COMMENTARY | The Baltimore Orioles have had a hard time -- at a glance -- landing an impact bat on both the free agent and trade market.
Spring training is just around the corner for the Birds, and as the weeks go by, fans are wondering:
"When will we finally get a middle-of-the-order guy?"
"What is this team doing? Why have we not gotten anyone yet?"
With Mark Reynolds and his power now in Cleveland, who can fill his spot with the Baltimore Orioles?
An intriguing option for the Orioles to bolster the middle of their lineup perhaps would be Michael Morse, who is currently signed with the Washington Nationals.
Morse, 31, is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound man whose looks resemble an NFL or college tight end than your conventional baseball player. He is expendable in Washington now as the Nationals re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche this week to a two-year deal. If you combine that deal with the addition of Denard Span via a trade with the Minnesota Twins and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth entrenched in outfield spots, he could be dealt before spring training.
I've seen him play many times in both Washington and Baltimore since I live between the two cities, and I think he would be the perfect complement for the Orioles' lineup. He has been a productive part of the Washington starting lineup for the past few seasons and has hit for average and power. In 2011, he hit 31 homers with 95 RBIs along with a .303 average, .360 on-base percentage, and a 3.1 WAR in 146 games in his best major-league season so far.
Morse struggled with injuries in 2012; however, in 102 games, he hit .291 to go along with 18 homers and 62 RBIs.
He can pretty much hit a ball out of any ballpark, and he was able to produce solid numbers playing roughly half his games at Nationals Park -- a place that is fairly neutral to both hitters and pitchers.
If you can, just picture him for a minute at Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- a hitter's ballpark -- and think of the damage he could do there. He would be nothing short of sensational at the plate at Camden Yards, especially in the summer where the heat, humidity, balmy days make it a launching pad.
Could you imagine a pitcher facing a Baltimore lineup with physically imposing batters like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, and Mike Morse thrown into the mix?
The thought of it is fascinating to me, and we all know that the Orioles have been in a search for another bat. However, the one downside with Morse is that he is not fairly proficient at any position. Morse is not going to win a Gold Glove, but he has played first, along with right and left field for Washington.
The Orioles probably would not need to part with a Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, or Kevin Gausman to acquire him; however, it would take a prospect or player of note to get him from the Nationals.
The Nationals know the value of Morse and would not just let go of him. I would expect them to go after some of Baltimore's other young pitchers such as Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta or Zach Britton.
The Orioles also face another obstacle in acquiring him since other teams also are interested in the slugger. The New York Yankees -- according to ESPN's Andrew Marchand -- have shown a desire for him. One could assume other teams will also try to pry him from Washington
Morse will be a free agent at the end of 2013, and that may dissuade the Orioles from giving him serious though. However, he will only make $6.75 million during the 2012 season, and the options left on the market for the Orioles are not terribly appealing.
Baltimore's Dan Duquette and the front office have been fairly quiet this offseason. A good portion of the fan base is pondering what moves the team will make; therefore, a hitter like Morse would be a worthwhile gamble.
The fans have been waiting for action by the front office for several weeks now.
I know the Nationals are just 40 miles down the Baltimore-Washington parkway, and no one knows for sure if they would agree with a trade with the Orioles, but Duquette needs to take a gamble and try to nab Morse if he can.
Anthony Amobi has been blogging about the Baltimore Orioles for the past seven seasons at the Oriole Post (http://oriolepost.com).
- Sports & Recreation