Monday, June 20, 2011

A minor trade that paid major dividends

US Presswire photo
Michael Morse is establishing himself as a major offensive force.
In late June 2009, the Seattle Mariners were hovering just above the .500 mark, trying to keep themselves in the AL wild-card race. First-year general manager Jack Zduriencik, feeling the need to add a reserve outfielder to the roster, zeroed in on the Nationals' Ryan Langerhans.

Langerhans had bounced back and forth between Washington and Class AAA Syracuse, a fine defensive player who just couldn't hit big-league pitching on a consistent basis. He didn't appear to have much of a future with the organization, so GM Mike Rizzo was perfectly willing to send him to Seattle.

The only question was who the Nationals would get in return.

Rizzo and others in the front office were intrigued by an injury-prone infielder named Mike Morse. Morse was 27 and having trouble sticking in the majors, especially as a shortstop, but he'd always shown an ability to hit (when healthy).

"We had recently scouted him," Rizzo said on Sunday. "I had seen him in the past when I was scouting. I'd always like his athleticism, his size, his strength component. We always thought he looked out of
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69 comments:

Mr Old Style said...

I owe Morse and those on the internet an apology. Last year when folks were clamoring for Morse to get more playing time, I was convinced he was a chump with no potential based on what I saw during his few appearances.

I'm sorry for doubting you, Michael. I wish you much continued success!

Mark, or anyone else, do you know why Morse slaps his helmet when he rounds first after he hits a home run? He seems to do this again, consistently, before he gets to the dugout? Why?

Exposremains said...

Mark,

I think it's also kind of funny that in order to get Morse the Nats had to trade with the Mariners twice. Vidro=Snelling+Fruto, Snelling=Langerharns, Langerharns= Morse. Talk about always trading for a little better and climbing the ladder up in terms of talent. You never know maybe Morse in a trade would bring back a frontline starter one day. Let's ask Mariners for Felix Hernandez for Morse(JOking)

SpashCity said...

@Mr Old Style

Morse said in a post-game interview that he hits himself on the head after hitting a homer because he feels like it is about to fall off with his long hair.

I think it has probably turned into a superstitious habit, as Mark pointed out Morse is not one to mess with the baseball gods.

A DC Wonk said...

Is there a pattern here? Go after injured and/or injury prone guys, with huge potential for upside if they can get past those injuries -- get them at a huge discount -- and some of them will pan out?

Steve M. said...

No mention of Riggleman? Riggleman was bench coach and interim Manager for the Mariners and supposedly was the key in dropping his name to Rizzo in 2009.

Love the trade up succession these follow...Exposremains said... I think it's also kind of funny that in order to get Morse the Nats had to trade with the Mariners twice. Vidro=Snelling+Fruto, Snelling=Langerhans, Langerhans= Morse.

N. Cognito said...

Mr Old Style said...
"I was convinced he was a chump with no potential based on what I saw during his FEW APPEARANCES."

That's where you made your mistake, but you're not alone in that boat.

He was fairly highly touted as a hitter when he was in the minors.

Steve M. said...

Trust me, it is good to be wrong when a guy you thought was a chump turns out to be a champ.

Admitting to it shows you have character.

Still hoping Stares gets red hot so I can admit I was wrong. Same goes for Slaten, Gaudin, and Justin Maxwell.

NatinBeantown said...

I wonder if Pujols injury could open the door for Morse to make the ASG as the third 1BR? Unlikely, but if he's still hitting the cover off the ball, I bet Bochy would love to have him on that bench.

More substantively, I had assumed that Rizzo would have the go ahead to offer a truckload of Lerner cash to Pujols this offseason (just to see what he would do), but the injury + his slow April start is going to have an interesting effect on his value. Between that, LaRoche's injury and Morse's torrid hitting, it has been a VERY interesting last few weeks for the Nats at 1BR and their thoughts about the the postition in 2012.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Yeah... Michael has always swung the bat, wherever he was. It was injuries that kept making him falter, which is why he got hit with the PED thing.

Now that he's had a healthy run and found a permanent home, we can all reap the benefits. He's definitely a 3 - 4 - 5 guy in the order.

Slidell said...

@DCWonk 2:02: Pujois broke his arm yesterday. Bad timing for him; maybe good for the Nats.

Steve M. said...

Slidell, unless something changed with Pujols I heard it was a bad wrist sprain. Still, it could be something that has career reprecussions even it is only a sprain.

