The Colorado Rockies Would Be Wrong To Bring Justin Morneau Back


Jul 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; National League infielder J. Morneau (33) of the Colorado Rockies waves to the crowd after the first round of the 2014 Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All Star Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

As classy and talented as he is, forget the veteran first baseman. The Colorado Rockies need to get younger — and getting cheaper wouldn’t hurt, either. 

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This is a bit extreme for some fans and writers who might argue the Colorado Rockies are a few moves away from being halfway decent (they’re not), but there are virtually no circumstances under which the Rox should bring back Justin Morneau in 2016.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the guy, I’m really impressed and happy that he won a batting title in Denver, he’s a class act and a great player, he’s done incredible work coming back this season from a very serious injury, and I honestly believe he has a couple of good years left before the end of his career.

All that being said… he’s certainly not worth his mutual 2016 option (at $9 million!!) and he’s honestly not even worth coming back to this ball club on a more team-favorable (read: cheap) contract. The Colorado Rockies ought to cut ties this winter, thank him for the memories, and give first base to Ben Paulsen — at least for 2016 — as they turn the roster over and plan for contention down the road.

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We’ll talk more about this over the winter, but the Rockies are in the middle of a true rebuilding project that began the day they traded Troy Tulowitzki. If a team goes halfway on a rebuild (i.e., retaining veterans like Morneau or Carlos Gonzalez), they’ll end up losing 80-90 games a year like they have been (but with a good core of guys, we’ll say!) and they’ll never figure out why they can never quite contend in the NL West.

Go young, on the other hand, and get awful for a couple of years while really building the farm system, and soon enough the success will come. Again, we’ll debate that approach more this winter — and it does require a lot of patience, for sure — but it’s the path the Colorado Rockies must take under Jeff Bridich.

Now, back to Morneau, and how he fits (or doesn’t) in this rebuild. Obviously his mutual option is too much money for his age, health history, and ability. Some have argued to bring him back on a renegotiated team-friendly deal, which is certainly possible, but I’d even argue against that. Morneau does only two things: hits left-handed, and plays first base. He doesn’t switch hit, and he doesn’t play multiple positions.

I’d be amenable to bringing in a cheap veteran or two if they could play multiple positions (see: Daniel Descalso), thereby increasing versatility as the Rockies try to fill the rest of the roster with young, cheap talent. Paulsen, by comparison, can play both corner outfield spots. Even Wilin Rosario can (gulp) theoretically play the outfield and catch (or so we’ve been told…).

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But Morneau, who will turn 35 next May, doesn’t do enough to be part of a team that’s first and only priority needs to be the full rebuild with (hyperbole coming) as many 22 year olds as you can possibly stuff on a Major League roster.

I understand letting Morneau play at first base over the last few weeks this season. I have no problem with the Colorado Rockies letting a good guy rebuild his value before free agency this winter so he can earn a job somewhere next year. Morneau deserves that, and he deserves a look in the big leagues in 2016. But not in Colorado.

Just officially give Paulsen the first base gig, already. Let Morneau walk. Trade Rosario (please!). Mix in Kyle Parker and — here’s a crazy idea — Corey Dickerson over at first along with Paulsen next season. See if Will Swanner can play first at AAA next year, and run with that. Figure out if Mike Tauchman, or Ryan McMahon, or Correlle Prime, or any other minor league corner infielder/outfielder could man first in the future.

But seriously, please, whatever you do Jeff Bridich, don’t waste time this winter attempting to retain Justin Morneau when your only priorities are (a) acquiring prospects and (b) acquiring pitching.

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