Justin Morneau, Kris Johnson, Travis Snider, and a few other notes before the game

Yesterday, I noted that Justin Morneau's triple-slash line this year (.259/.315/.426) was an awful lot like Garrett Jones's line this year (.242/.300/.424). The main reason for that was simply to point out that Morneau is more of a role player right now, that he's not guaranteed to be some kind of tater-mashing savior, riding in on his white MVP horse and pulling the Pirates to a month full of 10-2 victories as they glide into the playoffs. 

Still, Morneau has not quite been the exact same hitter as Jones. I think it's pretty important to note that Jones has put up his line while being fairly strictly platooned this year, while the Twins have used Morneau as their every day first baseman at a point in his career when he probably isn't. Morneau's got a .281/.343/.488 line against righties, with 15 of his 17 homers. That's quite a bit better than Jones's .252/.308/.444 line against righties. This is what Morneau was acquired for; not to be an every day first baseman, but to be a better big end of the first base platoon with Gaby Sanchez. So, yes, Sanchez will probably still start at first base against lefties, and yes, that's exactly how it should be. 

Speaking of Morneau, it looks like Duke Welker will be the PTBNL. Welker is kind of like Victor Black, only older (he's 27) and accordingly a bit less interesting. I think he's got a career as at least a somewhat useful reliever ahead of him, but again, relievers are relievers. I really don't think he's the sort of player the Pirates will miss too much, no matter how good he ends up being for the Twins.

After a few days of speculation, Kris Johnson will indeed be the starter for this afternoon's game. It's seemed likely that this would be the case since Johnson was skipped from his last start in Indy, particularly because the Cardinals are vulnerable to left-handed pitching, but the Pirates didn't name a starter and had both Stolmy Pimentel and Johnson in the clubhouse yesterday, likely in the name of gamesmanship. I'll talk more about Johnson in the game post.

Kyle Farnsworth is also up with the club. Farnsworth was excellent as the Rays closer in 2011, but has struggled since then. The Rays released him earlier this month and the Pirates scooped him up and sent him to Indy, where he wasn't very good. This is probably a depth move. If you see Kyle Farnsworth in a close game in the seventh, eighth, or ninth innings, hit the alarm bells. 

Finally, Travis Snider was activated off of the disabled list today. I know a lot of fans got awfully frustrated with Snider's slump this year, but I do think it's possible that toe injury bothered him way more than we realized at the time. His rehab sting with Indy was mostly powerless, but otherwise went very nicely, as he hit .344/.421/.375 over eight games. He should see some starts in the outfield while Starling Marte is out, but will likely compete with Garrett Jones this month for the right to be the primary left-handed bat off of the bench in the playoffs. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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