Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Alternatives at the Corners

Today Twins Geek takes a look at Justin Morneau in comparison of other AL 1st baseman, and winds up giving our Baby Doc a lukewarm endorsement since the only longterm alternative from around the AL whom he likes more is Mark "Tex" Teixeira from Texas--and Tex won't be leaving Texas anytime soon. I'm with him on that, and I don't see any any reasonable alternatives from the NL who appeal to me much, either. What, you want the Twins to pay Sean Casey $8.5 million next year?

Maybe Morneau and Lyle Overbay could co-exist on an AL roster. But... Overbay himself has come down from a torrid start to bat just .252/.327/.400 since the start of June, and the Brewers could command a premium return for Overbay at this stage of his career. How much could he be expected to help this season? How much would you give up to get him? And would you copy the Wisconsinites' Ooooooooooooohhhh! drone when he came to bat for the Twins?

No, I hope that the Twins stick with Morneau and support him through his slump. If it doesn't pay off this season, letting him work through these struggles now should pay longterm dividends. And since Teixeira's name has come up, let us remember that Teixeira as a rookie regular in 2003 hit .259/.331/.480, which translates to a .271 EqA when adjusted on an all-time scale. Morneau's current .254/.317/.453, in what should be his first full season as a regular, translates to a .269 EqA on the all-time scale. Last year, Morneau ended up with a .292 EqA. So although Morneau is a couple years older than Tex was as a rookie in 2003, I think Morneau's career stage is similar to where Tex stood at the end of the 2003 season--and the comparison doesn't put Morneau in a bad light. There is still reason to believe that Morneau could develop into an elite 1B bat, as Teixeira did, within the next year or two.

Meanwhile, the Strib reports the rumor that Boston may be interested in J.C. Romero, while the Twins may like to acquire 3B Bill "Miller" Mueller. Mueller is 34 and in the final year of a contract paying him $2.1 million this season, or up to $3m in incentives. Trading Romero for him straight-up should make the finances work for the Twins, no problem. Would it help the team?

On the upside: Mueller has a high on-base pct. (.386), and his .286 EqA and 16 Runs Above Replacement-Level look like upgrades on what the Twins have been getting from their 3rd basemen in the lineup. He's a veteran with a sparkly World Series ring. His glovework at 3B is generally good, and he can play 2B in a pinch. In trading Romero, the club would be ridding itself of a flakey reliever who has been particularly unreliable with inherited runners on base this year.

On the downside: Mueller's bat has been sapped of its power this season, and outside of Fenway Park he's hitting a puny .261/.369/.366. This month, he's mired in a nasty slump, posting a line of .234/.333/.340. Since 2001, he's also been even more fragile than Corey Koskie.

Does the team need an aged singles hitter who knows how to take a walk, gingerly manning 3rd base the rest of the season? Eh. I'd still prefer Joe Randa if given the choice. And on the chance that Cuddyer might repeat his 2nd half line of last season (.287/.378/.487), I'd rather give Cuddy Bear another shot to secure regular playing time at the hot corner, too.

Terry Ryan: think big, or just start thinking about next year.


At 7/20/2005 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about when Morneau comes up to bat ... we modify the Milwaukee drone and just go "More" ... as that is what we need to hope for from him.


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