Nationals Baseball: Mike Morse still a Nat

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mike Morse still a Nat

Mike Morses unite in support!

Party Tent Sales Manager!
Professor of Photojournalism!
Red Wolf Biologist! (that does sound pretty cool)
Michigan Car Accident Attorney!

Here's a question to you. It's my belief that Mike Morse won't fetch all that much in return.  While it's completely true that a healthy Mike Morse will probably hit really well there are just too many questions / problems with him.

He does not field well. Yes, he was drafted as a short stop but that was a body type ago, and frankly it doesn't look like he was a good SS anyway. He's among the lowest players in value on the basepaths. Although the past couple years have quieted the fears, his strikeout to walk ratio still is going to give pause to teams. He's only signed for one more year so you are looking at a guy that could be a single season rental. And most of all - he's injury prone. He's played more than 122 games in a season (minors + majors) twice in his career, 2009 and 2011.  Even ignoring the early minor league years with fewer games played that is still the sign of a guy that gets a lot of nicks and bumps.

Are you willing to trade for a guy who may give you 110 games of decent at bats and nothing else then walk at the end of the season?

That's why I think the best the Nats could do is someone like Clay Rapada. Decent lefty arm, good LOOGY, not a free agent until 2017, but with his own performance issues and not young. Assuming Rapada reamains decent he could hold down the lefty in the pen role for the duration of the Nats initial playoff run. Unless Mike Morse has a full healthy season its likely you get more total value from Rapada at a fraction of the cost. However, for 2013, it would take a downer of a Morse year at the plate (like last year) for Rapada to match up to Morse (and if an injury happens to LaRoche or Werth...) 

Would you make that deal?

The Nats probably want a decent young starter who could give them rotation depth and might develop into something more.  Like a Ross Detwiler prior to 2012.   Don't count on it.  You might be able to get Jeff Neimann without having to pass a physical. He's got some years left before FA.  He's also spent most of 2012 on the DL and at 29 isn't going to surprise anyone.

If you don't like that you might be looking at a pure pitching prospect. Anything from a "maybe this year" relief prospect who did OK in AA last year, to a long shot talent who may still be starting in A-ball. Forget Jake McGee, would a Nick Sawyer  plus some other throw-ins do it for you?

If not, what type of player are you expecting?


Positively Half St. said...

I hope that the number of teams combined with the dearth of available right-handed power will inflate the return the Nats will get. Teams keep signing the likes of Grady Sizemore or even Nick Johnson in the face of all the evidence because they want to give optimistic fans an exciting what-if. Michael Morse could very believably hit 30 home runs next year, and be a fan favorite wherever he goes. None of this refutes your reasoning in the least, but could be reasons the Nats get back more than his "value."

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

Like positively half st said, i also am banking/hoping on that as well. Tbh, considering the liklihood that one of our outfielders or LaRoche gets injured, I think we would be best suited keeping him in that event (if Clay Rapada, who is a nice young lefty, is all we can get). Think about it, Werth is in his id 30s and has been battling injuries, Harper runs out there like a bat outta he*l (though given his youth, makeup, and switch to a corner i think he is the least likely OF for an injury), Span has had injuries including a major one (concussion was it?) 2 years ago, and LaRoche is generally healthy but is also vulnerable.

Lee said...

I know it's unlikely, but I'm with Clip and Store. If nothing is really offered that helps the team between now and Spring Training, keep the guy. His value may increase as a Nat if one of our guys goes down in the preseason. It could also go up if some other team has an unforeseen mishap in the preseason (or even early season).

Anonymous said...

So, Brandon Maurer and Lucas Luetge won't happen? Kidding. Is there any value in adding someone like Chris Marrero or Eury Perez, who now seems blocked? Though if he projects as Endy Chavez, I guess there's not much value there either.

Wally said...

No to the Clay Rapada deal. Probably yes to Jeff Neimann. I am bad at figuring out what players are worth, but I agree with you that the return won't be high. Good bat/poor field guys in general don't bring back a lot (see Willingham, J on two different occasions, for example), but then add the additional Morse-specific issues that you mention. The only hopeful counterargument to that is that there do seem like several teams where he would be a good fit.

So I think that he adds more value to us as a 400 AB utility guy and injury hedge then whatever he brings back in trade. The only question to ponder is does he become disgruntled with that,a nd therefore a clubhouse distraction?

Ben said...

Trading Morse for a LOOGY that almost certainly provides less value in 2013 is not a win-now move ... its not even a longshot-try-to-get-lucky move, it would be a move you made if the LOOGY wasn't really a LOOGY and had some potential for very good late inning work, or if the 100's of potential replacement level relievers all decided to take a cruise on the S.S. Scrap Heap and it sank.

I don't think you are wrong about his value right now and the questions surrounding him, but I do think you underestimate dumb/desperate GMs who only get dumber and more desperate as the season doesn't go the way they hoped. Yes poor play during the first half would hurt Morse's trade value, but so what? The Nats are a better team with him on the bench/semi-starting so if a Ramos-Capps like trade never materializes then there is little lost and a power bat that might get lucky in the playoffs gained.

