It’s been a while since the Colorado Rockies have needed to find a new first baseman, but after the retirement of Todd Helton, they have to find someone to replace him. According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, their top priority is former Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau.
Morneau had a down season in 2013, hitting for a .259/.323/.411 with a 102 wRC+ and 17 home runs. An encouraging sign for Morneau is that he had his second straight season without missing significant time because of concussion-related issues. Morneau is 32-years old so he is certainly not young, but he’s also not old enough to suggest that a bounce-back season isn’t possible. A season in Coors Field certainly wouldn’t hurt his statistics.
When the Pirates acquired Morneau, all the bloggers that I read hated the move. He wasn’t going to do anything that former first baseman Garrett Jones didn’t do. It turns out that Morneau didn’t hit a single home run in his time with the Bucs, so he was terrible, right? I don’t think he was as bad as people think — he showed great plate discipline in his 92 plate appearances with the Bucs. Morneau walked in 14.1 percent of them and struck out just 13 percent of the time.
Another thing Morneau brings to a team is a steady, veteran presence with postseason experience. Depending on who you talk to, veteran presence is either overrated or underrated — to me, it matters, but not all that much.
Morneau said once the offseason started that he would prefer to play for a contender. Are the Rockies going to be contenders in 2014 in a division that has the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks? It seems unlikely. Unfortunately for Morneau, he hasn’t played well enough of late to truly decide where he will play. Morneau will play for whoever offers him the most money — it’s that simple.