Speaking of power hitters (LOL), Wily Mo Pena looks like he may get a sniff of the MLB again in Arizona. Last time WMP saw action was with the Nats in 2008.

PAY TO PLAY said...

SteveM, original diagnosis was a wrist sprain: Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will be out four to six weeks with a non-displaced fracture of his left radius forearm, the club announced on Monday.

Definitely is out of the All Star game and truthfully there are others having a better season than Phat Albert.

Steve M. said...

Slidell/P2P, I was wrong. Thanks for the update!

I'm just thinking Beast Mode!!!!

PAY TO PLAY said...

Steve M. said...
Trust me, it is good to be wrong...Admitting to it shows you have character.


June 20, 2011 2:26 PM


Did you do that on purpose to show you have "character". A little convenient a few minutes later on that Pujols comment! ;-)

Doc said...

Gooooooo Beast Mode, Gooooooooo Mickey Morse!!!

Let's give Eck some credit (he never seems to get any) for working with MM and getting him to concentrate on his ABs and develop his level of confidence.

Kudos to Mike Rizzo for doing the deal!

MM is this year's Jose Bautista

MikeyMo Booster Club said...

Mark Z wrote: "Injuries opened the door for Morse to get more regular playing time during the second half of last season, but he never truly seized the opportunity..."

At the end of 2010, Morse was 2nd on the team in batting average (behind Zim), 2nd on the team in slugging (behind Dunn), 3rd in OPS (behind Zim and Dunn), and 4th in on-base percentage (behind Zim, Dunn & Willingham). I'd say he did seize his opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Hah, still think I was wrong when I compared his AAA stats to Jason Heyward's AA stats NatsJack? BinM? Time to use your heads for something other than a hat rack as my dad likes to say.

JaneB said...

What a great piece, Mark! I was one who was crowing about Morse in spring training and thenjoined the naysayers in late April. And I was wrong too. What cracks me up is that we got him for Langerhans, who is my all-time, "what is he even DOING in baseball?" player. When imwould read some of the comments about JMax, I would flash on Langerhans (and I still root for Justin to figure it out). Morse may go down as the best trade of the Nats first ten years. It's gonna make it really hard to put LaRoche back in there when he is recovered. And I send Albert good vibes for healing, because he is, after all, Albert. And I am so glad to say I am nom longer interested in breaking the bank to sign him. Not because he is injured, but because we have Morse.
GYFNG

Anonymous said...

That's right the guy who as BinM pointed out, the first and foremost Morse proponent. T'was I pushing for Morse not Boomer Whiting as that pencil head NatsJack likes to claim. NOT.

Oh NO! He's AAAA? He can't run. He won't hit in the majors. He is too tall to play short, second base, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Pencil Heads.

Anonymous said...

No mention of Riggleman? Riggleman was bench coach and interim Manager for the Mariners and supposedly was the key in dropping his name to Rizzo in 2009.

@SteveM,

But Boz does: Obviously, this guy HAS to play. Riggleman's always been in his corner in the internal discussions. So, give him credit for spotting one and speaking up about it. (Of course, he and his staff also like Chad Gaudin
and Brian Broderick. Hope you enjoyed watching them.)

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"Time to use your heads for something other than a hat rack as my dad likes to say."

I'm sure he tells you that often.

masnstinks said...

MM just never seemed to be "the guy" -- no matter what he did. The manager says guys can't lose their starting spot because of an injury - Morse lost his when he had a knee issue. He just never seemed to be in favor. Since going to 1B, he has looked at home. He always seems to be grateful to be a major league baseball player and looks like he is enjoying himself. I have heard from several sources that he is very superstitious,though.He probably hates all this attention, thinking it will jinx him. I love looking out there and seeing MM, Espi, Desi, Zim, Bernie, Werth, Ramos. Our bench is solid, our first 4 starting pitchers have been good, bullpen mostly solid, Storen growing every day. For the first time, I can see pieces that should stay and fewer holes to be filled. Next year Strassie, part deux, then BH - sweet.

Anonymous said...

In Washington, the trade generated little news. It was a swap of minor-leaguers, and Morse wasn't on anyone's radar screen at the time.

He was on my "radar screen". Just ask BinM. Ha!

JaneB said...

In the AllStars voting...do we write in Morse for first? Vote for him in the outfield? I've been writing him in for home run derby. I guess we won't get him enough votes but it seems worth trying to make a good show dor him, anyway. I'm filling out 100 ballots per game now-- the will just hand you a stack and it doesn't take long,
And PS... Props to Riggleman and Eckstein for seeing and helping Morse blossom, as several of you have mentioned. And anon at 3:36, if you had seen Broderick on the mound in spring training, like I did, you would have liked him too. Only Verlander looked more grounded and like he owned the joint. He was lights out and reliable.

