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Updated: July 19th, 2013 10:16pm
Warne: Morneau's potential departure brings about mixed emotions

Warne: Morneau's potential departure brings about mixed emotions

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by Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's fair to wonder if this is Justin Morneau's last home series with the Minnesota Twins.

Save for a pair of games with the Royals on July 30-31, the Twins will spend the bulk of trade season on the west coast after this series with the Cleveland Indians.

And if Morneau finds himself donning a new uniform prior to 3 pm CT on July 31, there will be no shortage of mixed emotions across the baseball landscape in this region.

Despite having been a shell of his former self in recent years, it's important to look at Morneau in the context of how he should be remembered in team history.

Consider (all numbers as of end of first half):

1237 - Number of games played as a Twin for Justin Morneau, seventh in team history. Morneau passed Bob Allison while the Twins were at Yankee Stadium to end the first half. Some notable Twins who played fewer games as a Twin than Morneau: Torii Hunter (1226), Joe Mauer (1153), Michael Cuddyer (1138), Greg Gagne (1089), and Chuck Knoblauch (1006).

If not for injuries, he'd probably be well past Gary Gaetti (1351) and chasing Rod Carew (1634). Morneau is also seventh in team history in plate appearances and hits.

11 - Number of seasons Morneau has played with the Twins, which ranks him as the tenth-longest tenure since the Twins moved from Washington D.C. He's tied with Michael Cuddyer, Denny Hocking, Bert Blyleven, Rick Aguilera, and Hunter.

211 - Number of home runs for Morneau, third-most among Twins first basemen (Harmon Killebrew 475/Hrbek 293) and fifth-most on the Twins all-time list.

.485 - Morneau's career slugging percentage, second to only Killebrew, and ahead of stalwarts like Kent Hrbek (.481), Kirby Puckett (.477), Hunter (.469). To that end, Morneau's place as a power hitter in Twins lore should be pretty secure.

In fact, Morneau's pre-injury slugging percentage of .511 would put Killebrew's .518 mark on notice.

And that's even before considering the MVP, numerous division titles, Silver Sluggers, four straight All Star game trips (including a home run derby crown), and the fact that Morneau's 34 home runs in 2006 broke a nearly 20-year 30-plus home run drought for the Twins.

All of this is worth noting because, while not indicative of the player who would be leaving Minnesota -- among 28 qualified first baseman, Morneau ranks last in home runs, 25th in slugging percentage, 25th in wOBA, and 20th in WAR in 2013 -- the Canadian slugger has meant a lot to this team.

In a way, it would be short-sighted and silly to just say Morneau's production could be replaced more cheaply by someone like Trevor Plouffe -- even if it is true -- without accounting for his place in Twins lore.

Part of what will make it difficult for Morneau to leave -- and that's whether it's in a week, two weeks, after the season, or whenever -- is that the Twins don't have a ready-made replacement for him at first. In fact, it was that Morneau was ready to take over that made cult-hero Doug Mientkiewicz' departure that much easier.

Well, also the fact that Mientkiewicz just had to move his stuff to the opposing team's clubhouse.

But Morneau clearly isn't part of the next wave of success in Minnesota, whenever that may be. And simply knowing that should help fans come to grips with Morneau's departure, whenever it occurs.

Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
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