about any star player you want when they become available. And to be honest, I don't even have a gigantic problem with your teams actually signing these guys. The system we have is the system we have and all the Yankees and the Red Sox are doing is exploiting it. You'd do the same thing if you were Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman.
But I simply can't stand this premature claiming of players as though their move to Boston or New York is a foregone conclusion. It's like 19th century colonial powers sitting in a palace and carving up a map of Africa or something. It's offensive on some basic level, both to the guys currently on those teams' rosters and especially to the fans of the Twins and other clubs who are apparently thought of as mere farm teams. Obviously there's nothing that can be done about this kind of chatter due to pesky things like free speech and whatnot, but I gotta tell ya, if I was dictator for a day, I'd put a ban on this sort of player coveting until six months before they actually achieve free agency.
Joe Mauer is having an amazing season as a Twin. Let's do our best to think of him in that context as opposed to some bauble to be purchased in November 2010.