• Justin Morneau Reminds Twins Fans That He's Still Here

    For the Twins, this month is supposed to be about the rookies – giving them chances, evaluating them, taking the losses that inevitably result.

    Morneau's heroics won Sunday's game.Someone forgot to tell the veterans.

    The M&M boys, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, gave the youngsters a demo Sunday on what September baseball can be. In their heyday, Mauer nearly hitting for the cycle and Morneau’s multi-home run game would’ve given each a chit towards an(other) MVP award. This year, it meant a satisfying 8-7 win over Cleveland in a beautiful, if half-filled, ballpark.

    The fans at the game deserved everything they got. Not only did they abstain from the Vikings home opener across town, but they stuck around for 3 hours and 30 minutes to watch the ninth-inning, two-out blast by Morneau. And while the weather was gorgeous, there were aspects of the game that were far from it.

    By now, we should all recognize a sentence like that last one is going to lead to talk of the Twins starting rotation. And it is. Today’s punching bag was Esmerling Vasquez, making his second start since being recalled from Rochester. He lasted only three innings, throwing 68 pitches and giving up five walks before his manager seemingly grew tired of him. Esmerling has now walked 8 in 8.2 IP which matches his reputation before he seemingly found some control in AAA late this year. Whatever he had previously found sure seems lost now. So does he.

    But the top of the order looked locked in. Trailing 4-0 entering the bottom of the third, Jamey Carroll singled, and Mauer followed with a triple before Justin Morneau hit his first home run. In the fourth inning, the Twins used their speed, stealing three bases en route to taking a 5-4 lead.

    The Indians responded in the top of the fifth, taking a 6-5 lead, but the Twins rallied again in the bottom of the seventh. Mauer doubled driving Carroll to third base. Morneau was wisely walked, which loaded the bases. Ryan Doumit struck out for the second out, but left-handed hitting Chris Parmelee’s ground ball found it’s way through the right side of the infield, plating two and giving the Twins a 7-6 lead.

    However, again the Indians responded. Twins reliever Jared Burton hit Brent Lillibridge with a pitch and then watched him round the bases two pitches later on a triple by Jason McDonald. With the help of Brian Duensing, the Twins escaped the inning without giving up the lead run, which led to Morneau’s ninth inning heroics.

    Morneau’s health struggles, which have defined his last two seasons (and last two offseasons) seem to be behind him for now. Since the All-Star break, he is hitting .321 with a .369 on-base percentage and .512 slugging percentage. That’s an 881 OPS, which exceeds his career mark and falls squarely in the production levels he posted from 2006 through 2010. Welcome back, big guy.

    The Twins are using September to look ahead to 2013. Morneau’s game today should remind them – and the fans – that he can still be part of that future. He certainly showed he's part of the present.
    This article was originally published in blog: Morneau Reminds Twins Fans That He's Still Here started by John Bonnes
    Comments 58 Comments
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      I am one of the fans who wants to see Morneau stick around for awhile with the Twins.

      Note to the players:
      Don't him on the head after a walk-off HR!
    1. James's Avatar
      James -
      Justin had a great game today. He looks to be back to form, which is great. I would love to see him stick around, but I understand if they were to trade him for some decent pitching in the off season. There is going to be a crowded outfield next season if Parmelee keeps up his production as well. Tough choices are ahead for the Twins FO.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Justin is still a good player but he's not longer a great player. With his health issues, there is no way MN should give him an extension. So what is the upside to keeping him next yr since you wont contend?? Only reason NOT to deal him is because you cannot get a legit deal for him.
      Unfortuanately, Ryan doesnt see it that way & will keep him/let him finish the season & walk away with MN possibly getting a draft pick or Justin acceptin a 1yr arb deal.
    1. striker_86's Avatar
      striker_86 -
      yeah, we need to trade him for pitching, it will also free up cap space to sign a legitimate starter as well. Mauer is finishing the year strong too
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      I hope "the Big Canadian" stays too. Find some other way to add pitchers. Morneau is good for the community and good for the team. Guys like that should be entitled to finish their career with the original team/city if they choose.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      They keep showing that the bats are enough to at least win the central division.

      But Ryan keeps bad mouthing the line up because he wants to continue to lower expectations so he doesn't have to justify not spending any money this offseason.

