San Francisco Giants: Grading GM Brian Sabean at Winter Meetings

By John Shea
Mike Morse
USA Today Sports

Slugging outfielder Michael Morse is a low risk, high reward brand of player that highlighted Winter Meetings for the San Francisco Giants.

General manager Brian Sabean was seemingly adamant about adding a strong defensive outfielder that could also supply the Giants’ lineup with substantial power. The longest tenured GM in baseball accomplished the latter, but arguably damaged the Giants’ defensive prowess in the field.

Morse owns a career .996 fielding percentage in the left field, but lacks sufficient range, which could force added responsibility on center fielder Angel Pagan next season. The upside for Morse is huge offensively though, given his ability to crush baseballs. His power stroke is impressive and should translate well in gap-heavy AT&T Park.

Morse has recorded a stellar 1.066 OPS in 23 plate appearances at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark. It’s a small sample size, but that figure serves to illustrate the type of damage he’s capable of doing in a pitcher-friendly environment.

The best offensive attribute that Morse boasts is his ability to hit in the clutch, which is a necessary component for all winning baseball teams, and a facet of the game that the Giants severely lacked in 2013. Morse has posted a career .277 batting average with 10 home runs and 91 runs-batted-in with two outs and runners-in-scoring-position during 212 games of action. He’s equally impressive in tied ballgames, registering a .529 slugging percentage with 59 extra-base hits in 529 plate appearances.

The offensive addition of Morse has potential to be significantly positive for the Giants, but only if the “The Beast” can stay healthy. The 31 year old struggled massively last season, posting dismal numbers while playing in just 88 games between two American League clubs.

Sabean and Co. took a gamble on Morse, essentially hoping to strike lightning in a bottle. It was the only “big” move the Giants opted to make during Winter Meetings, despite rampant rumors surrounding potential acquisitions via trade, such as Chicago White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza. The Giants also reportedly had interest in turning infielder Omar Infante into a permanent left fielder, according to Jon Morosi (via Twitter), but the speedy veteran decided to sign with the Kansas City Royals.

The Giants’ “patient” approach to free agency and trade negotiations landed them Morse, who could easily be classified as a risk. San Francisco is banking on Morse to rekindle the type of success he relished while playing for the Washington Nationals in 2011, when he bashed 31 home runs and drove-in 95 runs.

The Giants’ 25-man roster will remain relatively static in 2014 in comparison to last season, when San Francisco managed to win a meager total of 76 games. The acquisition of Morse, in addition to veteran right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson, likely isn’t enough to make the Giants formidable contenders for another World Series title, although it certainly improves the potency of their lineup.

Grade: C+

John Shea is a San Francisco Giants writer for Follow him on Twitter @shea_prosports. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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