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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

WaPo: Adam LaRoche, Nationals agree to two-year deal

Goodbye, Mr. Morse—you will be missed.

The Nationals and Adam LaRoche ended their offseason-long stalemate and agreed to terms on a two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

LaRoche, the reigning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner in the National League, accepted the two-year offer the Nationals had on the table since the late fall. LaRoche had been holding out for a three-year deal, but he could not find one in a market stifled the draft pick compensation attached to him.

Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 01:25 PM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, washington

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   1. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4342072)
Ooop, just submitted. MLBTR says 10/12/2m buyout, Morse likely to be moved.
   2. Chris Needham Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4342074)
I still don't get why they'd want to trade Morse.

You have Harper/LaRoche/Span... all left-handed batters where Harper could fill in. If you face two lefties a week and he pinch hits, that's 400 ABs for the year, not even counting him filling in for someone getting injured. There's a very good role for him that maximizes his abilities, minimizes flaws in some of those other players, and improves upon what they'd otherwise do: plug in Tyler Moore. (ugh)

If they end up trading him for a LOOGY, when they very well could've had JP Howell for $4 million cash, I'll be really annoyed.
   3. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4342079)
Ah, so LaRoche did actually get his option year for the 2015 -- as a mutual buyout with a low price-tag. That always struck me as the inevitable solution, and I think it's fair enough.

Can't say how happy I am to see LaRoche back with the Nationals for next year. It wasn't even his bat that was so valuable...it was his GLOVE. The thought of having to watch Morse (likable oaf though he is) butcher plays at 1B was not a pleasing prospect. LaRoche, on the other hand, made Desmond and Zimmerman (who are both superlative defenders in terms of their ability to get to tough grounders, but occasionally make wonky, errant throws) look much better.
   4. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4342084)
I still don't get why they'd want to trade Morse.

You have Harper/LaRoche/Span... all left-handed batters where Harper could fill in. If you face two lefties a week and he pinch hits, that's 400 ABs for the year, not even counting him filling in for someone getting injured. There's a very good role for him that maximizes his abilities, minimizes flaws in some of those other players, and improves upon what they'd otherwise do: plug in Tyler Moore. (ugh)
Well, keeping in mind the fact that this is an organization that has demonstrated its immunity to sentimental appeal (see: John Lannan last year), the consensus seems to be that Morse is a starter, not a bench player, and that it's unnatural and unfair to force him into a pinch-hitting role. (Beyond "fairness" there's the open question of how could he would be coming off the bench...that's a difficult skill for a lot of players.)

Incidentally, I wouldn't mind seeing Morse go for a reliever at all -- it just depends on the reliever. Morse should be able to bring back a bullpen arm significantly better than J.P. Howell.
   5. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4342085)
Morse crowds the trade market for OFs. That makes Upton's asking price less. Yay!
   6. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4342092)
Aw man...Michael Morse just updated his Facebook page, and all he wrote was
:-(
Seriously.

I'm going to miss him a lot when he's gone. No more singing "Take On Me" by a-ha during his late-inning at-bats. No more Beast Mode. Thanks for all the fish, Mikey.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4342094)
Anyone know the salary for the option year? What are the mechanics of it?
   8. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4342100)
Anyone know the salary for the option year? What are the mechanics of it?
$2 million dollar mutual option. In other words, a pittance guaranteeing an extra $2 million, not a 'real' option for 2015.
   9. Chris Needham Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4342101)
@4, sure... but 2 starts a week plus pinch-hitting opportunities isn't quite the same as the role Chad Tracy had last year. 400-500 ABs is easily doable -- keep in mind, IL play means he's almost guaranteed a few extra starts each month -- and not all the dissimilar from what he's had the last few years, given all his injuries.
   10. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4342106)
Morse would so fit the Phils' needs. NFW that happens though.
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4342108)
$2 million dollar mutual option. In other words, a pittance guaranteeing an extra $2 million, not a 'real' option for 2015.


