Tag: Mike Morse

San Francisco Giants: An Early Free-Agency and Offseason Primer

The San Francisco Giants‘ 2014 regular season is winding down and has just over four weeks remaining.

As the Giants scratch and claw to make the playoffs, general manager Brian Sabean must also begin planning for the future. Sabean will have several critical decisions to make, as he builds the roster for the 2015 season.

The Giants have five key free agents about whom they must make decisions. These include Pablo Sandoval, Michael Morse, Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo. 

At approximately $150 million, the Giants have one of the top payrolls in Major League Baseball, according to baseballprospectus.com. It remains to be seen how much, if anything, the Giants ownership group will allow Sabean to increase this number for the 2015 season.

Sabean will need to bolster the pitching staff and try to bring in more consistent bats this winter. If he does not get the buy-in from ownership to increase the payroll, this task will be almost impossible.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential moves Sabean and the Giants could make prior to the 2015 season. The final outcome will be largely based on the money.


All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com.

All contract and free agency data courtesy of baseballprospectus.com.


Begin Slideshow

San Francisco Giants: Players Turning Heads Early at Spring Training

As spring progresses and players settle into their roles on the baseball diamond, the San Francisco Giants have already learned a lot about their team’s potential.  The starting pitching, including newcomer Tim Hudson, has been solid, and several players are stepping up their game in hopes of either solidifying their starting spot or earning a roster spot altogether.

On the mound, right-hander Tim Lincecum is silencing critics who say his best years are behind him.  In just over nine innings pitched, Lincecum has posted a solid 1.93 ERA and a 1-0 record.  Right-hander Matt Cain, last season’s Opening Day starter, also appears to have returned to form, not allowing a run and surrendering only one hit in eight innings pitched.

After struggling in his first few starts, right-hander Ryan Vogelsong rebounded for an excellent start Thursday against the Texas Rangers, only allowing one run in five innings.

With the projected five-man rotation performing well, up-and-comers are also making a name for themselves.  In a matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw, 21-year-old Edwin Escobar pitched well against the perennial Cy Young candidate.

Catcher Buster Posey is having a banner spring training.  Currently, the slugger is batting .450 with a home run and six RBI.  Utility infielder Joaquin Arias has also enjoyed success at the plate, cementing his role as the go-to infielder off the bench.  Arias is batting .391 in nine games thus far.

In the outfield, new addition Mike Morse has displayed his power already, though it has not been reflected in his numbers.  Morse was robbed of not one, but two home runs in a February game against the Oakland Athletics by outfielder Josh Reddick.

Shortstop Ehire Adrianza is turning heads as well.  He has already smashed two home runs, a double and a triple, making a case for himself as a second utility infielder for the Giants.

However, he has competition from shortstop Brandon Hicks, who is on a hot streak at the plate.  In a contest against the Dodgers, Hicks slammed a two-run home run off Clayton Kershaw.  After a slow start, Hicks has now recorded five doubles along with a home run to complement a .318 average.

As the spring months chug along, the Giants will keep their eyes on their higher performers.  There’s more action to come in the upcoming weeks before Opening Day.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

What the San Francisco Giants Can Expect from Michael Morse in 2014

When the San Francisco Giants signed free agent outfielder Michael Morse on Dec. 17, the move signified Brian Sabean’s desire to fix something that wasn’t entirely broken. Yes, the addition of Morse to the lineup will surely bring power that would-be starter Gregor Blanco could never provide. The Giants have also struggled in the power-hitting department as of late.

But is an influx of home runs really what the team needs? Before we get ahead of ourselves in answering that question, it should be noted that Morse isn’t even guaranteed to bring power to the Giants lineup in the first place.

While he is just two years removed from a 31-homer season, it has taken Morse each of the last two seasons combined to match that total. That’s not to mention that the ex-Nationals slugger will be moving to the pitcher’s heaven that is AT&T Park, which featured the third-lowest home run rate in the majors in 2013 (per ESPN).

However, assuming Morse overcomes his lackluster performance from last season and becomes one of the Giants’ premier power sources, will he prove to be worth his $5 million price tag even then?

