The Giants were looking for a team to take some of their high-salaried players, and the Pirates will pick up the remainder of Morris' $10,037,283 contract for this season. He is due $9.5 million for next season, plus a $2 million payment at the end of the season.
"Almost at the 11th hour we were talking to two other teams I would consider competitors in the playoff situation. Pittsburgh stepped up, not only to take on the player as is -- meaning the contract -- but the potential return," in Davis, Sabean said.
Apparently the Pirates liked how Morris mentored Cain and other young pitchers on the Giants staff and I guess he decided that it would help take pressure off their good young starters.
He's 26 years old, hasn't done much in the majors. In Baseball America's 2007 Prospect book, he was the Pirates' 27th best prospect. For perspective, David Quinowski is the Giants 27th best prospect.
He is the prototypical Sabean acquisition of the past few years: tons o' speed. He's a CF who has stolen 224 bases in six minor league seasons. He had good bat control when he started, almost a 1:1 ratio for BB/K, but he started hitting the wall in AA and AAA, as his ratio dropped to about 50-60%. So he has hit for a pretty good batting average, about .280 the past two seasons in AA and AAA, and walks enough to get his OBP up to the .340-.350 level, which is OK if he can do it at the majors (but probably not). His minors career line of .303/.374/.402/.776 would be pretty good in the majors, but of course, it is the rare hitter who can hit as well in the majors as the minors, there is a leap in talent level they face in the pitchers they hit against in the majors that represents the higher level of difficulty that is the majors.
BP notes that he "is beginning to look like Chris Duffy Lite." That's not a great comparison and they also noted the Pirates penchant to develop 4th OF types and YET still didn't mention his name, they mentioned three other OFs. That's pretty sad. Minor League Baseball Analyst views Davis as a reserve LF/CF: "incredibly quick athlete does solid job as leadoff hitter, making contact and drawing walks. Lacks poower and can be overpowered by good pitching. Shows solid range in CF..." and notes his above-average speed. They rated him 15th best prospect. BA notes that "His average and plate discipline have suffered against more experienced pitchers since reaching Double-A. Davis spent the final six weeks of last season with the Pirates and didn't start a game, an indication the organization views him as a reserve outfielder long-term." They didn't really have much else to say other than chronicle his path up the system and to note his great speed. As noted above, they rated him 27th in the Pirates system.
So there is the hope that he will translate his good bat control - he's still around 85% contact rate even with his reduced BB/K ratio and that's good - into a good batting average, but at 26 years old, he's done as a prospect. He seems to be a Jason Ellison type who is much better at stealing bases. He's batting .321/.390/.459/.849 (but with .352 BABIP) in AAA this year, with 27 stolen bases (and 9 CS for only a 75% success rate; very much like Ellison; he was a little better in 2006, 45 of 58, or 78%).
I (and other fans) were hoping that the Giants would be able to trade Morris for a nice shiny prospect somewhere, but apparently Morris killed his market value with that flop of a July that he had. He also had some unkind comments about the Giants once he learned of the trade, which added to his recent negative comments about the team.
He seems like a nice guy but he did us no favor pitching with a broken rib last year and he was like a rookie starting out his first season with us too, leading to a poor first season with us. Then those unprofessional complaints, he should be pointing his finger at himself: if he was even average during July, we might be under 10 games behind right now (11 games right now) but here's the EARNED runs he gave up starting with his June 17 start: 8 runs, 4, 1, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6. If he would have just given up 3 runs in those starts instead (4.50 ERA for 6 IP), we would have had 3 more wins right now, 8 games back, plus two other games would have been tied; assuming one is a win, that's 7 games back now.
Now I guess we will see Russ Ortiz get to start for us and hopefully, if he can pitch well over the rest of the month, we might be able to flip him too for another prospect, since he really wants to start and not relieve, which is where I think he can help us most. So he won't be here next season most likely and we won't get anything in terms of pick compensation, so hopefully he does well and can be traded. Then we could have Misch start in September and see how he does.
I like the way Misch had been pitching the past two seasons, I wouldn't mind seeing him start for us next year, in competition with Sanchez for the #5 spot behind Cain, Lincecum, Lowry, and Zito. If he loses, he can take a spot in the bullpen, he's been excellent there the past two seasons; if he wins, I think he could possibly outdo Noah Lowry, his rise through the system mimicked Lowry except that he outdid Lowry at every level until AAA, if I remember right, but I think he righted himself the next season and has done very well for us since.
This trade was nothing like what people were hoping for. But the good news is that the Giants now save around $4M this year that can be used next year, plus take $9.5M off the books for next year, which frees up more money to bid for free agents as needed. Given the talk about going young and accepting less competitive results in 2008, we might be able to save some money for free agents in the 2009-2010 timeframe instead, or do a similar pickup of a veteran where we take on salary and give up a non-prospect like Davis.
Plus, judging from the comments, Morris's time with the Giants was just about up, I wish him the best of luck in Pittsburg, except if he faces the Giants, in which case I hope he pitches like he has lately.