Filtering by Tag: Michael Morse

Nats acquire LHP Ian Krol to complete Morse deal

The Nationals already came out ahead in the Michael Morse trade, acquiring two righties with upside in AJ Cole and Blake Treinen. On Wednesday, they added to the previous bounty when the player to be named later was named: LHP Ian Krol. The lefty, who was once lauded by prospect gurus Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law in 2010, has fought through some self-inflicted drama as well as some minor injuries since then; the Nationals are picking him up in hopes that he'll continue to be “a joy to watch” as Goldstein mentioned and will build upon his solid 2012 season.

Krol is a pitcher, not a thrower. His mechanics are excellent, throwing from a ¾ arm slot, and he has no issues locating his three pitches. Like former Nats prospects Tommy Milone and Danny Rosenbaum, Krol lacks velocity, topping out at 90-91 MPH. In order to keep climbing up the ladder, he must continue to exhibit excellent command on the hill and induce ground balls. Krol is mentioned all the time as being a fierce competitor with a feel for pitching that is much more mature than most others. He's not afraid to attack batters inside, and uses his above average changeup and excellent curveball (called “demoralizing” by the clever Ryan Sullivan of NatsGM) to make up for his fastball velocity deficiency.

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Michael Morse: This is Your Nationals Life

It began with a trade. A trade that looked like nothing but one under-performing player for another. The Nationals wanted more infield depth and the Mariners needed more outfield depth and so the Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans trade happened. No one knew what would happen next. 

Morse spent much of his time in Seattle on the DL, and that didn't change when he got to Washington, but what did change was he got a chance to play when healthy. In 2009 Michael Morse debuted as a National towards the end of the season and showed some power but not much plate discipline or contact skills with a .250/.291/.481 batting line in 55 plate appearances. It was a small sampling, but the Nationals at that time were so bereft of talent it was enough to earn Morse an invite to Spring Training in 2010 where he won a job platooning with Willie Harris in the Nats outfield.

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The Nats and Left Handed Power

A common refrain this off-season, as the LaRoche drama has dragged on is that the Nats need more left-handed power. Last season the Nats two main left-handed batters where Harper and LaRoche. With Harper moving from second to fourth in the line-up as expected, and Span at the top of the line-up the Nats will have the same number of left-handed batters, but they will lack the power that LaRoche brought. As has been pointed out before, Morse is just as effective vs. right handers hitting .292/.343/.487 for his career compared to .274/.348/.495 for LaRoche. With that little of a difference between the two the Nats don't have much need for more left handed power.

A league average left-handed batter hit .260/.332/.416 against right-handed pitching in 2012. Several of the Nats middle of the order bats are better than this. Ryan Zimmerman for his career is hitting .273/.333/.478 against right handers, Jayson Werth .260/.352/.436, and in his breakout season of 2012 Ian Desmond hit .289/.336/.492. All of them hit left handers better, but that isn't the point. The Nats have right-handed batters that can approximate the production of a league average left-hander. 

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Adam LaRoche and Marginalizing Marginal Wins

The one big off-season issue that the Washington Nationals continue to face is what to do with Adam LaRoche. It has been made very clear during the off-season that LaRoche is seeking a three year deal while the Nationals are unwilling to give it, and the 2013 free agent market has made it clear that if Marco Scutaro is worth a three year deal then Adam LaRoche should be as well. The real issue facing Adam LaRoche is that aren't that many places that want him. LaRoche wants to be a National and the Nationals would like him back on their terms. No other team has really jumped into the LaRoche market and the Nationals are leaning on the option of playing Michael Morse at first if LaRoche walks.

There are those that look at Morse and LaRoche and the fact that if you remove the partial year LaRoche played and 2011 in which he missed almost the entire season then LaRoche has averaged 2.5 fWAR a season while as a National, Morse has averaged 1.6. That is the difference of roughly one win and to be fair to Morse he did have a 3.3 fWAR season in the one year he managed to be fully healthy, but that is the issue with Morse. In eight major league seasons he has had over 500 plate appearances once while Adam LaRoche has done it in all but the season he was first called up and 2011.

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The Power and the Glory of the Beast

There was a time this season when the Nats middle of the order was very soft. There was no Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman had yet to get a cortisone shot, and Jayson Werth had just broken his wrist. During that time much of the offensive responsibility fell to Adam LaRoche and he has had a great season, but no one player can handle that type of load by himself.

In the 50 games before Michael Morse returned on June 2 the Nats averaged 3.84 runs a game, and since his return they are scoring 4.81 runs a game. That all can't be credited to Michael Morse, but having a bat in the middle of the line-up that can hit .296/.318/.473 would help most line-ups. The OBP isn't where one would like it but it is the ISO of .177 that the Nats have found most useful.

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Will Beastmode Be Leastmode? A Look At the Nats Outfield

The long lasting National(s) nightmare is over, as we are graced with the return of Beastmode, Michael Morse. After having sustained a latissumus dorsi injury, more than likely associated with his move to the outfield and the throws accompanying a patrol of said position, #38 is poised for a raucous return to the home nine.

With this brings minor turmoil to the lineup; the emergence of Steve Lombardozzi, and the return of the previously potent and man of significant first base defensive prowess Adam LaRoche, we have a minor logjam at the positions that Morse has come to call home. This is before we even take into consideration other players that have manned the field in Morse's absence, players such as Xavier Nady, Roger Bernadina, and Bryce Harper, to name a few.

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The Impact of the Beast

In as little as one day Michael Morse could be returning to the Washington Nationals outfield and more importantly, much more importantly, the line-up. In some ways Morse is returning at the perfect time. The Nationals offense has already improved from a unit that scored 3.36 runs a game in April to one that scored 4.21 in May.

Much of that improvement has to do with the emergence of Bryce Harper as not just one of the best rookies this season, but perhaps one of the best 19 year old rookies to have played the game of baseball. In 30 games Bryce Harper has hit .274/.357/.504. Compare those numbers with what the Nats were getting from Xavier Nady as an everyday outfielder and it is obvious that Harper isn't just an upgrade but a vast improvement.

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