Would You Draft Justin Morneau?

This could be the end of the line for Justin Morneau. Morneau, who suffered from a concussion during the 2010 season, was shut down early last season after experiencing recurring symptoms. When healthy, Morneau has been one of the top fantasy performers at first base. But he’s missed so many games recently, that he’s become one of the most questionable picks in fantasy leagues. Unless he can overcome his injury, Morneau may not be worth the risk this season.

If you were thinking Morneau was a nice sleeper pick in the late rounds of your draft, his comments this week may put a damper on that strategy.

Well, I don’t think there will be a career if it’s something I’m dealing with. That’s the reality of the whole thing. I’m obviously not going to continue to mess around with this if it continues to be a problem. There comes a point where you can only torture yourself for so long.

That should shed some light on how serious this situation has become. Even though Morneau also claimed that he hasn’t experienced symptoms in over a month, he’s still taking the injury very seriously. Morneau has every right to be concerned, as his recovery from his injury has been similar to former Minnesota Twin Corey Koskie — who had to retire due to a concussion.

Even with those risks, Morneau’s previous level of performance makes him a player that you can’t completely write off. It’s been a long time since Morneau was healthy, but he was putting up phenomenal numbers before he went down with his injury. In just 348 plate appearances, Morneau was worth 5.1 WAR, easily his best season as a pro. His .345/.437/.618 line was unsustainable and aided by a crazy .385 BABIP, but it was an impressive performance none the less.

It’s that performance that still makes Morneau a relevant fantasy asset. Yes, he was awful last season, when he hit just .227/.285/.333, but overcoming concussions are no easy task. While there’s no guarantee he’ll be fully recovered entering this season, it’s at least promising to know that he’s been symptom-free for a month.

Obviously, Morneau’s performance in Spring Training will dictate whether he deserves a spot on your team’s fantasy roster. If he’s ready for game action, and plays often, that will be the first step towards recovery. Of course, he did that early on last season, and still managed to succumb to his injury, so his performance will also need to be good. Last season, Morneau was awful during the spring, and that should have been the first sign that things weren’t right with the slugger.

A solid spring would be a big boost to Morneau’s current value. Unless he gets off to a strong start during the spring, Morneau’s time as a useful fantasy asset could be over. It’s sad to see a player drop this far due to such a debilitating injury, but that’s what seems to have happened to Morneau. While dreams of his past performance might make him look like a desirable sleeper, it would be really tough to waste a draft spot on him unless he actually shows that he’s over his symptoms.



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.



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