• Healthy Morneau wants to win again

    For the first time in several years, Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has been able to enjoy an offseason free of concussion symptoms. ďI feel good. Iíve been able to do everything I want to do. I feel strong. Itís a good feeling. I can use the clichť of Ďbest Iíve ever feltí or ĎBest shape of my life.í I feel good. I have been able to do everything Iíve done in the past to help me prepare for the season.Ē

    Thatís the kind of news that Twins fans should be excited to hear. His season came to an end a few games early because of the recurring wrist issues he was having last season. ďI started swinging after New Yearís, but I started working out, building up the strength gradually. I took about five weeks off.Ē


    Morneau won the AL Most Valuable Player Award in 2006 when, as a 25-year-old, he hit .321/.375/.559 (.934) with 37 doubles, 34 homers and 130 RBI. In 2008, he played in all 163 Twins games and hit .300/.374/.499 (.873) with 47 doubles, 23 homers and 129 RBI. He finished second to the Red Sox Dustin Pedroia in AL MVP voting.

    In 2010, Morneau was hitting .345/.437/.618 (1.055 OPS) with 25 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBI. Unfortunately on July 7, he suffered the concussion that cost him the rest of the season. Its side effects lasted throughout the 2011 season.

    Following a healthy offseason, Twins fans may hope that Morneau can return to those same MVP-caliber levels, but does Morneau think that he can be that productive again?

    ďI donít see why not. I mean, Iím not 38 or 39 or 40. Itís something that I expect. Iím still young enough to produce and produce the way I expect myself to. I donít feel like Iím too far off... I donít see why I canít get back to that point.Ē

    In 2012, Morneau was able to play in 134 games and had 570 plate appearances, his most since 2008. He got off to a slow start in April, and then he really struggled in June after returning from the DL with the wrist injury. In July and August, he posted OPS of .848 and .850.
    When asked whether he thought his season was a success, he replied, ďI donít know. What did we finish with, 96 losses or whatever? We finished last.Ē

    When he was asked to discuss his personal success, he continued, ďIíve said it before, personal success doesnít matter if the team doesnít do well. I mean, Iím not ever happy just to play. Obviously getting out there is good, but you want to be successful. Itís a hard way to gauge it. Yes, Iím glad I got to play, but am I happy about the year? Definitely not. Itís one of those things. Itís good, but I expect more.Ē

    With the Twins losing seasons and Morneauís contract, his name came up frequently in trade rumors last July as well as during the offseason. Does he think about trade talks and where he might be late in the season if the Twins season is not a success?

    ďIím not going to look on the negative side of it. Iíd rather think that weíre adding players at the deadline at this point (rather) than trading anybody. So that stuff will be out of my control when it does come about. Whenever the deadline does come, it wonít really be up to me. So, hopefully we play well enough that weíre adding players and donít have to worry about that.Ē

    One thing Morneau is looking forward to is the World Baseball Classic and being healthy enough to play for his native Canada. ďIt should be fun. Itís always good to get together with the Canadian boys. Itís a good time. Itís a different experience. (Also) gives us a little break from spring training, which will be good too.Ē

    Team USA is in the same bracket and will play Canada. Could Glen Perkins be brought in to face Morneau? ďIf heís in the game, that means weíre either up or itís close, so heís in to face all nine left-handed hitters that we run up there.Ē (Morneau added that the Canadian team does have right-handed hitters Brett Lawrie and Russ Martin.)

    Morneau is also excited to see what his Twins lineup can do this season.

    ďWeíll be deep. Weíll have (Trevor) Plouffe at seventh or eighth or wherever heís hitting, and (Chris) Parmelee all year. Hopefully all the experience over the last couple of years will do him well. Left. Right. Left. Right. Pretty good balance, and power. Itíll be interesting to see, whoever is hitting leadoff, or if we move guys up in the order to not worry about the new 1-2 hitters. Thatís Gardyís job. I feel like we have a deep lineup with power. We have a chance, and thatís all you can ask for.Ē

    Morneau is entering the final season of his six year, $80 million contract that he signed in January 2008. He and Michael Cuddyer had a joint press conference to announce their multi-year deals before Twins Fest that year. In his comments, it certainly appears that Morneau is not concerned heading into a contract year.

    ďIím already pretty set in life. Iíve been through enough to know I love the game. I missed the game when I was away. I enjoy every day. Itís hard for me to look too far into the future. I try to take every day, every game and realize when something is taken away how much you miss it. That stuff will take care of itself. Itís out of my concern. My job is to play first base and help win games. The rest will happen when it happens.Ē

    He understands the business side of the game as well. In his home, he has a picture of the 2006 Twins hanging. Recently, he was looking at it. ďItís amazing how many guys are still playing. When you win, it seems like you stick around for a while, like Cuddyer, (Matt) Guerrier, (Jesse) Crain and (Joe) Nathan and a bunch of guys. Pretty good turnover since then.Ē

    ďHopefully we get back to winning and thatís really what weíre here for.Ē
    This article was originally published in blog: Healthy Morneau wants to win again started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. BrentMpls's Avatar
      BrentMpls -
      It will be interesting to see what happens with his contract ending after this season.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      I truly expect Morneau to have a big year.
      That would help. A lot.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Optimism, Optimism, Optimism. He will return to All-Star form and we will give him a nice, easy 27/3 deal to keep him around through our return to the playoffs.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joe A. Preusser View Post
      Optimism, Optimism, Optimism. He will return to All-Star form and we will give him a nice, easy 27/3 deal to keep him around through our return to the playoffs.
      So would this All-Star-form first baseman be resigning for 27 years at $3M a year, or $3M total for the 27 years?
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Quote Originally Posted by FrodaddyG View Post
      So would this All-Star-form first baseman be resigning for 27 years at $3M a year, or $3M total for the 27 years?
      27 mil over 3 years. Did I really need to explain this?
    1. mcrow's Avatar
      mcrow -
      I have no doubts that if Morneau is healthy he can be a .300/20+HR/100+ RBI type of player again. Seems like just one injury after another and that's after all the issues with concussions.
    1. drunksam's Avatar
      drunksam -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joe A. Preusser View Post
      27 mil over 3 years. Did I really need to explain this?