Part of the reason I’m hesitant to answer “yes” is that Morse won’t prove to be a significant upgrade over Blanco. That’s primarily because of the defensive liability that Morse has proven to be throughout his career. In fact, Morse has eclipsed Blanco’s WAR of 2.5 last season just once in his career, according to baseball-reference.com, and the former’s combined WAR over the last three seasons is still less than Blanco’s 2013 WAR, per baseball-reference.com.

Of course, WAR is not the all-encompassing statistic that it’s often made out to be. There’s quite a bit of value to be found in the late-inning home run that Morse will be able to provide far more often than Blanco. But with so much ground to cover in the AT&T Park outfield and the Giants’ heavy reliance on pitching, defense should often take precedence over offense in the outfield.

Despite all the potential pitfalls that the addition of Morse brings, the outlook isn’t all bad for the upcoming season. According to ZiPS, Morse is projected to compile a .719 OPS with a WAR of 1.2.

For $5 million, that’s pretty solid value, and it will almost certainly be an offensive upgrade over the alternative. Additionally, Bruce Bochy can insert Blanco into the lineup in the later innings for some defensive relief.

But perhaps the best part of the signing is the potential. Don’t forget, Morse did bat .294 with an .857 OPS in his four seasons in Washington. A return to that level of play isn’t entirely likely, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility either.

In my estimation, Morse will finish somewhere in between the aforementioned projected numbers and his pre-2013 numbers. A .265/.310/.450 slash line isn’t out of the question, and if all goes well, Morse could even approach 20 home runs.

Why those numbers? Most importantly, Morse has said he’s 100 percent healthy, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Morse has also looked fantastic this spring, and he’s happy to be playing for the Giants.

That points toward a nice rebound for Morse, albeit at the price of poor defense in left field. Even so, for $5 million, that’s a bargain.


All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Grading the San Francisco Giants’ Moves so Far This Offseason

The San Francisco Giants have been one of the most active teams since the 2013 season ended. GM Brian Sabean has aggressively moved to restock the Giants roster, bringing back several familiar faces and adding two new free agents.

The Giants finished this past season in third place in the NL West, with a 76-86 mark. Sabean and the Giants are hoping to recapture the glory of their 2010 and 2012 World Series titles. Fortifying their roster is the first step towards that goal.

In addition, with the Los Angeles Dodgers spending freely with their endless vault of money, the Giants needed an upgrade in talent and have increased their spending. Failing to improve the roster would have likely doomed the Giants to another dismal finish in the NL West.

Let’s take a closer look at the moves the Giants have made, both the additions and the players they have decided to let go. Grades will also be provided.

All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.  All contract details are courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts at baseballprospectus.com.


Begin Slideshow

Seattle Mariners: Offense Struggling Again in 2013

The Seattle Mariners are in a familiar position. They aren’t hitting.

Haven’t we seen this movie before? As tweeted by Greg Johns of MLB.com:

No offensive help. Shall we all utter an audible sigh?

When are the Mariners going to start hitting on a regular basis? The team is ranked 29th in the league with a .220 team average. Unfortunately, this is a familiar statistical position.

The Mariners have been here before.

Michael Morse started out so hot. So did Franklin Gutierrez. Morse has cooled off and is now hitting .230 for the season. Gutierrez is starting to struggle with injuriesagain.

Audible sigh.

There are also the hitters that are really struggling:

Brendan Ryan: .152

Dustin Ackley: .153

Justin Smoak: .200

Jesus Montero: .217

The young core of hitters that was supposed to be the future of the Mariners is not necessarily coming together in 2013. Seattle is second in the league in one category: strikeouts.

Not exactly what the fans were hoping for this year.

Two straight games without a run. Only five runs in five games.

The Mariners have now scored the fewest runs in the American League West (58) and they are tied for the fewest in the American League with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.

Only three teams in the National League has scored fewer runs than the Mariners. Not good.

The season is still very young, and the Mariners have not fallen too far behind in the division. However, this season could get away quickly if the M’s are unable to start swinging the bats.

