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Morse or LaRoche: A comparison

Dec 26, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

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Michael Morse could provide similar offensive numbers to Adam LaRoche.

As we move past Christmas and toward New Year's with no resolution yet to the Adam LaRoche saga, it's worth remembering that the Nationals have a perfectly viable backup plan at first base should the reigning NL Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards winner ultimately choose to play elsewhere in 2013.

How many ballclubs out there could afford to let a key cog like LaRoche walk and simply plug a guy like Michael Morse into his spot? Not many.

In fact, there are some who would say Morse is capable of outperforming LaRoche in 2013 anyway.

Is that actually true? Well, yes. Morse is perfectly capable of outperforming LaRoche. He did it in 2011, posting a .910 OPS that easily trumped LaRoche's .853 mark this season.

The more appropriate question, though, doesn't involve askingRead more »

116 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. MicheleS - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    My vote doesn't count, but I want LaRoche!!!(Back to the corner until this is resolved…Side of Beef purchase and JW Blue still on the table).Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    I think at this point I am fine with either. Good thing is in either case, we have good backup in Moore for 1B and Lombo for other IF spots.

  3. sjm308 - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    This, is just another example of why Nats Insider is such a "go to" site to learn and digest what is going on with our team. Mark does not make a firm choice but does tilt toward LaRoche at the end. He certainly puts enough information out there to give you an idea of what might happen with both players.I have flipped on this more times than I wish. I am usually pretty decisive. I love LaRoche's defense and think its a big step above Morse, no matter what the numbers say. I love Morse's free wheeling attitude and when he is hot, there is not a better slugger in baseball. The fact that Tyler Moore is going to be here, no matter which one starts also makes me feel pretty good.I guess if I had to actually vote, it would be LaRoche. That would then come with the unreasonable caveat that we keep Morse unless we can get real value in a trade. I am still in the camp that Morse can get a decent number of at bats if Davey will rest all 3 outfielders, Zimm and LaRoche on a fairly regular basis. I keep thinking about Tracy playing 3rd last year at times and you can't tell me Morse couldn't pick that up. This doesn't even put injury into account so I would keep them both if Laroche signs. Again, it probably won't happen, I just wish something would happen soon.Go Nats!!

  4. sjm308 - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Faraz, according to the game played here I owe you a beer. I will never buy anyone a soft drink, they are bad for your health.

  5. Positively Half St. - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    I just wish this would be resolved while there are still trade partners who would be interested in Morse.+1/2St.

  6. Gonat - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    This has dragged on way too long and by doing so the trade partners on Morse has dwindled.

  7. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I'm an Earl Weaver guy. I'll take the three-run (or less) HR any time. Hence, I'd really prefer both in the lineup. Span's principal asset is that they didn't waste money on Bourn or Pagan or Cabrera, as many advocated/feared. I think they'll do one — Morse or LaRoche — or the other, though. On paper Morse hits RH pitchers as well or better than LaRoche, so — if healthy — LaRoche's LH bat is not a factor.But La Roche has defense and club-house presence, and between 32 and 33 HR/year there isn't much to choose.I think what favors a two-year LaRoche over Morse is that Morse also is a short-timer. Assuming Morse produces anywhere near 2011, now way will he take a short extension — which, again, will be all Rizzo will be willing to offer. It'll be his only chance to get a big (out-sized, a la C. Ross) contract. Unless the Nats offer him a one year "qualifying offer" at somewhere in the mid-teens, they end up w/ no compensation whatsoever. Whichever outcome leaves the future of 1B in the hands of Tyler Moore (unproven and shaky defensively) or Skole (Moore's minuses times 2) and long-term instability at this position, which has proved problematic for several teams, e.g., Rangers, As, Mariners, Indians, Rays, and Astros, Cubs, Brewers among others in the NL.Neither is an ideal situation.Therefore I reluctantly accept that Nats' brass firmly intend to move Z'man to 1B — leaving 3B in the hands of Rendon. I sincerely hope Rendon is as good as Peric thinks he is. Otherwise, I think 2013 is the make or break year for the WS as any further down the road the future of too many parts (e.g., 1B or 3B, C, Span, Werth) is uncertain.

  8. JayB - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I agree on the trade market for Morse. Rays are the ones who need his bat but they are not they type to give value for established money makers like Morse. I also agree that at this point we keep them both. Injuries as a fact and sadly Morse and Werth and Zimm are all likely each year.I do not agree at all that they are the same value. WAR is crap when you are talking about these a final cog on a WS run. ALR is LH and works counts. MM is RH and a streak hitting, free swinging 1 – 2 Count K waiting to happen in the Playoffs. Sorry, I like him, I do but all I see is this massive over swinging stride as his bat going though the middle of the zone and the ball is sill out in front of the batters box but about to bounce.Time after time…….

  9. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    But that's an important qualifier: If he plays every day. To this point in his career, Morse hasn't proven he can consistently stay healthy through a 162-game season.Yes he has. He proved it in 2011. He played in 146 of the team's 161 games, and the games he missed came in ones and twos rather than in a longer stint on the DL. Some of those missed games may have been due to minor injuries, but many of them were due to Riggleman's reluctance to play him every day until he was forced to by LaRoche's injury. Every player has little nicks of injury during a season that will require him to miss a game or two here or there. This isn't the same as "not being able to stay healthy." Not at all. Mark, you did a disservice to Morse with this characterization of him.

  10. JayB - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    The other analysis that needs to be written is Span vs ALC or MM.If he has stats like UZR is it the it will hard to trust. That stat is a joke.Still I do think the OF defense is going to be much better. Morse was a huge hole in LF during Oct.

  11. JayB - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    MM + age = Post PED Injuries

  12. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    sjm, too bad I don't drink beer. I will take this: http://bit.ly/Vie9a5JayB, I am not sure if it is necessary to dwell into Span vs ALR or MM anymore. He is here and he is going to be our starting CF. As a CF who gets on base and has decent speed on base paths, he brings completely different set of skills that can not be compared with ALR or MM.

  13. JayB - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    I agree that it is the correct move for a team. CF C SS and 2B defense if Key to winning tight games. I do think it means the MM or ALR decision is more important than ever. You do not get both most likely. ALR is far more dependable in a big AB. Even in the Playoffs when nobody hit…..ALR OBP was like 350 even though his AVG was under .200. MM AVG was .250 but NO WALKS…his OBP was .250.