Anonymous said...

Wearing a tinfoil hat is not the same thing as having a radar screen, Prickulum.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Good one N. Cognito... Not sure which makes me laugh more...

HHover said...

I'm really pleased with Morse, and very happy for him.

I thought his offensive numbers last summer merited more playing time than he was getting, tho I frankly I had my doubts about whether he could keep it up, and whether the offense he added was worth his subpar defense (esp in RF). I think the shift to 1B suits him, and I'm impressed that he's not only kept up his offense from last season but actually kicked it up a notch.

I do expect him to come back down to earth a bit by the end of the season, but he should still be one of the best and most consistent hitters on the club.

Wally said...

Also very happy for Morse (and us) for the way that he has produced. He seems like a great guy, too, which makes it even better. Also agree on the move to 1B.

But are we passed the point where we can stop worrying if it holds up? I am bullish but still admit to worries that way. On the good news side, he is not a big platoon split guy. I guess that I would like to see it hold up over a full season before we give up all thoughts of other 1Bs (I know the last 162 games are basically on par, but you know what I mean).

By the way, I thought the Heyward comparisons that stirred up all the talk in ST were between Heyward and Corey Brown's minor league numbers. Not sure if that was a different conversation thread or not.

the Dude Abides said...

Very good Wally.... very good.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I read a Dodgers blog last Thursday that had the Dodgers trading James Loney to the Nats for Flores or Norris and another prospect or Ramos. Had to inform them that we have a first baseman, thank you very much, and he hits better and with more power than Loney.

sjm308 said...

I did not like the idea of going after Pujols in the first place. We have LaRoche for another year and I think Morse is tied up for several more. If we are going to spend that kind of money, lets go get us CC Sabathia and maybe somehow figure out if there is a lead-off/centerfielder out there as well. I think Morse is 29 and obviously has continued to develop in the field (it seems to me he always hit well here). Pretty sure LaRoche won't handle being a backup so there might be a trade developing when/if he gets healthy. It amazes me that we actually have some depth. We now have four catchers, two first basemen, when you look at Lombardozi we now have depth in middle infield developing as well and Rendon will add to that mix as well. They say you can't have enough pitching but it looks like we are also developing talent at other positions as well.

masnstinks said...

So many trades/drafts/free-agents just don't work out at all. It's kind of nice when something that appears so minor turns out well for the team and the player. After so many disasters early in the Nats short history, it's nice to see some good ones -- I think Burnett will work out long-term, Ramos, too. They do the best scouting that they can, but there are never any guarantees. Athletes are an iffy commodity.

Unkyd said...

Would anyone, other than me, rather have another bona-fied OF on the big club, instead of Bix? Send him down when Ank is ready to come back, and then when Stairs number is finally up, that would open up a spot on the 40 man, no?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Unkyd.... I know no one wants to hear this but this is where B.J. Upton comes in. He gives us that RH bat and a lead off guy AND a defensive ball hawker in CF. It just depends on what the Rays want in return.

Anonymous said...

Two words... Beast Mode!

Jacques said...

Or if we're thinking of an Upton level investment, how about making a pitch for Matt Kemp. Surely the Dodgers will need to offload some of the payroll they can't currently afford...

Mark'd said...

NatsJack, this team does need a RH outfielder and I don't see BJ Upton as a long term solution. Maybe Chris Marrero to play against LH pitchers and Morse can play LF against LH pitchers.

Unkyd said...

NatsJack, I was hoping there was some farmhand down there raking who's worth a spot, since Brown ain't getting it done, and Harper is for next year...?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Mickey Morse for Langershlang? Rizzo's All. Time. Best. Deal. Ever.

Sir Albert out 4-6 weeks with broken wrist. Think he's regretting not signing that long-term deal in ST?

Meanwhile, we're sitting with Mickey Morse and a recovered LaRouche for '12. Su-weet.

Enjoy the off day and GYFNG, as JaneB and I are wont to say.

natsfan1a said...

Re. the Dodgers payroll, was watching MLB Network and they said that MLB would make the payroll if ownership couldn't (which it sounds like it won't).

Also learned that Trader Jack is back at the helm in Florida as interim skipper. Evidently he's spry enough to finish off the season for them.

