Friday, April 13, 2012

I Used to be an MVP, You Know

A couple of days ago I came across a facetious comment about what a great fit Justin Morneau's $28 million dollar Canadian concussion would be for the Toronto Blue Jays. I chuckled, then stopped to think about it for a minute. Well, why the fuck not?

And as the permeating possibility wormed its way through my alcohol-riddled brain, visions of left-handed-hitters of all shapes and colours began to dance. They ran the gamut: Votto. Koskie. Hafner. Fielder. Lind. Morrison. Snider. Delgado. Morneau's potential value has a lot of determining factors, only a few of which can be summed up in the following:

1) Is Morneau healthy?
1a) (Depending whether he is or not) Is he worth $14 million dollars a year?

2) Is Morneau available?
2a) If he is, is his price tag reasonably bargain basement? 

3) Is mid-late career Morneau a better option than Adam Lind at first base?
3a) If he is, is Lind's contract tradeable?

That said, there are some reasons to like the idea. Lind had a good year once; Morneau had a bad year once (not including last year's injury-shortened nightmare); the Twins just lost Scott Baker for the year and Francisco Liriano continues to be a mystifying mess, much like the rest of the roster, Morneau included; and since Terry Ryan has just recently taken the GM reins back, one would presume that he appreciates the amount of elbow grease required to hark back to his scrappy glory days. Oh yeah, and there's that citizenship thing. And if you care that much about protection (and let's say for the sake of argument that I point to Kelly Johnson's six-game-sample in front of Jose and agree with you), a productive Morneau could provide an offensive weapon behind Bautista that far outstrips anything that Lind, Encarnacion, or anyone on the current roster could possibly provide, and even as a high-risk investment $28 million over two years is nowhere near as crippling as the $200 million more over nine years that a similar threat recently received.

Of course, if Morneau's proven himself fully healthy by the time the Jays make an offer for him, the price tag will still be astronomical. By the same token, the Twins won't give him up for nothing unless Morneau really and truly is ready to pull a Koskie (Canadian, left-handed hitter, Twin, concussion recipient) and hang up the cleats for good. 

If any one person definitely knew the answer to the three questions posed above, then there would be no deal to be made. The Jays aren't really in a position to trade premium talent for a rental. If there's value, though, it's in that middle ground. The Twins don't know if Morneau is any good anymore, and they probably don't have the roster to do anything with him over the next year and a half even if he is. They also need to get Joe Mauer and Chris Parmalee reps at first base and DH. The Jays, by all indications, have money to burn on short-term and/or high-value investments - it's hard to argue that Morneau wouldn't be a better allocation of resources than Mark Teahen was - and a roster that's poised to hopefully break through over the next year or two. Gose for Morneau? Given questions about potential contact rates, I would have no problem giving up on the next Rajai Davis. Realistically, there'd probably be a pitching prospect involved too, and I'd be a bit more leery of that. But it's a thought, anyway.

Of course, it's hard to forget Koskie. (Or far too easy to forget him, if you catch my drift.) Though he was never at Morneau's level, he was a very good hitter throughout his twenties and was 32 when he signed his free agent contract in 2005. Morneau is 31. But that's simply a risk you take when trading for damaged goods.

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