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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Morse matures from excitable pup to accountable veteran | Seattle Mariners - The News Tribune

“You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.”

“You know, this game has so many ups and downs, the only way to survive is to be humble,” he said. “You take the good with the bad, and the big thing I’ve learned over the years is to just enjoy it; enjoy the game, enjoy what it brings you. Because when it’s said and done, you’re going to have a lot of great memories.”

Jim Furtado Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:50 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners, maturity, mike morse

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   1. McCoy Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4409578)
How dare you taunt Nat fans like that!

1.037 OPS and 6 homers so far in 9 games.
   2. boteman Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4409625)
A-HA! The game's afoot, eh?

Michael Morse, age 31
9 games, 40 PA: 1.037 OPS (166 OPS+), 6 HR, 1 BB, 11 K

Bryce Harper, age 20
7 games, 29 PA: 1.103 OPS (202 OPS+), 3 HR, 0 BB, 6 K

We won't discuss Bryce's baserunning prowess just yet, though I will say that Michael Morse moves like a pregnant yak, so there's that. I think it's safe to say that Harper gets to juuuuust a few more balls in LF than Morse does, although Bryce's judgement and positioning definitely need development. Upside looks good.

Conclusion: It's early, but I'll take Bryce Harper and be happy without Morse, thank you very much.
   3. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4409634)
That certainly shuts up all the people who thought the Nationals should trade Bryce Harper for Michael Morse.
   4. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4409642)
That certainly shuts up all the people who thought the Nationals should trade Bryce Harper for Michael Morse.

Well, my up has certainly been shutted.
   5. Bourbon Samurai Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4409643)
Really, the trade was Michael Morse for Denard Span*, and when you consider Span is signed through 2014 with a team option for 2015 while Morse is a free agent after this year, I think it's pretty good.

Span: 7 games, 31 pa, 875 ops, 0 hr, 8 bb, 1 k, great defense to Morse's pretty bad.

*with a slight downgrade in the Nats pitching prospects, when you consider Alex Meyer for AJ Cole.

   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4409645)
Conclusion: It's early, but I'll take Bryce Harper and be happy without Morse, thank you very much.

You know you are allowed to play more than one OF? Harper was starting regardless of what they did with Morse, so his production is 100% irrelevant.

The Nationals could have played Harper in CF (all indications are he's a very good CF) and Morse in LF, and kept Alex Meyer, rather than trading for Span. A better idea would have been put Morse at 1B, and used the money they spent on LaRoche elsewhere.

The real comparison is Morse vs. the worse of Span and LaRoche.
   7. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4409651)
I think the Nats probably made the right call in trading Morse. 1. They got a good prospect back for him 2. Span is a good player 3. We're a week into the freaking season. Knock it off youse guys!
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4409657)
2. Span is a good player

They could have both Morse and Span.

I think the Nats probably made the right call in trading Morse

This is still probably true, but it won't be if Morse is significantly better than LaRoche, or the Nats suffer a key injury somewhere Morse could play.
   9. GuyMcGuffin Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4409664)
Span has played pretty well early and I think that the Harper/Span/Werth outfield is probably better than any iteration that you could create with Morse. The only real place for him on the field was as a one-year stop gap at 1B while letting LaRoche walk. Morse is probably never going to be as smooth as LaRoche in the field, but he could easily have a better year at the plate. LaRoche gives the team another left-handed bat and Davey Johnson seems to love the L-R alternating in the line-up, not to mention how much he gushes about LaRoche's leadership and such. I think that it's important to note that Morse is making $6.75 million this year to LaRoche's $22 million the next two years (plus a $2 buyout in 2015).

I don't know how strongly the team considered Morse at first for 2013, but on paper, there's a chance that it might have worked out better.
   10. boteman Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4409669)
Production is production. You want to talk about home-run hitting horses, then the Nats have one. They don't have two which they would have had they kept Morse, but I thought I'd compare and show my work for my own edification at this early point in the season and to have a little fun.

And to see how quickly the snarkmogners would come out of the woodwork. Worked swimmingly!
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4409674)
I don't know how strongly the team considered Morse at first for 2013, but on paper, there's a chance that it might have worked out better.

Or they could have kept him as a backup for 1B, RF, LF, and CF (Morse playing left with Harper moving to CF), and as DH vs. AL teams. His RH bat is a nice complement to the 3 lefties in LaRoche, Harper and Span.

