Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIR
That faint clacking noise in the distance is the sound of a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters. I’ve been told they will eventually produce Shakespearian masterpieces, but today they are hard at work on tabloid-quality baseball name pun headlines. Those will likely improve in time; at least we would hope so, as they become more accustomed to the process and build their literary chops, but for now, this is the one we’re left with. It isn't pretty by any means and will probably go down as the blurst of the bunch.
Anyway, Michael Morse may or may not be available in a trade. He may be because the outfield in Washington is already crowded, he’s not really an outfielder anyway, Adam LaRoche is back to play first base and there’s no DH to keep him in the lineup consistently. Maybe not since the Nationals are really good and likely aren’t looking to sell off players just because, especially when that player is also good. Morse’s availability or non-availability at the moment doesn’t really matter. The Yankees are the drunk guy at the end of the bar giving random passing women the stare. Doesn’t matter if they’re available or not; they’re going to get an interested close talkin’ to that smells vaguely like plastic bottle vodka.
Just Filed: Yanks have interest in trading for Morse.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) January 8, 2013
Just filed. What an odd choice of words. We usually get "a source says" or "people close to x" but this time we’re getting filed, like someone from the Yankees is sending out official letterhead with "We’re interested in Mike Morse" to the media. That would at least be more credible than shadow people dropping trade rumors. As interested as they appear to be, there haven’t been any significant talks between the Yankees and Nats about the moving pieces yet.
That’s not terribly surprising and it's probably a good thing for the viewing public. Have any of the previous talks this off-season been encouraging? They talked about Hamilton for about five seconds before laughter broke out, so that might count. Talks about Justin Upton had been on and off before it came out that his contract would be the sticking point of a possible deal, so that goes in the no column. They haven’t stopped talking about the $189 million payroll threshold for two years, then decided to compound that talk with this:
Hal: "Is our goal 189 next year? Yes. But only if I’m convinced if the team I see, that we’ve put together, is a championship-caliber team."— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013
There’s been some time to let those comments stew, and still, the only thing to note from them is that they’re complete bullshit. Actions (inactions?) speak louder than repeated droning about a budget cap, and this off-season’s actions scream BS louder than basketball fans on the wrong end of a call. So they’re either flat out bullshitting the fans and media (likely), or they honestly believe a Chris Stewart/Francisco Cervelli catching tandem, no clear DH and corner outfielders who might combine for a double digit home run total make up a championship caliber team, in which case they’re bullshitting themselves (also likely). Not the first time the team has done this, but in the midst of doing something they haven’t done in a long time, it stands out a little more.
For better or worse, comments like that might not stick out for long. If Hal is to be believed, which, who the hell knows anymore, this could be the new norm for the Yankees. Which is why Morse becomes so intriguing now. Maybe not him per se, though I'm sure he's an interesting person, but the idea of Morse as a sought after target for the team.
Barring a change in direction on an Upton deal or a working trade we know nothing about, the big name option ship has left port. They passed on Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher and haven't had any dealings with Michael Bourn or countless others that would seem like obvious targets in past off-seasons. Rightfully so in almost all cases, but that never stopped the team from doing the opposite before. What they're left with is looking to swing a deal with a team that may or may not be dealing for a last ditch option.
What a place to be when a player like Morse comes across as the guy who is near the end of the list. Morse is a good player! He's wholly unspectacular, but does a couple things pretty well; certainly better than most other options at the moment. He fits what the team needs as a no platoon split DH who can fill in at first and right field if absolutely necessary, yet, it took the Yankees saying no all the way down the ladder to reach this point. The 189 number has a lot of drawbacks given how the team's payroll is constructed, but looking into Morse and comparable players seems to be one of the benefits.
A premium has been placed on avoiding the premium price tag, pointing the team towards players like him. Players who won't demand a king's ransom contract or presumably leave the farm system as scorched earth, but make the team much better in terms of production and roster construction. I swear that wasn't on purpose. Every team is looking for guys like Morse, but for the first time in a while, the Yankees have flipped the wishlist and placed those players at the top, despite having the deep pockets to do otherwise. That, of course, meaning avoiding having a one-sided money fight with every free agent who hoards SportsCenter airtime like they've done for, I don't know, the better part of two decades. Coincidentally, that clip is exactly how I envision negotiations went with Alex Rodriguez after the 2007 season. For once, and likely more than that going forward, it isn't big name or bust; it's allocate resources towards a sensible and reasonable end.
There's a lot to hate about the plan to get below the forthcoming luxury tax for fans of this team. A LOT. Especially how it has started out and how much worse it could get in the future because of prior obligations. But for all his faults, Hal does make sense with his seemingly obvious comments about fielding a championship team without throwing money into a ceiling fan so big names can't ignore the cash tornado. Morse might not be the exact guy, but it's that guy who will take some of the sting out the 189 plan, even if it does seem like settling for less.