  14. Don - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Morse is a tremendous slouch (to paraphrase Caddyshack) with the glove at 1B. To say he is not qiute as adept as LaRoche at scooping a ball in the dirt is being very generous to Mike. But, 1B is a bat position first. Morse brings a big bat but his reliability is not great. LaRoche brings LH power the Nats need and comparable stats in terms of predictability. LaRoche's glove is a mile better (neither guy can run at all). So, all things being equal — I would go with LaRoche. BUT, all things are not equal as it will take a multi year commitment of more Dollars for ALR, so Morse looks like the guy at 1B. Though, I would not be surprised if the club ended up going in a different direction altogether at 1B. We'll see.

  15. Doc - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Nobody is likely to sign ALR, beyond the Nats.Apart from the great stats that have been presented, I'll always be a Beast fan.Skole, from watching him in the AFL, has really good emerging fielding skills at 1B. Probably could be a plus defender. Both Moore and Skole have MLB bats, IMHO—and Skole is a LH.Best would be to have already signed ALR on a 1 year option, and trade Morse. ALR has thrown a monkey wrench into the situation and some good trading opportunities have been lost.Rizzo probably did his best, trying to play both sides of the player signing game.

  16. Unknown - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. The last out of 2013 post-season will be made by an AL player facing a Nationals pitcher. Who will it be?My prediction: H-Rod. Yes, really…Enjoy the Season, all

  17. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    LaRoche brings LH power the Nats need and comparable stats in terms of predictability.Those who view LaRoche as a model of consistency should remember one thing. Except for 2012 that consistency consisted of a terrible first half followed by a great second half. This is why Pittsburgh fans still boo him. When he played there, his overall stats looked great at the end of the year. But he never got hot until the team was already out of the race.

  18. natsfan1a - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Seconding the holiday wishes of Michele and Unknown. Now I'm heading back to the corner (wait up, Michele).

  19. hiramhover - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Great analysis, Mark. Interesting that you seem to find most factors tilting at least mildly in ALR's favor but the FO seems in no great rush to lock him up. Maybe they're just so confident he'll find no other taker that they're sure they can get him on their terms, eventually.

  20. JaneB - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I'll be happy either way. And really sad either way.Thirding holdiay wishes to all.

  21. Dryw Loves the Nats - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    JaneB, I'm completely with you on that!

  22. MicheleS - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    I think to a great degree that the reason ALR hasn't gotten a 3 yr offer is the Draft pick compensation. None of the contending teams want to give it up and ALR only wants to go to a contending team. As for Morse as trade bait. There are still options. Mariners still need a bat (despite getting Morales). Houston still needs a bat and an OF. Plus, you never know what other player has an injury in the offseason ( I am looking at you Victor Martinez of the Tigers)I agree with JaneB on being sad/happy either way – even though my stated preference is ALR.

  23. SCNatsFan - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    The only thing I like about ALR going elsewhere is getting the draft pick back; so far that has worked out pretty well for us.

  24. natsfan1a - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    In agreement with JaneB as well. Hope everyone's staying warm and safe today. Snow/sleet/freezing rain (geez, make up your mind already) in northern Virginia.

  25. Sam - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Was it necessary to specify the "sabermetric" approach? Sabermetric in no way refers to using a bunch of complicated (although, let's be honest, WAR is not complicated at all) stats. Sabermetric refers to using information to analyze baseball. So, essentially, you could say this entire article was the "sabermetric" approach. Now, on to the argument at hand… In my opinion,it's a matter of will Morse hit at a high enough level (which means his 4.9 BB% has to improve) to help the Nationals more than LaRoche's likely average to above average (around 2 – 3 WAR). He has never played such good defense before, and he had nearly his best offensive season. The odds of him repeating that are not very high.

  26. natsbiggestfan - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    ^^I'll third that! JaneB^^ I DO think LaRoche is a more solid/steady player though…. either way, I wouldnt wanna be Rizzo right now.

  27. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    This ALR discussion is the broken record that keeps replaying the same thoughts over and over and over again. Sorry to say, ALR can only blame himself for where things are right now. Besides the Nats mutual option which he wisely turned down, he also turned the qualifying offer and Rizzo's 2 year deal.He most likely has had other offers and turned them all away as they were probably low-balls. Its musical chairs.Unfortunately there is something with Adam LaRoche where he is a Rodney Dangerfield of baseball. His career has played that out and all that changed in 2012 for ALR. He got respect here and could have stayed. Maybe he will come back, maybe he won't but his history says even when he was younger and driving in 100 RBIs the best deal he got back then was a 2 year deal.Rodney Dangerfield, "I get no respect"! Is this the year ALR gets 3 years?

  28. Section 222 - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    This may be the most analyzed topic here this offseason. Everyone's positions are well known. Michelle wants ALR and has offered bribes to both Rizzo and ALR to make it happen. Feel prefers Morse and is certain that ALR will leave, 308 wants them both to stay and Morse to get 400 ABs coming off the bench. Not to be left out, I guess I'll summarize mine. I have a slight preference for ALR because I'm enamored of the "best defense in baseball" that we'll have with him. But I'm fine with Morse too because I think his offense is superior and his defense (at 1B) will improve (whereas his defense in LF will not). If I had to bet what will happen, someone will come out of the woodwork with a deal ALR wants and we'll have Morse at 1B next season.But you all knew that.

  29. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Sec222, you called it the most analyzed topic here this offseason and I called it the broken record. You may owe me a Coke!I switched my view because I feel ALR had sufficient time to take Rizzo's deal. Time to move on and take the "comp pick" and officialy tell Morse its his job!Its kind of surreal because I basically predicted this back in August. No matter what LaRoche has done in his career, GMs and their owners don't view him as a top tier player even though he has almost consistently put together good-very good stats his entire career except 2011.The only reason this appeared to be the year for ALR to cash in was due to the fact he was the top rated 1st baseman in Free Agency this year and supply/demand should've worked out well for him. I'm still not counting him out as he may still find a 3 year deal but it would be horrible if he had to settle for a 1 year deal or a poor AAV 3 year deal.

