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Mike Morse: Very Large, Slow Giant

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Yep. Morse is the left fielder. (Good call, Grant!) After the speculation and pre-emptive trade freakout and late-night rumor chasing, turns out the Giants were telegraphing it all along.

By now Mike Morse is less a ballplayer and more a word in a word-association test, guaranteed to provoke some kind of reaction. Or as the kids say these days, Giants be trollin'. The Giants receive heaps of scorn, it seems, any time they make a desperate grab for someone with the faint odor of dingers lingering about him, mainly because those available to be grabbed are lead-footed, whiff-happy, OBP-challenged, or stone-mitted. Or some combination thereof. The Giants hit paydirt with Pat Burrell, but then again they didn't have to pay much for the risk.

There's a very interesting recent comp to this deal: Mark Trumbo, who also galumphs around while hitting the occasional baseball very far. Arizona had to surrender their center fielder and leadoff hitter of the present and future, and a very promising left-handed pitching prospect. The Giants are surrendering dollars and a roster spot, and saving those shiny prospects for other deals, if necessary. Here's what Fangraphs said about Trumbo:

Mark Trumbo is an asset with upside. However, more than 100% of his value is in his bat, especially considering that he's going to play LF in Arizona. Kind of a younger, healthier Michael Morse. He is much more of a buy-low lottery ticket than he is a premium commodity. Surrendering two young, cheap assets with upside like Eaton and Skaggs values him much more like the latter.
In other words, Morse is a buy-low lottery ticket. (And believe you me, a $6 M base salary these days is low, low, low.) It's a nice get for a team with little in the upper minors to speak of, hitting-wise, and lacking the resources of the big... oh wait. What did a New York scribe recently call the low-budget team from Queens? The San Diego Mets?

Then again, no one in their right Giant mind wanted Nelson  Cruz for three years or Shin-Soo Choo for seven (or eight). So was Mike Morse, who has a 30-HR season in his recent past, the best possible scenario? We'll never know definitively. Retroactive rumors will emerge that the Giants were THIS CLOSE to trading for Brett Gardner or Josh Willingham, but they weren't willing to part with, well, pick a prospect. Morse isn't really what most people wanted, but then again, what people wanted wasn't so hot, either, as Grant pointed out a couple days ago. So let's explore the best- and worst-case scenarios.

Best

Mike Morse's wrist feels great, he comes to Scottsdale in the best shape of his life, and all those reports about his outfield defense were a smear campaign by his ex-wife. He's decent out there, and he hits 30 home runs. That extra power and a career-average .320 on-base percentage are enough offensive cushion that Bruce Bochy has the luxury of replacing Morse with Gregor Blanco in the 7th inning on many nights, a la Pat Burrell.

For this to be the absolute best-case scenario, Bochy ties himself to the mast and lets Wotus fill out the lineup against lefties not named Kershaw or Lee. Because, once and for all, Brandon Belt was one of the top-20 hitters in the National League last year by some measures, and Michael Morse was definitively not.

Worst

Morse gets off to a slow start, and lingering wrist problems result in a lot of 390-foot outs to the left-center triangle at Mays Field, not to mention bushels of K's. Bochy cites his professional hitterism, his veteran savvy, and his big-time power that's "in there somewhere," and keeps penciling him in. Morse's D gives back the few runs he's creating with his bat, and the Giants enter the late innings either tied or behind, which in turn forces Bochy to play him deep into games, which in turn subjects us to more bad defense and frustrating at-bats: A vicious spiral to Hell, in other words. Francisco Peguero never looked so good. And for this to be the absolute worst case scenario, Frankie Pegs has a breakout year in Baltimore.

Wrist problems are bad for hitters, but they're not intractable. Jayson Werth overcame a bad wrist, for example. Fortunately, the Giants aren't paying a ton to find out Morse's ultimate diagnosis. Presumably, if it's not working, we won't see the above-mentioned worst case scenario; instead, the Giants will cut bait.

Or, perhaps they're not done. Perhaps Morse is the backup plan, and if a trade makes sense in the next couple months, Morse becomes the right-handed caribou off the bench who can play a little outfield, a little first base... Brett Pill on steroids! (Not literally.) (I think.)

Yeah, I doubt it, too. Morse is the starting left fielder. Pray for lots of home runs and sixth-inning leads.



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