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  • Morneau vs. The Void

    If The Twins Are Willing To Trade Justin Morneau This Offseason, There Should Be Options

    Justin Morneau - Healthy and Rockin AgainLast week, as the trade deadline approached, Justin Morneau was featured in the latest trade rumors. That made sense. First, Morneau had been productive and healthy. Second, Chris Parmelee is raking at first base in AAA but shut out in the majors. Finally, Morneau is still owed about $19M for the rest of this year and next. Moving him would give the Twins that much more money to spend on pitching this offseason.

    No deal was consummated, and it doesn’t sound like one was close, but that doesn’t mean the end of the rumors.
    They’ll flow into this offseason and will likely gain additional steam because this year the crop of free agent first basemen is so bleak. There is no Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or even a Paul Konerko in this class.

    The top name? Would you believe the 37-year-old Carlos Lee? Yes, the same Carlos Lee who was already salary dumped this year and then was rumored to be on the block again. He has all of six home runs, but at least he’s hitting .292. Now look into the rest of the void….


    Sure, They’re Old, But At Least They’re Hurt.
    Lance Berkman
    He has just 75 at-bat this year because he’s been out the last two months after knee surgery, and that was following a previous stay on the DL for a calf injury. There will be serious concerns that his 36-year-old body can’t take it any more.

    Aubrey Huff
    Similarly, Huff is 35 years old and has only has 61 at-bats this year (and is hitting just .148) because of several DL stints which include an anxiety disorder and knee tendonitis.

    Carlos Pena
    Ok, he’s not hurt, but he’s hitting .193, so who could tell? He's also 35 years old and still can’t hit left-handers. Like the others, he’s worth a flyer, but who would rely on him for more than that?

    Bad, But Bad In A Youngish Way
    Casey Kotchman
    He’s just 30 years old, but he has never hit more than 12 home runs in his career, is struggling against left-handers and is hitting just .223.

    James Loney
    He’s the reason the Dodgers were talking to the Twins about Morneau at the deadline. He’s hitting .257 with two home runs. Two As in two more than I have hitting for the Dodgers this year. The only thing he has going for him is that he’s only 28 years old.

    They’re Old. They Also Don’t Start.
    Ty Wigginton
    All you need to know about the 35-year-old Wigginton is that the only way he’s available is if the Phils DON’T pick up a $4M option on him. That should clarify his value.

    Eric Hinske
    Yes, I’m talking about the 35-year-old bench player for the Braves for the lat 3 years. He has not seen 400 at-bats from a team since 2005.

    Winner: Justin Morneau
    Morneau, by comparison, is 31 years old, hitting .275 and has 15 home runs. Those numbers don’t justify a $14M salary next year. And if he was a free agent, he would not garner any offers for that kind of money annually.

    However, he is also the class of that list. If Morneau was a free agent, right now it looks like a two-year deal (for maybe $16M?) would not be out of the question. A three-year deal might be in play. If he and his agent insisted on a one-year deal (to increase his value for another run at free agency), a $9-10M deal might not be out of the question.

    But more important than the numbers is simply supply and demand. This offseason, the supply of first basemen who can be a middle-of-the-order presence for a competitive team is limited. In fact, it could be just Morneau. If Terry Ryan decides he is willing to trade Morneau – either to make room for Parmelee or to free up $14M in cash – there sure should be some desperate teams out there.
    This article was originally published in blog: Morneau vs. The Void started by John Bonnes
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Yeah, Parmalee needs to be on this team. My guess is, though, it will be in RF next year with Span on his way out the door.

      It's really a shame they don't have somewhere for him right now.
      Parm is no OF, he's best at 1B or DH.

      If the made Doumit an actually backup C/1B then it fixed everything but I don't see that happening.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Parm is no OF, he's best at 1B or DH.

      If the made Doumit an actually backup C/1B then it fixed everything but I don't see that happening.
      I'd agree with that, but Gardy won't.... Doumit has certainly warranted PT with his play as well and Gardy is going to give that time to the vet. Honestly, if Mauer could play some 3rd instead of 1st, it might make a bit more sense. I'd think if Joe can play first, he should be able to play 3rd.. He has the arm for it.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Parm is no OF, he's best at 1B or DH.