  30. Section 222 - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Ghost, no doubt I owe you a Coke on that one.

  31. Unknown - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Mark, you forgot one of most important stats: WOSAR — walk-on song above replacement. TuneGrafs puts Morse at an extraordinary 9.7 — in the top five in the league — with "Take on Me" vs. a -4.6 for LaRoche's mix of ho-hum country remakes of rock songs. This, to me, tips the argument solidly in the Beast's favor.

  32. JaneB - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Unknown, totally right and totally hilarious.

  33. Unknown - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Sorry. Unknown is jimbo2541. I know how people here frown on anonymity — especially on subjects as controversial as the one I've raised.

  34. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Samuel Beckett wrote a play once called Waiting for Godot. Even though in the end Godot never showed up, Beckett still won the Nobel Prize for Literature.Mark Zuckerman et al are now writing Waiting for LaRoche. Unlike Beckett, they will win no prizes for this, even though in the end LaRoche will not be showing up either.

  35. Don - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Mike Rizzo has it easy on this one. He only wants ALR if he can get him at a discount, and he has Morse in a walk year in any event. If ALR signs elsewhere the Nats will take the sandwich draft pick and move on. If ALR signs here, then Rizzo can trade Morse to any number of clubs in need of a RH power bat.

  36. RaleighNat - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Obviously, Nats Nation has been beating its head over this issue since LaRoche declined the qualifying offer. Rizzo has certainly put himself in the cat bird seat. He's got a comp pick keeping LaRoche from getting the 3 year offer and a perfectly viable plan B in Morse.I love both of these guys. If I had to "lean", it would be toward keeping both. I guarantee one of Werth, La Roche, Harper, or Span goes down for an extended period of time. Keeping Morse means you don't miss a beat and have the potential to actually improve.What I'd hate to see happen would be to sign La Roche and feel pressured to trade Morse for less than fair value. But I think Rizzo will resist that.My prediction? LaRoche starts and Morse is on the bench. Not b/c Rizzo doesn't want to trade Morse, but he won't get the offer in the offseason he's looking for.

  37. realdealnats - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Timing is everything and for this one particular year, I would re-sign Adam and keep Morse. This is the year. For this one year, don't think too hard about fertilizing the farm. Just go with both these guys b/c there will be injuries. Re: Combating Morse & ALR's issues:I don't think Mark has misrepresented Mikey's injuries and I love him. He almost always misses a chunk of a season. Play ALR at 1B move Mikey around. As someone said a week ago, he won't get enough bats to satisfy himself but he'll get enough to hit for his average and his power. I don't expect Adam to start with his age old slump; I believe he will be out of the gate fast like last year. But what better way to put yourself in a Win/Win than keeping Morse. Morse walks next year and we miss some young talent (unless of course Rizzo gets an outrageous offer this year) b/c a bird in the hand in '13 is worth two in the bush. And Adam is here next year to oversee the transfer to Moore/Skole/Zim.To me, money should be a non-issue here. The Lerners have money, they have saved money on DC in the early years, and they'll be making plenty into the future. The smartest move is to spend money at the right time for the right people. ALR is the right move. And keeping Morse is the insurance move. Now go out and sign Howell. Maybe M. Gonzalez. Keep Bray at Cuse until needed. Bring up Garcia if there are injuries to BP or a starter. And you've prepared the best you can to get into the playoffs and deal with whoever happens to be the hottest team in early October.This is my story and I'm sticking to it…

  38. Don - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    A bunch of clubs could sign LaRoche without losing a pick (the top 10 picks are protected). So, the Fish, Pirates, Bo Sox (Napoli is not in the barn yet folks), Tribe, Mariners, Rockies etc. could ink ALR and not lose a pick. (Nats still get the comp pick in any event if he inks elsewhere.)

  39. realdealnats - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Don–If ALR signs with one of the Top 10 Protected, doesn't that just mean we get a #2 in such a case in lieu of the #1?

  40. John C. - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I like LaRoche; if he had signed the qualifying offer I would have been OK with going forward with him at first base for one year, $13.3 million. I'm less enthusiastic about a two year commitment for several basic reasons:(1) As a 33yo player coming off of a career year, he's not only unlikely to reproduce his 2012 stats, he's likely to regress negatively from his career averages, offensively and defensively. (2) Even if LaRoche produces his career averages, Morse is just a better hitter than LaRoche, period. He negates the "LH" argument because Morse hits RHP just as well as LaRoche does – and hits LHP far, far better. Morse is also more clutch; his numbers go up with RISP, RISP with two outs, close & late and other "high leverage" situations, LaRoche's numbers either remain flat or decline. Don't take my word for it, check their stat pages on Baseball Reference. Career numbers or 2012, either will do.(3) The Nationals have not one but two younger, cheaper replacement options in Morse and Tyler Moore. In the case of injury to Morse the team still has Tyler Moore and Chad Tracey to fill in – and Chris Marrero on the 40 man roster as a "Plan D." That's serious depth without counting LaRoche. If LaRoche was at a need position, I could see expanding the offer. First base is probably the lowest need position for the Nationals.(4) Letting LaRoche go nets the Nationals a compensation draft pick (with the all important addition to the money available to sign draft picks). Signing LaRoche would likely require the Nationals to move Morse when other teams know he needs to be traded. For a player only under team control, the trade market is not going to be good. For Josh Willingham the Nationals got Corey Brown and Henry Rodriguez. I'd rather have a comp pick (at the level where the team has selected Jordan Zimmermann and Brian Goodwin recently), which would not only offer more upside but team control for years without costing a 40 man roster spot. (5) In the short term, Morse offers more flexibility than LaRoche because Morse can play outfield – not well, but better than Moore or Lombardozzi, and with a lot more offensive output than Lombardozzi, Bernadina or Brown. If Werth, Harper or Span goes down with an injury, Morse could easily slide to LF and Moore to 1b and the team not miss a beat.(6) In the medium and long term Morse also offers additional flexibility, because signing LaRoche locks up all eight starting positions for at least two years (when Span and LaRoche would become free agents again) and possibly more if LaRoche gets a third year. The entire minor league system's worth of position players would be blocked.(7) There is also less risk with Morse, because even if he gets hurt/flops, then after one year and $6.7 million the team can cut its losses. If he lights it up then the team can either resign him or make a qualifying offer and net a second compensation pick even if they lose him, while letting several players with excellent potential (Moore, Rendon, to a lesser extent Skole) fight for the job and may the best player win. If LaRoche ages into less performance/more injury, the team is out a lot more time and money, no longer has Morse and is placing a fair bet that Moore's numbers from last year are repeatable.Mark's article spins every stat favorably to LaRoche. That's OK, but it's not the only way to look at it. I don't care what Morse's walk up music is, IMNSHO the best baseball move is to go with Morse. If we end up with two years of LaRoche I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best, but longer than two years and I'll be seriously disappointed.

