Twins no longer have timetable for Justin Morneau's return from concussion


Justin Morneau has missed 31 games since a knee to the helmet while breaking up a double play on July 7 left him with a concussion and manager Ron Gardenhire revealed today that the Twins have decided to abandon any timetable they had for his return.
Initially expected to miss a short period of time, Morneau has struggled with post-concussion symptoms following any attempts to engage in baseball activities. Concussions are incredibly difficult to predict, but at this point there’s a very real possibility Morneau will not play again this season.
Morneau’s friend, fellow Canadian, and former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie never recovered from the concussion he suffered in 2006, with the resulting symptoms ending one of his best seasons and ultimately his career at age 33. There’s no reason to assume Morneau’s situation will mirror Koskie’s, but clearly something very significant is wrong with the former MVP.
Prior to the concussion Morneau was having an even better season than he had while winning the award in 2006, hitting .345/.437/.618 with 18 homers and 25 doubles in 81 games to rank second in the league with a career-high 1.055 OPS. Michael Cuddyer will continue to play first base in his absence, with Jason Kubel and Delmon Young in the outfield corners and Jim Thome at designated hitter.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.