Posted at 8:30 AM on May 30, 2007
by David Zingler
When Justin Morneau was named AL MVP last November, I have to admit that I was shocked. Not because I didn’t think he was worthy of the award, but I figured this was the perfect opportunity for the adoring press to finally present Derek Jeter with a lifetime achievement style MVP. I thought Morneau needed to hit 40 homeruns to seal the award and when his long ball production fell in September; I thought his MVP chances had faded as well.
After the news sunk in, I started to wonder if it was too much too soon. After all, this is the same guy that drew (completely unfair) David McCarty comparisons just 12 months earlier. How would he handle the pressure, could this possibly stunt his development? The answer, thankfully, is a resounding no. We are seeing one the greatest players in Twins history develop before our eyes.
Joe Mauer’s mysterious injury has cemented Morneau’s status as this team’s most essential everyday player. With Mike Redmond stepping in for Mauer, the Twins have lost little offensively – maybe a double and walk here and there – and his defense is more-than-adequate. If the same thing were to happen to Morneau, where would the power come from? Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer would each see fewer hittable pitches and Morneau’s possible replacements – Luis Rodriguez, Jeff Cirillo, Matt LeCroy or Ken Harvey – are all borderline major leaguers (or worse) at this point (sorry Cirillo, but .211/.297/.351 ‘aint cuttin’ it).
So, while all teams have to deal with injuries, as long as Morneau and Johan Santana stay off the Disabled List, the Twins should be OK.