  41. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    I disagree with a couple of Mark's assertions: 1) I think the concept of penciling ALR for any perceived numbers does not take into account the likelihood that he will experience some normal age based regression. 2) I think Morse's defensive abilities at 1st base are overstated by both Mark and some of the posters here – his numbers suggest that he's a well below average defensive 1st baseman. I think a lot of the arguments here on both sides are based on 2 superb seasons; Morse in 2011 (his only one) and ALR in 2012 (his best one); I think it is almost impossible to predict performance with any degree of certainty for either of these players in 2013. I think it is become less and less likely that ALR returns as times goes by because I think that he and his agents still see possibilities in Texas and in Boston and I think Rizzo would like to plan the roster accordingly.

  42. John C. - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    @Don: If a team with a protected first round pick signs LaRoche, they still lose a pick. It's just their second round pick. Same thing if a player signs multiple draft pick comp free agents – they simply lose the next available pick. @realdanats: the new CBA changed the way draft pick compensation works. The team signing the player loses the draft pick, but it no longer goes to the team losing the player – the pick just goes away. The losing team will get only one pick, a compensation pick between the first and second round.

  43. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    John C. I all fairness Morse had a really poor year in 2012; he was just barely above replacement. I take into account the many injuries he played through and I agree with most of your points that Morse probably presents the better solution at this stage especially given the fallback options but I also think that you are giving his 2011 too much weight in predicting future years.

  44. nats guy - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Doc,I think you are dreaming about the fielding skills of Matt Skole. He is a butcher in the field. Great hitter, but that will do him no good in the National League. Player without a position. Tyler Moore adequate at best.

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    JD, Morse hasn't been shy about posting up his 2013 goals. They are lofty but achievable if he is healthy. .330 BA, 40 dingers and 120 RBIs with Span, Werth, Harper and Zim batting in front of him I would hope for 120 ribbies!

  46. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    I think a lot of the arguments here on both sides are based on 2 superb seasons; Morse in 2011 (his only one) and ALR in 2012 (his best one); I think it is almost impossible to predict performance with any degree of certainty for either of these players in 2013.If history teaches us anything, it is that players in their walk years more often than not will have good or even great years, and players in their first year of a new contract will often disappoint. So in choosing one or the other, you rarely go wrong going with the guy who's in his walk year. In this case, that would be Morse.

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Feel Wood, agreed. I know people don't like to hear it, its just the way it is and I think Rizzo knows it also. I still won't write off ALR coming back but I would say the chances are slim unless ALR comes back for a 2 year team friendly deal. Yah, that deal proposed a month ago is now off the table.

  48. Nats fan in NJ - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    I'm fine with either, though probably lean a bit more toward ALR if Rizzo can get something of value for Morse in a trade. I'm still most worried about our rotation, as I am quite nervous about injuries and our #6 is Duke and our #7 is Scary (fill-in a number of different names). Sorry, not sold on either Garcia or Perry. I think if Morse could be traded for some modest value AA/AAA pitchers (notice plural), it could solve the roster log jam as well as add depth to the starting pitchers.

  49. Don - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    John C. – thanks for the correction. I meant to say that a club like Cleveland (for example) could sign ALR and not lose a Fiurst Rounder but merely whatever compensation pick would be applicable (a 3rd rounder now, as they already inked Swisher).

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Don said… John C. – thanks for the correction. I meant to say that a club like Cleveland (for example) could sign ALR and not lose a Fiurst Rounder but merely whatever compensation pick would be applicable (a 3rd rounder now, as they already inked Swisher). December 26, 2012 12:25 PM MLB will be watching any sign & trades like that and could negate any trade they deemed is attempting to circumvent the current CBA for Qualifying Trade Compensation.For instance if Cleveland signed ALR and traded him immediately, I could see MLB voiding the trade and Cleveland being stuck with him.I don't expect any of that to occur. I think there is only 4 or 5 Qualified players left which includes Bourn and LaRoche.

  51. realdealnats - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    John C.–thanks for the reminder, I spaced and misspoke. Admittedly we're not sunk any which way this 1B deal goes. I just think letting ALR walk, and then seeing Morse go down to a 1-2 month injury leaving us with Moore at 1B is not as safe a way to go as Going with ALR and having Morse's bat not only ready in the wings but playing some 1B and LF. Sure Morse could get hurt in this scenario but the way Life usually works out, it's less likely luck-wise with ALR at 1B and all other positions covered. What you lose, which hurts, is a comp pick. But I say you gladly suffer that for the depth both afford us for this coming year.Also I'm not as worried as others about ALR blocking young talent. Just rotate him or sit him down if he regresses. I know I know it's easy for me to spend the Lerners' money. And yes, it is. Given the very ripe prize that is hanging so low on the branch. And we'd only have to deal with Adam's salary for 1 year. (I'm assuming we get him for 2 years. Let him walk if someone offers 3 years and take the comp pick.)But much as I love Morse and his bat and all his clutch stats, I fear injury and trying to win everything with Moore at 1B. Really everyone has good points on this one. Rizzo certainly has positioned himself and the team well.

  52. SCNatsFan - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    I disagree about voiding the deal; I think MLB would have to let it go thru and change the rules. As long as something is done within the rules you can't penalize a team for being creative. That said, they would probably void it.

