Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Morneau's changing role leaving Parmelee behind

In the final weeks of spring training, the Twins made a few adjustments to their line-up to align themselves for the start of the 2012 regular season. As part of these moves, Josh Willingham moved from right field to left field, Justin Morneau was going to be the full-time designated hitter, and Chris Parmelee was slated to see time at first base and in the outfield. All of these moves had trickle down effects for the other players on the roster and the Twins have seen some of those impacts during their first portion of the season.

Morneau is trying to get back on the field after missing huge pieces of the last two seasons. He has also been trying to figure out what type of routine he should have when he is in the DH role. There can be a lot of down time between at-bats and some players who are new to the DH role have a tough time figuring out what to do with this extra time. Paul Molitor and David Ortiz have offered advice to Morneau about what to do between at-bats. For Morneau, his new routine has included riding an exercise bike and watching video of the opposing pitcher.

On Monday night, there were a few changes to the Twins line-up before their contest with the New York Yankees. Josh Willingham had been swinging a hot bat and the American League honored him with Player of the Week so the Twins moved to the fourth spot in their batting order. Morneau had been struggling so it made sense to split up the left-handed duo of Morneau and Joe Mauer. When Ron Gardenhire went to talk to Morneau about this move, Morneau said it was fine if he got to play at first base. This was the first time since the beginning of March that Morneau would be slotted in to play in his familiar role as the first baseman.

The results from Monday were very good for Morneau in his first game back on the defensive side of the ball. He finished the game by going 2-for-5 with a towering home run to one of the deepest parts of the outfield at Yankee Stadium. With the interleague portion of the Twins schedule approaching next month, the Twins needed to give Morneau a few opportunities to play first base. There is no DH when the Twins travel to NL ballparks and to get Morneau into the line-up the Twins need him to be able to play at first base. This first experiment for Morneau seemed to have been a success and the real test will be how he feels when he gets to the field today.

With Morneau's role changing on the team, the one player left behind seems to be Chris Parmelee. Coming out of spring training, Parmelee was a surprise addition to the Twins roster but his play in the spring had earned him a spot on the team. With Morneau scheduled to be a full-time DH, it looked like Parmelee would see significant playing time at first base. Out of the team's first ten games, Parmelee has started six of them at first base. He hasn't exactly hit the cover off of the ball in those six games but this could be expect from a player who hasn't spent any time at the Triple-A level.

If playing at first base is going to become more of a routine for Morneau, Parmelee's spot on the team might be in danger. The Twins have already used Mauer for multiple games at first base and by adding Morneau to the mix for time at first base, Parmelee could be relegated to more time on the bench. Do the Twins really need Parmelee sitting on the bench and not getting regular playing time? Ben Revere was in the same situation with the Twins and the team sent him to Rochester so he could get into the line-up everyday. There is no point in letting a young player like Parmelee sit around especially when he hasn't found success at the Triple-A level.

It is still early in the season and Morneau's role continues to be adjusted as the Twins search for a way for him to be successful after everything he has tried to overcome. For the Twins to be successful in 2012, they need Morneau to be a force in the middle of the line-up to go along with Willingham and Mauer. If Morneau is going to be as successful as the team wants him to be, he might need to spend more time playing first base. But Parmelee looks like he has a bright future with the Twins and this means the Twins need to find at-bats for him at the big league level or send him to Rochester to get him ready for a more regular role with the team.

1 comment:

JimCrikket said...

I agree that, if Morneau is going to play even half the games in the field, it's best to send Parmelee to AAA where he'll get regular ABs. But let's wait and see if that's really the case. We knew Morneau would get occasional time at 1B so he's ready to play in interleague road games, so one game Monday night isn't enough to base a decision on. He's supposedly sitting Tuesday's game out against CC, then we'll see where he plays the rest of this road trip.