What I have read is that the $2 million is the buyout, not the amount of the option.
   12. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4342109)
@4, sure... but 2 starts a week plus pinch-hitting opportunities isn't quite the same as the role Chad Tracy had last year. 400-500 ABs is easily doable -- keep in mind, IL play means he's almost guaranteed a few extra starts each month -- and not all the dissimilar from what he's had the last few years, given all his injuries.
Yeah, but then you try explaining to Bryce Harper, Denard Span, or Adam LaRoche why they have to sit down once or twice a week. There is a personnel management element here that can't be ignored; sure, you could simply impose your will upon the players, but that's a recipe for disaster (and it also doesn't seem like the sort of thing Davey Johnson would sign on to).

Fact is, it's musical chairs and the Nationals are just so deep right now that they have more deserving players than available seats.
   13. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4342110)
What I have read is that the $2 million is the buyout, not the amount of the option.
Right, I've seen conflicting reports on this too. You could be right, it's all still a bit fog-of-war right now.
   14. Chris Needham Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4342116)
I dunno. It's not like this is a strict platoon situation for any one of those players. If you face a lefty, 2 of those other guys are still starting... Plus, if there's a guy who has the confidence of the players and has them believing that someone know what's best for them, it's Davey. That's the perfect kind of thing for him, really.
   15. AROM Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4342123)
If you face two lefties a week and he pinch hits, that's 400 ABs for the year, not even counting him filling in for someone getting injured.


2 starts a week is about 50 starts - 200 PA. Add in 50-75 pinch hitting appearances, and you are still nowhere close to 400 AB. Only you'd get to 400 PA is if one of the other guys was hurt and Morse took over for a while.
   16. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 08, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4342124)
What should Morse go for? Orioles should be all over this.
   17. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4342132)
What should Morse go for? Orioles should be all over this.
According to the beat writers for the WaPo and WaTimes, there's already an explosion of interest from teams about Morse -- the Times' beat writer mentioned 7 or 8 teams having contacted Rizzo over the last few hours alone. The thinking is that, as an affordable, proven cleanup hitter, Morse ought to be able to bring back a solid bullpen arm plus a prospect or two. (Ideally SP prospects, but who knows.)

The Nationals have literally no more needs on the MLB team to fill at this point (except, as mentioned above, a lefty reliever), so the goal here is to try and do some restocking of the shelves on the farm. The Gio trade with Oakland emptied the cupboard.

The Orioles and Mariners both seem like plausible destinations, and the Rays and Yanks are also connected to trade talks right now. Morse is a fit with all of them (and it's no accident they're all AL teams).

It's a bit of rosterbation, I know, but I think Morse to the O's for Brian Matusz plus prospects makes a fair bit of sense.
   18. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4342134)
Morse needs to be the DH of a softball league somewhere. The man is an absolute butcher in the field and I doubt his bat will be good enough to carry his glove in 2013 and beyond. Who does Seattle have as DH? Either that or somebody like the A's or Rays picking him up on his last year of pre-FA service time.
   19. Chris Needham Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4342144)
@15 You have 3 players he could replace. The odds that all three of them (particularly given those particular players' injury histories) are pretty good. 400 ABs is easily doable. How many Interleague games are there this year? He'll DH in half of them. There's another 50 or so ABs.
   20. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4342149)
Morse is the DH's DH. He should go to the AL.
   21. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4342150)
What should Morse go for? Orioles should be all over this.


Think the Nationals would really deal with the Orioles? That would be like dealing with the Phillies.

I sort of agree with Chris here. The Nationals really don't have to trade Morse. There is a role he can fill on this team, even if it's not the high-profile role he might want - and their areas of need (bullpen depth, maybe a backup 2B/3B type better than Lombardozzi, assuming there's one out there) aren't the kind of thing that you need to trade someone like Morse to acquire. Washington's best approach at this point might just be to stand pat and wait to see what happens come March.

-- MWE
   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4342157)
Just looked up Michael Morse and this entire time I assumed he was a dorky looking white guy. I don't know why I thought that.
   23. Joey B. is being stalked by a (Gonfa) loon Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4342170)
In an ideal world LaRoche and Morse would just platoon at first, but realistically they're getting paid too much for that.
   24. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4342172)
#22 - So your view hasn't changed then?
   25. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4342173)
BB/K in 2012:

Morse: 16/97
Chris Davis: 37/169
Adam Jones: 34/126


He'd fit right in.
   26. STEAGLES is all out of bubblegum Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4342178)
Just looked up Michael Morse and this entire time I assumed he was a dorky looking white guy. I don't know why I thought that.
i believe he used to be a middle infielder who wore rec-spec glasses.