  53. TheManBearPig - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Morse's 2010 numbers were a lot like his numbers in 2011. The difference seemed to be Riggleman for a full season in 2010 – Morse had half as many at bats in 2010 as in 2011 (although he was available most of the season) and had almost exactly half as many HR, with an .871 OPS (compared to .910 in 2011). His injury history is a reason to give the edge to ALR, but if you think Morse is going to be healthy in his walk year and if you think 2014 is the year the Nats will want to explore other options at 1b, then I think the edge goes to Morse because he's a better hitter than ALR.Just watching ALR and Morse play first, ALR looks like the better fielder, but the Nats infield defense seems to be about as effective with Morse playing first: Morse's range is similar to ALR's and he fields balls hit into his zone as well as ALR. In 2011, put-outs per 9 innings by a first baseman in the innings when ALR played were almost exactly the same as in the innings Morse played, so Morse wasn't putting more runners on base by not picking bad throws. 2011 fielding percentages of Zim and Desmond were similar to their fielding percentages in 2012 (Desmond was a little better in 2012, Zim was a little worse).

  54. Diz - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    I might add, losing MM will not allow me and 40k others to bellow out Take On Me during the 7th or 8th inning this year and that would be unacceptable. ;-)Just a fair warning….if he is still here, the more you drink, the better I sound!On a side note, whoever gets MM in a trade this offseason will only have to foot his bill for the first half of next year. MM will be the perfect mid-season acquistion for a playoff contender next year and that team will be able to recoup their trade losses to the Nats quite easily.

  55. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Nats Fan in NJ, There are still lots of pitchers unsigned: Marcum, Saunders, Matuszaka etc. I am sure Rizzo will ink a couple to minor league deals just like he did with Duke last year.There will also be this year's version of: Michaels, Nady, DeRosa etc.

  56. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    MM will be the perfect mid-season acquistion for a playoff contender next year and that team will be able to recoup their trade losses to the Nats quite easily. Although (and I'm sure you remember this), under the new agreement, an in-season trade gets no draft picks when the player leaves. Got to be the full season.

  57. Diz - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    Thanks ASPFGH. I was referring to what his starting 2013 team would get in return for a trade during August.I think whatever prospects they would give up to get him this offseason would easily be recovered in August when they traded him away to a contender. In fact, they would probably get more value out of him at that time, especially if he's having a good year.

  58. Diz - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Sorry, I meant a trade in July, not August.

  59. 3on2out - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    John C @ 11:39am:Thank you for a very well-reasoned,thoughtful and comprehensive analysis. I don't know what your day job is but you may be ripe for a career change. You could write about baseball for a living, I swear. In my humble opinion…you know your stuff! It's really a moot discussion, though. I am heavily in Feel Wood's camp. LaRoche is gone. There are 3 years out there for him somewhere and regardless of what he says…a contending team is only a plus. He will not leave $10M+ on the table. He will sign with Seattle or Houston or even the Miami if they offer him 3 years. A lot of players say it is not all about the money. But it pretty much is.

  60. John C. - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Morse did not have a "really poor year" in 2012 with the bat. If you just look at WAR his numbers were not good for at least two reasons: (1) he missed the first two months of the year due to injuries (and WAR is an accumulating stat) and more importantly (2) WAR is a mix of offense and defense, and Morse's WAR totals are dragged down by his poor OF defense – which is not relevant to a discussion of his value at first base.Offensively Morse had a merely good year in 2012, not a great one. His OPS+ was 112, comfortably above league average and very close to LaRoche's career average of 114. That's right – in a down season Morse's offensive production was essentially LaRoche's career average season. Morse's career OPS+ is 126.And it's better than that – Morse's season was dragged down by his production when he first came back. Robbed of his timing by rust and his power by coming back from the injury, Morse in June (.299/.313/.439) was a shadow of his normal self. By September he was back to being Michael Morse, posting a .302/.330/.510 split that was just about where he was in 2010 and 2011.

  61. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    July or August, I don't think Rizzo would take Cutter Dykstra for him this winter, and I don't think it's at all certain they'd get more back for a two-month rental than they paid for six months. Could happen, I suppose. Unless he gets hurt. Or doesn't adjust quickly to a new league. Or the teams that want him mid-season don't have what the trading team needs. Or they are close enough to being competitive that they hang on to him too long, and it turns out he doesn't rate a qualifying offer.

  62. SCNatsFan - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    As far as Morse's in season value, to argue it now is a fool's errand; a key injury on a contender would increase his value tremendously as would a slumping spot on a nearly complete team; you could even argue it increases his value.

  63. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    As far as Morse's in season value, to argue it now is a fool's errandWell, there's doubtless a range, but then, who knew LaRoche would be done in by one high draft pick?

  64. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    John C. The defense is not completely moot because Morse is well below average at 1st as well. Your analysis is very good but you are cherry picking a bit to make your argument. I won't add any more negative comments about Morse because like you I think he's the better overall answer for us for 2013 and if he repeats his 2011 offensive numbers and registers a 3 something overall WAR he will be a very good contributor to a playoff contending team.

  65. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    3on2out, I don't know ALR but for at least 97 out of 100 ball players you are 100% correct; they will follow the money.

  66. Kenz aFan - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    <2 cents mode ON>While Morse does have a bit of an injury history, he's never missed almost an entire season. Add to that that much of his non-playing time was because his manager choosing to not play him, because when he's given the starts, he plays healthier, plays happier (which is normal for any player) and performs at a much higher level.2012 was the first time Adam LaRoche had a positive defensive WAR, which kinda says that 2012 was more than likely an anomaly. In 2011 when Morse played 1B, the more he played 1B, the more we saw him improve steadily. To think the solution to the Nats 1B problem is Adam LaRoche is, in my opinion, ludicrous.Since 2010, (using his and ALR stats broken down so they can be compared) Morse not only outperformed LaRoche in pretty much every offensive category, but he also came pretty close defensively, having committed one fewer "fielding error", which doesn't include throwing errors, since we are, after all, looking at the Nats potential first baseman for 2013. In almost every case, Morse needs fewer at bats to produce than does LaRoche. Anyone who thinks Morse would be a defensive liability at first base doesn't know what they're talking about.I can't and don't understand why so many fans are so high on Adam LaRoche. It seems, to me anyway, they think that the Nats would be "forced" into playing Morse at first base if they cant sign ALR. Fact is, the numbers say that the Nats would be a much better team offensively and very close defensively if they end up being "forced" to play Morse at first. Add to those numbers the fact that Morse has consistently out-clutched ALR, makes my choice as to who the Nats first baseman for 2012 should be, pretty cut and dry.In my opinion, it's a no brainer, and to have offered ALR $25 million over two years, when they have Morse already under contract, and for much less money, is foolish.I've said it at least a hundred times, "let LaRoche go", because the Nats absolutely don't need him.In case no one has noticed, I not only don't want Adam LaRoche back, I don't consider him a Washington National, because he only played a spec more than one season with DC, he only played in 150+ for the 2nd time in his career, received MVP votes for the 1st time ever, only won his first ever GG and SS awards, and if he's such a "great team guy" why has he played for five, count em 5 teams in the last 4 years? Plus most of one of those years being spent on the DL. No, Adam LaRoche is not the answer, the Nats already have their answer at first base, and the sooner they make a decision to that fact, the better prepared everyone will be going into spring training.<2 cents mode OFF>

