May 12, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman J. Morneau (33) breaks his bat as he swings for the ball during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
As Justin Morneau deals with concussion-like injuries, the Colorado Rockies have missed the window to trade him for pitching and prospects.
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Justin Morneau has disappeared as he recovers from concussion-related problems after sustaining the injury six weeks ago.
As we learned recently, Morneau has only visited the clubhouse occasionally since then — perhaps pointing to just how serious his symptoms are, especially since they nearly forced him to retire before he ever joined the Colorado Rockies.
Morneau’s health — and now, specifically, his post-career health — are the most important. We hope and wish for the best after his baseball days are over. There are certainly more important life issues to worry about than the Rockies trying to pick up some prospect on July 26 from a team who needs a left-handed first baseman.
In the grand scheme of things that’s an inconsequential transaction, but in the baseball realm, Morneau’s absence leaves the Rockies down one major trade chip. The game marches on, and Morneau’s injury comes at a bad time for the Colorado Rockies.
We profiled Morneau as an ideal trade candidate in April; good bat, good glove, great veteran presence, relatively low cost, and a previous trade deadline experience to his name — oh yeah, not to mention a contract that ends this year with an option for 2016 — make him an ideal move in July.
And now… not. It’s probably safe to say in light of his history that we will not see Morneau for quite a while. In one way, that could be good. If the Colorado Rockies feel Morneau has recovered, they can always exercise his 2016 option, and we will go through this same dog and pony show before the trade deadline next summer. Then, with an expiring contract and no options, the Rox could easily deal Morneau depending on where they are a year from today.
Morneau’s unfortunate injury and the Rockies’ poor timing, however, underscore the importance of striking while the iron is hot. I fully understand the value of waiting until the end of July for a middling wannabe-contender to cough up some prospect as they get desperate for an impact bat. But why not strike earlier?
Even if concussions issues weren’t involved here, did Jeff Bridich really believe a 34-year-old career .281 hitter would follow up his 2014 NL batting title with something even better? How’d that work out with the last former Minnesota Twin-turned-Colorado Rockie in the season after earning his batting title north of 30-years-old? Nobody is arguing that Justin Morneau isn’t a great baseball player, but let’s be real: his value peaked the day he won the batting title.
Hindsight is 20/20, but Morneau should’ve been moved over the winter. Sure, he was hitting well this year before the injury, but his time to move was post-batting title in a market with very few hitters available.
Short of having an Arenado-type hot streak this summer (which wasn’t realistic for Morneau), nothing the first baseman could’ve done in 2015 would’ve made him more valuable than his 2014 performance.
Teams like the Marlins were in on Morneau in December, and Bridich never pulled the trigger. Considering the young pitching in Miami, that’s a missed opportunity.
Sure, we may never know what the Marlins offered for Morneau, but it’s all a moot point now: the Colorado Rockies missed on this one, and it’s now one less trade piece in the back pocket — and one major hole at first base — as the calendar turns to July.