Jose Morales Earned the Right to Stick with Twins

Duane WinnCorrespondent IApril 28, 2009

FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Jose Morales #58 of the Minnesota Twins poses during photo day at the Twins spring training complex on February 23, 2008 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Jose Morales was the early favorite to draw the short straw after Joe Mauer is activated from the 15-day disabled list.

But that was then and this is now.

In the Twins' past five games, Morales has garnered nine hits in 18 at-bats. He is hitting .361 for the season.

Morales, who was selected by the Twins in the third round of 2001 amateur draft, has accomplished what other more noteworthy Twins, such as Carlos Gomez, Joe Crede, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young, Scott Baker, and Francisco Liriano, have failed to do thus far this season. He has not only met expectations, he's exceeded them.

This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who has followed Morales career.

Morales, in parts of eight minor league seasons, sports a .283 batting average. For Triple A-Rochester in 2007 and 2008, Morales batted .312 in 162 games.

The question about Morales has always centered on his defense. He was used at second base, shortstop, and third base in the minor leagues until the Twins decided to groom him as a catcher.

The move has yielded beneficial results, but not enough to dismiss the the reality that Morales is a defensive liability no matter which position he mans.

As a minor league infielder, Morales committed 23 errors in 98 games. As a catcher, Morales committed 41 errors in 334 minor league games. (By comparison, Mauer has only committed 14 errors in 498 Major League games behind the plate).

In 2009, both Redmond and Morales have struggled to keep opposing players from running wild on the base paths. Morales snapped the duo's unenviable streak of allowing 19 consecutive runners to steal a base by throwing out Mark DeRosa Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

Can the Twins really afford to lose his bat from a lineup which has struggled mightily to score runs?

Manager Ron Gardenhire is entertaining the risky proposition of keeping three catchers in the lineup. However, the Twins may not have to go this route if they jettison Redmond, who will turn 38 on May 5, to make room for Mauer.

When Morales isn't spelling Mauer behind the plate, he could be used as a designated hitter or as a part-time infielder. The latter isn't an ideal solution, but it would keep his bat in the lineup, something the Twins desperately need at this point of the season.