With Todd Helton now off to greener pastures, the Rockies need a new first baseman. You can expect them to start pursuing free agent Justin Morneau more heavily this week, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Morneau, now 32, was traded to the Pirates at the end of August after a 10 and a half year career with the Twins. He wasn’t particularly effective, mustering just a .681 OPS without hitting a home run in his month-plus with the Pirates.
Morneau has dealt with concussion issues since July 2010, when his head connected with then-Blue Jays second baseman John McDonald’s knee attempting to break up a double play. He missed the rest of the season, a total of 78 games. In late June 2011, he underwent surgery to address a herniated disc, knocking him out of another 55 games. He was shut down for the season at the end of August with an array of ailments, most importantly concussion symptoms that had flared up again. While he has played in at least 134 games in each of the past two seasons, he has been a shadow of his former self.
Colorado could be a good destination for Morneau, especially on a short-term deal. He would benefit from the hitter-friendly confines, which would allow him to rebuild his value and give him potentially one more chance to earn a nice contract before his career is over. In the event the Rockies don’t land Morneau, they consider James Loney their fallback option.
Time is running out for Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner to make a comeback this fall, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports that he may not make it back to the mound before the regular season comes to a close next weekend. Cashner is still dealing with a lingering bout of bursitis in his left knee and was forced to miss his scheduled start against the Blue Jays on Monday. As no timetable has been given for his return to the rotation, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll be kept on the shelf until spring.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the 32-year-old righty, who has also missed some playing time after sustaining a neck strain and low back pain. After inking a two-year, $16 million deal with the Orioles back in February, he pitched to a 4-15 record in 28 starts with a career-worst 5.29 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 5.8 SO/9 through 153 innings. By the time he was sidelined with swelling and chronic pain in his knee, he’d already taken five straight losses, the last of which was an eight-run, one-strikeout affair against the Athletics that lasted only two innings.
The silver lining: It doesn’t look like Cashner’s knee problems will require any intensive treatment — he’s already received a cortisone injection to treat the problem areas — though there’s no reason for the Orioles to push him to make a quick recovery with the way their season is going. Following their 10-8 loss to the Yankees on Friday, the team will enter Saturday’s game with a 44-109 record, the worst in the majors.