SF Giants News

Michael Morse: To keep, or not to keep?

By Timmy Kennedy
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I love Michael Morse. He is built like a tree trunk, can absolutely mash baseballs and seems like a really nice guy. His bromance with Hunter Pence makes me love him further, but getting attached to players is dangerous. Very dangerous, indeed. Why, you may ask? Well, right now, I really want the San Francisco Giants to keep Morse, when in reality, it may not be the best choice.

Morse’s contract runs out at the end of season, and hence he will inevitably become a free agent. His one-year-six-million-dollar deal, in hindsight has been a pretty good investment. While his glove, as expected, has lost us some games, his bat has certainly won us some games. His first half of the season was incredible, but things have changed, a little.

Post all-star break, the left fielder/ first baseman hasn’t been as productive – he has only two home-runs since the break. His once almost trademark two out hits have dried up . What causes even more concern, and quite rightly so, his body seems to be fatiguing. Injury problems loomed large over Morse in the offseason, but we almost forgot about them after his blistering start.

Currently, Morse is out. He is suffering from an oblique injury, and yesterday, when he went to take swings, he struggled. That worries me, massively. I mean, he has been pulled from almost every game in the sixth inning, or else has been playing the less physically demanding first base. So — all in all, Morse has been brilliant offensively on the whole, but has faded. His body has tired, and his glove has been bad, which begs the question; what can Morse bring to the Giants if they do, infact, re-sign him?

Well, one reason for his recent offensive slump may be the fact pitchers have adjusted to him. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments, and Morse hasn’t made these in the second half. On the other hand, opposing pitchers realised that Michael is a huge threat when the ball gets left up and away, and he can thus get his arms extended. Hence, they have pounded him inside, and he hasn’t adjusted.

Also, what you must remember is that Morse was never going to play 140 games at top health. After an injury plagued career, playing 130 games while hitting 16 home-runs in AT&T is pretty darned impressive if you ask me. Next season, he can only get healthier and stronger. Next season he will surely play in more games, more innings and hit more long balls, especially if, during the offseason, he can adjust his swing to being pounded inside.

Building upon a 134 wRC+ and 17.1 wRAA season, is very encouraging. If he can get healthier and adjust can you imagine what he can do offensively? It would be huge. However, everyone is fully aware Morse can do great things with his bat. It has been his glove and his arm that have always been lacklustre, below-par and costly, at times. On the year, defensively he has cost us nine runs. Which is a lot of runs – it is in fact the worst among all players this season.

The Giants have always been built around a philosophy of timely hitting, power pitching and good defense. Having Michael Morse in left defies this. He will strikeout a lot and make errors a lot, and frustrate us all, a lot. In turn, he hits long balls. There is, however, one way to combat this. In comes in the form of shifting, which the Giants are the best in the world at. Shifting the outfield.

The only way to prevent the power-hitting outfielder from costing us runs at key times on defense, is to take him away. But the Giants simply can’t afford to take his bat away from the game, early on, anyway. So — you shift the outfield, if the splits suggest you do so. If there is a high chance the ball will be hit to left, at a key time, simply move Pence over to left for the AB. Win, win.

Having an inadequate fielder in left for some power isn’t the Giants. We should be looking for a clutch, great defensive left fielder, right? Well, doing so may be easier said than done. This years free agent class is painfully bad, historically bad. Melky Cabrera is the only real upgrade if you ask me, and the Giants hate PEDs. You may be screaming “re-sign him then,” at your computer, but it isn’t as straight forward as that.

Inevitably, his shaky glove and fragile frame make him a risk. Given how thin the free agent market will be, players like Morse will be a hot commodity, believe it or not, especially for free spending American League franchises. Hence, Morse’s agent will likely tell him to test the waters, and go to free agency, which in turn will put his price-tag to a place the Giants shouldn’t go.

If you ask me, I’m replacing him internally/ via trade. For once, we actually have a surplus of position players. Hector Sanchez, Adam Duvall, Gary Brown, Angel Pagan, Juan Perez, Brandon Belt are all very tradable. My favourite option though: Move Susac behind the dish, put Buster Posey at first and move Belt to left. It’s a win in every sense.  Susac is a stud, Posey’s offensive production can raise again and Belt can provide a defensive upgrade in left. How can you not like it.

I mean, I’ll miss Michael Morse. He was a nice guy, and had power like I’ve never seen before in a Giants uniform. However, his innate glove, his injury problems and his likely high price-tag mean the Giants should avoid him. Which makes me sad. I don’t wanna’ see him go. I hate getting attached to players, it’s dangerous, very dangerous.

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