The M&M era ended when the Twins announced on Saturday afternoon that they had traded 1B Justin Morneau to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Alex Presley and a PTBNL or cash. Morneau has always been one of my favorite Twins players but it was time for the Twins to trade Morneau who was in the final year of his contract and at least get something for him before he became a free agent at the end of the season.
The Canadian born Morneau was selected by Minnesota in round 3 of the 1999 June amateur draft as a catcher. Morneau hurt his elbow in the Instructional League and was given a first baseman’s mitt after catching just 22 minor league games. Morneau advanced through the system quickly and on June 10, 2003 made his major league debut as the DH by going 2 for 4 (singled in first at-bat) for manager Gardenhire in a Twins 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies at the Metrodome. Morneau became the Twins regular first baseman on July 16, 2004 and has held that job ever since. Injuries have haunted Morneau since 2009 and he has not played more than 135 games since 2008 but he was on pace to surpass that number this year. Most people don’t realize that prior to his run of injuries Morneau played day in and day out and still holds the Twins record for consecutive games played with 319 between June 29, 2007 and June 20, 2009.
In his 11 years in a Twins uniform Morneau who is 32 has played in 1,278 games and has hit .278 with 221 home runs (third on the Twins all-time list) and 860 RBI’s in 4,749 at-bats. Morneau, a four-time all-star had 100 or more RBI’s four years in a row from 2006-2009. His best season was in 2006 when he hit 34 home runs and knocked in 130 and these numbers earned him the AL MVP award. Morneau worked hard to learn how to play first base and made himself a very good first baseman although a Gold Glove eluded him.
The Twins received 28 year-old outfielder Alex Presley (bats and throws left-handed) from Pittsburgh. Presley was the Pirates eighth round pick in 2006 and made his debut with the Bucs in 2010. Presley has yet to spend a full season in the majors and has played a total of just 204 games with 656 at-bats in four seasons hitting .261 with 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases. Presley has a career OBP of just .299 and has struck out 138 times. Presley is not considered much of a prospect and is probably best suited to be a fourth or fifth outfielder. Presley is expected to join the Twins once the rosters are expanded on September 1st.
I will miss Justin Morneau and we wish him the best in Pittsburgh where the Pirates will hopefully go deep in the playoffs. Personally I think it would be fun to watch a Pirates and Tigers World Series.
UPDATE AS OF OCTOBER 5 – The Twins & Pirates anounced that the player to be named later was 27-year old RHP Duke Welker. According to GM Terry Ryan, the Twins and Pirates agreed at the time of the trade on a group of players that the final player traded would be drawn from. The choice of which one to send to Minnesota was Pittsburgh’s.
The Twins also announced that they recalled catcher Josmil Pinto from Triple-A Rochester. Pinto appeared in 126 games this season between Triple-A Rochester and Double-A New Britain, hitting .309 (141-for-456) with 32 doubles, 15 home runs and 74 RBI. He was hitting .314 (22-for-70) with nine doubles, one home run and six RBI in 19 games for Rochester. The 24-year old from Valencia, Venezuela was signed by the Twins as a free agent on February 14, 2006 and was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November. Pinto will wear uniform number 43.