July 7, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Michael Young (10) dives back to first base ahead of the throw to Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (33) in the seventh inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers won 4-3 beating the Minnesota Twins. Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
It appears to be the consensus of every player, manager, fan, and foe that the Minnesota Twins are woefully in need of starting pitching. General Manager Terry Ryan has stated many times that starting pitching will be the focus of offseason moves. On Sunday, Ryan told 1500 ESPN Radio that, while he would keep tabs on top-tier free agent starting pitchers, it is more likely the Twins will acquire new arms through other avenues. One possible avenue is through offseason trades, and the Twins happen to have an extra first baseman or two. The extra player at that base has an impact on who might be the Twins’ best trade candidate this winter.
The starting point for any discussion about fielding positions needs to be “Where will Mauer play?” Whether you cheered him or booed him, Joe Mauer is here to stay, no matter what the National Media speculates. Mauer’s no-trade clause means he is a given for the Twins. However, despite Mauer’s wishes, he can no longer be the every day catcher. The Twins struck the right balance in 2012, with Mauer playing in a career-high 147 games but catching only 74 of them. He was the DH for 42 games, first baseman for 30, and hit off the bench. The 29-year-old might think of himself as a catcher, but keeping his potent bat in the lineup will take more non-catching days with each passing year. First base has been a viable option for Mauer, and that has been a chance for the team to rest or DH Justin Morneau.
Morneau, on the other hand, is not yet willing to be put to pasture as a DH just yet:
"I feel relatively young in this game so I don’t plan on DHing for the rest of my career. I want to get back to playing first. Hopefully this is just the first step in that process."
In 2013, Morneau played 99 games at first base, up from 56 the previous year. With six errors, a .994 fielding percentage at first, and an absence of concussion-like symptoms, it’s clear that Morneau deserves time at first base if he is on the roster.
The third player in the mix is Chris Parmelee, who has been up and down from the minor leagues several times in the last two seasons. He has shown that he has some pop in his bat, hitting seventeen home runs in minor league games in 2012, and another five in major league games. While he has been used as an outfielder and a DH, he was used twice as often as a major league first baseman in 2012 as he was in the outfield.
Three men vying for the Minnesota Twins’ first baseman spot means that someone has to be the odd-man out. Check back on www.puckettspond.com at lunchtime on Tuesday for the next step in answering “Who’s on first?” for the Minnesota Twins, considering what other positions are affected by the answer, and who might be available for a 2013 offseason trade.