As tweeted succinctly by Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times:

Indeed. Time to start hitting.

Follow @tpheifer

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

10 Early Season Seattle Mariners Storylines to Follow Most Closely

As the 2013 season begins, the Seattle Mariners, like many teams, have several story lines to monitor moving forward. Whether they are at the major league level now, or on the verge of being there, Mariners fans will have plenty to think about other than the win-loss record.

It is far too soon for fans to start worrying about anything since it’s only one series into the season, but there are still plenty of things that could be taken away after just four games in Oakland.

With that in mind, here are the 10 story lines Mariners fans should be keeping an eye on early in the 2013 season.

Begin Slideshow

Seattle Mariners: 5 Key Takeaways from Spring Training

This spring, the Seattle Mariners have been, dare I say, entertaining. 

As an organization, there are quite a few positive signs to point toward for the future, but what about this season?

With a mix of youth and experience, the team seems keen on taking a positive step forward toward competing in the American League West.  

Do they have a shot to put up a fight against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s? 

Or will they be fighting to stay out of the division cellar with the Houston Astros?

Although it’s always hard to place much value on what happens in spring training, for fun I wanted to see what are some of the key takeaways we’ve seen from Mariners camp as we approach Opening Day. 

Begin Slideshow

Why Expert Predictions for the Seattle Mariners Are Too Negative

The Seattle Mariners are going to have a good season. In fact, they might be one of the surprise teams in 2013. As one might expect, some of the early 2013 predictions (via CBS Sports) are not particularly favorable. One can assume that many previews will keep the Mariners towards the bottom of the American League West.

It isn’t like the M’s are necessarily going to rise up, take the league by storm and make a miracle run to the World Series in 2013. However, this team has real potential and if they can get into a groove, they could make some noise this season. The predictions are not insulting, but there are a few reasons this Seattle Mariners team may be better than some experts think in 2013.


The Mariners will hit

Seattle has struggled to get on base, and this has been a glaring weakness the past few seasons. As noted by Dayn Perry of CBS Sports, “Yes, Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales have pop, but they don’t address the team’s central shortcoming, which is getting on base.”

The reality is that Morales is a career .281 hitter and Morse has hit .295 during his eight-year tenure. Will this not theoretically have a positive impact on a Mariners team that finished with a .234 team average in 2012?

There are other reasons to believe that this team will hit better in 2013. While nothing is guaranteed, it seems reasonable to project that Dustin Ackley will improve on his 2012 average of .226 and Justin Smoak will not hit .217 again. In addition, there is optimism that young players like Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders could continue to progress.

Add in the tutelage of Raul Ibanez, and this team just might produce on offense.

This is not to suggest that Seattle will jump from a team average of .234 to .275 in 2013. However, a .250 average and a .315-.320 OBP seems reasonable. If the Mariners had hit .250 in 2012, they would have ranked 19th in the league, which is lot better than 30th. How many more wins might that have produced?


The future may be now

Perry also notes, “Yes, Seattle’s strength lies not in the present, which, insofar as the 2013 season is concerned, is not a good thing. But as dismal as things are in the short term, the Mariners have cobbled together an exceptional collection of young talent.”

To suggest that the present is “dismal” seems a bit negative given the changes that Seattle has made since the end of last year. This is a team that finished 75-87 in 2012 and arguably improved their roster in the offseason with the additions of Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez.

In addition, it would not be a shock to see some of the top prospects in Seattle this season. Perhaps players like Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Nick Franklin, Stefen Romero and Brandon Maurer will not make their presence felt until 2014 and 2015.

Then again, some of these players have looked pretty good in spring training. Seattle is obviously going to be hesitant to rush their young talent, but why couldn’t the Mariners start infusing young talent into the lineup this season?

Does the plan always have to be focused on two to three seasons from now?

The finish will be strong

It seems reasonable to assume that most experts are going to project that the Mariners will finish fourth in the American League West. The prediction from CBS Sports is in line with this prognostication. Still, there are some flaws in the argument.