      But in my opinion they are two quality starting pitchers away from contention.
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      How has Ryan bad mouthed the lineup?
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      They keep showing that the bats are enough to at least win the central division.

      But Ryan keeps bad mouthing the line up because he wants to continue to lower expectations so he doesn't have to justify not spending any money this offseason.

      But in my opinion they are two quality starting pitchers away from contention.
      I agree they are at least 2 quality starters away. That being said, the clubs that need first base help are the clubs without big budgets, Parmalee and Span will have more value to bring pitching from those clubs. With some of the big spending clubs needing pitching, I expect the price on reasonable starting pitching to be out of site, therefore a trade is the only option.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Piching is over rated, we don't need anymoe pitchers.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Morneau is capable of having a 30 HR, 100 RBI season in 2013. Keep him.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      TRADE HIM. Do it while he's hot so we can maximize his value. Get pitching and never look back.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      TRADE HIM. Do it while he's hot so we can maximize his value. Get pitching and never look back.
      His value is still incredibly low. There is little point in trading him right now. No team is going to give up much of anything for a recovering first baseman who is owed $14m in 2013.
    1. mk's Avatar
      mk -
      Morneau will have a good year in 2013 no matter where he is. It looks like his injury issues are behind him and, when healthy, Morneau is as good as any 1B in the league. The Twins are lucky to have him.

      I think the Twins have a lineup to build around (it'd also be nice to add a SS) and I hope they decide to make a run at some legitimate starting pitching via free agency and try to contend in 2013. With Pavano, Baker, Liriano, Capps, Zumaya, and Marquis not on the payroll, that should free up around $25 million. And, in my dreams, I think back to the payroll of 2011 where the Twins would have $41 million to spend afer 2012.

      Also, looking at costs down the road, it doesn't look like anyone other than middle relievers are reaching arbitration anytime soon and after 2013, Blackburn, Nishi, and Carroll's $12 million come off the books.

      It seems the only way to get good starting pitching is to either develop it (hard for the Twins lately) or pay for it. I think it would be a better investment for the Twins to spend the cash rather than the prospects.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Keep Morneau around for now, Span is going to get you a better package at this point anyways.
      If the Twins compete in 2013, then roll with Morneau, if they fall out of it you can easily trade him at the deadline and probably get a much better package then currently.

      A lineup of
      Revere
      Mauer
      Willingham
      Morneau
      Doumit
      Parmele
      Plouffe
      who cares
      who cares

      Would be pretty damn nice.
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      OK, I am officially no longer in favor of platooning Morneau with Valencia.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Willingham will probably get you a better package than Morneau and Span combined. If I was trading someone that's who it would be. I do not trust his health at all.
    1. Loosey's Avatar
      Loosey -
      Or the Twins organization could act like "Big Boys" and keep an improving Morneau as well as spend some money on pitching and instantly be in the Central Division conversation next year. I'm not talking about other team "ace" type pitchers, I mean sign two quality starters and go from there, $10-$12M a piece guys.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Twerp View Post
      TRADE HIM. Do it while he's hot so we can maximize his value. Get pitching and never look back.
      His value is still incredibly low. There is little point in trading him right now. No team is going to give up much of anything for a recovering first baseman who is owed $14m in 2013.
      And that's the real dilemma. I keep reading people saying "Keep Him" and "Extend HIm" but if other GMs were as confident as some of the posters that his health issues are behind him, his trade value wouldn't be so low (even taking into account the $14 million for 2013.)

      I don't think that they have much choice but to keep him. And say daily (or more frequent) prayers that he doesn't get hurt again. After the last 3 years, I'm happy to think that he is giving the team value again (yes I know there were periods in there where he gave good value but this has been a long haul -- starting in August 2009). I'm just continuing to hold my breath hoping that he stays healthy.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Piching is over rated, we don't need anymoe pitchers.
      Butera and Slama take care of the 2013 rotation needs, IMO.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      Piching is over rated, we don't need anymoe pitchers.
      Butera and Slama take care of the 2013 rotation needs, IMO.
      What?

      The Twins need pitching, but they also need fans in the stands. Morneau produces, and most fans notice this. I consider Morneau untradeable until Sano shows up.
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