  67. MicheleS - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Looks like GasCanrahan just got traded to the Red Sox.

  68. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    2012 was the first time Adam LaRoche had a positive defensive WAR, which kinda says that 2012 was more than likely an anomaly.Actually, what it says is that WAR is a bogus "stat" – as Edwin Starr and I have been saying for decades.

  69. TheManBearPig - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Wow Kenz, I prefer Morse at this point also, but it's not hard to see why someone else might prefer ALR. Gold-glove quality defense plus 33HR/100 RBI are pretty good reasons, as is his consistency throughout his career. 2012 was his 9th MLB season and it was the fourth time (not the second) that he played more than 150 games. In three of his other seasons, he played more than 135 games. So the only seasons he didn't play at least 135 games were his rookie year (he played in 110 games) and 2011, when he was injured. Since his rookie year, the only year he did not hit at least 20 HR was 2011 and he hit 25 or more in 5 of his 9 seasons and every one of his last last 5 except 2011.

  70. NatsLady - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Several studies have been done on the so-called walk-year and have found performance improvement to be negligible. There is however, a measurable "shirk" effect in the first year of a mult-year contract. Here is a reference to the several studies on walk-year.www.philbirnbaum.com/freeagent.pptHere is a reference to the "shirk" effect. http://www.newswise.com/articles/baseball-free-agents-shirk-but-not-as-much-as-fans-think

  71. NatsLady - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    ALR will follow the money, within limits. He said so. He got a little heat for saying he had to think of his wife and kids (because he's already made more than more people will make for their wife and kids in their lifetimes). He also said it "wasn't fun" playing for a losing team like Pittsburgh. It's a long season (or two), so if you add it up, that's a year of your life, and most people would leave a little money on the table to be in a more favorable work environment for 12 months of your life. However, beyond $4-5 million, most people–even professional athletes–would probably "suck it up" for the 12 months.

  72. TheManBearPig - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    Has anyone done a study on walk year performance among late-blooming 30-ish RH sluggers?

  73. NatsLady - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    ManBearPig–apparently several of the posters on Nats Insider have.

  74. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    NatsLady said… Several studies have been done on the so-called walk-year and have found performance improvement to be negligible. There is however, a measurable "shirk" effect in the first year of a mult-year contract.Performance improvement during a walk year is not necessary. For players seeking a big deal in FA, performance sustainment in the walk year is usually enough, since those are usually good players to begin with. For instance, Michael Morse need only keep doing what he's been doing already and it will be an improvement over what ALR is likely to put up as he slacks his way through the first year of his big FA deal.

  75. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Kenz, The numbers don't support your assertion that Morse is nearly as good defensively at 1st base as ALR. Feel Wood, If WAR is a bogus stat (IMO it's imperfect but it's as good a tool as any) what exactly do you use to judge a player's overall performance objectively?

  76. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    TheManBearPig said… Has anyone done a study on walk year performance among late-blooming 30-ish RH sluggers?Jayson Werth's walk year performance in Philly was pretty damn good, wasn't it?

  77. Feel Wood - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    If WAR is a bogus stat (IMO it's imperfect but it's as good a tool as any) what exactly do you use to judge a player's overall performance objectively?I use my eyes. They're a hell of a lot more objective than some bogus formula someone made up.

  78. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    'I use my eyes. They're a hell of a lot more objective than some bogus formula someone made up.' That's what I thought. To each their own I guess.

  79. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Féelwood at 2:55, that's the scouts touch and that's how I look at all players. Stats and the eyeball test. I like WAR. It's hard though to make opinions on apple's and oranges.

  80. The Fox - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    My 2¢s,If I didn't think the Nat's were a WS team I would not sign ALR. Davey says WS or Bust and if this is true I have to give the edge to ALR. This thinking negates the cost savings and the draft pick compensation for this one time instance of, Nats + Davey = WS.I like Morse and I think he could be the better hitter and I think the economics of the game say keep him but my baseball head, eyes and heart say the team has a better chance to get to and win the WS with ALR. Some of the advantages are:1. Team chemistry the team stays mostly the same as last year. 2. LH'd bat, yes Morse hits lefty's well but the line up looks better L,R,L,R,L,R,S,R,P. and some managers will make adjustments accordingly. 3. There is an advantage to having a LH'ed 1st baseman. I don't care how tall Morse is ALR's glove is a foot closer on plays across the diamond. More bang bang plays become outs.4. ALR is a fastball, pull hitter with much better contact than Morse. Span, Werth, Harper, and a healthy Zim in front of ALR should give him more instances of coming up with runners on and fastball counts; if they are on second they can't put on the shift.So I will go 2 years with ALR after that the economics are too great in Morse's favor. The team probably goes to the playoffs with either as long as the pitching holds up. In the playoffs almost anything can happen I just think they are slightly better there with ALR at first and in the locker room.I will be fine with either choice.

  81. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    JD, WAR has to evolve much like what ESPN did this year for Quarterback ratings.I want more emphasis on game on the line players. Clutch players don't get enough credit on WAR. A 9th inning walkoff HR gets as much credit as a HR when the game is a blowout.