The worst-case scenario presented by CBS Sports is that the Mariners will finish in last place. Obviously this prediction is a way for the author to cover his bases (no pun intended), but there is no way that the Houston Astros finish ahead of Seattle. To be fair, anything is possible, but a last-place finish is not going to happen.

This may be a bit bold, but a second-place finish is not out of the realm of possibility for this team. Certainly a lot of things would have to go right, but could the Mariners show offensive growth and maintain their solid pitching? Could this lead to overcoming the Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Angels or the Texas Rangers?

The Angels and the Rangers obviously have formidable offenses, but pitching is what gets things done in baseball. If either of these teams take a step back on the mound, the Mariners could actually find themselves at the top of the division rather than the familiar cellar.

Perhaps the Mariners will have another mediocre season. Then again, perhaps there is reason for genuine optimism.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Looking to Discuss Mike Morse Trade with Nats

Earlier in the week, Mike Morse‘s name was added to the trading block.

The New York Yankees are one of about six or seven teams that have been confirmed to have interest in the Washington Nationals hitter.

Morse’s name immediately went on the block after the Nationals made two significant moves this winter—trading for Denard Span and re-signing Adam LaRoche.

By adding Span, Washington’s outfield became overcrowded with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Span.

And by re-signing LaRoche, it knocked Morse out of a spot as well, which made him trade bait.

According to Jack Curry of the YES Network, the Nationals are not ready to talk a trade yet. However, they are expected to talk with the Yankees regarding Morse.

I know that might seem like something to get excited over, but all that is saying is Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is willing to listen on an offer from the Yankees.

With a talented hitter like Morse, there is still the another six or seven teams who have interest in the 30-year-old, like the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

However, it does confirm that the Yankees are in full pursuit of a trade for Morse and will look to acquire him for 2013.

The Yankees are still looking for a right-handed bat that can potentially be a fourth outfielder and a part-time DH, which is what Morse be.

Morse would also fit into the Yankees budget with his salary at $6.75 million for 2013 and then he’ll be a free agent after the season.

In the original story on this site regarding the Yankees interest for Morse, it seemed like there was a lot of support in regards to the Yankees going after Morse.

As long as Rizzo isn’t looking for a farm-gutting return in a deal for Morse, I could see a deal being worked out with him and Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

But, will another team offer something better to the Nationals that trumps a Yankee offer?

Guess we’ll all find out soon enough once the Nationals start engaging in trade talks for Morse.

Stay tuned Yankees Universe.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Rumors: How Mike Morse to the Red Sox Would Impact the AL

If ever there was an excuse for the Boston Red Sox to walk away from Mike Napoli, a trade for Washington Nationals slugger Mike Morse is it.

The door to Boston’s first base job is open until Napoli signs the three-year, $39 million contract (or some version of it) that he agreed to more than a month ago. If talks between the two sides don’t wrap up soon, Morse could be the one who comes walking through said door instead.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Red Sox are among the teams that are in contact with the Nats about Morse, who became expendable the moment Washington agreed to re-sign veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract earlier this week.

The Red Sox haven’t given any indication that they’re ready to walk away from the Napoli, whose signing has been delayed due to a  preexisting hip issue. In fact, Boston general manager Ben Cherington insisted on WEEI radio in Boston on Thursday that there’s “hope for a resolution.”

But Morse’s availability could be tempting enough for the Red Sox to finally wash their hands of Napoli. A trade for Morse would be an answer for Boston’s first base dilemma, and the idea of the Red Sox pulling off a deal is by no means unrealistic.

Rosenthal says the Red Sox would need to part with young talent, and maybe a lefty reliever as well, to acquire Morse. Such an asking price isn’t too tall of an order for Boston, which has a couple lefties to offer and the No. 5 farm system in baseball, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America.

The lefties the Red Sox could offer Washington are Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow and possibly Franklin Morales. Parting with either Miller or Breslow would weaken Boston’s bullpen, but that’s a chance the club could take because its bullpen is the one area where it may actually have too much depth.

