#SFGiants Sign Michael Morse to Play OF, Gregor Blanco Becomes 2nd Best 4th OF in NL West

In news that broke shortly after I left for work, the Giants decided to take care of business and answer all questions about their starting left fielder for 2014 in former Washington National, Seattle Mariner, and Baltimore Oriole Michael Morse. Why couldn’t the Giants have done that yesterday when I was home? Well, the benefit of being late to the party is being able to read the analysis of some of the most read writers in the land for this deal. Namely, the takes of beat writer Alex Pavlovic, Fangraphs writer Jeff Sullivan, and SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee. I think if you’ve read those three, you’ll get an idea for how I will be molding my thinking, but I’m nearly on the fence on this one, but mostly on the side of “does not approve.” Is this one of the contracts you’ll use to point out why you hate Brian Sabean? No, but it could also be one of those ones you look at in 2015 and think, “Man, Morse really Aubrey Huff‘d that one, didn’t he?” You won’t really know what that means until 2015, so stay tuned.

Let’s start with Michael Morse. “The Beast.” The Old Man’s Mark Trumbo. He really has a pretty good downward spiral going on his stats from 2010 through 2013, but that’s deceiving because of the format of this chart:

2010 28 WSN 98 293 77 12 2 15 22 64 .289 .352 .519 133 93/D
2011 29 WSN 146 575 158 36 0 31 36 126 .303 .360 .550 147 37/D
2012 30 WSN 102 430 118 17 1 18 16 97 .291 .321 .470 111 79/D3
2013 31 TOT 88 337 67 13 0 13 21 87 .215 .270 .381 84 97/D3
2013 31 SEA 76 307 64 13 0 13 20 80 .226 .283 .410 96 97/3D
2013 31 BAL 12 30 3 0 0 0 1 7 .103 .133 .103 -35 /79D
9 Yrs 573 2027 523 99 4 83 121 455 .281 .334 .473 119
162 Game Avg. 162 573 148 28 1 23 34 129 .281 .334 .473 119
SEA (5 yrs) 183 644 154 31 1 16 43 145 .264 .326 .403 102
WSN (4 yrs) 378 1353 366 68 3 67 77 303 .294 .343 .514 130
BAL (1 yr) 12 30 3 0 0 0 1 7 .103 .133 .103 -35
AL (5 yrs) 195 674 157 31 1 16 44 152 .257 .318 .389 95
NL (4 yrs) 378 1353 366 68 3 67 77 303 .294 .343 .514 130
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2013.

If you’ve read the articles on Morse, you know about his wrist problems and that the Giants checked in on that and have been “assured he is healthy,” but no word on if he’s in the Best Shape of His Life. To be fair, let’s say a healthy Michael Morse checks in for the 2014 season and gives the Giants 135 games or so. That’s pretty optimistic already, but here’s what Morse is trying to beat when it comes to the offensive numbers the Giants put up from their LF:

  • Five home runs (last in the MLB)
  • .337 slugging percentage (last)
  • .314 on base percentage (19th-best)
  • .257 batting average (16th-best)
  • 25 doubles (third fewest)

I think a healthy Morse easily beats two of those — the first two, and comes close on the OBP. The doubles I’m not confident on. The average I’d be willing to place a bet on that he beats it. Here are some marks Morse will have trouble not beating:

  • 11 stolen bases (really that’s it? — T-14th most)
  • 52 walks (19th-most)
  • Any defensive metric, really (how you gon’ beat Gregor Blanco)

He may come close to matching the 135 K’s the Giants LF had in 2013, but even if he puts up numbers at a 2012 ratio, I’m not sure anybody’s going to mind much. Where people will mind is when they watch him play defense.

Gregor Blanco gets his value from his defense, yes, yes, I can hear you mocking me. You know he didn’t become a Top 40 fWAR outfielder by posting a near-average wRC+ or by putting up a .307 wOBA. Gregor Blanco is a not your ideal starter, a good platoon guy, and now becomes a great bench option for the Giants. Fans will be happy to see him replace Morse in the late part of the game, but when I was thinking about the best 4th outfielders in the game, I thought Blanco might be the best one on paper until I thought about the logjam in Los Angeles that is the four-headed Dodgers outfield. Whether it’s Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier, most baseball fans would probably take any of them over Blanco, love him as I do. Maybe the Cardinals have a good fourth outfielder because they’re not allowed to have no depth. Same with the Rangers.

I really hope Morse stays healthy. He will be frustrating to watch on defense on any ball he has to chase, but if that man is ready to rake, rake he will. Just imagine a lineup where Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, and Michael Morse all hit bombs for a living in 2014. Ok now wake up because baseball would never let that happen. This article is going to look so stupid when Morse injures himself in Spring Training.



  1. Monte McCuiston

    I don’t understand what they see in Blanco. Can’t hit a lick, supposed to be a speedster but didn’t run much on 2013. What is his value//

    • stuartsj

      I know with Blanco’s speed we want more stolen bases, but I think you can do worse than 26 and 14 SB in ’12 and ’13 for Gregor. His highest value for any team really would be as a bench player in a defensive replacement role, I believe. Like Juan Perez, they can cover ground, and that’s not a bad thing to have, especially if they are given the assignment of center field to shift Pagan over to Left. Getting on base more than a third of the time against RHP is nothing spectacular, sure, but that is also useful and of some value.

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