  82. NatsLady - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Some people have amazing eyes. They can see every player in every game and compare them to Nats players. I don't have those eyes. I rely on spotters at other games to assess the defense, play by individual play, and aggregate those defensive opportunities and plays into stats like UZR, and to further aggregate the defensive stats into an overall rating like WAR. That lets me compare players that I rarely set eyes on with Nats players that I see all the time.Now, when it comes to Nats player compared to Nats player–I'm going with LaRoche. The eyes have it.

  83. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Ghost, I don't disagree with you completely but without looking at stats how can you compare someone you see 160 times a year with someone you see 5 times a year? Are you telling me that people don't form emotional opinions? you see someone look bad or fail in a game situation your instinct says: 'this guy stinks' even though the guy's body of work says 'no he doesn't'. Baseball is the most objectively measurable sport there is and most people who object to statistical analysis do so because they are intimidated by what they perceive as complicated formulas. As I said before WAR is not perfect but at least it's a tool to look at different players with the same non emotional way and this is why executives with all MLB teams use this and other statistical analysis.

  84. TheManBearPig - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    JD, I don't think Morse's ability at first is as good as ALR's, but the numbers suggest that there isn't much difference between the Nats' infield defense with Morse at first and infield defense with ALR at first. ZR, fielding pct (not just of Morse/ALR but also of Desmond and Zim) and put outs by 1b per 9 innings (comparing ALR and Morse in 2011) all suggest that the Nats wouldn't miss ALR much if Morse is at 1b. If Morse were truly an inadequate fielder at 1b, there would be a big difference. Infield defense suffers with Adam Dunn at 1b, but not with Morse at 1b (compare 2010 with either 2011 or 2012).

  85. The Fox - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    NatsLady you hit the nail on the head, its hard to see all the players all the time.This also why I sometimes have a problem with WAR and even more with UZR. If I regularly see a player I can tell more about him defensively than any UZR rating will tell you. Also some players fulfill a specific role on a team and they are harder to replace than a WAR number. Who cares if your catcher can hit if he can't catch the same goes for SS and CF in my book. If baseball was as easy as adding up WAR anyone could be a GM.

  86. Tcostant - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    I can't wait for the season, I know Rizzo will do the right think :-)

  87. NatsLady - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Ghost, you can look at WPA (win probability added) also. Poor Storen, his WPA for than ninth inning was something like -85. But all those stats, at their root have a deficiency because they assess thousands upon thousands of games but they don't include the capabilities of the actual guy who is pitching or hitting at the time WPA is calculated. Your eyes do that, in a way, if you've watched baseball for a long time. You know the player is in a "high leverage" situation and you also know whether it's a good pitcher, wind conditions, crowd noise and a dozen other things that don't go into WPA (except as an aggregate).Howevuh–your eyes (and memory) are selective, and for the time you remember a guy coming through with a clutch hit, you forget the dozen times he didn't. (Well, except for Danny Espinosa, where it works in reverse.) And that's where the stats are a check on selective "eyes."

  88. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    JD, all small sample sizes are a bad idea whether visually or in stats.Baseball full season stats are a bunch of small sample sizes pieced together. It's why I like playing the hot hand until they go cold. It's boom and bust cycles. Need more boom!!!!

  89. MicheleS - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Something for all of us to drool over (in case the twitter link above isn't working):Mark Zuckerman‏@ZuckermanCSNWhile doing HOF research on Schilling, stumbled across this nugget: Dan Haren is 5th all-time in K/BB rate. That's all-time, folks. #NatsFor those asking, top-5 all-time in K/BB rate: 1-Tommy Bond (1880s), 2-Curt Schilling, 3-Pedro Martinez, 4-Mariano Rivera, 5-Dan Haren. Haren was actually 4th all-time prior to 2012 SWEET!!!!!!!!

  90. Don - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    I don't think it is a big deal — the defensive difference between ALR and Morse at 1B — but an observer has to tilt his head to a pretty funky position to come out seeing Morse as something comparable to LaRoche on defense. Morse is stiff as a pole, his feet move awkwardly and his hands are not exactly soft. He'll do, and he'd likely get better playing there more often, but he's not good at it while LaRoche certainly is.

  91. JD - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    NatsLady,'Howevuh–your eyes (and memory) are selective, and for the time you remember a guy coming through with a clutch hit, you forget the dozen times he didn't. (Well, except for Danny Espinosa, where it works in reverse.) And that's where the stats are a check on selective "eyes."' That's exactly my point.

  92. Unknown - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    No other team is interested enough in Laroche to give up a draft choice to sign him. No other team is offering three years. Why are we bidding against ourselves? I suspect the fans who want him re-signed are the same ones who were chanting "Sign Adam Dunn" two years ago. Dunn signed with the White Sox for $56 million over four years, then hit .159 in 2011 and .204 in 2012. Let Laroche go and extend The Beast!

  93. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    So, thought experiment:Suppose, arguendo, LaRoche, the current NL Gold Glove, is a better fielder than Morse. Doesn't seem like a stretch, so to speak, to say so.How many throws will Morse miss that LaRoche would have had, over the course of a year, playing 150 games? Morse is 2 inches taller, so subtract the throws, if any, he might get that LaRoche wouldn't. Two a month, maybe? Fewer? More? Just wondering what you think–how the numbers translate into what we see on the field.

  94. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    I don't think Rizzo is bidding against himself. He's got the two-year offer on the table (or not, depending on who you believe), and everybody says he won't go three years. Sounds pretty firm to me.

  95. Tom Callahan - Dec 26, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Is it selfish of me to want both? I think we end up with LaRoche in the end, but I'd hate to lose Beast Mode. It's amazing how far this team has come… There's no Dukes or Milledge in the bunch anymore.

  96. baseballswami - Dec 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    We used to have guys that went to jail. Now we have guys that go on USO tours. Oh – and they also go to the post season !

  97. Get Some Players - Dec 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Boston writer Jen Royle tweets: Fairly obvious Red Sox are looking for a new 1B…not fair to Napoli's camp since they haven't cut ties. The guy they wanted is now Plan B.

  98. Get Some Players - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    Further tweet from Royle: Two sources tell me the Sox are going after LaRoche, who's seeking a three year deal. Third source says he won't budge on the years.

