The Tampa Bay Rays played The Texas Rangers on October 4, 2011. The Rays ended their AL wild-card streak, losing 4-3.
The Tampa Bay Rays play the Texas Rangers for Game 2 in Texas! Final score: 6-8 (Texas)
The Rays beat the New York Yankees to clinch a playoff spot in the 2011 playoffs!
by Steve Carney
Wednesday, Tampa native Denard Span was acquired by the Washington Nationals in a trade, which would allow Bryce Harper to move from center field to left field. Also, Washington is still looking at re-signing free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche. These two moves basically leave first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse as the odd man out in the nation's capital, and you can be sure Andrew Friedman and the Rays will take a hard look at him in a possible trade scenario.
Why Morse should be acquired
1. He gives Tampa Bay another legit middle of the lineup guy - Right now you can make an extremely convincing argument that the only true middle-of-the-lineup player the Rays have is Evan Longoria. Morse could easily slip into the role Carlos Pena was expected to fill in 2012. His numbers last year were off from his monster year in 2011, but he still drove in over 60 runs in just 102 games, less than twenty fewer than the Rays leader (B.J. Upton) did in more than 40 extra games.
2. He solidifiies what the infield (or outfield) would look like - Morse spent most of his 2012 (92 of 102 games) in the corner outfield positions, and made just one error in 150 chances. If you place him in the outfield, it most likely signals that Desmond Jennings would end up making the switch to centerfield. However, another facet could be that Morse ends up replacing Pena at first base. Morse spent most of his best year, 2011, at first base. He made six errors in almost 800 chances that season (as compared to Pena's seven miscues in almost 1200 chances in 2012), and he's never played a full season at first base, so it would be interesting to see if the team is willing to do that.
3. The Nats will have to send more than Morse for what they'd want in return - Washington is looking for starting pitching help to compliment Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Tampa Bay could dangle James Shields at them and ask for Morse plus players who could help at other need spots (catcher, shortstop) like Wilson Ramos or Steve Lombardozzi. However, the Rays may be more successful additional Major League-talent by offering Jeremy Hellickson instead of Shields.
Reasons to avoid Morse
1. You only have him for two seasons - Morse is in his second year of arbitration this offseason, and whatever team he plays for will only have one additional year of team control before he hits free agency. He'll be 33 before he hits free agency, but could get at least one good-sized contract if he does hit the open market.
2. He's only had one above average year - A lot has been made about Morse's 2011 season (when he hit .303 / .360 / .550 with 31 homers and 95 RBI in 146 games), but in the two other seasons since he's become a full-time player, he only hit 33 homers combined (15 in 2010 and 18 in 2012) and averaged just over 50 RBI per season. He's scheduled to make $6.75 million in 2013 as well, a lot of money if you get the 2010 or 2012 version of Morse.