Justin Morneau: Twins Trade Bait or Damaged Goods?
Thursday July 12th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Over the past few years, Twins fans have been disappointed with Justin Morneau’s performance. He’s been plagued by a concussion he sustained in Toronto two years ago after sliding into the leg of Aaron Hill. Before the injury, Morneau was hitting .345 through 81 games, hit .274 in the year before that (2009), finished second in MVP voting in 2008 after hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBIs, and won the AL MVP award in 2006 after hitting .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs. The big question is: Can he return to his original form?
When he came back from his 2010 concussion last season on Opening Day, the Twins were excited to have both Joe Mauer and Morneau back together in the middle of the lineup. This was a scary prospect for the rest of the AL Central if both former MVPs could produce. Unfortunately for the Twins, Mauer went down with a weird leg injury that left Twins fans scratching their collective heads and Morneau was limited to just 69 games due to other injuries and another concussion. After a disappointing 2011 season, the Twins were optimistic coming into this year. Mauer hasn’t had a problem contributing so far, as he is hitting .326 and made the All-Star team. Morneau on the other hand is hitting a mere .246 and isn’t showing any signs of picking it up.
If I had a team in need of a power-hitting first baseman, I would be wary of trading for Morneau. The British Columbia native has a history of concussions dating back to his childhood and just one more might end his playing career. The only way I would trade for Morneau would be by giving up very little. A possible destination could be Pittsburgh. Currently in first place, the Pirates could offer cash and hope for Morneau to catch fire and help out down the stretch. The Pirates could be looking at another collapse like last season, so they would have nothing to lose. They are already in trade talks for the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton (who would add a massive boost to the lineup). A hitting lineup including Andrew McCutchen, Upton, Morneau, and accented by Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker could be a potent combination, while A.J. Burnett heads the pitching staff. A new environment such as Pittsburgh might just bring out Morneau’s old self. A deal that brings him in would be similar to the 2011 Derek Lee to Pittsburgh deal, but Morneau, in my opinion, has a lot more upside than Lee.
Morneau is signed through 2013 with a six-year 80-million dollar contract. Any team that might want to take him on would most likely need to take on the contract as well. This might not be a down side if Morneau were to get hot and raise his trade value. A team could trade virtually nothing to get him now, guess that his value will rise, and then turn around and trade him midway through next season if the goal is to turn a profit. Considering that the Red Sox traded a healthy Kevin Youkilis for spare prospects and ate most of his contract, maybe the Twins will become more aggressive near the trade deadline. Perhaps a Canadian homecoming is in order for Morneau in Toronto?
Sadly, Morneau was looking to be an offensive superstar a few years ago but has since been derailed by his injuries. The Twins (or any club that gets him in a trade) can only hope for Morneau to somehow find his old self and try to get close to that fabulous 2006 MVP season. One can hope for the best, but at this point I would keep expectations at a minimal.
***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, MLB reports Intern & Facebook Administrator. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
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Posted on July 12, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged aaron hill, Andrew McCutchen, baseball, canada, first baseman, joe mauer, justin morneau, justin upton, minnesota twins, mlb, morneau, mvp, pedro alvarez, pirates, toronto blue jays, trade deadline, twins. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.