Admit it Harper, you'd love that Rapada deal for very un-natitudinal reasons.

Harper said...

1/2st>0 - I don't know. Sizemore is interesting because he was once the total package and he's an true OF (who might not be bad if you could get him out of center) Nick is a minor league deal. I know power is at a premium but this new league is about cost control as much as anything.

C&S - I don't see it but then again I think that's best - time for this team to concentrate on the now

Lee - I guess this hoping that someone gest injured midseason makes a little sense. Still can Morse keep his value up in the meantime?

Anon - Sure that might be one way to get something decent back. (though one of the true prospects like Goodwin could turn a deal into something truly impactful... if the Nats are willing)

Wally - I don't see him being disgruntled, do you? THough I do remember some grumbling early in 2011 right? Wasn't there?

Ben - You're right that it's neither of those moves. It's a simple "This guy over X years and Y dollars give us more than Morse at 1 year and 6.75 million" It's a long term tweak that makes the team a tiny bit better off taking in all of 2013-2016.

I am underestimating dumb GMs probably. Mainly because the breed is getting pushed to extinction. But it only takes one as Ramos-Capps shows.

Also - I'm not sure Morse fits the Yanks as well as they and a lot of media think. He truly should be a DH and the Nats need that spot to give the old guys rest. He can't get 100+ games there. They've gone REAL Cheap trying to find OF solutions (Russ Cantzler, Matt Diaz)

Then again they do want to get cheap by 2014 not 2013 and a 1yr deal matters little. They just aren't going to give up anything for him because they need all their young and cheap talent to get under that luxury tax threshold, especially if they re-sign Cano (which I expect them to do)

blovy8 said...

No way Rizzo trades him for just reliever. He probably has roughly the same value as Morales did. If you just go by value, he should be getting 2.5 WAR back, because the money doesn't matter. If that's three cost-controlled years of a reliever worth having, I'd be surprised. Lannan's example last year is instructive. They can eat the money, and hope they don't need him enough to make it worth it, but it's hard to see a bullpen guy adding up to even a win over the seventh guy they put out there. Morse will probably have similar value in July if an actual NEED happens that he can't fill. If Rizzo felt like another LH was a priority, they'd have signed one in November. I could see a multi-player deal, but that would more likely target a minor league impact player. They're hunting for longman/AAA guys now - I doubt they need to trade for one.

Anonymous said...

If Mikey got a haircut, he'd look like that car accident attorney guy a little bit :)

Donald said...

I think part of the difficulty in moving Morse is that he's such a wildcard. He could put up a .300 season with 30 HR and 100 RBI, or he could put up an injury plagued one with 15 HR and 50 RBI. And for the Nats, he could fill in for an injured player and be a key component to winning the division, or he could be a bit player that pinch hits and occasionally gives LaRoche or Werth a day off. My guess is that his price drops as the season wears on, too. If a GM doesn't want to part with much for a 1 year rental, how much will they give for a 1/2 year rental? And the thing is that if the Nats are still looking to trade him at the deadline, it means they don't need him, which means he probably didn't play much, or didn't play that well. Otherwise, they'd be keeping him.

My guess is that when all is weighed, Rizzo sticks to his guns in trying to get a decent haul. Trading him for peanuts has risk (in case he is actually needed due to injury), with little real gain. And if he walks at the end of the season and they get nothing, so be it if they weren't getting that much now anyway.

I'd be curious to know what Morse wants. He's stated he doesn't want to DH. Obviously, his preference would be to start at 1b or LF for a competitive team, but would he rather stick with the Nats than go to Seattle, for instance? If he's not starting, I assume he rather be with the Nats than anywhere else. I'm not sure how much that factors into Rizzo's decision, but if Morse told him point blank that he wanted to be traded if he wasn't going to start, then it might change things.

Michael K said...

I would say no to a deal for a LOOGY if it didn't also come with a prospect, unless that LOOGY was really really good + under team control for a while. And by really really good I mean not really a LOOGY, but a high-quality lefty reliever with closer potential whose value isn't likely to change year to year like other relievers. As you point out many times on this blog, relievers are just simply overrated. If $4M/year is too much for Burnett, who was very good, then why trade Morse for someone like that? Question - would you rather have Morse on the team for $4M or no Morse at all? Would you have spent that money on Burnett? If you said yes, and then no, then that should answer your question as to whether Morse should be traded for a LOOGY...

Not to mention Morse should get about 300 AB this season, if not more, and that's if no one gets injured. I understand that it's only for this year, and someone like Rapada will be around for a while, but I trust that the Nats will be able to find a lefty at some point.

So I would hold out for a good prospect. Either a high ceiling prospect or a decent prospect with a very good shot at making the majors. The Nats might not get it, in which case, Morse gives the team more value sitting on the bench this year + walking than a LOOGY does over the next 5 years (maybe not if you just add WAR, but you have to factor in that the Nats will probably add a LOOGY at some point that they wouldn't have added if they already have one via a Morse trade).

