Ask the Sportswriters

Following are opinions from Mille Lacs County Times  editor-sports editor Gary Larson, reporter Luther Dorr, former Times intern Logan Marxhausen and sports fan Ben Johnson. Note: This feature is written on Monday each week.

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•Question:  Even before the 2013 season began speculation was that the Minnesota Twins would deal first baseman Justin Morneau. The trading deadline is July 31. What are your thoughts on dealing Morneau? There’s also speculation that the Twins, looking for prospects, should deal closer Glen Perkins. What are your thoughts on that?

-Dorr: There’s no way the Twins should deal Perkins unless they get an unbelievable deal that would give them two or three impact players.. Barring injury, he’s set up to be the team’s closer for the next few years. Veteran columnist Sid Hartman said on the radio recently that it wouldn’t be a big deal to trade Perkins because there are so few games to save. I don’t agree, nor do I agree that it’s easy to find another closer. Detroit, with the best lineup in the division, can’t find a closer. Morneau is a little different story, although I would hate to see him go. But, if you could get something for him, which I doubt, I could live with a trade. He was the top Twins player, in my mind, until the last concussion, and has also been a stand-up guy. But his contributions to the offense have dropped markedly.  Before the injury he was homering every 19 times at bat. Since then it has been 1 every 37 at-bats. His RBI production has also dropped off and although he had 48 in the first 78 games this year, he has just 4 in 17 games in July. His slugging percentage the year he got hurt was .618, now it is .405. He just can’t hit for power anymore. It’s been sad to watch his stats fall so much but it’s reality. I wouldn’t trade him just to trade him. For one thing, there is no one on the horizon to replace him. But, if you can get something good, make the move.

-Marxhausen: If it were up to Perkins and Morneau, they would both stay with the club for a long time to come. Perkins, a Stillwater, Minn., native would love to stay with his hometown team after re-signing this offseason through 2015 with an option for 2016. The team does not have much interest in trading the lefty closer with a very organization-friendly contract. Morneau, who is in the last year of his contract, has not been approached by the management to re-sign with the Twins. The rumors say that the market for Morneau is very soft and the team wouldn’t get the package it is hoping to land. Unless general manager Terry Ryan has a brilliant scheme, the Twins are either looking at losing Morneau for minimal prospects, losing him altogether or signing him back. My hope is the later of the three.

-Larson:  Supposedly, dealing either Morneau or Perkins, or both, would land the Twins several prospects and, in Morneau’s case, free up some money to later use in the free agent market. The assumption would be that the team can identify talented prospects and extra cash would be used to bid for free agents. The reality, based on the past three seasons, is that management doesn’t have a clue and any extra cash would not be used to lure free agents. This team is caught between that rock and a hard place and it will take a lot more than “prospects” to rebuild its pitching staff.

Johnson: Justin Morneau has played his entire career in Minnesota and he is a class act guy.  It would be hard to see him leave, however, it is even harder to watch the Twins lose games at the pace they are.  I don’t think Morneau has much trade value but the Twins must start somewhere and I think a few low Class A prospects would be better than hanging on to him for the remainder of the year.  Perkins, on the other hand, should draw some big time prospects.  There are a number of teams in need of a good closer and Perkins has been one of the best in baseball.  If you ignore the total number of saves (because the Twins do not give him many chances) he has been nearly perfect.  He averages almost 1 1/2 strikeouts per inning, he attacks the strike zone (just 7 walks), and he can pitch consecutive days in a row.  Even though the Twins may struggle to fill the closer role, they can use the remainder of the season auditioning for it.  Jared Burton may fit the role just fine. Perkins is a hometown boy and another example of a class-act guy but the Twins need to take big strides to turn the organization around.

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Do you have an opinion on any of this week’s questions? Do you agree or disagree with the sportswriters? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor.millelacscotimes@ecm-inc.com or a note to Mille Lacs County Times, 225 S.W. 2nd St. Milaca, MN 56353. Or comment online.

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