      If the made Doumit an actually backup C/1B then it fixed everything but I don't see that happening.
      I'm not saying I want him there long-term, but that's what is likely to happen.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      I respect John's research and what he's trying to do here, but the approach is misleading. Trying to predict in August 2012 what teams will roll with at first base in April 2013 is much harder than it would seem, ESPECIALLY at 1st base. Teams want big, dumb power at first base, and the position becomes a dumping ground for guys who fail defensively at other positions, but have power potential. Every year, there's guys like Russell Branyan, Garrett Jones, and slew of Triple-A or "post hype" prospects that end up playing 1st base for MLB teams in unpredictable fashion. Given the choice between that option (often promoted from within) or paying $14 million to Morneau next year AND giving up prospects of any value, teams are going to opt for the former. And if they do trade, there are a lot of other guys that could be moved with cheaper salaries.

      I just don't want us to do the Liriano thing where we overvalue a Twin based on past contributions, and then are surprised by how little we actually get in return. Granted, Morneau was a bigger star than Liriano, and has hit much better of late. But the league knows that he's one accident away from being worthless to them. He'd probably be viewed as more of a Jim Thome or Frank Thomas 2006 plug than any type of long-term option you would give up assets for.

      Also, the Twins "brand" has taken a severe hit in these two terrible seasons. We are now considered as one of the "bad team" akin to Seattle, Houston, etc. Those teams probably have some good players with value, but it's tough to sell other teams on good players stuck on horrible teams.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      The other solution is crazy and I don't see Gardy ever doing it. But how about this. A true rotation of Morneau, Willingham, Doumit and Parmelee and even Mauer next year.

      Let's assume Doumit, Mauer, Morneau and WIllingham are holding down DH, C, 1B and LF next year. One Day on the Bench each week will get Parmelee and everybody playing time without having anyone spend ungodly periods of time on the bench.

      Just a little creative thinking and they can all fit in. I doubt Gardy would do it though. It's a crazy idea.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I want to believe that Morneau's health issues are behind him .... but I have a hard time forgetting that it isn't JUST the issue of his concussion or even his concussion AND his wrist.

      He also had a fairly serious back problem in August/September 2009.

      Do you just dismiss that and figure he'll be okay from here on out? Do you think about that in conjunction with the concussion and wrist and his age and see Red Flags? Do you think that the change in his training routine will help him avoid injury (less is more and concentrate on the core?

      I like Morneau and have previously (2009/2010) argued that he was more important to the team's success than Mauer -- in part because I think Justin has leadership skills and now that he is playing regularly and well, I think he might exhibit more of them.

      But there may be a short window for capitalizing on a return for him. I just feel like we're holding our breath waiting for something else to happen.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Morneau is too good. If his current level of performance continues for the rest of the year, the Twins should extend him. Parmalee is a good first baseman for a mediocre team -- trade him, not Morneau.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      Morneau is so good again. He is finally hitting like an average first baseban. YEEEA! Lets hope he doesn't fall down, get hit by a pitch or punch a wall the rest of the season or else next year is a wash. What do average first basemen with a huge salary go for in the trade market? Nothing that's what. If they could dump his contract it would be great but I doubt any team would do that even for nothing in return.
    1. Craig in MN's Avatar
      Craig in MN -
      I don't see TR eating salary and I don't see him trading Morneau for non-prospects. The Dodgers had at least some interesting Morneau and a lot of veteran arms in their rotation. It's really hard to say what the Dodgers are going to do next year, but they are spending money and need a first baseman. TR is going to try to get some veteran arms for the rotation somehow (right or wrong). I could easily see a trade to the Dodgers centered around Morneau for Harang or Capuano or even Ted Lilly, depending on how certain his health is. Jerry Hairston, Juan Rivera or (also unhealthy) Matt Guerrier could get tossed in to keep the payroll in line. There's a lot of ways they could make it work.

      I don't particularly like this trade...just saying it could happen.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      I respect John's research and what he's trying to do here, but the approach is misleading. Trying to predict in August 2012 what teams will roll with at first base in April 2013 is much harder than it would seem, ESPECIALLY at 1st base. Teams want big, dumb power at first base, and the position becomes a dumping ground for guys who fail defensively at other positions, but have power potential. Every year, there's guys like Russell Branyan, Garrett Jones, and slew of Triple-A or "post hype" prospects that end up playing 1st base for MLB teams in unpredictable fashion. Given the choice between that option (often promoted from within) or paying $14 million to Morneau next year AND giving up prospects of any value, teams are going to opt for the former. And if they do trade, there are a lot of other guys that could be moved with cheaper salaries.

