Morse Trade Unlikely, Unless…

Posted by Corey Seidman, Fri, February 25, 2011 02:48 PM | Comments: 14

Before examining the cost and benefit of obtaining outfielder Mike Morse from the Nationals, let’s first recognize that just because Jon Heyman tweeted it doesn’t mean it will actually happen. For better or worse, we’ve gotten used to every rumor becoming a Ruben reality.

It could happen, of course, it’s just that it does not make a whole lot of sense for the Nationals. Morse is coming off of his best year as a major leaguer, slashing .289/.352/.519 with 15 homers and 29 total extra-base hits in 293 plate appearances. His big year resulted in a $700,000 raise, but he will still only make $1.1MM in 2011.

Cheap? Check. Productive? Check. These are two reasons right off the bat that the Phillies should want him, but the Nationals should probably keep him.

Next, let’s talk about team composition.

As of now, the Nationals look to break Spring with five outfielders: Jayson Werth, Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, and Morse.

Aside from Werth, this is a mix-and-match group. ESPN projects the alignment to be Ankiel in left, Morgan in center, Werth in right. MLBDepthCharts projects Bernadina in left. Neither site has Morse starting.

Ankiel, Morgan, and Bernadina are all left-handed hitters. Against same-handed pitching since 2008, Ankiel’s OPS is 200 points lower than it is vs. righties, and Morgan has hit .194. While the Nats are somewhat high on Bernadina, he only has 552 middling plate appearances under his belt. It will take another year for the team to fully trust him.

For these reasons, Morse is a key player for the Nats. He would start in left against a southpaw and could even spell Adam LaRoche at first base from time to time. He would be the first man up in case of injury.

(This all goes without saying that Morse is currently the second best outfielder on the team, and should be starting every day anyway.)

Why would the Nationals, a team that spent like mad this offseason, trade a cheap, productive, necessary component to a division rival? Trading Morse for a middling prospect or two would be a contrarian approach for GM Mike Rizzo, who currently faces the unenviable task of trying to build while competing.

But what if the Phillies didn’t offer a middling prospect? What if they offered the Nats legitimate major league help?

What if the Phils offered Joe Blanton?

At first, the idea of trading a 32-start pitcher for a platoon outfielder may seem iffy, but my proposed trade is Blanton (and his entire salary) for Morse and a throw-in. The second player could be a low-level middle infielder or an organizational depth starting pitcher like Craig Stammen, a guy the Nationals don’t plan to use in 2011.

The Phillies would shed close to $7.5MM while filling a hole and acquiring an outfielder on the upswing – a player not dissimilar to the Jayson Werth of 2007.

In fact, the similarities between Morse of now and Werth of 2007 are eery:

  • 28 years old
  • Intriguing, early draft picks
  • Falls from grace – for Werth, injuries; for Morse, injuries and a 10-day steroid suspension.
  • Only one impressive season on the resume
  • All the tools to suggest more production will come

Despite Heyman’s follow-up that the Nats are “disinclined to trade Morse anywhere,” it’s hard to believe that Rizzo would immediately decline an offer centered around Blanton and Morse.

The cold, hard truth is that his team needs starting pitching. Any team sending Livan Hernandez out on Opening Day needs starting pitching.

This offseason, the Nats missed out on Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, and Carl Pavano, before finally settling on Tom Gorzelanny. Blanton would potentially be their number one starter.

The Phillies need a right-handed outfielder, the Nats need a pitcher. The Phillies have a crowded rotation, the Nats have a crowded outfield.

Stranger things have happened.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Never thought about this, but it would make a lot of sense for us! Despite the fact that the Nats really need some serious help as far as starting pitching goes, such trade wouldn’t make too much sense for them for all the reasons in Corey’s piece… plus, I feel like they’ve always hit Heavy B pretty damn hard, so I doubt they’d be high on him. (STILL, they might be crazy –they named freaking Livan Hernandez as their Opening Day starter for crying out loud!)

    I’m on record for arguing that we should trade Blanton asap, and if we get a guy like Morse (highly doubtful) in a trade, WOW. All in.

  • Posts: 19 yrsoprano

    Avatar of

    Blanton as the Nationals # 1 starter and Cole Hamels pitching out of the 4th spot for the Phils and a proven winner?? What’s this world coming to? It’s upside down, I tell ya’!

    As far as the trade for Morse? It doesn’t thrill me but I think we will be hearing these Blanton to (name the team) for these kinds of players all summer. One might actually make sense and stick.

  • Posts: 5 NigeyJ

    Avatar of NigeyJ

    The Nats are odd when it comes to their outfield, so many talented guys in and out every year without much legit major league talent sticking. Morse would fit here great as a role player, so it’s a shame it doesn’t look like it can happen.

    Plus trading Joe Blanton for Morse… Hell no. If the Phils can afford to keep Blanton which they’ve reiterated they can then why would you deal him for anything other than value, he’s a front of the middle guy in half the rotations around the league.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Who is to say that Morse would not be equal to greater value? When you look at the skills/deficiencies of the Phillies, the rotation is a skill and the outfield situation is a deficiency.

    Sure, Blanton staying to be the 5th starter would make him the only truly dependable 5th starter in baseball. But this would be the opportunity to fill a hole while dropping $7.5MM and picking up a player who could, under the right circumstances, turn into a player similar to Jayson Werth. Same tools, same size, same pedigree.

    It would be kind of like the Celtics trade of Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green. The Celtics weakened one area that is already the strength of their team (post presence) to improve in a
    weaker area (perimeter scoring/defense.) The Phils would be weakening their strongest area to improve their weakest area.