   27. ColonelTom Posted: January 08, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4342190)
The Nats are looking like an OOTP team where even the reserves are 4 or 5-star players.
   28. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 08, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4342222)
Any reason for the Sox not to jump on Morse and just not sign Napoli? Sub-par D at 1st until Ortiz finally can't hit and then move him to DH. Is Napoli all that better?
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: January 08, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4342233)
Any reason for the Sox not to jump on Morse and just not sign Napoli?


It would cost talent to acquire him. He would only be on the team 1 year, versus 3 years for Napoli.

It still might make sense to get Morse, but those are the reaons against it.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4342264)
2 starts a week is about 50 starts - 200 PA. Add in 50-75 pinch hitting appearances, and you are still nowhere close to 400 AB. Only you'd get to 400 PA is if one of the other guys was hurt and Morse took over for a while.

A search on 2012 NL, guys with 350 to 450 PA, played at least 30% of games at 1B, LF, or RF turns up 17 names. One of those is Mike Morse. A few of these don't fit the role -- e.g. they had starting roles but sucked -- but it still looks like 12-14 or so, nearly one per team.

Remember, there really aren't very many true full-time players. In the 2012 NL, at least 30% of games at 1B/LF/RF, there were only 26 qualifying players, only 16 of them with 600+ PA. Across those three positions and the handful of DH games, the Nats have to fill up about 2100 PA. The chances that their three starters will amass substantially more than 1700 are fairly small, very unlikely they'd amass more than 1800. As noted, add in that Harper can cover CF and Morse is also eligible for the backup CF PAs. Of course that includes another unlikely assumption that Morse gets every one of those extra PAs, is always healthy himself, etc.

Anyway, you couldn't guarantee him more than maybe about 60 starts but chances are he'd get more than that. (And isn't it more like 4.5 PA per game average?)

Atlanta won the 1B/LF/RF health sweepstakes last year with Prado at 690, Heyward at 651 and Freeman at 620. Uggla also had over 600. Nobody on Atlanta's bench had more than 205 PA and that was Francisco who was always intended to give Chipper lots of time off. Milwaukee also did well with Braun, Hart and Aoki. 7 NL teams (inc the Astros) had no player reach 600 PA at 1B/LF/RF. The Nats had LaRoche and Harper just missed.
   31. ColonelTom Posted: January 08, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4342266)
The Rays look like an obvious trade fit. Jake McGee would be a perfect replacement for Sean Burnett in the Nats' bullpen.
   32. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 08, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4342276)
Yankees are reported to be interested in Morse. Could be a good fit if the cost isn't too high.
   33. ColonelTom Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4342283)
Unless the Yanks give up David Robertson (unlikely), I don't see much major-league talent that fits for the Nats there. They could sell off Morse for multiple prospects, but given that they're almost certainly a playoff team, I think they'd rather have help now or keep Morse for depth.

The Yanks could trade Robertson and re-sign Soriano, but Robertson's the heir apparent to Mariano's throne. If Mariano were clearly healthy, I could see it, but not now.
   34. Poster Nutbag Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4342287)
Blevins + SP from Oakland?
   35. ColonelTom Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4342294)
Blevins is arbitration-eligible for the first time this year, so he's about to start getting more expensive. I suspect they'd rather have a pre-arb guy like McGee or Brian Matusz.
   36. zonk Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4342312)
Does this mean Anthony Rendon is also available?

   37. ColonelTom Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4342315)
LaRoche's 2-year deal lets them bring Rendon along one level at a time with a 2015 ETA. That's another reason why LaRoche is a better fit than extending Morse beyond this year.
   38. Nasty Nate Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:37 PM (#4342325)
Has the "bad" LaRoche LaLatched onto any team yet? He was lurking around the International league last year.
   39. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4342339)
He was in Pawtucket last year, after being released by the Indians. 264/338/462 in 204 PA. He's now a free agent and someone will sign him as minor league depth.
   40. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4342341)
So, everyone's okay with 2/24 to LaRoche? He doesn't have the most robust history, and could be out of the league at 34. He's exactly the kind of guy who is done by that age.