He probably would have gotten at least 450 PAs that way, and with any injuries, would have been close to full-time. Given Washington is in full-on win now mode, the depth would be very nice.
   12. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4409675)
Really, the trade was Michael Morse for Denard Span*, and when you consider Span is signed through 2014 with a team option for 2015 while Morse is a free agent after this year, I think it's pretty good.
It's really too early to say anything with confidence, but Denard Span is already looking like a fantastic acquisition for the Nats. For years I heard rumors about a mythical unicorn-like creature known as a "true leadoff hitter" but, never having seen one on my team with my own eyes, I began to suspect I was on a snipe-hunt. No longer: Span's batting approach is just so impressive from what I've seen thus far this year, with such patience and such a discerning eye for the strike zone (8BB to 1K). He's currently sporting an on-base percentage of .484, and although that's obviously going to drop down to something more realistic I can't tell you how much fun it is as a Nats fan to see a guy who always seems to be working 7-8 pitch at-bats every time he gets up there.

Oh yeah, and he's also a magnificent defender in a premium position. So there's that.

Meanwhile, this whole Rafael Soriano thing is beginning to feel like a huge mistake.
   13. GuyMcGuffin Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4409686)
Or they could have kept him as a backup for 1B, RF, LF, and CF (Morse playing left with Harper moving to CF), and as DH vs. AL teams. His RH bat is a nice complement to the 3 lefties in LaRoche, Harper and Span.


If Morse would have been alright with that role then it would be tremendous. Having a guy who put up a 130 OPS+ over his previous 1300 plate appearances coming off the bench is like keeping a muscle car in the garage for nice days. Big luxury. While I think 450 plate appearances might be a bit optimistic, 300 seems very reasonable. Either way, it probably would have had more impact than the 55 innings that Rafael Soriano will throw this year.
   14. Bourbon Samurai Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4409687)
Meanwhile, this whole Rafael Soriano thing is beginning to feel like a huge mistake.


At least with Soriano, we have plenty of options, although Clippard isn't exactly filling me with confidence at this point. I would like at some point in the season to drop H-Rod (horrible, horrible H-Rod) for a good lefty reliever, but those guys are usually pretty easy to pick up at the deadline.
   15. DA Baracus Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4409690)
Span's batting approach is just so impressive from what I've seen thus far this year, with such patience and such a discerning eye for the strike zone (8BB to 1K). Currently sports an on-base percentage of .484, and although that's obviously going to drop down to something more realistic I can't tell you how much fun it is as a Nats fan to see a guy who always seems to be working 7-8 pitch at-bats every time he gets up there.


And none of that will stick. This is a prime example of a small sample size. An 8-1 BB to K rate is of course absurd; as is a 484 OBP to a guy with a career 358, with the past three years being 331, 328 and 342; and he's laying off pitches at a rate he's never done before.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4409711)
If Morse would have been alright with that role then it would be tremendous. Having a guy who put up a 130 OPS+ over his previous 1300 plate appearances coming off the bench is like keeping a muscle car in the garage for nice days. Big luxury. While I think 450 plate appearances might be a bit optimistic, 300 seems very reasonable. Either way, it probably would have had more impact than the 55 innings that Rafael Soriano will throw this year.

Backing up 3 OF gives him 36 starts minimum. With LaRoche you could go close to a full platoon, which could be another 40-50 GS. Add in 7-8 DH games, that's probably 90 starts or 400 PAs right there. In the NL, you can probably get him a PH appearance in almost every game he doesn't start, so that't another 70 PAs.

I think he gets to 450 easy, plus it's very likely somebody between the OF and 1B is going to miss a bunch of games, and he sails past 500 PAs.
   17. andrewberg Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4409748)
Although he's a hacker, Morse is the first guy the Mariners have had since I moved to Seattle (5 years ago) who tries to hit home runs consistently. Plus, he rubs the pot roast all over his chest.
   18. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4409770)
Eso, your raves about Denard Span has prompted me to pick him up for my deep-roster fantasy league that counts OBP.
   19. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4409785)
Eso, your raves about Denard Span has prompted me to pick him up for my deep-roster fantasy league that counts OBP.
Great, now he's going to strike out 14 times in his next 15 ABs. You've jinxed it!
   20. GuyMcGuffin Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4409788)
Backing up 3 OF gives him 36 starts minimum. With LaRoche you could go close to a full platoon, which could be another 40-50 GS. Add in 7-8 DH games, that's probably 90 starts or 400 PAs right there. In the NL, you can probably get him a PH appearance in almost every game he doesn't start, so that't another 70 PAs.


Obviously this is a weird hypothetical parallel universe discussion, but...

-I think 30-40 starts in the OF is reasonable. Worth remembering that he's going to get subbed out late in games a lot, bleeding out few ABs in the process.

-There is no way that they would ever go anywhere near a platoon on LaRoche. The best you'd get is a conveniently timed off-day against a good LHP. You're looking at 20 starts at 1B to go around. Tyler Moore would get a few of those. So I'm saying 15 GS at 1B.