  99. Gonat - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Get Some Players said… Further tweet from Royle: Two sources tell me the Sox are going after LaRoche, who's seeking a three year deal. Third source says he won't budge on the years. December 26, 2012 6:00 PM ___________________________________Makes sense. If he doesn't get 3 years he will try to come back to the Nats.

  100. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    So the question becomes, Sox were willing to give Napoli 3 years (no picks involved) will they give Adam 3 with a pick involved? Also, do the Red Sox have the same window in the AL East that the Nats have in the NL East? Nats Starting Pitchers vs Red Sox Starting Pitchers??? Hmmmmm…..

  101. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    Makes sense. If he doesn't get 3 years he will try to come back to the Nats.The door to the Nats is closed. He'll budge on the 3rd year if he has to, by taking a 2 year deal with a club or mutual option – which from his perspective is 3 years, but from the club's perspective is only 2. That way it looks like the Nats are being outbid rather than shutting the door on him.

  102. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    Also, I agree that UZR, WAR, and all the stats we have available to us as fans are limited. Remember a while back I posted some comments from a podcast interview with a Baseball Prospectus writer who got a job in the Astros organization? He said outsiders know maybe 8% of the stuff that is going on. He said each organization has the own stats which they calculate, and that they get daily reports on every prospect in the organization from their scouts. I'm as dedicated as the next fan. I don't drink during ballgames, I keep score, I make notes etc., and if a game is on when I'm at work, I watch it when I get home. But that's not even CLOSE to what the professionals do. I saw a job advertised for what a scorekeeper/spotter is supposed to do during a game, I mean, you are lucky if you get a bathroom break. So, yes, I make use of stats like UZR, WAR, and WPA in my comments, but they are not the end-all and be-all of evaluating players–FAR from it.

  103. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    The Red Sox, after the disaster last year, seem to be completely reworking their team. They have the money to offer LaRoche. (I think Texas is out of the picture; if they were going for three years on LaRoche they probably already would have done it.) Heaven only knows what the M's are doing, but it doesn't seem like they will be a competitive team next year, so why would they go after LaRoche, he would not be the "final piece" for them.The question is for the Red Sox, is LaRoche the "final piece" they would need to compete this year or next, enough so that they would be willing to pay for that third year when he would be 36? Ortiz is signed for 2 years, so ALR could DH in the third year.

  104. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    NatsLady, The only thing I think that is holding the Red Sox back, is their Starting Pitching. Who knows what they are going to get out of those guys next year. Plus they are competing in the AL East, and yes that means the Yanks, O's, Jay's and Rays. I think Ray's will beat them out for sure. Jays, if everything gels, should beat them. Red Sox have a much harder path to the playoffs (even just getting a wild card will be hard for them).

  105. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    Several commenters (including myself) have considered the feasibility of keeping both Morse and LaRoche. I think something like that could happen–it's not that expensive to keep Morse until the trade deadline, at which point he's gone for a relief pitcher and a PTBNL or whatever we need at that point. There will be some good pickings–there usually are–from teams who know by that point they are not contending. Or, if there are injuries and he's tearing up the track, he stays. It might not be to his liking but depth, baby, depth. And a very strong bench, that's for sure.

  106. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    MicheleS, do you think the Red Sox would go for Lohse?

  107. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    I think Texas is out of the picture; if they were going for three years on LaRoche they probably already would have done it.No, they will wait until the bidding war begins. Why go for three years until they have to? Same with the Orioles. Now that the Red Sox are getting back in on LaRoche, the bidding may soon begin. The dominoes are starting to fall.

  108. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    NatsLady, Loshe costs them a draft pick too. Saw Heyman/Rosenthal on MLB Tonight discussing the whole compensation pick debate. They all agree it is having an impact on Bourn, Loshe, LaRoche, etc.Feel, sorry, don't think the O's will be going in on LaRoche either, that talk has all died down – not that I ever believed they were really in on him.

  109. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    Texas, of all teams, had the most reason to suspect Napoli would fail his physical and the next move would be for the Red Sox go for LaRoche. Why would they wait for a bidding war. If they knew they would offer 3 years, they would offer the cheapest 3 years. Maybe they were waiting for Rizzo to withdraw his 2 years, but I doubt it. I also doubt the O's will bid on LaRoche–they will wait and see if Morse becomes available.

  110. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    Why would they wait for a bidding war. If they knew they would offer 3 years, they would offer the cheapest 3 years.Maybe they already have. That's how bidding wars work. The teams offer as little as they can, and the players reject that until it's clear they're not getting a better offer anywhere else. Just because a team says they're not offering a third year now doesn't mean they won't offer it later if that's what it takes to get a player they want.

  111. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    The teams offer as little as they can, and the players reject that until it's clear they're not getting a better offer anywhere else.It's good to keep in mind that, even if we are eager, anxious even, for a resolution, the GMs and players aren't necessarily in any hurry.

  112. SonnyG10 - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    I am not in a hurry anymore. I don't care which way it gets resolved now. All the opinions expressed herein show me there will be good and bad with any decision. GYFNG!!!

  113. Unknown - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:05 AM

    I'm thinking it doesn't much matter who will play first for the Nationals. Sure, LaRoche's defense is superb and might add a win or two, but over a 162 game season I'm not sure it would be a difference maker.Also, compare LaRoche, Morse and Tyler Moore below. LaRoche's numbers are actual from 2012, Moore's are based on 2012 with the same number of at-bats as LaRoche and Morse is based on his career numbers with Washington at 571 at-bats:LaRoche: .271-33-100, .343 obpMorse: .296-30-93, .345 obpMoore: .263-37-107, .327 obpI think the offense is strong enough to support even an average season from their first baseman, say .265-20-85.I think any of them would provide that easily.

  114. natsfan1a - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Would like to see a resolution, of course, but am not anxious about it. There's plenty to worry about outside of baseball, after all. :-)

  115. pdowdy83 - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    The big thing that I don't think enough people are mentioning about the qualifying offer is that the team that signs LaRoche, outside of the nationals of course, ALSO loses part of their draft money allotment along with the pick they lose. That means teams will have an even tighter draft budget which is probably a bigger reason than just losing the pick.For those discussing the sign and trade angle MLB has already come out and say it is not allowed and will be viewed as collusion between the teams and there would be consequences.

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