The San Francisco Giants have a left fielder, and it's Michael Morse. The former Mariner and National will receive $6 million in 2014 to serve as San Francisco's every day left fielder. There's only one problem with that – Morse is an awful defender, and his declining offensive numbers and chronic injury issues won't do enough to offset that.
We'll start with Morse's health, which is the easier negative part of his game to explain. Injuries have been a huge part of Morse's career – he's qualified for the batting title just once. In 2013, Morse missed time with a strained quad, an inflamed wrist, and a broken finger. In 2012, he missed time with a strained lat muscle and a wrist contusion. In 2011, he was largely healthy, but in 2010, Morse missed time with a strained calf. If it's not one thing, it's another. He'll turn 31 in the spring, so it's not as if Morse is suddenly going to become less fragile.
That brings me to the topic of his defense. Morse is, how do you say, not a good defensive outfielder. In 580 innings last year, spent mainly in right field for the Mariners, Morse collected -16 DRS and a horrid -11.9 UZR. Both of those numbers put Morse in the bottom ten among all outfielders with at least 500 innings played. If you want to argue that those poor numbers are largely because he was playing in right field, that's fine – but Morse's career -6 DRS and -15.5 UZR in 1113 left field innings isn't exactly a ringing endorsement either. Angel Pagan is going to have his work cut out for him at AT&T Park, playing in between Morse and the always-shaky Hunter Pence.
Now, let's take a quick glance at Morse's offense. In 2013, Morse couldn't even provide an above average level of offense for the Mariners (or the Orioles, who acquired Morse in August). For the season, he hit .215/.270/.381 with 13 homers, his lowest output in a season since 2009, when he received just 55 plate appearances for Washington. If you want to blame the wrist injury for torpedoing the second half of Morse's season, that's fair. But his best month of 2013 was April when he hit .245/.288/.510. His numbers stayed steady in May at .267/.360/.413 before going in the tank the rest of the year.
But that's the thing about Morse – how much production are the Giants really going to get out of him? How much is a 31-year old year with injury concerns being asked to play the outfield daily going to rebound? Maybe he'll replicate his .291/.321/.470 line. I'm sure the Giants would be giddy with that, but will that make up for his poor defense in the 100 or so games he's on the field?
I think the Giants could have done better, and giving Morse $6 million while hoping for his 2010-11 form to show up in San Francisco isn't a wise investment.