What is Justin Morneau's post-concussion outlook?
On July 7 at the Rogers Centre, an unfunny thing happened on the way to second base. Since that day, Morneau hasn't played baseball or participated in any baseball-related activities. He was hitting only .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 296 at-bats. Yep, that's all.
It's Morneau's second recorded concussion as a major leaguer (April 2005, HBP); he had multiple concussions as a high school hockey and hoops player. In baseball, blows to the head are a rare thing. The dangers of repeat concussions and the increased likelihood for another are unnerving, however.
Morneau began working out in late November and expects to be ready for ST. He's focused on being ready for opening day. The 29-year-old slugger will give high-end production as long as he's in the lineup. But how easily could you lose him? Was the re-signing of Jim Thome for assurances that the Twinkies will have a left-handed thumper? The concussion issue alone drives Morneau into bottom-third mixed first basemen, but he probably won't come much more cheaply than in years past.
The Twins expect to enter ST as if Capps is their closer. They're hopeful and likely expectant that their former All-Star will take the reins, though. Nathan feels fantastic. He should be back to normal at some point this year. Expect him to encounter bouts of wildness, as many TJS returnees do initially. He'll probably be volatile in the early going.
Say Nathan proves that he's at or near full strength, with no concerns about setbacks. Price goes up, as does confidence. Say the opposite is true. Price and confidence do the opposite, too. Neither is necessarily good or bad. One sign doesn't eliminate possibility of the other scenario.
Minnesota can't really lose. They won't hesitate to turn to Capps, temporarily or, eventually, permanently, if Nathan hits a roadblock. Sounds like a safe bet. But Nathan still has the edge because he's the Twins' preference and is right on track. ST will simply affect the market.
Fantasy baseball interest in Japanese imports has dwindled in the past couple of years. Nishioka, 26, won't change that trend. He batted .300 or better in three of the past four years in Japan. He might approach that mark in the U.S., but he won't hit for power. He could steal 20 bases, but the Twins aren't all green lights. He might play every day, but until last year, Nishioka hadn't played a full season's worth of games because of injuries. There's little mixed league upside for this second baseman. In AL leagues, his stable skill set is attractive for its apparent safety.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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