I don't know what the Nats options were, but signing an old player who just had his first year with a bWAR over 2.0 doesn't strike as the finest move one might make.

LaRoche, bWAR, career, 2004-2012:

1.0, -1.0, 1.4, 1.2, 1.1, 2.0, 0.9, -0.3, 4.0
   41. bookbook Posted: January 08, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4342351)
Who does Seattle have at DH? Morales, Montero, Jaso, Ibanez, Bay,....

Who doesn't Seattle have at DH?
   42. RJ in TO Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4342368)
So, everyone's okay with 2/24 to LaRoche? He doesn't have the most robust history, and could be out of the league at 34. He's exactly the kind of guy who is done by that age.

It's not a crazy amount of money, and it's not a long deal. Even if he completely craters, it's not like this deal ends up crippling the team. It's not a great signing, but it's not one worth getting all that worked up about either.

   43. ColonelTom Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4342370)
Morse, bWAR, 2010-2012:

0.7, 2.2, -0.1

Morse posted 6.2 oWAR during that span, but coughed up more than half of that on defense (-3.4 dWAR). He needs to get to the AL as quickly as possible.

My theory on free agents is that it usually takes one year too many and 20% too much AAV to land a guy. That would put an appropriate deal for LaRoche at 1 year/$9.6M, which sounds about right to me. The Nats have Tyler Moore to help if LaRoche craters early, so they'll manage. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson Ramos taking grounders occasionally at 1B this spring, since Davey Johnson seems enamored with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate.
   44. zonk Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4342375)
He was in Pawtucket last year, after being released by the Indians. 264/338/462 in 204 PA. He's now a free agent and someone will sign him as minor league depth.


I'm relatively surprised that the Cubs haven't yet signed him as major league depth, given that Ian Stewart would appear to be the fallback plan if Vitters posts another 123/193/203 line...
   45. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4342380)
So, everyone's okay with 2/24 to LaRoche? He doesn't have the most robust history, and could be out of the league at 34. He's exactly the kind of guy who is done by that age.

Yeah, it's OK. Ignore his injured 2011 -- and he was so horrible when he did play that I'm pretty comfy ignoring the whole thing given he's shown he's healthy -- then he's a league-average 1B and those cost about $12. It's a short contract and if a better option comes along, he'll be movable or if he collapses then you're not out much money. I'll grant that it's not obvious LaRoche at 2/$24 is better than one year of Morse then figure out something for 2014 but it's a low-risk move. And Morse doesn't have a sterling track record either and brings the same negatives as LaRoche. Uninspiring signing, probably unimportant signing but a perfectly meh signing.
   46. Chris Needham Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4342383)
The team raved, RAVED about ALR's defense. And he really was pretty sweet over there in a way that doesn't necessarily jive with some of the WAR components I've seen for him in previous years. Given the problems that often has with fairly evaluating 1B, it's hard to take some of the WAR numbers seriously. He's a solid bat (left-handed to help balance out the middle of the order) with a plus glove. Whatever numbers you want to assign to that, he's an asset at that price. Two years... who cares? It's a win-now team. He's a win-now player.
   47. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: January 08, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4342397)
The Rays look like an obvious trade fit. Jake McGee would be a perfect replacement for Sean Burnett in the Nats' bullpen.


This is what I thought of right away. I'd be thrilled with this return, and it would be a good fit for Tampa as well.

Laroche was huge for the Nats last year- the most consistent offensive player, if not the best, and a great glove as well. Happy to have him back, particularly on this time frame where it is easy to shift Zim to 1B in two years.
   48. McCoy Posted: January 08, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4342411)
Last year I kept waiting for Adam to turn back into a pumpkin. In the summer he did but he ended with a bang which really helps his image. Start off hot and end hot and the rest doesn't really matter. Next year I predict something like an .800 to .820 OPS out of him.
   49. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 08, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4342434)
Ah, the classic "pumpkin interval".

I'm sure I'm not the only one reminded of Nick Johnson. But the similarities are highly superficial. They both are sort of goofy-looking, that's one.
   50. Barnaby Jones Posted: January 08, 2013 at 08:17 PM (#4342443)
Just looked up Michael Morse and this entire time I assumed he was a dorky looking white guy. I don't know why I thought that.


