Thursday, April 08, 2004


The Twins keep dropping like flies, but it aint helping Morneau. Now Matt LeCroy is on the DL, but it's backup catcher Rob Bowen, not DH-in-waiting Morneau, who gets the call.


So, ever since Niles traded me Adam Eaton and Justin Morneau for Randy Winn in the Batter's Box 6x6 rotoleague, I've become a huge fan of the British Columbia native. It's partly out of psychological necessity, because the way the Twins handle young talent (Joe Mauer aside), I've got a better shot at seeing playing time anytime soon than Morneau.

With Mauer's injury, I was hopeful (sorry, Joe) that Morneau might get the call as LeCroy shifts over from DH to take on some catching duties, but apparently it's not to be. LeCroy will stay put, and Henry Blanco will reportedly be Mauer's replacement behind the plate.

But back to Justin. Justin's short, quick, lefthanded swing has a lot of people evoking Fred McGriff, and it's interesting to see how the two compare:

475 AB .259/.371/.480 (.287 GPA) A
189 AB .249/.349/.481 (.277 GPA) AA
882 AB .246/.345/.434 (.264 GPA) AAA

433 AB .328/.404/.524 (.313 GPA) A
611 AB .293/.350/.475 (.276 GPA) AA
265 AB .268/.343/.498 (.279 GPA) AAA

In his age 23 season, McGriff started the year with the Jays as the part-time DH. He hit .247/.376/.505 (.295 GPA) in 295 AB, and next year cast aside Lloyd Mosbey hitting, .282/.376/.552 (.307 GPA) in 536 AB as the everyday 1B.

Morneau will be 23 on May 15. He had a solid spring, hitting .370 and slugging .522, and yet the Twins pushed him down to AAA rather than let him split DH duties with righty LeCroy. Even more idiotic, the Twins re-upped their current 1B, 30-year-old Doug Mientkiewicz, for two more years at over $3 M per. Mientkiewicz would be a massive improvement over Hatteberg for the A's, but he's not the kind of player who should be standing in Morneau's way. At his worse, Morneau will be no worse than career .279/.371/.415 (.271 GPA) Mientkiewicz. And he'll do it for a hell of a lot less money.

When Twins fans wonder why come September this year their club is looking up at Chicago and/or Kansas City, remember that this supposedly cash-strapped club is spending over $21M on Torii Hunter, Jacques Jones, Shannon Stewart, and Mientkiewicz this year alone (and all are locked-in long-term) despite having ample cheap, MLB-ready replacements in Morneau, Cuddyer, Restovich, Ford, and Ryan. That's $21M that at least in part could be used to strengthen the rotation, bolster the bullpen, or do something to fix the worst hitting double-play combination this side of Izturis and Cora. Terry Ryan had the right idea to let A.J. go and let Mauer step in. When you're working on a limited budget, you've got to take calculated risks. Only the fact that he's in the worst division in baseball keeps Ryan's mistake from doing the same at other positions from being critical.

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