      A word of advice, don't ever learn how to properly put things down. Everyone will know what you are intending when you write things the wrong way. It is a rule of the internets.

      As for a 3/27 deal, it would be a very nice hometown discount if the big mountie has a big bounce back year. Much less than what a free market flush with cash would net I would think.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      I think people tend to forget where Morneau was mid-way through 2010, not so long ago. I also tend to think that a lot people take for granted how missing so much of 2011 affected his play in 2012. To miss almost a year of actual playing time as well as almost a full off-season of strength and conditioning certainly played a role in his struggles, much more than any lingering effects of his concussion.

      I think it's very possible for Morneau to OPS over .850, we saw glimpses of it during the latter part of last year. I don't think .850-.875, with 20-25 HR's is so far fetched.

      Having said that, I'm going to miss him.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      If he's healthy, Morneau could OPS anywhere between 800 and 950. I have no idea what to expect from him other than "he should be better than last year and he wasn't bad last year".
    1. mcrow's Avatar
      mcrow -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I think people tend to forget where Morneau was mid-way through 2010, not so long ago. I also tend to think that a lot people take for granted how missing so much of 2011 affected his play in 2012. To miss almost a year of actual playing time as well as almost a full off-season of strength and conditioning certainly played a role in his struggles, much more than any lingering effects of his concussion.

      I think it's very possible for Morneau to OPS over .850, we saw glimpses of it during the latter part of last year. I don't think .850-.875, with 20-25 HR's is so far fetched.

      Having said that, I'm going to miss him.
      Missing a whole year is one thing but missing an entire year and then being injured the better part of 2012 didn't help either.

      I think if Justin is healthy he can be close to what he was in the past.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      The only way he re-signs here is because his family is here. If he wants to win, why would he sign here, if Ryan is aiming for 15 or 16 competitiveness?
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      I think Morneau is in position for a big year. To me, he is the single biggest reason a Twins fan can cling to any hope this season.
      That said, I want him wearing the biggest, cushioniest helmet that modern science can engineer and fabricate.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I think people tend to forget where Morneau was mid-way through 2010, not so long ago. I also tend to think that a lot people take for granted how missing so much of 2011 affected his play in 2012. To miss almost a year of actual playing time as well as almost a full off-season of strength and conditioning certainly played a role in his struggles, much more than any lingering effects of his concussion.

      I think it's very possible for Morneau to OPS over .850, we saw glimpses of it during the latter part of last year. I don't think .850-.875, with 20-25 HR's is so far fetched.

      Having said that, I'm going to miss him.
      Exactly
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      If he's healthy, Morneau could OPS anywhere between 800 and 950. I have no idea what to expect from him other than "he should be better than last year and he wasn't bad last year".
      And this
    1. TwinVike61's Avatar
      TwinVike61 -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      That said, I want him wearing the biggest, cushioniest helmet that modern science can engineer and fabricate.
      ...like the helmet protecter helmet Gary Bussey had in a Saturday Night Live skit...
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Assuming he is healthy--Morneau wont settle for27/3--he will be looking for 40/3 and will get it from somebody...if he is not healthy it doesnt matter.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Is everybody assuming that he'll be here at the end of the year? Personally, I hope he has a monster first half of the season so we can trade him for another legitimate pitching prospect, and get a true middle infielder as well.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      If the Twins are sub-.500 while Justin Morneau catches fire the first half, there will be contending teams willing to cough up prized prospects (but not starting pitching) for his services. When he's healthy, Morneau can dominate a baseball game, and he's still one of the better 1st basemen in the league.
    1. mcrow's Avatar
      mcrow -
      Quote Originally Posted by sbknudson View Post
      Is everybody assuming that he'll be here at the end of the year? Personally, I hope he has a monster first half of the season so we can trade him for another legitimate pitching prospect, and get a true middle infielder as well.
      It's going to be interesting. If he has a monster 1st half and the Twins look like they are anywhere near competing for a playoff spot he probably stays. If the Twins are stinking it up he probably gets traded. They could be a in a real pickle if he's playing well and they are in contention nearing the end of July.

      It's unlikely but they could be in a position where they trade him while contending for a playoff spot and everyone is mad they tanked the season or they could be in the same situation and the team collapses in the second half and everyone will complain they should ahve gotten something for him.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      I am personally hoping for the Rick Aguilera scenario, where we:
      1) trade Morneau to a contender (where he can get to the post-season but not win the WS)
      2) receive a MI (instead of OF) prospect and hard-throwing A-ball pitcher (Franky Rodriguez).
      3) re-sign Morneau to a 3 year $30 million deal for 2014-2016.
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