The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

July 22, 2013

Thoma column:

The average American League first baseman this year entered Sunday’s play with a slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .261/.336/.450.

Justin Morneau’s slash line is .276/.334/.409.

And therein lies the dilemma for the Twins less than two weeks from the trading deadline: Morneau, the former MVP and once one of the best first basemen in the game, is now below average at his position.

He’s 32. He’s a free agent at the end of the season.

He’s going to be traded. That’s almost a certainty. That the Twins won’t get much for him is even more of a certainty. There’s not much market for a slugger who doesn’t slug much.

The Twins are a team in transition. The years of building the lineup around Joe Mauer and Morneau are past; that worked well for a while, and then Morneau’s series of health problems — back, concussions, wrist — ate away at his playing time and his abilities.

You look at the lineup the Twins trotted out this weekend, and you won’t see many players who figure to be in their current positions when the team turns good again. Mauer at catcher, yes. Maybe Pedro Florimon at short. But the rest of the lineup figures to be out the door or shifted to other positions when the big wave of budding talent comes in.

There’s speculation in the metro media that the Twins might, having traded Morneau this summer, bring him back as a free-agent (and at a much lower contract; he gets $14 million a year now, and might get half that in a new deal).

Terry Ryan has done that kind of thing before. In 1995, Ryan traded Rick Aguilera to Boston for Frankie Rodriguez, then re-signed Aggie in the winter.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports Columns
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
Free Press news updates
Special Promotions
AP Video
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Poll