• What do we make of Justin Morneau's quotes?

    ďThere comes a point when you can only torture yourself so long.Ē

    Those are the words of Justin Morneau (courtesy Phil Mackey of 1500espn on Twitter), uttered just this morning while speaking to reporters for the first time since reporting yesterday to Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers. Today the Twins will hold their first full squad workout of spring training.

    Mackey tweeted Morneauís quotes, ďI donít know if I can be a full, 100 percent go, but Iím going to go out there and participate in everything and take it day by day.Ē The quotes are pretty straight-forward. Clearly, Morneau is not completely past concussion symptoms (not a surprise, I don't think). To me, it sounds like he is a guy who has decided to just go all-out until he canít again. Itís like a pitcher with some elbow soreness who decides that he is just going to air-it-out on his bullpen sessions until it either feels better or snaps.

    There has never been any question about Justin Morneauís toughness or his willingness to play with pain. It sounds like he has worked hard and is in good shape. But concussions are not something with which one messes around. Morneau has a young family and is just 30 years old. He has, hopefully, another 60 years left on this earth to spend with them, so it is understandable that he wants to be able to enjoy those years.

    At the same time, Morneau came in on Thursday and took a full round of batting practice. He said he is going to work out with the team today. He sounds like he is feeling good right now, but based on what he has experienced the last couple of years, he doesnít know how he will feel tomorrow, or next week or sometime next month. Morneau sounds like a man who is ready to take that retirement step should he go through another concussion. And frankly, I donít blame him at all. Baseball is a great game. We all love the Twins. Morneau was an MVP who led this team through several very good years. We all appreciate that. He has earned enough money already that his familyís needs will be met.

    I've said throughout the offseason that I thought anything the Twins got from Morneau in 2012 should be considered a bonus, and my opinion doesn't change based on these quotes. I certainly am hopefully he can be close to what he was in his best days. But donít give up on Justin Morneau and the Twins just yet. Letís see how this plays out. For now, heís ready to go, excited for spring and hopeful for another strong season. Thatís what Twins fans should hope for. He also clearly has had some very difficult discussions with himself and those close to him and is realistic as well.
    This article was originally published in blog: What do we make of Justin Morneau's quotes? started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by shanewahl View Post
      Derrek Lee. For the love of God, Derrek Lee.
      No much panic or anything ?
      As long as Morneau is not retired, adding another player does not make much sense.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Sounds like Justin really wants to give it another go, but is nothing close to confident that he'll be able to keep playing. Any way you look at it, what a shame it is that his career has taken this path. And I'm with those that say DH him exclusively.
    1. JeffB's Avatar
      JeffB -
      What I read from Morneau's quotes is that he's tired of the long process of working hard only to face another long and uknown recovery process.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      check our www.1500espn.com now to listen to the full interview with Morneau. Doesn't sound so bad. Sounds like he's ok now, but IF something were to happen, he'd consider his options.
    1. tpb8's Avatar
      tpb8 -
      I have to beleive that Plouffe is going to be factored into the mix at 1B with Doumit & Mauer. He's basically Cuddyer II so why not get his 1B apprenticeship underway?
    1. TwinsMusings's Avatar
      TwinsMusings -
      After listening to the whole 14+ minute interview with Morneau, I think he is mostly upbeat and excited to be back on the field doing the same things as the rest of the players. He is also just being realistic about the concussion related issues. If they return, he is not going to continue to battle back in spite of how much he loves to play. He was pretty clear, though, that he feels much better than he did last year and does not expect to have any set-backs as spring training progresses.

      I happen to think that hitting will be the real test of whether or not he is back 100%. He was never close to full recovery from concussion symptoms last year even before the infamous first base diving incident. You could see, even just on TV, that he was not able to react quick enough to hit well. He missed or fouled off pitches he would have killed previously. He could not catch up with balls on the outer half of the plate and pitchers quickly figured that out.

      This year, there is reason to be more optimistic than last year because he is starting ST in good shape and able to do from day one all the same workouts as every other player. He says the wrist is about 90%, but it is only strength and endurance for repeated swings that is not 100%, and expects to be full strength by opening day. I hope he gets opportunities to face live pitching every day so he can continue to improve his ability to see the ball, identify pitches and get around on the ball.

      Since I believe hitting and base-running will be almost as high risk as playing first base is, I don't think being the regular DH will do much to avoid future concussion symptoms. I expect him to play in the field, with an occasional game at DH, or else not be in the line-up at all.
    1. JB (the Original)'s Avatar
      JB (the Original) -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      These quotes scare the hell out of me. I hope they scare the hell out of the Twins. For the love of god, get a backup plan beyond pushing Parmelee.
      You must have read my response to this news on Hardball Talk, eh?
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinsMusings View Post