On the Yanks - I think he makes a lot of sense for them, as 1) they need righty power, 2) Morse's ability to go the other way means he'll still take advantage of the short porch in right, and 3) He walks before 2013. Problem is I don't think they'll match up in trade. As I said, I don't think a reliever will be worth it, and I doubt the Yanks will want to part with one of their OF prospects with Granderson leaving next year.

Harper said...

blovy8 - A smartly used good reliever is worth about 1.0 WAR a season so you can make up 2.5 in 3 years. The no signing a LH guy though does point to Rizzo having a low value for that position (or maybe he thought LaRoche would be back all along)

Anon - needs to gain a little weight for one of these...

Donald - Yeah, I would like Morse to come out and say "I'd like to play as much as I can, but I'd accept coming off the bench for this team for a year. We're onto something special"

MK - 4 mill is a little much for a bench player but in this circumstance (World Series favorites) I'd rather have him. Vs Burnett - not sure. I guess Morse but not as big a gap as you might think if he's coming off the bench. He wins because he can potentially play a lot more.

We'll see if Rizzo agrees.

Yanks - I think #3 matters the most. I do agree though they aren't going to part with any good prospects right now because they want to look at them to see who can help keep the payroll down. (Hence why I keep saying Rapada is about the best you'll get from them. Try the Rays)

Nattydread said...

One thing that hasn't come out in the stories:

Rizzo and DJ both consider spring training to be a "try-out". If Morse is the "hot hand", it does change things, and its not just Morse vs. LaRoche. Its Morse vs the corner out fielders, LaRoche and the current bench.

Spring training is not just a formality. Stats are stats, contracts are contracts, yes. But if a player comes better prepared and is clearly out-performing his rivals, a place is made.

If no trade is made, internal team competition is increased. Rizzo encourages this.

blovy8 said...

Harper, I was saying I'd be surprised if some team traded the Nats a reliever with that type of potential. To me that would be a set-up/closer level pitcher when you consider how inconsistent relievers are year to year. You'd have to be pretty sure they could put up at least one season around 1.5-2 WAR to make up for the years they'll suck, be meh or injured. So yes, I do kind of think Jake McGee is in the ballpark of his value. He's got lots of value for a team like the Rays. Tampa can more easily replace McGee's innings than they can the atbats from hitters who belong in AAA. The Nats dropoff isn't as severe from Morse to Moore. But you need a guy as good as Clippard or Storen if you ask me, or you don't bother. But I imagine the Rays don't want to even pay 6.75 million with their budget, and you've already told us to forget that.

Froggy said...

Mike Morse is insurance. Why would you trade him just for a LOOGY? Which is why Rizzo won't. Couple things though, like Nattydread said, DJ is old-school and has said spring training is a try-out and I hope Morse is killing it in the weight room and on the track to prove some people wrong. Second, you nevah know what will happen in a season. I mean last year at catcher we had Ramos, Flores, Leon and Solano and no one would have evah predicted Suzuki would own the job.

Besides, Morse is not THAT bad of a fielder. Not GG, but definitely not bounce off your head for a homerun Jose Canseco bad.

Booyah Suckah! said...

NattyDread, I suppose there's a way I'm wrong, but I can't in any universe see a situation where Michael Morse plays himself into a starting spot during spring training. They're not starting him over LaRoche when their offense is about equal and LaRoche's defense is vastly superior. They're not replacing Werth or Harper with Morse, there's just ZERO chance of that happening. And there's even less chance of Morse out-playing Span, since Morse would make a terrible lead-off hitter and couldn't play center field on his best day. Morse is what he is, and if he isn't traded, he'll be on this team in only one form: a power bat off the bench who can rest the older guys (LaRoche/Werth) for a game or two, and who can DH during interleague games. There is simply no chance of Morse playing himself into a starting role without some type of injury.

blovy8 said...

I dunno. If I'm Morse, I'm a bit depressed. The situation I go to will probably not be as good as the last couple of years. He has no control, and that makes it hard to stay motivated at the moment.

Donald said...

I pretty much agree with Booyah. They know what they are getting with established veterans in Werth and LaRoche so I don't see either really having to 'try out' to make the team. Plus, their salaries, and all. And they hired Span for defense and lead-off ability which Morse won't crack. If he's still around by spring training, he's got the advantage over Moore for a bench spot, so Morse makes the team and Moore starts in AAA unless Morse sucks and Moore kills it. But it would have to not be even close between the two for this to happen.

The only odd nuance I see is with Harper. Deep down, I can't see them demoting Harper under any circumstances, but if he looks like he's really regressed for some reason, then he's the only one I could see them actually benching for Morse. But he'd have to REALLY suck for that to happen and I just don't see that.

blovy8 said...

That Soriano deal is an early April Fool's Day joke. I can't believe it.

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