I always envisioned a fat David Morse.
   51. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4342452)
Last year I kept waiting for Adam to turn back into a pumpkin. In the summer he did but he ended with a bang which really helps his image.

He always ends with a bang:

1st half: 768 OPS
2nd half: 886 OPS

in 4700 total PA. For guys with a good number of PA, I'd guess that's one of the larger gaps you'd find. He had an uncharacteristically bad August in 2012.
   52. Esoteric Posted: January 08, 2013 at 09:01 PM (#4342474)
The team raved, RAVED about ALR's defense. And he really was pretty sweet over there in a way that doesn't necessarily jive with some of the WAR components I've seen for him in previous years. Given the problems that often has with fairly evaluating 1B, it's hard to take some of the WAR numbers seriously. He's a solid bat (left-handed to help balance out the middle of the order) with a plus glove. Whatever numbers you want to assign to that, he's an asset at that price. Two years... who cares? It's a win-now team. He's a win-now player.
Exactly (and this is pretty much exactly what I wrote back in my #3). LaRoche didn't just bring his bat to the Nats in 2012 (although he was critical as a 'bridge' for the team, putting up strong numbers at the precise time when the rest of the team with the exception of Desmond was either injured or slumping), he brought the GLOVE. I doubt there's a single person who watched the team on a daily basis who would have anything other than rave reviews for his defense at 1B.

His primary defensive skill was/is his ability to pick just about anything thrown his way by the rest of the infield, and this made him a uniquely valuable guy for the Nationals because of Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman: two guys with plus gloves but a proclivity for the occasional Knoblauch-ian throw. LaRoche saved countless plays from being errors with his ability to dig pretty much anything out of the dirt and extend his body Gumby-like distances off the bag to haul in off-target throws. None of the Nats' other 1B options were remotely as good at that. In that sense LaRoche wasn't just good on his own terms, he was a keystone that turned the Nationals' infield defense (LaRoche, Espinosa, Desmond, Zimmerman) into one of the most impenetrable in the National League.
   53. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 08, 2013 at 09:59 PM (#4342509)
The Rays look like an obvious trade fit. Jake McGee would be a perfect replacement for Sean Burnett in the Nats' bullpen

I wouldn't trade McGee for Morse. McGee is a really awesome reliever, and just because he's left-handed and now being used in the pen he shouldn't be put in the same category as Sean Burnett or Jerry Blevins. In fact I don't see how he's less valuable than David Robertson. He's arguably a better pitcher with 5 years of team control vs Robertson's 2. For all I know McGee can be converted back to starter. Looking at it in WAR terms, McGee had 1.8 rWAR in 2012, and Morse has 1.8 rWAR per 600 PA in his career. If the Nats managed this, it would be highway robbery.
   54. Dan Evensen Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:30 AM (#4342573)
I agree completely with the "win now deal" analysis. It looks even better to me when you consider that Rendon may be up to the bigs in 2015.

The Nationals have literally no more needs on the MLB team to fill at this point (except, as mentioned above, a lefty reliever), so the goal here is to try and do some restocking of the shelves on the farm.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Nats are looking like an OOTP team where even the reserves are 4 or 5-star players.

Both of these points are even more amazing when you consider what the Nats were like as recently as 2010.
   55. Esoteric Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:54 AM (#4342599)
I wouldn't trade McGee for Morse. McGee is a really awesome reliever, and just because he's left-handed and now being used in the pen he shouldn't be put in the same category as Sean Burnett or Jerry Blevins. In fact I don't see how he's less valuable than David Robertson. He's arguably a better pitcher with 5 years of team control vs Robertson's 2. For all I know McGee can be converted back to starter. Looking at it in WAR terms, McGee had 1.8 rWAR in 2012, and Morse has 1.8 rWAR per 600 PA in his career. If the Nats managed this, it would be highway robbery.
I tend to agree -- it wouldn't be "highway robbery" per se ("highway robbery" is Vernon Wells AND his contract for Mike Napoli), but it would be a great, great deal for the Nationals even as it authentically filled a need for the Rays as well. I could still see it happening on the logic that the balance of the trade ought to be assessed by both teams' relative needs (Tampa needs a 1B/DH with pop, Washington needs a sharp LH reliever), but it's why I think something like a deal with the Orioles for Brian Matusz + a low-level SP prospect or two is a more likely trade.