      Since I believe hitting and base-running will be almost as high risk as playing first base is, I don't think being the regular DH will do much to avoid future concussion symptoms. I expect him to play in the field, with an occasional game at DH, or else not be in the line-up at all.
      Yes, base-running essentially is as high risk, but you have to understand that baserunning is an occurrence that puts him on the field of play far less than playing 1B does. If He's DH-ing, he's in the batters box for maybe 20 pitches a game, maybe on the basepaths for another 20. If he's playing 1B, add 100+ pitches to that equation of opportunities for something to happen to him (or 27 more outs if you want to look at it that way). That's why I say DH him.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      And what exactly is he downside of Morneau playing DH 80% of the time? It just means Doumit moves to first base. ON those occasions that Mauer needs a break at catcher, he and Doumit switch. If anything, it helps the roster to have Morneau DH, because then Gardy doesn't need to worry about his backup catcher being DH.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I have seen comments from Pirates fans laughing or crying in memory with regard to Doumit's defensive ability at first base. It might be his worst position. I agree that pushing Parmelee is not a great idea immediately. I am not comfortable with Luke Hughes' bat or Ryan Doumit's glove every day at first base. If Aaron Bates and Steve Pearce don't work out . . . what's wrong with throwing $1 million at Derrek Lee? It isn't panicking to add a former star (just a few years removed from a great season) for very cheap!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      And what exactly is he downside of Morneau playing DH 80% of the time? It just means Doumit moves to first base. ON those occasions that Mauer needs a break at catcher, he and Doumit switch. If anything, it helps the roster to have Morneau DH, because then Gardy doesn't need to worry about his backup catcher being DH.
      The problem with this is that Doumit played a grand total of 35 MLB and 4 MiLB games at first base and the bulk of those in 2006. (BTW, that was the last time that Willingham caught ) And he was not that hot with the glove there, but I hope he gets some reps at some point. On the other hand, I suspect that Parmelee will probably get most of the reps at 1B during ST.
      As a comparison, Luke Hughes played 36 games at 1B last season (and pretty well) with the Twins.
    1. Terry Tiffee's Avatar
      Terry Tiffee -
      I've said for quite some time that even if Morneau was to come back, he'd be a fraction of his former self. Obviously, I'm rooting for him, but I have zero expectations for him.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      The downside of moving Morneau off first base ostensibly is that you'd be replacing him with a worse defender. At one point, his glove would have been tough to lose, but last year he was thoroughly unimpressive in the field. He's probably still better than Doumit, but as long as RD can field grounders and scoop a few short-hops he's not going to kill you.
    1. BK432's Avatar
      BK432 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kirbyelway View Post
      I would only DH him. They need his stick in the lineup.
      I hope that's the case. Him being at 220 pounds doesn't give me a ton of faith that he'll have the same kind of pop. What a depressing day...man, I'm hoping for the best but now starting to prepare for the worst.
    1. dwintheiser's Avatar
      dwintheiser -
      Quote Originally Posted by jameshenke78 View Post
      So my question is, how would his retirement affect the payroll for this year and next? I assume his salary would be taken off the books and that gives us 14 million for this year and next.
      I'm neither a lawyer nor a front-office worker, and I can't seem to find the current CBA so I'm working off the 2007-2011 CBA, so here's what I think would happen:

      1) If Morneau retires now based on the injury he received in 2010, he would not be eligible to be paid any of the remainder of his contract by the Twins. That's not to say Morneau wouldn't still receive money based on workman's comp or insurance. (Had he retired immediately, and met his contract requirements for reporting same, he would still have been eligible to receive full pay for 2010.) However...

      2) If Morneau retires before the end of his current multi-year contract, some portion of that contract is still considered to be part of the 'Actual Club Payroll' for purposes of the Competitive Balance Tax until the actual contract expires, assuming the Competitive Balance Tax was affirmed for the 2012-2016 CBA (the 2007-2011 CBA says that the tax will 'sunset' after 2011, so unless it was renewed, it's not really an issue.)

      What moves would the Twins consider if retirement occurs?
      No idea. Given the uncertainty of who would actually end up responsible for the remainder of Morneau's contract (the Twins, an insurance underwriter, some other party under federal workmens' compensation rules), I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Twins just consider Morneau's contract a sunk cost and don't even bother trying to figure out how much of it they'll be able to use until after the contract expires after the 2013 season.
    1. gobie82's Avatar
      gobie82 -
      Sad to hear. He's been one of my favorites on the roster by far. Extremely great guy. Love he and his wife for the work they do with Juvenile Arthritis locally; something his little neice, my 3 year old son, and 300k other american kids suffer from and actually can be deadly. At some point life is more important imho than just a game. Hope he can stay healthy for his own sake though.
    1. Aaron Cross's Avatar
      Aaron Cross -
      They should announce him the everyday DH immediately, and put this distraction to an end. Lets see if he can make it through 2012 at DH, then revisit him playing 1st base in 2013. Baby steps. Playing 1st base just increases the odds he'll get hurt again. All he'd have to worry about would be swinging the bat and running the bases, and he could be cautious on the basepaths (no more hard takeout slides). If they're smart enough to DH him, I like his chances. There are plenty of other options at 1st base (Doumit, Mauer, Plouffe, Parmelee).
    1. Knuckelball's Avatar
      Knuckelball -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      These quotes scare the hell out of me. I hope they scare the hell out of the Twins. For the love of god, get a backup plan beyond pushing Parmelee.
      Boy do I agree with you on this one!!! I thought the very same thing!!!
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Seems fairly clear: If Morneau is not on the field and competitive this year, he's hanging it up.
    1. iTwins's Avatar
      iTwins -
      This really put a blow to my optimism for this season. I was really hopeful Morneau would be back to his old self this year. Instead, he sounds like he's resigned to his fate - an early retirement. Hopefully the Twins are proactive in this situation and find a replacement 'just in case'.
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