The Pirates Have Some Negotiating Power in Justin Morneau Talks
By Tom Smith
Aug 24, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (33) walks back to the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Pirates are still pursuing options Neal Huntington said last night. The biggest name has been Justin Morneau, who is 0-for-his-last 15, while playing for the offensively challenged Minnesota Twins. All in all, Morneau has been a below-average first baseman since the 2010 concussion, batting .257/.317/.409 in 320 games. Morneaus OPS was near the bottom of MLB before he heated up in August.
The Twins need to unload him. The Bucs could use him.
We started checking out what the Twins are up to. It’s not good. But something stood out to us not named Morneau. The All-Star Kevin Correia. Yeh, I know you don’t like him.
Kevin Correia is 33 years old. One of the coolest cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking a beer with and oh, by the way, he pitched a gutty game last night.
The Twins starter is getting paid big change this season, but last night he struck out six and didn’t allow a run while throwing the most pitches he had ever thrown in a game. In his career. Yeh. 118 pitches from the Cal Poly kid.
He kept his team in the game which is something that didn’t happen last night from Jeff Locke. The southpaw wasn’t bad, just didn’t get it done.
After Correia departed, the Royals offense came to life. The Royals wasted no time crushing the Twins bullpen as they cruised to a 6-1 win. Correia was his usual cool self after the game with this quote.
"“It is what it is.”"
Another team losing a lot more than it’s winning. Kevin Correia knows that situation well. The Twins offense has been horrible. Last night they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. In the past eleven games the Twins are hitting .162 with RISP. Twenty hits in 123 at-bats. Correia attributed it to the guy on the mound for the Royals.
"“That guy (Shields) threw a great game out there,” Correia said. “It didn’t matter what the bullpen did in the end. And more often than not, they’ve come in and held games."
See, we always like KC. Kevin Correia that is, not Kansas City.
Last season, Correia was 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA in 28 starts over 171 innings with four begrudging appearances out of the pen.
The Twins seriously overpaid for him this off season. We wonder if his name is coming up in the Morneau deal at all? The players really enjoyed his company, but it’s damn near impossible to see the Bucs wanting anything to do with all that salary. With some young arms in their system are the Twins holding out hope that the Bucs would take him off their hands?
Correia has pitched well, putting recent starts against the Royals aside. In his last four starts he has averaged, yeh averaged seven innings. In his last four starts he has compiled 28 innings pitched, while giving up just six earned runs.
Anyway, the subject is really Morneau. In his last ten games, he has five walks, nine strikeouts and eight hits with one homer. In the month of August, he has clubbed seven homers and posted an 835OPS.
Where does Morneau fit with the Twins though? Chris Colabello was named International League MVP and Rookie of the Year as selected by IL skippers, coaches, media and club reps. He leads the league with a .352 average, a .427 OBP, and a .639 slugging while slugging 24 bombs.
He will be playing first for the Twins soon. He’s 29. A tremendous story and in September, the Twins need to find out if it’s for real. Morneau has to go.
The other thing playing in the Bucs favor is that recently, like really recently, Morneau has struggled, including an 0-fer last night. He also went 0-fer Cleveland with Pirates GM Neal Huntington in attendance.
It’s hard to imagine the Pirates piling on a few more million dollars plus prospects for the 33-year old Morneau for a September run. Even though it seems really damn obvious to everyone involved, Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez aren’t getting it done the ask must be scaring the Bucs brass.
The hardest thing for the Pirates leadership to do is watch the strugles continue. Looking at Andrew McCutchen’s stranded face was painful last night. Well, for most of August it’s been hard to watch as Cutch hits, and hits and hits some more. The guys called the best management team in baseball want to win now. And in the future.
The Twins know the Buccos need Morneau. I would say the Pirates need him more than any other team in the market. The Bucs know Morneau has to go. Unfortunately, teams like the O’s and Yankees could use him too. Morneau has even said he will DH. Those clubs might not be too worried about picking up salary either. The Pirates have the better prospects to offer.
So, in what we dubbed the most interesting week of Pirates baseball since Axl and Elton rocked it at the 1992 VMAs, the best moves might be yet to come.
We say Morneau is going to be out of Minnesota. We just can’t imagine Pittsburgh being the landing spot.