The San Francisco Giants' left-field round-robin appears to have ended.
On Thursday, the Giants agreed to terms on a one-year, $5 million contract (plus incentives) with free-agent outfielder Michael Morse, who was one of the better right-handed power hitters available in the market, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area.
Although Morse posted disappointing numbers in an injury-plagued 2013 season, hitting just .215 with 13 home runs and a .270 on-base percentage with both the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy with the signing.
"For me, I thought he was our best option and it’s certainly what I wanted,” Bochy told Baggarly. “I’ve always liked him. He’s a threat up there.”
A threat was something the Giants were lacking in left field last season. San Francisco left fielders hit only five home runs in 2013, the fewest in baseball.
Morse is capable of bringing pop to the Giants lineup, which was second-to-last in home runs last season with 107. Just two years ago, the slugging outfielder hit .303, with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs.
If Morse puts up similar numbers to 2011, he probably will not be in a platoon with Gregor Blanco. Regardless, Bochy told CSN Bay Area Morse will be playing everyday and not just in the outfield.
“He plays first, you know, and I did talk to an ex-manager of his who says he does a good job there,” Bochy said. “And he’s played some third base, too.”
Now, the Giants starting lineup could look something like this.
1. Angel Pagan - CF
2. Marco Scutaro - 2B
3. Brandon Belt - 1B
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Hunter Pence - RF
6. Pablo Sandoval - 3B
7. Michael Morse - LF
8. Brandon Crawford - SS
Although Bochy said he saw Belt, Posey, Pence, and Sandoval hitting in the 3-6 slots in the lineup, the Giants skipper said nothing is set in stone.
“I could see him possibly in that six hole, 5-6-7, somewhere in there,” Bochy said. “I like Belt in the 3-hole but that could change with lefties. How they’re swinging will dictate how it goes and where they’re hitting."
Morse is an average at-best defender, so the Giants might want to upgrade in certain situations. Gregor Blanco, who occupied left-field in 2013, could still share time with Morse, but not in a platoon.
One formula that proved successful during the 2010 championship season was Pat Burrell occupying left field for most of the game, and then in the late innings, a better defender, such as Nate Schierholtz, would replace him. This usually happened if the Giants had the lead.
Bochy indicated Morse may get the Pat Burrell treatment in 2014.
"You bring in a Blanco off the bench, that’s a pretty good defender there,” Bochy said.
If Morse is moved up in the lineup next to Hunter Pence, fans could be treated to a show. Morse, like Pence, has an unorthodox style in the on-deck circle, a move he calls his "samurai cobra."
If Morse returns to his 2011 form next season, the Giants probably wouldn't mind if he did cartwheels on the on-deck circle.
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