Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Morneau to the Rockies

Justin Morneau with Team Canada
in the World Baseball Classic.
For Twins fans, it perhaps got lost in all the signings of free agent pitchers, but former franchise cornerstone Justin Morneau has signed with the Colorado Rockies.

When the Twins traded Morneau to Pittsburgh, I figured there was a good chance he'd return to Minnesota. But then Joe Mauer's concussion recovery dragged on, and Morneau showed almost no power with the Pirates, and the likelihood dwindled. When the Twins announced that Mauer would abandon catching, it was obvious that Morneau was not coming through that door.

And I'm fine with that. The former MVP turns 33 in May, and he has not been the same hitter since the notorious concussion that cut off what was shaping up to be a career season in 2010. Coors Field, the extremely hitter-friendly yard in Denver, may well recharge Morneau's numbers, but realistically, he's on the decline.

Sentimentally, Twins fans will miss Morneau. But there really wasn't a place for him on this rebuilding squad. He is no longer potent enough a hitter to force a team to make room for him.

Morneau's new contract reflects his diminished status: Two years, $12.5 million. Not terrible money, but he got $14 million last season. His pay has been more than halved.

So now Morneau, who was wearing 33 with the Twins in part to honor fellow British Columbian Larry Walker, will play for the team Walker is most identified with. The Rockies have not officially retired Walker's 33, although that is a possibility. But I imagine Morneau will get to wear 33 for the Rox.

And he'll be reunited with Michael Cuddyer, another former mainstay of the Minnesota lineup and the defending National League batting champ. (Coors Field, remember?) Another former Twin on the Rockies roster is LaTroy Hawkins, although there wasn't a lot of overlap between the Hawk and Morneau (a part of 2003).

1 comment:

  1. I was glad that Morneau signed elsewhere because I was concerned that the Twins might flirt with sentimentality and bring him back. But now they've signed Kubel, increasing the chances that Arcia and some of the other younger players lose at bats. How many slow one-dimensional pseudo-sluggers (Willingham, Parmalee, Collabello, Kubel, Dumit?) does a last place team need?