Morse Fits Perfectly With the Yankees
YES Network’s Jack Curry tweeted today that the Yankees called the Nationals about Morse after the LaRoche signing, but the Nationals weren’t ready to talk trade yet. However, Curry said that the two teams will eventually talk trade.
Morse would be a very good fit for the Yankees right now. He is a power righty bat, which the Yankees are in desperate need of. Also, Morse can play right field or DH, where the Yankees also need help.
He is not a player you want in right field every day, as his -24.5 UZR over the last three years will tell you. However, the small right field in Yankee Stadium helps hide defensive problems, so Morse should be fine playing there a few times a week. Morse has stated that he strongly opposes being a DH, but that would not deter me from making a trade. It would be best vs. righties to keep a strong defensive outfield of Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, and have Morse DH.
The reason Morse is a great fit is because he is everything the Yankees need right now in a hitter. Morse has a great combination of power and average that most of the current Yankees hitters don’t have. There is a good possibility that Morse would be the Yankees’ second best hitter this season.
What is so great about Morse is that he does not have a platoon split like so many of the current Yankees do. Over the last three years, Morse has hit .296/.344/.512 against righties and .294/.349/,517 against lefties. The Yankees got burned late in games because of to many players having drastic platoon splits and Morse would help even that out.
As previously mentioned, Morse is a big time power threat from the right side. He hit 18 home runs in 102 games last season and 31 home runs in 146 games in 2011. Mike Eder at The Yankee Analysts made a great point about how Morse’s power fits Yankee Stadium. He points out that 28% of his hits in his career have gone to right field, where he has a .412 average and a .684 slugging percentage. In 2012, 30% of his hits went to right field, and he hit .489 with a .913 slugging percentage.
The Yankees have gone after left handed pull hitters to take advantage of the short porch in right field, but those numbers suggest Morse can take advantage of it from the right side, which is huge to even out the lineup. He is not a fly ball hitter, as his ground ball percentage (48.4% over the last three years) and his line drive percentage (18.9%) have been high. This means his average is not a fluke and he is different than a lot of the hitters the Yankees have currently.
The biggest downside to Morse, other than his defense, is his injury history. He missed the first two months of the season last year with a right shoulder strain. Also, in 2010 Morse missed a month with a calf injury and he missed the entire 2008 season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Fortunately for the Yankees, they would not be making a long term commitment to Morse, who is only signed for next season for $6.75M.
The fact that Morse is only on a one-year deal would be a deterrent for most teams, but for the Yankees it fits in nicely with their $189M plan. He would help them compete this season and he would not affect their plan to get under $189M in 2014.
Also, the fact that he is only on a one-year deal has brought his price down. The Nationals are reportedly looking for a lefty reliever and pitching prospects for Morse. Boone Logan would be a nice player for the Yankees to offer, along with a pitcher like Brett Marshall or Adam Warren. It is likely that the Nationals would ask for David Phelps or Ivan Nova, which would make things interesting. There are a lot of teams in on Morse, so he will not come cheap for the Yankees.
As things stand today, I have the Tigers, Angels and Blue Jays ahead of the Yankees in the AL right now, and there is a pretty big gap between them and the Yankees. If the Yankees were to acquire Morse that gap would close a good deal. I would not put the Yankees as the favorite over those teams, but I would give them a chance to compete with those teams. Morse would just make the lineup a lot deeper than it is right now. Here are my sample lineups with Morse:
Those lineups, combined with a very solid starting pitching staff and bullpen, would put the Yankees in contention for 2013. The Yankees have not replaced the production of Nick Swisher yet and Morse would probably do just that. Right now, without a righty power bat like Morse, the Yankees are unlikely to be able compete for a championship in 2013. Go get it done Cashman.