      I just don't want us to do the Liriano thing where we overvalue a Twin based on past contributions, and then are surprised by how little we actually get in return. Granted, Morneau was a bigger star than Liriano, and has hit much better of late. But the league knows that he's one accident away from being worthless to them. He'd probably be viewed as more of a Jim Thome or Frank Thomas 2006 plug than any type of long-term option you would give up assets for.

      Also, the Twins "brand" has taken a severe hit in these two terrible seasons. We are now considered as one of the "bad team" akin to Seattle, Houston, etc. Those teams probably have some good players with value, but it's tough to sell other teams on good players stuck on horrible teams.
      I find all this very sensible and thoughtful. Good post!

      For a couple months now I've been pushing for Hammer to DH next year, moving Revere to left, Span in center and a combo/platoon RF of Parm, Mauer and Hammer. Parm the default RF. Mauer 2x a week when not catching, and Hammer in right against LHP with Doumit at DH against LHP. Doumit catches 2-3x a week and can rotate at DH with Hammer. Doumit also becomes your PH bat on the bench when not a DH or catching.

      We can never have more than one of Hammer/Parm/Doumit in the OF and under my plan Doumit would never play defense except at catcher.
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      Has Parmelee ever played right field? Would it make sense for him to start getting reps in the outfield?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I'd agree with that, but Gardy won't.... Doumit has certainly warranted PT with his play as well and Gardy is going to give that time to the vet. Honestly, if Mauer could play some 3rd instead of 1st, it might make a bit more sense. I'd think if Joe can play first, he should be able to play 3rd.. He has the arm for it.
      I've been begging for this transition to accelerate since soon after Koskie left the squad and Joe demonstrated his injury-proneness. For some reason the Twins and Mauer don't see the obvious help it would have brought to the team and still can, there's no doubt that he could: 1) play 3B decently, 2) extend his career and 3) help the team out greatly.
    1. mnfireman's Avatar
      mnfireman -
      Morneau's 2012 numbers (in 86 games) project out to 28 HR's & 102 RBI (162 games). He won't get to those numbers but 25 HR & 85 RBI would be acceptable given what he's gone through.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      I've been begging for this transition to accelerate since soon after Koskie left the squad and Joe demonstrated his injury-proneness. For some reason the Twins and Mauer don't see the obvious help it would have brought to the team and still can, there's no doubt that he could: 1) play 3B decently, 2) extend his career and 3) help the team out greatly.
      Joe Mauer is still a fine athlete. He could probably be a gold glove at 3rd given the chance. I think it's a good idea.

      Of course I have zero control of it. Hahahaha.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      The other solution is crazy and I don't see Gardy ever doing it. But how about this. A true rotation of Morneau, Willingham, Doumit and Parmelee and even Mauer next year.

      Let's assume Doumit, Mauer, Morneau and WIllingham are holding down DH, C, 1B and LF next year. One Day on the Bench each week will get Parmelee and everybody playing time without having anyone spend ungodly periods of time on the bench.

      Just a little creative thinking and they can all fit in. I doubt Gardy would do it though. It's a crazy idea.
      Too much, Gardy prefers "simple stuff."

      How about getting "creative" with the pitching staff so they become effective enough so that only 12 are rostered at any one time and then sticking with a two-man catching staff (has Butera vested his pension yet? If they go 3 Cs next year, I hope a more diversely talented guy like Hermann gets a decent shot at taking the #3 job). A manager can get a lot more creative with playing time with that extra bat on the bench. The days of a bench comprised of only the likes of Butera, Casilla, Tolbert, Harris et al, besides being embarrassing, have registered opportunity cost in the W-L record.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      I've been begging for this transition to accelerate since soon after Koskie left the squad and Joe demonstrated his injury-proneness. For some reason the Twins and Mauer don't see the obvious help it would have brought to the team and still can, there's no doubt that he could: 1) play 3B decently, 2) extend his career and 3) help the team out greatly.
      Hopefully Plouffe proves to be a valuable asset at 3rd base for the foreseeable future. If Joe moves to 3rd base I think it would be a full time move since he would have to continue to hone his craft at the hot corner. It is much easier for him to catch a few times a week and play 1st base when he needs a break, seeing how the skill set to play 1st is very minimal. (If that makes sense?)