-PH appearances in most games that he doesn't start, not every. Bernadina, Lombardozzi and Moore are all going to eat into PH appearances (assuming Chad Tracy is the one they leave off the roster for Morse). Morse is bad in the field and would never be used in a double switch situation. So I'm at 50 PH PAs.

-Definitely add in the 9 DH appearances on the road in AL parks.

So by my math, it's ~60 games in the starting line-up + 50 pinch-hit spots - maybe 15 PAs for allowing defensive substitutions. So that puts him right around 300 PAs. Somebody gets hurt, obviously he gets more.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4409800)
There is no way that they would ever go anywhere near a platoon on LaRoche. The best you'd get is a conveniently timed off-day against a good LHP. You're looking at 20 starts at 1B to go around. Tyler Moore would get a few of those. So I'm saying 15 GS at 1B.

Why? LaRoche has a career 96 wRC+ vs LHP, Morse has a 131. If you have Morse and don't platoon him with LaRoche, you're just being dumb.
   22. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4409826)
I'm waiting for Eso to break out in song: "Span! Span! Span! Span! Lovely Span! Lovely Span!"
   23. Joey B. Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4409828)
Yep, I'm still rooting for him to be the AL MVP, despite the fact that the a*shole who hardly needs to be named intends to keep up the nyeah nyeah nyeah s*it all season long.
   24. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4409831)
I'm waiting for Eso to break out in song: "Span! Span! Span! Span! Lovely Span! Lovely Span!"
No, but I am seriously contemplating getting a T-shirt with one of these logos on it.
   25. Bourbon Samurai Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4409841)
Why? LaRoche has a career 96 wRC+ vs LHP, Morse has a 131. If you have Morse and don't platoon him with LaRoche, you're just being dumb.


In a video game, sure. In real life, Laroche doesn't resign to be a platoon player.
   26. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 10, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4409845)
In a video game, sure. In real life, Laroche doesn't resign to be a platoon player.
Exactly. Folks keep forgetting that we're talking about human beings here: you think Michael Morse is going to be happy being demoted to "platoon player" after establishing himself as an everyday player? Of course not -- he would demand a trade, and rightfully so. You think Adam LaRoche, after his career year, is going to re-sign with the Nationals to accept that either?

C'mon now. This isn't fantasy baseball.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4409883)
Exactly. Folks keep forgetting that we're talking about human beings here: you think Michael Morse is going to be happy being demoted to "platoon player" after establishing himself as an everyday player? Of course not -- he would demand a trade, and rightfully so. You think Adam LaRoche, after his career year, is going to re-sign with the Nationals to accept that either?

As far as I know, Mike Morse was under contract, and I'm suggesting he get 450-550 PAs across a number of positions. That's not a platoon player.

Adam LaRoche didn't seem to have too many serious suitors, and would likely have taken the Nats offer, even if he was going to be the strong side of a platoon. If not, stick Morse at 1B. Who cares?

Neither of these guys is the calibre of player you hurt your team in order to avoid offending.
   28. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4409905)
As far as I know, Mike Morse was under contract, and I'm suggesting he get 450-550 PAs across a number of positions. That's not a platoon player.

Adam LaRoche didn't seem to have too many serious suitors, and would likely have taken the Nats offer, even if he was going to be the strong side of a platoon. If not, stick Morse at 1B. Who cares?
In the real world, I know of no baseball team that would dare treat their players like this. This isn't John Lannan we're talking about. It would backfire immensely: the players would hate it (the whole team, not just the immediately affected guys), the fans would complain, and the effect it would have on free agents and the team's reputation around baseball would be real. Furthermore, you omit psychology: you don't think it's at least somewhat likely that being treated so shabbily after having proven yourself would affect the caliber of someone's play?

As for LaRoche, there is simply no way on the face of the earth that he would have taken an offer from the Nats if it had been with the understanding that he'd only be a part-time player. He would have signed a two-year or one-year deal (many of which were on offer) for a low AAV with a no-Qualified Offer clause in the hopes of going back out on the market again next year. You don't seem to grasp how important the idea of playing time, in terms of status and ego if nothing else, is to baseball players.

Your prescriptions are so divorced from the real world of baseball behavior that I don't know what to say.
   29. Ron J2 Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4409916)
The type of setup Snapper is talking about was used very effectively by the Orioles in 1970/71. Weaver found regular playing time for all of Buford, Blair, Robinson, Rettenmund and Powell.

In the same period the Tigers had Northrup, Kaline, Horton, Stanley and Cash splitting 4 spots. Neither team really platooned anybody.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4409918)
As for LaRoche, there is simply no way on the face of the earth that he would have taken an offer from the Nats if it had been with the understanding that he'd only be a part-time player. He would have signed a two-year or one-year deal (many of which were on offer) for a low AAV with a no-Qualified Offer clause in the hopes of going back out on the market again next year. You don't seem to grasp how important the idea of playing time, in terms of status and ego if nothing else, is to baseball players.

