Having Justin Morneau at first base was supposed to be a luxury for the Colorado Rockies. It was not necessarily low risk, insofar as those signings go, because the Rockies did pay him a nice chunk of change. But the idea was that Morneau might be able to rediscover his swing in a low-pressure role. And if things didn’t really work out, it would be do minimal harm to the Rockies. That was how I processed the signing, at least.
Injuries have thrust Morneau into the spotlight for the Rockies. He has been an everyday player, starting against right-handed and left-handed pitching, and has batted third or fourth in the lineup for as long as we can remember at this point. The question isn’t “how well has the Justin Morneau signing worked out?” as much as it is “Where would the Rockies be without Justin Morneau?”
The way things went on Tuesday night, they might still be mired in a lengthy losing streak without the slugging Canadian. With the St. Louis Cardinals expressing little interest, I dare say no interest at all, at fussing with Troy Tulowitzki, Morneau was given a bunch of opportunities to drive in runs.
He did just that, driving in six of them as the Rockies snapped a seven game losing streak and won 10-5 at Coors Field.
Impressively enough, this home run came against a left-handed pitcher, something that has been true of a number of clutch hits for Morneau this year.
As far as his splits for the season, he is now batting .263/.282/.438 against lefties. That’s not overly impressive, but it’s also not so woefully bad that the Rockies cannot afford to start him against left-handed pitching or use him off the bench when the other team will match him up with a lefty specialist like Javier Lopez.
The Rockies aren’t good, but it is scary to think how much worse they would be without Morneau. And in a season with lots of disappointments, the emergence of Morneau has been an especially enjoyable story line to watch.