    • Posts: 534 Bruce

      Avatar of Bruce

      “..the outfield situation is a deficiency.” Huh? Sorry, I disagree. With Gold glover Victorino covering a lot of ground in the OF and giving support to Brown, Francisco and Ibanez is comforting to know. Plus Brown and Francisco are no slouches defensively. They both can field and Brown has displayed a strong arm to go with his speed.

      According to another rumor, Blanton may go to St Louis since Wainwright is out for the season. I like to know what the Cards have to offer. I prefer Blanton to stay in Phillies rotation as the best 5th starter in baseball.

  • Posts: 980 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    The one thing I think some of you may be missing is that I think the Phillies brass have confidence in platooning Brown, Fransico, Raul, and Mayberry with Vic in the outfield. I think you will see 5 OFers that make the roster come April 1. So I do not think they feel the need to get a guy like Morse, because they feel they already have one or two of them. Plus I think you Keep Joe until at least the deadline to make sure the rotation is healthy and i do not see how 8 million is a lot of money for this team.
    On a side note anyone want tickets to the on deck series game March 30th against the Pirates, I have the Sunday Package and it is part of that deal, but I can not leave from VT until Thursday for opening day week end

  • Avatar of Dropped Strike Three

    Blanton is a luxury, but I’m really having the trouble finding something worth giving him up for. Excess pitching is still more important to me than a right handed bat like Morse.

  • Posts: 5190 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I’ve said it before and and I’ll say it again, you are the best writer on this great staff of wordsmiths. But there is no way I’d make this deal. Stammen is garbage and Blanton can bring us so much more than just Morse if we are patient and wait it out. As the season goes along the injuries will begin to pile up, both for other teams needing pitchers and our own guys. We will have a better idea of what our real weaknesses are based on injury. For instance, lets say we waste Blanton to get Morse, and then come to find that (god forbid) Jimmy, Chase, Shane or Chooch gets hurt? We have to be strong up the middle first and foremost.

    I can think of many other situations, some reasonable and some fantasy for sure where we could include Joe B in a deal. (Blanton and Howard for Pujols? yeah, yeah it’s crazy, but what if the Cards decide they just can’t pay him and need to deal him before losing him to picks) My point is to save one of our best assets until we really know our weaknesses, it’s a long season. Our corner OF’s are only a perceived weakness right now, but not a static one yet. We might just be able to get by with what we have, and I’m looking forward to finding out whether the proposed platoons can work first. BenFran may be better than we think given 400 PA’s, Brown’s arm maybe as good as Jayson’s, we don’t know until we see them play. Maybe you’re right, Morse is of equal value, but maybe we’ll have other, more pressing needs.

    • Posts: 62 LCMRSalazar85

      Avatar of LCMRSalazar85

      The Nats are in a place that the Phils were about 7-10 years ago. They have some studs – JW, Ryan Zimmerman, Ivan Rodriguez, & Adam LaRoche (3 of the 4 on the downside of their careers). They have some upshot players that are always going to be ‘potentials’ but never pan out. Morse is going to be one of them. Livan Hernandez is their ‘ace’ right now. I don’t count Strasburg because of his injury and there’s more questions right now than answers, and Harper is just starting a full season. Is Joe Blanton really worth a trade to a division foe for any player that would be sent down to AA or AAA right out of spring training most anywhere else? We’re under no pressure to trade Joe at all. I’d sit and wait to see what pans out. I like the competition for RF, as Brown, Mayberry, & Francisco are going to be fun to see who out duels who.

  • Posts: 5190 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Completely off topic- Anyone see what Tyson Gilles said in his presser? He and the Phillies would not discuss specifics of the cocaine incident, but he said-

    “I need to keep myself out of harmful situations and watching my surroundings from now on”

    To me this statement and the failed conviction indicate the kid very possibly could have been scammed by the Clearwater police, and maybe never did possess or do cocaine.

    He put himself into the “harmful situation” by standing on the side of U.S. 19 visible intoxicated in the middle of the night, so the officer drove him back to his hotel. But what does he mean by “watching his surroundings from now on”? The kid gets out of the police car and suddenly there’s a bag of cocaine on the seat? And then no conviction? Sounds fishy to me.

    I guess The Phils need to keep a good relationship with the Clearwater authorities so they kept the whole thing under wraps, but I’m hoping this means Gilles is still a great prospect and we don’t have to worry about this incident anymore.

  • Posts: 220 The Dipsy

    Avatar of The Dipsy

    Blanton is gonna be a hot commodity as the spring wears on and more arms start to drop. And we can certainly do better than Mike Morse. If and when we trade Blanton, I think it will be because the other team wants him more than we need to give him up. Thats said, the I believe the other team will take Joe’s whole salary. Lets wait a little.

    RE: Our outfield. I think that breaking camp with Ibanez, Vic, Brown/Ben Fran is OK. Not great, but OK. If we do need anything along the way due to injury or underperformance, Ruben certainly has enough bullets to make a deal.

    BTW – Howard and Blanton for Pujols??? Count me in!

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 222 tavian

    Avatar of tavian

    Howard and Blanton for Pujols sounds good. How about Blanton and Howard for Pujols and Punto.
    We would then have the PP combo. Now that sounds Great !!!

  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    tavian I know your kidding – you do remember little nicky punto being a Phil, right? outtaa heeerrreee!

  • Posts: 3 Rando

    Avatar of Rando

    I have been begging the baseball gods that they will get RAJ to make a move for Morse. Been watching him here in DC for some time–he’d be a great fit in Philly. Also, Howard + for Pujols–I’ll throw in my unborn child if that would seal that deal.

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