Then don't sign him. I'm not suggesting lying to the guy. Find another lefty who doesn't mind playing 60-70% of the time.

In the real world, I know of no baseball team that would dare treat their players like this. This isn't John Lannan we're talking about. It would backfire immensely: the players would hate it (the whole team, not just the immediately affected guys), the fans would complain, and the effect it would have on free agents and the team's reputation around baseball would be real. Furthermore, you omit psychology: you don't think it's at least somewhat likely that being treated so shabbily after having proven yourself would affect the caliber of someone's play?

Giving a guy 500 PAs instead of 700 is nothing like what they did to Lannan.

I can't believe the reaction from or about two basically averagish players would be anything like that extreme. If LaRoche is a huge ass like that, don't give him $22M.
   31. Nasty Nate Posted: April 10, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4409935)
It would have been reasonable to keep Morse and not guarantee him 150 starts or a set position. That type of thing is not super-rare.

LaRoche signing as a free agent to be the big part of a platoon is pure fantasy, though.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4409960)
It would have been reasonable to keep Morse and not guarantee him 150 starts or a set position. That type of thing is not super-rare.

LaRoche signing as a free agent to be the big part of a platoon is pure fantasy, though.


I don't disagree with that necessarily. I guess it depends on his other offers.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2013 at 04:53 PM (#4410126)
He would have signed a two-year or one-year deal (many of which were on offer) for a low AAV with a no-Qualified Offer clause in the hopes of going back out on the market again next year.

Sorry, but that last one is the most unrealistic of them all. The 33-year-old LaRoche is going to pass up a 2/$24 offer for a 1-year, low AAV offer in hopes he'll get more at age 34?

LaRoche might settle for 2/$22 or 2/$20 to be a starter elsewhere, so if that offer was on the table, sure, he's gone. But as long as the Nats were willing to pay him 2/$24 to be a platoon player, that's the offer he's most likely to take. Now, if the Nats viewed him as a platoon player they likely would not offer 2/$24 but that's a different (irrational) story.

One thing missing in the Morse playing time estimates is that there's a reasonably good chance that Morse is the one that gets hurt. I'd guesstimate him to 350 to 400.
   34. Nasty Nate Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4410138)
Right, if he was going to take a 1-year deal - it would be equal or higher AAV.
   35. GuyM Posted: April 10, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4410148)
Morse has an unusual offensive profile for a good hitter: extremely low walk rate (5.8%), and reasonably high (not terrible) strikeout rate (21.9%). A lot of guys are good hitters despite one of those, but it's hard to be successful with both.

In past 30 years, six players have posted an OPS+ of 120 or better while walking less than 7% of the time:
OPS+ / BB%
Cano 123 .056
Puckett 124 .057
Morse 127 .058
JuanGon 132 .064
Nomar 124 .066
Morales 120 .067
Of these, only Morse, Gonzalez, and Morales had above-average strikeout rates.

I'd forgotten how few walks Gwynn (7.7%) and Mattingly (7.6%) drew. But they had ridiculously low K% (4.2% and 5.7%).

   36. Walt Davis Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM (#4410430)
At first I figured it would be because he's tilted more towards LHP but only 30% of his PA are vs. LHP (which I think is about average) and he has had virtually no platoon split anyway.

I do notice he has a very high BABIP of 342. Among RHB with at least 1500 PA (an unfair comparison but you get the point), he's #15 all-time and right in line with current top RHB like Braun, Cabrera, Holliday and Wright. Small sample obviously but impressive nonetheless. Unfortunately the rest of his game is probably closer to Matt Diaz (341) than Matt Kemp (350). But if he could learn to take a LOT of walks, he could be the next Edgar (335).

There are a number of not hugely impressive hitters around there. Diaz, Kendrick, Shane Mack, Josh Phelps, Phil Bradley, Reed Johnson (that might be a platoon thing), Michael Young and Craig Wilson are all 335 to 341. Decent hitters but not generally full-time corner material.
   37. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4410611)
Plus, he rubs the pot roast all over his chest.

Little Suzie should go ahead and get a restraining order.
   38. McCoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4410618)
If Morse would have been alright with that role then it would be tremendous. Having a guy who put up a 130 OPS+ over his previous 1300 plate appearances coming off the bench is like keeping a muscle car in the garage for nice days. Big luxury. While I think 450 plate appearances might be a bit optimistic, 300 seems very reasonable. Either way, it probably would have had more impact than the 55 innings that Rafael Soriano will throw this year.

This is a team that kept a perfectly good starting pitcher down in the majors until the end of the season last year.

Morse would have played and he would have kept his mouth shut if he didn't like the arrangement.

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