Oh, and go NATS!! Countdown to Beast Mode on Tuesday (I think maybe the whole team should start wearing Beast Mode tees under their jerseys). :-)

Unkyd said...

Actually... The farm reports tha brown might have found a groove, last week... If he keeps it up.... 'course, he's another lefty, but it occurred to me (I'm slow... but stuff can penetrate, given time) that that's how it works: three guaranteed RH batters, in the infield, so leftys in the OF and 1st, balances things out.

Anonymous8 said...

Unkyd said...
NatsJack, I was hoping there was some farmhand down there raking who's worth a spot, since Brown ain't getting it done, and Harper is for next year...?

June 20, 2011 6:11
______________________________

Corey Brown is feeling better and worked through his changes they made in his swing. Last night 2 HRs and a walk.

Let's see if CBrown can get on a roll and now show some consistency. The problem is, he is another Lefty batter and the Nats need a Righty which is probably Jesus Valdez or the idea of bringing up Chris Marrero.

Unkyd said...

I considered the possibility of putting Marrero at 1st, and sending Morse back to LF, but he's SO well suited to 1st, defensively... You hate to mess with THAT magic!!!

SonnyG10 said...

N. Cognito @3:37, your comment cracked me up. Now that was funny.

I have had my doubts regarding Mike Morse in the past. I think I was really prejudiced against his batting stance, re holding his arms straight out and the bat perpendicular. I did not see how he could possibly get the bat around on a fastball. I root for all Nats that are struggling, hoping that they can turn things around and I did as well for Morse. But after his horrible start in the spring, I was considering blogging about my disappointment in him. I remember telling myself I hope he proves me wrong and this was about a week before he got hot. I now look forward for his at bats and believe he can get the job done much like I used to think about Adam Dunn and still think about Ryan Zimmerman. I am really happy for Morse, for the Nats, and for myself!!!

Go Nats!!!!

Andrew said...

Enlighten me, please. What does GYFNG mean?

Andrew said...

@Unkyd said...
I considered the possibility of putting Marrero at 1st, and sending Morse back to LF, but he's SO well suited to 1st, defensively... You hate to mess with THAT magic!!!

June 20, 2011 7:11 PM


=
You only do that when you face a LH pitcher. Marrero wouldn't get a lot of work which is the problem. Still a better option as the Nats don't have another 1st baseman.

Or just stick with Hairston to LF when you need the right-handed batter.

I don't get the whole BJ Upton thing. Justin Upton is a different story.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Go You Functioning Nats Guys!

natsfan1a said...

Go You Fantastic Nats Guys is also acceptable. :-)

natsfan1a said...

And we've got to stop meeting like this, sec3.

NatsJack in Florida said...

SonnyG10.....the first time I saw Mike Morse I thought "Wow! Jack Clark all over again."

FS said...

I can not understand how Upton fits, forget long-term, in short-term plans. He is defensively awesome, RH lead-off type hitter. But let us not forget that when LaRoche comes back next season, Morse goes back to LF which gives us two RH outfielders in Werth and Morse. Shouldn't we look for a LH lead-off CF type player? If Bernadina can get on base consistently against all type of pitching, that just solves our problems. But how many more chances we can afford.

Long term we can maybe squeeze in Espy, Desi, Ryan, and Rendon in our infield. Keep Werth and Morse at RF and LF resp. We just need to figure out CF.

We might be in a RH OF right now but long term, do we really need a player like Upton?

In other news, Chad Cordero has retired. I do not know about others, but I am sad to see his career end the way it did.

masnstinks said...

Considering we lost yesterday - the NI posters are cracking me up today. It's going to be interesting facing the Mariners this week. I hope the defense tightens back up, the bats are awake and the pitchers throw nothing but filthy cheese. The M's are probably tired from this road trip to another time zone - hopefully we are fresh from the off day. Praying to the baseball gods....

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

The Chief will always be one of my favorite players from that 2005 team.
It wasn't his run-in song, but I loved hearing Hail to the Chief on the radio.

Here's to you, Chief! (Note: turn your sound up)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ9y4jzwXaA

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

And the captcha for that was
u r godd
I love it when a plan comes together!
Speaking of which, how would you rather we meet, 1a? I like this.

Unkyd said...

I have The Chief's Bobblehead..... Flat brim and all...

Jeeves said...

BJ Upton is not a good offensive player. Check out his stats over the last three years. Not too impressive.

Unkyd said...

FS... I think the long term guy's playing in Hagerstown...?

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@Andrew: I started it, and JaneB ran with it. Literally, it's "Go You Freaking Nats Go," although any substitutions are acceptable.

