Saturday, May 10, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: Fickle FInger of Fate, Part Deux: Sans-a-Belt

You read the news today, oh boy:  Belt HBP, broken thumb, says he's out six weeks.  He'll be DLed tomorrow.  He's one of our leading hitters with .815 OPS and team lead in homers.



ogc thoughts

Some say that timing is a bitch:  Ishikawa, who we picked up for such a possibility is already on the DL (ironically with a thumb injury, as reported by Schulman), so he's out.  Too bad, that would be perfect right now, strong defensive 1B who hit RHP OK, platooning with Posey at 1B with Sanchez then catching.  He had roughly a .340 OBP and .750 OPS against RHP playing regularly from 2008-2012, which is not that bad if he's batting 7th with great defense, as he saves roughly 1.1 wins per season (more given the Giants strong pitching and defense).

The options that the beats reported that Bochy noted were Posey, Sanchez, Morse, Arias (who took over 1B after the injury), and perhaps Duvall from Fresno, as he's on the 40-man, recently started starting at 1B, and just hit his 11th homer.  Bochy also mentioned about getting Blanco more playing time to get his bat going.  He also said that despite having Cain and Huff about ready to re-join the team, that going with 13 pitchers is not necessarily what they are going to do.  Thus Kontos might go back down for Cain while they bring in a position player for Belt.

This is the exact situation why Morse was signed for.  Look at us right now, we got so many legit middle lineup guys that we can afford to bat Pence 2nd most games.  Now he'll bat more often in the middle while probably Crawford will inherit #2 duties.  Had the Giants started Blanco as many stated was the more logical choice, we would be lacking in the middle, particularly with Sandoval's cold bat.

I think the short-term plan right now is for Morse to play 1B mostly, allowing Blanco to start in LF and get regular AB's and hopefully get his bat going.  Then I think Arias will be coming in to replace Morse at 1B, though frankly he's so bad defensively there too that I don't know if there's any defensive improvement, but it would give him more AB's to hopefully get HIS bat started.  Though with Belt out, maybe Bochy will rather keep him in instead.  We will see.  At minimum, this should be better for his hamstring, which the media has been reporting as the reason he's been getting replaced so much late in games.

Both Blanco and Arias have been good bench players for us in 2012-13, but both sucks so far this season.   Morse is probably not going to get as much rest in terms of games not started, given this injury, unless Blanco starts to get hot, probably.  This should give him more ABs and hopefully get his bat started.  If he can hit like normal, he could bat 2nd behind Pagan and be the prototypical #2 hitter.   But while his bat is cold, probably Crawford will see #2 duties while Blanco bats 7th or 8th (if they move Hicks up instead; I see that as probable, then Blanco could become a secondary leadoff guy plus add speed down in the lineup).
Since Duvall was mentioned, I think he'll be up for Belt, but will sit on the bench, getting occasional starts at 1B and 3B, so that the major league staff can kick his tires and see what he got.  That way, they can give advice on what he needs to work on when he returns back to AAA.   He could be a nice power bat off the bench that we don't really have right now, since Pill was traded to Korea, as well.

It will, as the old Chinese curse notes, interesting times for the Giants here.  I think the above will be an experiment to see if they can get this to work for the team  But if not, then when Ishikawa is ready to play, they will probably bring him up and have him provided stellar defense at 1B (better than Belt) while platooning there with Posey, giving Sanchez extra starts, moving Morse back to LF.

Blanco would probably have to hit pretty well for that not to happen, because the Giants would be better with Blanco coming off the bench as able insurance in case of injury.  Particularly since Ishikawa would probably provide the same offense and defense contributions as Blanco would.  Plus, that would keep Morse in LF, where he's more familiar with this season since he's played there more.  And the Giants under Sabean has liked to have good to great defense at firstbase, and Morse would not provide that.

3 comments:

  1. Well, the Giants changed their mind and went to another player, Tyler Colvin. Which makes sense on many levels, now that the move was done.

