Justin Morneau’s value

MorneausurprisedI had an unusual comment on my Justin Morneau post from the weekend. It was unusual, because it expressed an opinion that didn’t quite align with mine, but refrained from profanity and insults to my person. In fact, all it really did was open up an opportunity for dialogue via an avenue I hadn’t thought to pursue before. So congratulations, commentor Shane, for disagreeing with something on the internet and not devolving into a savage. If one person can do it, there is hope for humanity.

That said, I disagree with your assertions, but I respect your opinion. For those that didn’t click the hyperlink, here are the opinions Shane espouses:

“3 homers 42 RBI’s in 67 games = another waste of Twins Payroll dollars”
“He is one of the reason the Twins stink again in 2013.”
“Cut the cord and release or trade Justin. He’s another highly paid mediocre player”

I’m going to address these comments individually with my own dissenting opinion. To the first point, looking exclusively at home runs and runs batted in is a poor way to evaluate a complete player. His OPS+ is 100, which is indicative of a league average player at his position. Corner infielders are generally some of the highest paid players in the game, and while Morneau’s salary is certainly higher than it should be, it’s not outrageous, especially considering it was give to him as he was entering the apex of his career. These things happen. And looking at his bat — his league average bat when taking into account things like on base percentage and slugging percentage — gives an incomplete picture of the value Morneau provides to a team. He is also a plus defender at first, and there is certainly something to be said about the chemistry of the team when he is there, for whatever that’s worth.

Second, to the point that Morneau is one of the reasons Morneau stinks this year. First, in your reference to his RBI, it’s tough to get them when Aaron Hicks and Brian Dozier are flailing at the plate ahead of your in the lineup. Second, Morneau LEADS THE TEAM IN RUNS BATTED IN. If you DO in fact value RBI as a metric for rating individual value (which I do not) how can you say that Morneau is one of the reasons that the team sucks if he is the team leader in this category? If anything, this is an indication of the ineptitude of the rest of the team, who either fail to get on base ahead of him, or haven’t surpassed his total so they would be the team leader in this category.

Lastly, I won’t dispute the “highly paid and mediocre” part. He makes a lot of money and “league average” is the definition of mediocre, but I do disagree with the previous “waste of payroll” assertion. But cutting him? He is under contract, so that saves no money, and the Twins receive nothing in return. And trading him? That assumes there is a viable replacement candidate, in your minds eye, that will immediately make the team better upon Morneau’s departure (given the assertion that Morneau is one of the reasons the Twins suck this year). The Twins might be destined to trade him, but only if they can get a proper return, not to clear payroll and roster space.

Thank you, Shane, for checking in with a civilized comment that opened up this discourse. I hope you come back to read this post, because I am looking forward to hearing some counterpoints if I haven’t swayed your opinion (I suspect I haven’t).


One thought on “Justin Morneau’s value

  1. He may not hit the ball out of the park as in the past, but as has always been the case with Morneau, he does not need to hit homers to drive in runs. Justin Upton has 15 bombs but only 34 RBI, while Morneau has 12 fewers homers, he has knocked in eight more than Upton in a far more shallow line-up than Atlanta’s. And yes, he is a plus defender.

    Is he worth what the Twins are paying him? No. But when they inked the deal, they were extending an MVP, MVP runner up and someone who had a 345 / .437 / .618 slash line halfway through the 2010 season.

    Morneau is still a productive player, he’s just not someone who will compete for MVPs any longer. Trade him? Sure. Cut him loose as some suggest? That’s Bill Smith talk. Think Terry Ryan.

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