We're easy around here.

natsfan1a said...

Awww, I'll always have a soft spot for the Chief.

(sec3, this is fine. I'm just a weisenheimer.)

JaneB said...

Sec 3, nice blast from the past. I ran with Sunshine Bobby's GYFNG because that was what I was always meaning whenever I wrote Go Nats.

Re: BJ Upton -- I think we do without that trade now. We will get Harper soon enough. We'd have to unload pieces of the future to get him, and doesn't he have a crabby disposition? Maybe I am wrong about that. I hope so. Anyway. Let Roger start being the Roger people thought he would be with some regular playing time, and don't mess with putting Morse back in the outfield.

And Unkyd, I'd be fine with Bixler going down if there were someone more useful RIGHT NOW to bring up. There doesn't seem to be.

AndesAngle said...

Wow! A trade involving Washington works out for Washington! I like that. I also like the way this team is shaping up.

This team needs:
-Time to mature
-A starting pitcher
-Speedy outfielder

What do you guys think? Any other needs?

AndesAngle

Andrew said...

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...
@Andrew: I started it, and JaneB ran with it. Literally, it's "Go You Freaking Nats Go," although any substitutions are acceptable.

We're easy around here.

June 20, 2011 9:37 PM

=

Thanks for that explanation. I was searching acronyms on the internet and couldn't find it. So this is a NatsInsider 'insiders' acronym!

Drew8 said...

Here's the long-term Upton theory.

Next year LaRoche begins the season at first base and Morse goes back to left field. Presuming the cost of Upton is something like Norris or Marrero and, say, Brad Meyers, the other offensive starters are relatively intact and you're left with this to start the season:

cf Upton
rf Werth
3b Zimm
LF Morse
1b LaRoche
2b Espinosa
c Ramos
ss Desmond
P SS

At the trade deadline, the now-healthy LaRoche is dealt for prospects, avoiding the hefty $10 million option for 2013. Morse ($1.3 million this year including incentives) moves back to first base and Harper comes up post-Super Two to take the now-vacant outfield spot, leaving this:

cf Upton
LF Werth
3b Zimmerman
1b Morse
rf Harper
2b Espinosa
c Ramos
ss Desmond
P SS

The fascinating unanswered question then becomes: What happens with Rendon? The presumption from many quarters -- such as Bowden -- is that Rendon goes to 2b and Espinosa moves to SS, making Desmond either expendable, a centerfielder or a super-utility guy.

I'm not so sure. Rizzo continues to praise Ramos-Desmond-Espy as core pieces. We know this much, Rendon's bat and glove will be in the lineup. It sure will be fun to see how all the pieces fit.

FS said...

Unkyd, I admit I kinda forgot about him. With his inclusion, I wonder who will be our lead-off. None players right now seem lead-off material. Reyes could be a possibility this off-season, but then what we do with Desmond?

And yes, the trade with Seattle turned out pretty well for us so far.

Drew8 said...

Or, you could just deal Desmond for Upton. Tampa brings up Desmond Jennings and the Nats bring up Rendon.

I'm not sure the Nats would make that deal. Rizzo seems high on Desmond (no, that's not a joke) and Riggs sees him as a future star.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Given Desmond's shocking defensive improvement this season, I would shy away from dealing him just yet. This may be a case of Ian just "getting it" slowly but surely. If he can make offensive leaps the way his defense has improved in one year, we do indeed have a future All-Star here. I just don't get the Upton urge. Guy seems like pretty mediocre production and, as JaneB says, a head case to boot. Just say no.

Anonymous said...

Count me in with the I don't know what people see in BJ Upton crowd. He's not the answer unless the question is how do we acquire a fairly expensive low on-base percentage guy who may or may not have an attitude problem. I mean look at the guys stats from the last few years. He cannot hit, he does not get on base, and he is already 26. I don't get it.

In other news, people down here in Texas are floating rumors that the Rangers are after Clippard. I'm hoping the Nats don't go down that road. Let em have Coffey if they offer something decent, but I think Clippard should be a building block.

raymitten said...

I really don't want BJ Upton -- he seems like a Zsa Zsa Gabor of baseball -- famous for being famous but never really has done anything. I remember Longoria dressing him down for lazing after a fly ball -- Upton doesn't seem to fit into the Nats team chemistry. I think they'd be better off sticking with the Shark.

JaneB said...

Clippard should be untouchable. ESPECIALLY by Texas. I'd rather the Yankees have him back, but even that would be awful.

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