    First off, while his overall numbers are pretty bad for a major league experienced player in AAA, in his last 19 games, he's hit .369/.408/.585/.993, with only 6 K's in 65 AB and a good 5 walks to boot. That's good power going, ISO of 216.

    Second, this was the original plan, he was suppose to be the power guy off the bench, utility OF backup, so ideally he was suppose to play himself into shape (and heal up from the back problems that caused him to be dropped by his prior taam and that delayed his spring training for us). He gets some starting now, then becomes the bench OF after Belt returns.

    Third, he has generally been a good defensive player in the OF, putting up plus numbers in CF and RF, making his negative LF defensive numbers appear to be an anomaly due to less playing time there, he has roughly half the innings there that he has in CF, where he has half that in RF, his usual playing position in the majors, where he has a 3 DRS/yr production there, good, not great, but certainly better than Morse in LF.

    I would note here that Colvin has played some 1B and while limited time there, was pretty good there defensively, so I wonder if the Giants would have been better overall defensively had they played Colvin at first instead of Morse.

    Oh, and that is the plan right now, to make Morse the starting 1B and with no need to sub him out defensively (not sure about that since he's not good there either), particularly with Belt out now. Then Colvin will battle with Blanco for starting time in LF. That's why Morse is starting at 1B, so he can stay consistently at one spot, letting Colvin and Blanco get starts in LF. Perez will probably see time there while he's still on the roster.

    Speaking of which, Scutaro was moved to the 60-day DL to free 40-man space for Colwin. He takes Belt's place, who is put on the 15-day DL, but probably out at least 6 weeks. Meanwhile, Kontos was sent down to bring Cain back off the DL.

    Still, today, Posey got the 1B start, Morse in LF, probably because since Belt is out anyway, may as well give Posey a bit of rest starting at 1B in a day game after a night game. Morse is probably the 1B going forward until Belt returns. I expect Colvin to get the first chance to hold the LF starting position, particularly since he was hitting in AAA and Blanco has been cold. But since both are lefties, can't platoon them. Not sure what happens when Posey needs a start at 1B, whether Morse goes to LF or not, or does he get a rest too?

    In any case, if Colwin can be anywhere good offensively, it won't be that big a drop offensively from Belt to Colvin, just defensively having Morse at 1B and Colvin/Blanco in LF..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Actually, except for 2011, Morse has had a pretty good UZR at first, so he may cost the Giants less at first than in left. If that lets him stay in games longer, so that the team has the advantage of his bat rather than that of one of their pathetic sub outfielders (at least, pathetic so far this year), good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for pointing out his UZR/150. I forget to check there, easier just to pull up one site, BB-ref.

      Yeah, OK, that is true, but the fact is that the one season he played mostly at 1B, 2011, he compiled a pretty bad overall defensive performance, enough that even with very good UZR at first in every other season (10+ runs rate), his poor 2011 torpedoed all those small samples and for his career, his UZR/150 is -1.4, which is below average.

      But to your point, he's actually not that bad defensively per UZR, not like his DRS, and for defense, an overall picture is better, I should start trying to use that overall picture. So yes, he probably hurts the defense much less at 1B, at least per UZR. And yes, keeping in the lineup longer in the game is a plus for us given the loss of Belt.

      I would note here that it was not all defense that pulled him out of the games thus far this season. He's been having hammy problems and if you'll recall with Durham (and even Pablo), those can linger. And Morse does not really perform that well when injured, as he showed last season, his season tanked right when he got injured. So I think Bochy was erring on the side of keeping him in our lineup healthy, something you certainly approve of.

      And I guess that is where 1B benefits Morse, there is less need to run around a lot, risking your hammy, unlike 1B, and though Pablo hurt his hammy at 1B, that was because a shorty like him had to stretch to reach a throw, something a behemoth like Morse won't have to do as much of.

      I also think that he should get better the more he plays 1B, particularly with the Giants, who focuses on positioning players pitch by pitch, batter by batter. He's never played 1B much, and as muscular as he is now, he was a SS once upon a time as a pro, so you would think some of that athleticism should kick in at some point.

      Thanks for the great comment.

      Delete

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