I would even be happy to see the Nats throw in a lottery-pick prospect or two in a Morse-for-McGee trade. I'm a big fan of his, and I love the five years of cost-control as well.
   56. Esoteric Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:07 AM (#4342605)
Both of these points are even more amazing when you consider what the Nats were like as recently as 2010.
I've been pondering this as well, and it really is such a contingent thing when you go back and analyze all the pieces that fell into place to make this possible. The ones that can be directly attributed to a smart front office are Jordan Zimmermann (the single greatest non-obvious draft pick in franchise history), Morse (a straight-up fleecing of the Mariners, acquired for Ryan Langerhans), Wilson Ramos, Gio Gonzalez, Drew Storen, and Tyler Clippard. Zimmerman, Harper and Strasburg are cornerstones, but it's hard to give much credit to a team for drafting them as they were all thought to be no-doubt stars at the time.

But so many of the other core players just managed to 'put it together' miraculously, often after years of scuffling. Ian Desmond was, as recently as 2011, little more than an aging busted prospect seen as having little chance of holding onto a career until, suddenly, he was the best shortstop in the Major Leagues. Ross Detwiler was a similarly disappointing draft pick, a middle-inning reliever at best, until he locked down a rotation slot and proved he could bring the goods under major competitive pressure. Adam LaRoche was universally thought to be a 'marking time' fill-in at 1B, and his putrid injury-ridden first season didn't disabuse anyone of that. I'm sure Mike Rizzo would claim he saw the potential in all of these guys, and no doubt that's technically true, but the way they've suddenly matured all at once has been wonderfully serendipitous.
   57. Walt Davis Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:37 AM (#4342619)
His primary defensive skill was/is his ability to pick just about anything thrown his way by the rest of the infield

As a man of sub-modest athletic skill in general but the ability to pick just about anything thrown my way ... might I suggest that the difference here probably has less to do with LaRoche's picking ability (this is not hard, most 1B are quite good at it) and more to do with the Nats apparently crappy throwing ability giving him opportunities. Late career shifts aside, you don't get to stay at 1B if you can't pick throws.

Now, I've not seen LaRoche enough to judge him personally and not at all in the last few years. I do note the Nats 2B/3B/SS made 59 errors in 2011 (LaRoche being hurt most of the year) and only 52 in 2012 ... and I have no idea how many were throwing as b-r isn't nice enough to tell me that I can find. They made a whopping 74 in 2010, almost half of them Desmond. 7 errors saved would be a good number, probably adding up to 5 runs a year.
   58. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:27 AM (#4342633)
0.7, 2.2, -0.1

Morse posted 6.2 oWAR during that span, but coughed up more than half of that on defense (-3.4 dWAR). He needs to get to the AL as quickly as possible.

Bear in mind that dWAR now contains the positional adjustment, which is making up the majority of that -3.4 number. He rates at about half a win per year below average relative to position. While he would benefit from a shift to DH, it is likely to be marginal, e.g. David Ortiz has -3.7 dWAR over the past 3 seasons. If you adjust those numbers for playing time, Morse is accumulating 1.47 dWAR per 150 games, and Ortiz 1.45. And as we have seen, not everybody takes to the DH well, so there is some risk there also.

The team raved, RAVED about ALR's defense. And he really was pretty sweet over there in a way that doesn't necessarily jive with some of the WAR components I've seen for him in previous years. Given the problems that often has with fairly evaluating 1B, it's hard to take some of the WAR numbers seriously.

See above. He is rated 8 runs above average for his position last season.
   59. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:10 AM (#4342651)
The ones that can be directly attributed to a smart front office are Jordan Zimmermann (the single greatest non-obvious draft pick in franchise history)...

Hey, you're forgetting about Smiley Gonzalez! Can't a brutha get a little love???
   60. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:13 AM (#4342653)
Err that should be -1.47 and -1.45 in #58 obviously. I blame not enough coffee.
   61. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 09, 2013 at 08:56 AM (#4342664)
I'm sold. LaRoche is acceptably meh.

