With Justin Morneau's exit from the club in the last week, the Twins are searching for someone to take over his leadership role in the clubhouse. This seems to be a recurring theme for the Twins in recent years as the club shifts away from veteran leadership to a more youthful roster.
A couple years ago Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan were considered among the team's strong voices and both players left in free agency. Morneau filled the void left by Cuddyer and it seemed like a smooth transition from the outside looking in.
There probably won't be a breaking news story to say who takes on more leadership behind the closed doors of the Twins clubhouse. For fans, it might be more of a talking point in a season that seems to be heading for another 90 losses.
Here are just a few of the names that will be asked to take on more leadership this season and next. There are pros and cons with each player so it will be interesting to see who becomes the new voice of the Twins.
Joe Mauer, Catcher
He is the highest paid player and the face of the franchise so it makes sense for him to be the leader of the clubhouse. Mauer is a quiet but he has been known to approach younger players when something doesn't go right on the field. In the past, he has been a leader because of his strong play on the field. He leads by example and this can be very beneficial to future Twins players.
Since Mauer is a catcher, he can be very busy with his catching related duties. There are extra meetings for him to confer with the pitching staff and he spends time studying video to learn more about opposing hitters. This is all time where he is not in the clubhouse with the other players. Injuries have also forced him to miss time and he can't be a leader if he isn't traveling with the team.
Glen Perkins, Closer
Much like Joe Nathan before him, Perkins can become a leader because of his importance to the bullpen. The Twins have him signed for multiple years and beyond Mauer, he is the longest tenured Twins player. He came up through the Twins organization with a few bumps and bruises but he found a way to be successful at the big league level. His involvement in the community continues to grow and this is an example for other players to follow.
Since Perkins is a relief arm, he spends time during the game out in the bullpen. This keeps him from being able to speak to non-pitchers on the bench for different parts of the game. Also, he isn't an everyday player so his impact on a daily basis might not always be seen on the field. He has only been a full-time closer for the current season so he might not have built up the respect he needs.
Brian Dozier, Second Baseman
He is in the midst of a breakout season and this has helped him become a leader on the field. Media members have cited him as always being available after tough losses as well as wins. tough. During his minor league career he showed some leadership skills and this seems to be translating to his big league career. Dozier has been performing with his bat and his glove and this can help him continue to gain respect in the locker room.
While Mauer and Perkins have been with the club for multiple seasons, Dozier is still relatively new to the scene. He has less experience and less of a track record than the two names mentioned above. There are also some questions about how long he will be with the team. Eddie Rosario is slowly working his way to the big leagues and he plays the same position as Dozier. Right now, it looks like Dozier could stay at second for multiple years but it is hard to know what the future will bring.
Josh Willingham, Outfielder
Throughout his career, Willingham has played with multiple organizations and he has seen what leadership means to different teams. He is the oldest player on the team and his experience is well-respected by the younger players around him. His monster season last year gave him respect on the field and he has tried to play through some tough injuries this season. Younger players can approach him for advice on a multitude of topics since he has spent time playing in both leagues.
There is only one year remaining on his contract with the Twins and the team could trade him at some point in the coming year. Much like Mauer, he is a quiet leader so sometimes it is tough to notice the work he is doing for the clubhouse. His play has fallen off this year and he has missed time because of injuries. If a player isn't on the field or even with the club, it can be tough to build rapport in the locker-room.