The Colorado Rockies have made replacing Todd Helton at first base a priority this offseason. So far, they have expressed interest in catcher Carlos Ruiz with the idea of moving Wilin Rosario to first base. However, Ruiz is asking for more money than the Rockies are offering which is leading the Rockies to look at traditional first basemen to fill the void. Among the first basemen the Rockies have shown interest in is Justin Morneau.
Morneau, a former AL MVP, has not been the same player since suffering multiple concussions in recent years. However, he is still a serviceable first baseman who, at 32-years-old, still has something to offer. Last season, Morneau hit 17 home runs, all with the Minnesota Twins, while hitting .259/.323/.411 with 77 RBI, 62 runs scored and 36 doubles split between the Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Morneau could be a serviceable first baseman for the Rockies who is capable of filling the void left by Helton’s retirement. His injury history is something to be concerned about and could always rear its ugly head at any time. However, if healthy, Morneau could be a cheaper option than some of the alternatives because of the injuries and decreased performance.
At this stage it is silly to hope or expect that Morneau would be close to the player that put up MVP-caliber numbers between 2006-2009. However, Morneau showed there is still some pop in his bat with 36 doubles and 17 home runs. In Colorado those numbers could translate to a slight increase in home runs and Morneau should be able to hit between .260-.280 while playing passable defense at first. If the Rockies were flirting with the idea of putting Rosario at first they should have no problem with Morneau at first.
There is nothing imminent as far as a new first baseman being named. The Rockies are checking in on several free agents and should be able to land one that replaces, if not out-produces Helton’s performance from the last couple of years. Morneau will turn 33 in May but still has something left in the tank. If he can be had for the Rockies’ price it could be a nice addition to a lineup that might be one of the most underrated in the game with Rosario, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.