Weekend Talking Points: Winning the WAR and Morneau


The Twins are winning the WAR, according to the Wall Street Journal. That newspaper took a break from its financial coverage to rank each MLB team’s offseason. They looked at Bill James’s projected Wins Above Replacement for each team’s new acquisitions and subtracted the projected WAR of the players they lost. The Twins ended up in sixth place out of the 30 MLB teams with +4.4. Not bad, considering that they lost three core players and had to slash $13 million from last year’s payroll. The Angels and Marlins, who held a spending contest back in December, came out first and second place respectively, and the Tigers clocked in at third after signing Prince Fielder. But the rest of the Twins’ division rivals fared worse than Minnesota. The Indians were a respectable eighth place, the Royals 14th, and the White Sox 24th.

Last year the Twins fared pretty badly in the Journal’s ranking. They lost J.J Hardy, Orlando Hudson, and pretty much the entire bullpen for a net WAR of -8.4. That was 29th place in MLB. Looking back, that might have been a hint that 2011 wouldn’t go so well. Then again, the Orioles finished first in the rankings, and their season was not exactly succesful. And the Rays finished dead last after losing Carl Crawford and Matt Garza, but they still made the playoffs.

Yesterday I wrote that the Twins’ season depends almost entirely on five players: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Scott Baker, and Francisco Liriano. Right after I posted that piece, one of those players made some very unsettling comments. Morneau is in camp and ready to play, but it’s obvious that he’s getting frustrated with the arduous recovery process. He said that “(baseball is) something I love to do, but you keep preparing and you keep being left out” (baseball players often say “you” when they mean “I” – I don’t really know why that is), and “there comes a point where you can only torture yourself for so long.”

Clearly, the franchise first baseman is less than perfectly optimistic about whether he’ll be concussion-free this season. I’m sure that 99% of us already had similar doubts, but it’s somehow more disturbing to hear Morneau say it himself. I hope his concussions are healed, and it’s possible they are, but it’s hard to count on it.