Justin Morneau hit his first homerun in nearly three weeks against the Seattle Mariners in the seventh inning on the 27th. But that celebration was cut short when he continued to struggle Sunday night when the Twins lost 6-4 to the Mariners. But unfortunately for Morneau, this could be his last game with the only organization he has come to know and love.
He was put on as a designated hitter for the second time in only five days; a role he will typically resist. But Morneau went hitless in four at-bats in Sunday night’s game. He also struck out twice and flied out weakly the other two times at Safeco Field.
Which left him 3 for 18 with six strikeouts in a four game weekend series. While his numbers were bad, this game saw scouts from at least eight teams, including the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays.
But out of all these teams, the Orioles and Pirates are believed to have the most interest in Morneau.
A talent evaluator for a contending team said, “The Twins aren’t dumb. He’s asked for an extension, and they haven’t done that. If they thought he was going to be the player he once was, they wouldn’t be talking about him. They would have already extended him.”
The Orioles are in dire need of a makeover at DH and would like someone to give first baseman Chris Davis a break who leads the league with 37 home runs.
The Pirates are currently using an array of ex-Twins mainly Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez at first base and also have the option of moving Jones to the right field in place of declining Travis Snider.
Since hitting two homers against the Yankees on the Fourth of July Morneau’s only other multi homer game of the season he has fallen into another slump. Coming into Monday’s off day he is 16 for 89 (.180) in July with 20 strikeouts and just five Runs Batted Ins.
As of Wednesday’s 3:00 P.M. deadline, roughly $4.6 million is going to remain on Morneau’s $14 million contract for 2013. And with that amount of money the Twins might want to shift their priorities and invest in better starting pitchers.
While Morneau has maintained his health– he has only missed six games this season and is leading the team with 53 RBI’s and is second with 25 doubles, many say that he just needs time to get back on his feet. And the fans believe that the time is now.
But for the 32 year old Morneau many feel that his mobility and the agility are not what they used to be. One AL scout has said, “The ball gets on top of him much faster now.”
“Is he what he once was? No,” the first talent evaluator said. “Will he ever get back there? Who knows? But there’s a lot that goes into a guy who helps you win over those last two months. Part of what he brings to the table is the quality of his character. He’s absolutely a guy that can help a team win.”
And for many Minnesotan’s, the hope is that he continues to help the Twins win in any way possible. Because they need all the help they can get.