I always envisioned a fat David Morse.


Morse is a heckuvan actor. Lead villain in several movies that were good, not great. Had his own tv series that was good, but not quite good enough. A zillion character roles. HOVG. Absolutely convincing in anything he did, and used his height to real advantage.
   62. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 09, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4342687)
We saw Morse and family at a local Indian restaurant a couple of years ago. The family lives somewhere close to us, albeit not in our neighborhood. :) The restaurant is a pretty meh place (we won't go back) but it was dark and not crowded, so they might have chosen it for those reasons. His wife is tall and quite attractive; the kids were closely bunched in age (late teens, early 20s) and were tall and attractive.
   63. FrankM Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4342760)
...and I have no idea how many were throwing as b-r isn't nice enough to tell me that I can find. They made a whopping 74 in 2010, almost half of them Desmond. 7 errors saved would be a good number, probably adding up to 5 runs a year.

Actually, bbref has that info under advanced fielding:

For 2b-3b-ss 2010 74 errors, 6 catch 36 field 32 throwing
2011 59 errors 4 catch 31 field 24 throwing

So maybe LaRoche did save a bunch of errors

By the way "catching" errors involve catching throws, not batted balls.
   64. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4342907)
We saw Morse and family at a local Indian restaurant a couple of years ago. The family lives somewhere close to us, albeit not in our neighborhood. :) The restaurant is a pretty meh place (we won't go back) but it was dark and not crowded, so they might have chosen it for those reasons. His wife is tall and quite attractive; the kids were closely bunched in age (late teens, early 20s) and were tall and attractive.


Heh, I thought you were talking about Michael Morse and was like how the #### does he have 20 year old kids?
   65. JustDan Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4342927)
@64 - me too.

@63 - thanks, but you need to add 2012 to see LaRoche's impact. In 2011 the Nationals had a variety of players at 1b (mostly Morse, LaRoche and Marrero)

numbers are catch, field, throw for 2b,3b,ss

2010 6/36/32
2011 4/31/24
2012 0/25/27 (12 throws by Zimmerman, who had some shoulder issues)
   66. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4342953)
I read somewhere that the option is for $15m (Or $13m more than the guaranteed buyout amount). I'm not sure the structure of the mutual option; does that mean either party can exercise it, or does that mean both parties must agree to it?
   67. Esoteric Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4342960)
I read somewhere that the option is for $15m. I'm not sure the structure of the mutual option; does that mean either party can exercise it, or does that mean both parties must agree to it?
Would love to know where you read that number, because as far as I can tell it's remained a mystery figure. As for the structure of the option, yes, it's mutual and therefore both parties have to agree. If either party declines the option LaRoche will automatically get a $2 million buyout, which is why the contract is being referred to as a $24 million guaranteed deal even though the years are 10 and 12 -- the final 2 is also guaranteed no matter what happens.
   68. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4342970)
This story says $15m:

http://mlb.sbnation.com/2013/1/9/3854818/nationals-sign-adam-laroche-contract-mlb

As for the structure of the option, yes, it's mutual and therefore both parties have to agree. If either party declines the option LaRoche will automatically get a $2 million buyout


If so, why is the option even part of the contract? Is it for luxury tax or revenue sharing purposes? Because then every player has a de facto mutual option at the end of their contract; i.e. if both parties agree, they can sign a contract.
   69. Nasty Nate Posted: January 09, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4343064)
Here is a fangraphs article about mutual options, although it's not very illuminating. This type of mutual option doesn't seem like it does much at all besides potentially streamlining future negotiations in some cases.
   70. MNB Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4343261)
I sold a painting to (David) Morse a number of years ago. He was shooting 'Hack' at the time and looked pretty scruffy and I didn't recognize him and just showed him around the gallery. When he came back, my boss, who had been a religious 'St. Elsewhere' watcher, was falling all over herself asking me if I knew who that was. I simply replied, "Yeah, the guy I was helping a few days ago." She then explained who he was and I then felt foolish for not recognizing him. He is very tall (and nice). I asked him about getting his ass kicked by Bjork.
   71. McCoy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4343283)
oops

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