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  • Morneau is steadily improving

    In early July Justin Morneau had been plodding through a season in which he was completely lost at the plate against left-handed pitching.

    Even though his performance against right-handed pitchers was classic Morneausie, against the sinister his swing was basically a clusterbleep. His front side leaking so far open, he was left with little choice but to pull the ball. Left-handed opponents attacked this weakness by throwing more sliders which would run away from his swing zone. He flailed away helplessly as southpaws painted the outer-half of the plate and anything he did manage to put lumber on was typically bounced to the right side of the infield.

    By the end of June his average against lefties had sunk to below .100 and was the worst in baseball. In a little over a month however Morneau has doubled that average - .174 heading in to last night’s game – and, what’s more, his swing has looked 100 times better.

    Last night, the Twins’ Director of Baseball Communications, Dustin Morse, highlighted Morneau’s improvement against same-sided pitchers by tweeting this:



    Now, the answer could be as simple as a small sample size fluctuation and that his suppressed batting average on balls in play was due to shoot up once the Baseball Gods felt like blessing the Canadian. However, just a few weeks before this streak started, Morneau made a noticeable adjustment to his approach at the plate. While this tweak lasted just a handful of games, the Twins first baseman emerged a different hitter.
    Morneau, who had a sizeable stride accompanied by a hearty swing, was hitting just .229/.301/.435 heading into the final June series against the Kansas City Royals when he made the changes. Instead of the leg lift, Morneau would lift only his heel, keeping his toes stationary which would likely increase his connectivity and, more importantly, help him refrain from opening up his front side.

    As I described back in the beginning of July:

    “The rationale behind this alteration seems to be focused on making contact by keeping him from drifting out with his front side. By not having a stride, Morneau’s hips will have less of a tendency to open up. Likewise, by minimizing the movement it allows him to keep his head still and in theory see the ball better.”
    This mechanical adjustment did not last long – somewhere around five games – and Morneau returned to his previous swing on July 5. But this practice seems to have righted the ship and helped him stay on the ball better. In addition to the improved numbers against left-handed pitching, he hit .313/.360/.488 overall in 86 plate appearances (not including last night’s game against Boston). He had gone from striking out in 20% of his plate appearances pre-July 5 to striking out in just 10% of his plate appearances since then.

    In short, Morneau appears to be on the right path both against righties and lefties. Friday night, look for him continue this success against Boston’s rookie lefty Felix Doubront – who has limited left-handed hitters to a .229 average.
    This article was originally published in blog: Morneau is steadily improving started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      I'm not against keeping him if he stays healthy in 2013 but we'll cross that bridge a year from now. It makes no sense to sign him right now.
      It could make sense to extend him now if you are looking for undervalued talent (and every GM should always be looking for undervalued talent.) His market value today is lower than what he is earning by a good margin. If he'd sign an extension at a bargain price now (trading high-end earning potential for security) the buyer could have a low-risk, high-reward signing. However, he's an elite talent at his best and he's been on the upswing. With a year remaining on his contract, I'd expect he and his agent are pretty confident he'll have more value this time next year than he does right now. I wouldn't expect they'd be likely to sell low. It might make sense for the Twins, but probably not for Morneau.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I'd love to have Morneau as a career Twin.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      I'd love to have Morneau as a career Twin.
      I'd love to see the prospects they get for him be career Twins.
    1. jeffk's Avatar
      jeffk -
      I'd just like to point out that all those people who wanted him platooned were wrong. What a short-sighted waste that would have been, not given him a chance to work it out and turning a former MVP into a platoon player with minimal value, all to save a win or two for a losing team.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      It could make sense to extend him now if you are looking for undervalued talent (and every GM should always be looking for undervalued talent.) His market value today is lower than what he is earning by a good margin. If he'd sign an extension at a bargain price now (trading high-end earning potential for security) the buyer could have a low-risk, high-reward signing. However, he's an elite talent at his best and he's been on the upswing. With a year remaining on his contract, I'd expect he and his agent are pretty confident he'll have more value this time next year than he does right now. I wouldn't expect they'd be likely to sell low. It might make sense for the Twins, but probably not for Morneau.
      I'm not sure it makes sense for Morneau... He might do it if he wants to be a Twin for life, but that comes with a NTC...
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Nobody turns SSS to multi-year contracts like Dave.
      It's about extending him when he isn't at his "high" point. Chances are if he comes out like gangbusters next season the price goes up quite a bit.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Just once it would be nice to see both sides do right by the other; Morneau is a good guy, good bat, and he should stay here, but only at a price that makes sense for both sides. That price, unfortunately, would require him to probably leave millions on the table. So it goes in pro sports.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by jeffk View Post
      I'd just like to point out that all those people who wanted him platooned were wrong. What a short-sighted waste that would have been, not given him a chance to work it out and turning a former MVP into a platoon player with minimal value, all to save a win or two for a losing team.
      Concur.

