July 16, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (33) hits a double during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
In a brief column posted a couple of hours ago, Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Giants "have some interest" in Justin Morneau. He also mentions that San Francisco is focused on the outfield, which makes me wonder how curious they'd be about Denard Span. But I'll try to stay focused.
How does first base look for these three teams?
Dodgers (56-47, 1st place tie in NL West)
James Loney's offensive value was tied up in his batting average and on-base percentage. This season, Loney is batting .257/.309/.338, effectively making him one of the worst first basemen in the league at the plate. Juan Rivera has seen more time there recently, and is getting all the starts against left-handed pitchers, but he isn't necessarily doing all that well against southpaws either. Adding Morneau, even if he only starts against right-handed pitchers, would be a huge gain for LA. Having a middle of the order that includes Matt Kemp, Andre Eithier, Hanley Ramirez AND Morneau would be a vast improvement over where they were last week.
Blue Jays (51-50, 3.5 games out in Wild Card)
Juan Encarnacion has had some kind of a rebirth, hitting .299/.393/.592 this season with 28 bombs. His shift to first base means that Adam Lind, new and improved since his return to the Majors (.288/.337/.513 in that time frame), has been getting most of the designated hitter plate appearances. While Jose Bautista is out, perhaps Lind would shift back into the outfield so Justin could DH. I'm not sure what the plan is, but they'd have to shift something around to get Morneau into the lineup.
Giants (55-46, 1st place tie in NL West)
Brandon Belt continues to struggle at first base, hitting just .237/.342/.375. In spite of that overall line he's posting an OPS of .900 against left-handed pitchers, which makes Morneau an idea platoon partner. Buster Posey gets a rest by playing first from time to time, and Pablo Sandoval has made appearances there as well, but the Giants are starved for offense and could use help to keep pace with the Dodgers.
I'm still not really a fan of moving Morneau, albeit that's more for sentimental reasons than anything else. He's part of the core of this team, and it would be sad to see him go. If it happens, and it might, hopefully the return can help dull the pain.
Will Justin Morneau be traded?
Probably. It just seems likely. (248 votes)
Nope! Heart and soul of the team. The Canadian heart and soul, but still. (346 votes)
594 total votes