      At this point I like the current usage of Mauer, I wouldn't mind him catching more, but when you have a guy like Doumit who is perfectly capable there is no reason to not run them out there 50/50.

      Also one thing we should keep in mind moving onto 2013: Span, Morneau, Mauer, Doumit and Willingham have all had injury issues multiple times in the past. It's amazing they have stayed as healthy as they have this year as a whole, but I wouldn't be shocked if one or two went down for a decent amount of time next year (thus freeing up even more at bats for Parmelee) and while I think Parmelee has some potential, I don't think he is the type of player who you move a Morneau for at this point to free up a spot for him. Next year at the deadline if the Twins are out of it? Different story.

      If a team offers you one of top 25 pitching prospects in baseball? Different story.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      The other solution is crazy and I don't see Gardy ever doing it. But how about this. A true rotation of Morneau, Willingham, Doumit and Parmelee and even Mauer next year.

      Let's assume Doumit, Mauer, Morneau and WIllingham are holding down DH, C, 1B and LF next year. One Day on the Bench each week will get Parmelee and everybody playing time without having anyone spend ungodly periods of time on the bench.

      Just a little creative thinking and they can all fit in. I doubt Gardy would do it though. It's a crazy idea.
      If Morneau and Willingham are healthy and effective there is no reason to take them out of the lineup one day a week. Mauer/Doumit are obviously a diff story with the catching/injury thing.

      I'd imagine most managers wouldn't do something like that. If Parmelee comes up and starts mashing in the bigs they will figure out a way to keep his bat in the lineup. (See: Mark Trumbo)
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Hopefully Plouffe proves to be a valuable asset at 3rd base for the foreseeable future. If Joe moves to 3rd base I think it would be a full time move since he would have to continue to hone his craft at the hot corner. It is much easier for him to catch a few times a week and play 1st base when he needs a break, seeing how the skill set to play 1st is very minimal. (If that makes sense?)

      At this point I like the current usage of Mauer, I wouldn't mind him catching more, but when you have a guy like Doumit who is perfectly capable there is no reason to not run them out there 50/50.

      Also one thing we should keep in mind moving onto 2013: Span, Morneau, Mauer, Doumit and Willingham have all had injury issues multiple times in the past. It's amazing they have stayed as healthy as they have this year as a whole, but I wouldn't be shocked if one or two went down for a decent amount of time next year (thus freeing up even more at bats for Parmelee) and while I think Parmelee has some potential, I don't think he is the type of player who you move a Morneau for at this point to free up a spot for him. Next year at the deadline if the Twins are out of it? Different story.

      If a team offers you one of top 25 pitching prospects in baseball? Different story.
      The problem is the log jam. You have Morneau, Doumit, and Mauer all taking reps at 1B/DH thus ending any hope to get Parmelee up playing every day. The only difference between 3B and 1B is that you need an arm and that you will get far more throwing opportunities. 1B is just as much a hot corner for lefties except that there's less lefties in MLB. I haven't seen enough of Mauer at 1st, but I've not heard there being issues with him fielding grounders. If Mauer has the arm, why not let him play 3rd? That will give Plouffe an occasional day off, or you can shift Trevor to the middle if you want to go with an all-offense lineup.
    1. DJSim22's Avatar
      DJSim22 -
      What's wrong with having a little depth? Everyone is assuming there are no injuries to Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, or Doumit.

      People keep saying what if Morneau isn't back, what if he gets hurt. Well, we've seen Parmelee hit big league pitching for a month, what if he plays everyday and hits .194 like he was off the bench this year?

      We need pitching, but have money coming off the books with Pavano and Capps. Use that money to get a pitcher and keep a line up that 1-7 is starting to look real good. No need to rush Parmelee.
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      You are taking a chance keeping Justin going into next yr and hoping he stays healthy to MAYBE get a good deal at the deadline. What if the Twins are contending next July??? they won't trade him then... I think he gets moved this winter... Parm needs to play and unless they trade Span(which is probable) then Ben can shift to CF and Parm can play RF everyday, might not be ideal defnsively because of his lack of experience there but Revere would cover alot of Parms ground in right CF and then you can have both Justins and Parmalee's bat in the lineup. Of course Ben would have to cover basically the whole OF with osh in left but hey if Josh, Chris and Justin combine for 85 hr's does it matter
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