      Also a short sighted waste would have been if the Twins would have listened to those who advocate(d) giving Morneau away for nothing.
    1. Beatleguy's Avatar
      Beatleguy -
      Hold on to him and see where things are at next July. Lots of things can happen between now and then. If he returns further to form you have lots of options. He is a former MVP so he has talent.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      It's about extending him when he isn't at his "high" point. Chances are if he comes out like gangbusters next season the price goes up quite a bit.
      Jesus titty-****ing Christ Dave...you have got to be kidding me.
    1. BrentMpls's Avatar
      BrentMpls -
      Well he sure had a good game tonight
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Now that he is starting to hit for average and hit lefties, does anyone else want him to start eating red meat, put on some pounds, and start pounding homeruns?
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      No, I like Morneau and wouldn't mind keeping him around as a 1b/DH type after next year if the price is right. Parmelee is intriguing, but I'm not completely sold that he can hit enough to be a good first baseman.
      The price must be right. Chances are another team will overpay for him after 2013 if he stays healthy. I don't want the Twins to be the team that overpays. But if he doesn't have a banner year next year, or spends some time on the DL for another wrist/neck-type issue, we might be able to keep him for relatively cheap.

      Of course I doubt he displaces Chris Parmelee post-2013; the Twins will want the younger, cheaper model. But I also doubt that another club will really want him as a full-time 1B either. He'll be a platoon 1B/DH option, and I think most teams will recognize that.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by jeffk View Post
      I'd just like to point out that all those people who wanted him platooned were wrong. What a short-sighted waste that would have been, not given him a chance to work it out and turning a former MVP into a platoon player with minimal value, all to save a win or two for a losing team.
      I'm glad I wasn't the only one who remembers this.

      Platooning him with Danny "DFA" Valencia? Gimme a break...
    1. Loosey's Avatar
      Loosey -
      I may be in the minority here but why is everyone in such a rush to dump Morneau? I think he is still has a a few pretty good seasons left in tank. Personally I think he hitting issues have been mental and it appears that things are starting to "make sense" again to him. If he does get back to the 3/4 of the old Morneau don't trade him. Use him to build your team. It's only been two seasons of losing baseball and I'm already sick of it. Anytime someone starts to play well we assume it will fix everything if the Twins trade them for a prospect. I would rather hold on to who we have if they are playing well. The Twins offense in my opinion is good enough to be a contender, and with an improving Morneau will get better. Now in the offseason if the FO can make 2-3 solid moves to improve the pitching staff I honestly think the team can start to compete in the Central. Plus, After next year, Morneau will not be getting a raise from his $14M salary when he hits free agency. He hasn't been the MVP player he was from 06-09, and he is one bumped head away from ending his career. Keep him and build the pitching staff back to respectable.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Loosey View Post
      I may be in the minority here but why is everyone in such a rush to dump Morneau? I think he is still has a a few pretty good seasons left in tank. Personally I think he hitting issues have been mental and it appears that things are starting to "make sense" again to him. If he does get back to the 3/4 of the old Morneau don't trade him. Use him to build your team. It's only been two seasons of losing baseball and I'm already sick of it. Anytime someone starts to play well we assume it will fix everything if the Twins trade them for a prospect. I would rather hold on to who we have if they are playing well. The Twins offense in my opinion is good enough to be a contender, and with an improving Morneau will get better. Now in the offseason if the FO can make 2-3 solid moves to improve the pitching staff I honestly think the team can start to compete in the Central. Plus, After next year, Morneau will not be getting a raise from his $14M salary when he hits free agency. He hasn't been the MVP player he was from 06-09, and he is one bumped head away from ending his career. Keep him and build the pitching staff back to respectable.
      That's all nice and good, but he'll be a 33 year old first basemen with an injury history of head, neck, back and wrist problems.

      Take away out personal feelings and lets look at Morneau for what he is.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      That's all nice and good, but he'll be a 33 year old first basemen with an injury history of head, neck, back and wrist problems.

      Take away out personal feelings and lets look at Morneau for what he is.
      A huge future liability - no doubt. Here's the problem DPJ, it was hard to completely rule out his comeback until he at least had some regular ABs for awhile. Maybe this hotstreak ends and it was just a flash in the pan - but doesn't he look a lot like the old Morneau lately? Hard not to see it - using the whole field, driving the ball, hitting righties and lefties. Some of this simply could be rebuilding his approach after two years off.

      The problem is, you're right that expecting this continue much into the future is a huge problem. Handing him away at his lowest value would've been a mistake we've made far too often lately. The real issue is going to be if he regains anything close to his MVP value - then do you sell high or keep around a cornerstone that is a huge liability? I know what you'd argue (not sure I'd disagree either FWIW) but now isn't the time to be selling this guy.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      The problem is, you're right that expecting this continue much into the future is a huge problem. Handing him away at his lowest value would've been a mistake we've made far too often lately. The real issue is going to be if he regains anything close to his MVP value - then do you sell high or keep around a cornerstone that is a huge liability? I know what you'd argue (not sure I'd disagree either FWIW) but now isn't the time to be selling this guy.
      I was talking about people who are already talking about extending him beyond 2013.

      Throw all the wrist, head, neck, AIDs, back and whatever else has gone wrong with him out the door, he's a 33 year old lumbering 1B.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      I was talking about people who are already talking about extending him beyond 2013..
      I generally thought no one took Dave seriously?
    1. robbie111's Avatar
      robbie111 -
      First 6 games in August .458 ave .481 obp .833 slugging 1.314 OPS . If he finishes this year hitting above .285 and slugging over .500 I'd say he is officially back.
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