Saturday Rockpile: Is Justin Morneau damaged goods?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Can the Rockies' new first baseman regain his form of several years ago, or is he simply a diminished player?

With the Rockies having signed Justin Morneau to a 2-year, $13 million contract, it seems that they are counting on him to be a player he hasn't been since 2010.

In 2010, Morneau hit .345 with 18 home runs and over nearly 5 fWAR in just 81 games before a season-ending concussion. Since then, he has not been the same, hitting just .256 in 1,341 at bats with 40 home runs and 184 RBI in 355 games from 2011-13.

There are three likely factors that have contributed to Morneau's recent decline, age, injuries and a change of ballpark.

Let's talk about that last one first, after the 2010 seasob, Morneau and the Twins moved from the Metrodome to much less hitter-friendly Target Field. Going from indoors to outdoors in Minnesota can't have helped Morneau, or any Twins hitters for that matter. The Metrodome had a hitting park factor of 101 in 2010, compared to Target Field's 95 in 2011. It is not implausible that Coors Field could be the cure for what ails him.

However, Morneau isn't exactly young at age 32 and his best days may be behind him, and his decline in numbers may simply be due to aging, even if he has rebounded some in the past couple years. There are also injury concerns, as post-concussion symptoms cost him half of 2010 and almost 100 games in 2011.

Overall, after really looking at his numbers, especially from 2013, the Morneau signing doesn't appear to be as bad as I initially thought, hopefully he can be a solid contributor to the Rockies like he was to the Twins for all those years.

LINKS

On a pretty quiet day around baseball, the Astros announced the signing of Chad Qualls to a two-year deal.

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