It seems crazy, but it's probably something to worry about for the next few months.
Three unassailable truths:
Michael Morse is likeable, goofy, and fun
Michael Morse has been a good find, and has played well for the Giants this season
Michael Morse should not be back with the Giants next year
Brian Sabean talked with Joe Castellano, and MLB Trade Rumors curated some of the comments. Of particular interest:
[A]t the end of the year, your starting third baseman, your closer, one of your starters, and your left fielder that you’ve fallen in love with has got a chance not to be back with the team, or you may have to pick and choose due to budget considerations," he said. "… I don’t remember a year about to end … with those kind of decisions at hand, including keeping it all within a manageable budget."
It's true. I've fallen in non-creepy love with Morse. He seems like a hirsute vat of clubhouse glue, and he combines to form a Voltron of weird outfielders that have made this season a lot of fun.
He's not a National League player, though. His defense has been as bad as expected, if not worse, and there's no way for him to be valuable to the Giants unless he hits as well as he's been hitting over the next couple of years, when he'll be 33 and 34. This seems obvious, but Sabean's "fallen in love" quote is freaking me out.
Morse is the walking explanation for why WAR exists. You see the offensive numbers and, midseason slump aside, note that he's been a nice addition to the lineup. Without a statistic that folds in an imprecise defensive metric, you might think Morse has been outstanding. Except you know he comes at a cost. Your eyeballs tell you that he's lousy afield, that he's giving up a single or double for every other one he gets. Every time I see him rumbling around third on a ball hit to the outfield -- every danged time -- I think about how that guy plays in a major league outfield.
According to Baseball-Reference.com's dWAR, Morse is the sixth-worst fielder in baseball this year. I can buy that. According to FanGraphs' rankings, he's the third-worst fielder in baseball. I can buy that, too. More importantly, Matt Kemp blows every other fielder away in both metrics, so we know the stats are probably legitimate. Those stats align with our peepers. He basically plays on the warning track and has the range of a very large fern. Like one of those prehistoric ferns, to be fair.
When you consider Morse in the future, you have to remember that he ain't getting any better. That's so important. Take how bad he is in the field now, and factor in the slow grind of time. Mix in a possible injury -- a turf toe, ankle tweak, or a back problem -- and you have a completely unplayable outfielder. The Giants are going to need Posey to play innings at first to get him out from behind the plate, and while Belt can play left, it doesn't make sense to move Belt for anyone short of Jose Abreu.
It's going to be tricky for Sabean to navigate the budget, I agree. But this is the easiest part. Morse was found money, and he'll probably get a two-year deal from an American League team next year. Good for him. He's been incredibly fun to watch. But the Giants shouldn't compete with that AL team, even if they're as smitten as we are.
Man, I usually write a few hundred more words than this, but I figure this is a "Don't whiz on the electric fence" kind of obvious. You don't need "Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence, Chapter 1. Benjamin Franklin was flying a kite one stormy day, and ..."
Don't whiz on the electric fence, Giants. Even if the electric fence makes you laugh.
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