As for young players the Red Sox could send to Washington, it’s unlikely they’d have to part with any of their best prospects. Somebody more like Brandon Workman or Miguel Celestino would be fair compensation for Morse if one of Boston’s lefty relievers was also included in the deal.

If Morse were to come to Boston, the Red Sox would find themselves with a right-handed power source at first base much like the one they’re attempting to acquire by signing Napoli.

Morse has slugged 49 home runs in 1,005 plate appearances over the last two seasons, which amounts to a 162-game average of 32 home runs. His 2012 numbers slipped from where they were in 2011—31 homers and a .910 OPS—but that was partially because he was never 100 percent healthy for an extended period of time.

When healthy, Morse is a high BABIP guy (.344 career BABIP) with plenty of raw power. His .218 ISO—or Isolated Power, a stat that measures a hitter’s ability to hit for extra bases—over the last two seasons ties him for 24th among all hitters with Carlos Gonzalez, according to FanGraphs.

Morse strikes out slightly less frequently than Napoli, but what he can’t match is Napoli‘s patience or power. Napoli‘s .277 ISO over the last two seasons is third-best among all hitters with at least 800 plate appearances, and it’s no secret that the Red Sox have very high hopes for how his power would play at Fenway Park. He holds a .710 career slugging percentage at Boston’s home park.

But Morse would tame the Green Monster pretty well in his own right. The majority of his career home runs have gone out to left field, and he has a .589 slugging percentage and a .255 ISO when he hits the ball to left field for his career (see FanGraphs).

Even knowing this, however, Morse’s production with the Red Sox in 2013 likely wouldn’t be as good as Napoli‘s production could be. It would be good enough, but the Red Sox are interested in Napoli because his production could be great if he were to join them.

The trade-off is that Morse would cost significantly less than Napoli, as he’s only owed $6.75 million in 2013 before hitting free agency. If he were to revert back to his 2011 form, the Red Sox could make him a qualifying offer and then collect a draft pick after watching him sign elsewhere.

In the shorter term, the beauty of a Morse trade for the Red Sox would be that they will have denied a couple key enemies. Jack Curry of the YES Network and others have reported that the New York Yankees are interested, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com listed the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers as possible fits for the slugger.

Boston’s offense would look about as good with Morse in the middle as it would otherwise look with Napoli. The Red Sox could bat him cleanup behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, with Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks or Jonny Gomes batting behind Morse.

That’s a lineup that would do some damage, and Morse could also be a defensive upgrade over Napoli. His defensive numbers at first base (see FanGraphs) aren’t better than Napoli‘s numbers at first base (FanGraphs), but there’s more hope for Morse due to how well he held his own in part-time action at first base in every year except 2011.

The Red Sox’s chances of making a run at the AL East in 2013 still depend far more on their long-lost pitching than their offense or defense, so I won’t be foolish enough to try and convince anyone that Morse is the missing link in Boston. He’d merely be a very solid substitute for Napoli.

As such, adding Morse instead of Napoli really wouldn’t change any of the projections that have already been made for the Red Sox with the assumption that Napoli will be at first base. A Morse trade would not be a game-changer that would drastically rearrange the AL East power structure.

The bright side, such as it is, is that the Red Sox with Morse at first base would still have the look of a team that could really take off if things were to go their way in 2013, even if they don’t look like an obvious contender as things stand right now.

You can rest assured that the Red Sox would still be very much on the radar of other would-be contenders both in the AL East and the rest of the American League in general if they were to acquire Morse. Rival teams would also be well aware that a trade for Morse could work out better for the Red Sox in the long run than signing Napoli to a three-year contract.

The Red Sox would get a draft pick if Morse were to decline a qualifying offer and then sign with another team next winter. They could then sign another first baseman to a cheaper deal, such as Justin Morneau, Kendrys Morales or Adam Lind.

That scenario would still be in play even if Morse didn’t do enough in 2013 to warrant a qualifying offer, and he himself would be added to the mix of potentially cheap targets for the Red Sox.

For now, Morse is out there and totally available if the Red Sox want him. To make it happen, they just need to ask themselves whether the Napoli situation has gone far enough.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Salary and payroll information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.


If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress