Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Beast Commeth
Michael Morse, gonna be a Giant, for a year at least...
MLBTR Link and its either 5MM plus some incentives, "The Vogelsong" or its 1/6MM straight, which is "Half the Sabean Special". You know what they say... there is no such thing as a bad 1/6MM contract...
Morse B/R Page
Morse is not a good defender by any metric. His dWAR scores give back his oWAR gains every year. If you get hopped up about F/G's UZR/150, he's at -18.3 for LF in his career. Morse F/G Page Morse has spent 1,114 innings in LF, 2nd to his stint in RF. Hey, 14 assists! The Giants are back to the Water Buffalo, its assumed that either Gregor Blanco or Juan Perez will be coming in for 8th and 9th inning duties. For what its worth, Morse is worst off stat wise in RF than LF. And LF is the easiest OF position to play by far in PacBell.
Second negative might be as important as the defense: Morse can't stay on the field consistently. His games played highs by season: 146 (2011, his best year by far), 102, 98 and 88 last year. He is a classic late bloomer, coming up through Seattle the hard way (Brett Pill fans don't dispair!) This wrist injury that he suffered last year required surgery, the snip from the Balto Sun: "Doctors estimated that the outgrowth of the capitate bone that runs down through the hand was caused by trauma and probably occurred sometime in May, which likely affected his power and extension during his swing."
Third negative is that wrist. I just start thinking immediately about Mark DeRosa. The Giants apparently had it vetted before the signing. I'm not totally sold. How old is Morse? 32 in time for next years hijinx. If Morse can't recover his power, the whole point of signing him up is lost.
Take a look at F/G 3 Year FA Board real quick, hopefully it went to the ISO sort. The names at the top, over 200 ISO: Granderson, Napoli, Corey Hart, Nelson Cruz, Cano, Mark Reynolds, Beltran, Salty, Raul Ibanez... and Morse. 11th? Berkman, 12th Sizemore, 13th Luke Scott 14th McCann and 15th Jason Kubel. The Giants did well to snag Morse's 205 ISO on the cheap. You have a bunch of guys who take up years and cashish and the draft pick: (Granderson, Napoli, Cruz, Cano, Beltran), you have guys out of a position that will fit (Salty, McCann) and you have some bad mojo defense at a more important position (Reynolds) without getting into other flaws in the game. Corey Hart and Morse are the two guys here, the Giants tried to get in on both. Its hard to fight against a guy who drafted Hart (Jack Z), so they get the other version. Then you have injury or retirees. So getting power on the cheap is nice. The Giants hit the fewest HRs in the majors from LF last year.
The second positive is the contract length. One year, easily discarded if it doesn't work out. To get him to sign, he gets the first crack at being the starter. That is completely dependent on performance, he'll get shuffled on in July if it isn't working out. 1/6MM is better by a couple MM and an extra year. I figured he'd get more in the market because of his power profile, but teams are scared off the wrist injury. So is it a bargain? Beyond Box Score Thinks So Looking a lot at BABIP info, that makes some sense to me. Its pretty obvious the 2013 campaign was a wash-out due to the wrist. This is a nice placeholder for Mac Williamson or anybody else if they want to start threatening the 25. They are paying a 32 year old vet to go do what he did before. They're not overpaying, the discipline on contract years is impeccable. To quote Walter Sobchack: "What do you mean I brought it bowling, Dude. I'm didn't rent its shoes, I didn't buy it a beer"... In MLB today a 1/6MM really is a drop in the bucket. These are not the Gigantes of 8-10 years ago trying to win at all cost on a penny-pinching budget. This is the Real McCoy.
Third positive is that elusive and mocked clubhouse thing. Morse played for Bochy in Taiwan, Bochy obviously really likes him. He appears to be the class clown in the joint. Look forward to "Mikey" or Morsey" from Mean Bruce, and he had to throw in the dig that Morse might play some 1B as well (gotta keep that Brandon Belt on his toes). I have to think the Giants will rest him 1 day a week, to keep Blanco fresh. And there is the advantage: power off the bench. HRs are absolute, and they are game changers. Having a guy who can go do that with one swing of the bat, a proven out MLB hitter with a track record, that is the goods. I remember not caring one bit what Juan Uribe was hitting or OBP'ing towards the end of 2010. He was up there to influence the game. That is why this contract got tendered, and its a worthy pursuit. EDIT: Please note that I'm talking about a 6/7 hole hitter here, swinging for your heels in that circumstance is perfectly acceptable. This is not your 3-4-5 guy, that's taken up by Belt-Posey-Pence.
3 Things This Isn't
Let's hammer out some steroeotypes. I've been all Peter Finch up in this bitch lately, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. This isn't an indictment of the Giants player evaluation skills. They know full well his limitations. They are paying him, in the accountant eyeshade viewpoint, to be a less than 1 WAR player (WAR is up to 6MM-7.5MM most likely the higher number). He is projected for that number, he has achieved that number in the past, and that has been cooked into the equation. He can easily exceed that number, and if the Giants know some tricks to minimize the damage in LF with the glove, he could crush it.
Further, when the Rays get James Loney to have a bounceback year, they're hailed for their precious analytic skills. When the Giants get a bounceback year from Aubrey Huff, its dismissed as luck. This goes on, and on, and I'm tired of it. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore. The Giants have an obvious strategy with their reclamation projects. When they do not work, they are discarded. They are a prove out organization, they do allow veterans chances to get to that career expectation. Morse will get those chances. The Giants have an excellent hitting core, they will supplement it on the cheap. The successes of Ross, Burrell, Scutaro, Uribe, Torres outweigh the names that didn't work out in a big way.
Third thing, the Giants aren't being cheap here, they're being practical. There is a good chance you'll get 90% the performance of the expensive years/moneys/draft picks production for 10% the cost. That is playing moneyball fellas, the Giants just do it with their LF. He's being paid just about what Vogelsong is getting, and a little more than those damn LOOGYs that everybody gets hopped up about. I'd point out that a 275 BA is above league average now, that 325 OBP (yes, the Giants understand what OBP is) is about league average. What isn't league average is the 481 SLG. We'll see if it's there this year.
EDIT: To be more exact:
LF NL 2013: 263/328/417
7th Hole NL 2013: 249/307/381
Gigantes LF: 257/314/337
Gigantes 7th: 257/303/336
Michael Morse career slash: 281/334/473
The Giants are taking a shot at both, and kicking the ball around a little in the position best suited for kicking: LF. The Bench becomes a bit deeper, because Blanco can get on base at a good clip and do some damage. That looks like a solid plan to me. END EDIT
Two warnings: he's not a pull power guy, he sprays all over the joint. He might be in for a wakeup in the power alley and that 24 foot brick wall. And as far as defense, when it counts, he makes me very nervous. Playoff baseball has a habit of exposing compromises like this.
Overall, it should be fun. He has some nicknames, apparently some crazy Samurai Cobra move for the batting circle warmup. I'm sure if he hits there will be new ones coming.
Verdict: Good signing, especially considering the alternatives. Giving up 2 big prospects for Mark Trumbo? Chasing a bigger contract in years with Corey Hart (an overbid situation that might have/didn't happen)? Trading a SP prospect for 1 year of Brett Gardner? All this costs is a little cashish, and has some good upside, with a PLAN IN PLACE for dealing with his defensive shortcomings.
Contingency Plans: Its not perfect by any means, but if Pagan gets hurt again you send Blanco/Perez to platoon in CF. If Morse gets hurt or folds, you have Blanco/Perez as the backup plan. If Pence gets hurt you're screwed, because you don't have another 5/90MM Kale Krunching Ironman ready to go. Blanco or Perez in CF would be able to sub in for Morse still if lightning strikes twice on Pagan. Further, you still have all your AAA guys except for Peggs ready to give it a shot. No team has a full time OF ready to step in for injury. Not many teams have 3 full time OFs if you actually take the time to look around MLB. Except for the Dodgers. Those guys have a 60MM OF, all shiny and what not. We'll see how this plays out, its not the worst solution to the markets problems.
EDIT: Giants fans have received the seal of approval. Keith Law says its a bad signing and Morse can't play left field at all. In my best Mr Burns voice: "Excellent..."