Saturday, May 13, 2006

All the Right Moves and Less is Morris

The Kevin Frandsen Walk and Power Watch did it's duty a few days ago (as Frandsen finally drew a walk), and apparently the Giants brass noted it and decided to cut things short.

Ray Durham in, and the no power having, no walk drawing, no pitch taking, ground ball hitting Frandsen is out.

I don't really think Frandsen is quite that bad, but despite all of the support the kid got, that's exactly what he did in his 50 plate appearances with the club. I think there is this tendency to sort of...over-support (to make up a word) a player when he has a spectacular debut. Remember Brain Dallimore? Whenever a rookie players shows out in his first test, the support for that players seems to last way beyond what it should, even if the player basically tanks afterward (which is precisely what Frandsen did).

I want to see him back here, but not this season.

With that, it's time to look at the other pieces of dead wood on the club, and that starts with Jose Vizcaino. He's a utility player that the Giants shouldn't utilize, and one that should take almost no effort to replace. Get 'er done, Sabes.

...oh jeez. I hate that expression, and I just used it.

Also becoming a serious, serious problem is Matt Morris. While it's easy to simply say that Morris sucks and it was a mistake to sign him (try it for yourself...g'head), what I see is a pitcher who is not himself:

  • His strikeouts per nine innings (k/9) is at 4.20, which is a precipitous drop from even the pedestrian 5.47 it was in 2005. This number has been falling for six consecutive years, though, so it's hard to just call it a fluke. I'm just trying to figure out why it's dropping so much -- while Morris is aging, he's still only 31, so I would've thought that he would've been able to hold in the fives somewhere on his k/9. Time will tell.
  • With that drop in strikeouts and a rise in his walk rate (he's already walked about half the number of batters in 45 innings this year that he walked in 193 innings last year), of course Morris' strikeout-to-walk ratio (k/bb) takes a big hit. Last year it was a stellar 3.14, and the lowest it's been in the last five years was 2.34, which is still plenty good. This is the biggest reason I liked him as a pitcher, and this year it's at a by-far career worst at 1.17. Ick.
  • Two other numbers that are at career-high levels (or, career low levels, depending on your glass being half empty or half full of a fine cognac...because you've already drank the other half, and now you're feeling kind of...nevermind. Ahem.): his pitches per plate appearance (p/pa) and his pitches per innings pitched (p/ip) are significantly higher than his norm. It's taking Morris more pitches per batter, and thus taking him longer to get out of innings. While these numbers don't always tell much of a story by themselves, when taken in context with Morris' struggles they reinforce what's been going on.
  • Opponents are teeing off on Morris. Opposing batters are hitting...perhaps you'd better sit down, first...opposing batters are putting up the following line against Morris: .340/.424/.558. List of players with similar numbers right now: Prince Fielder, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, Hank Blalock, Austin Kearns, and Todd Helton. Who the heck would want to face off against a lineup like that every time out? But that's what it's been like for Morris. This is something where it's easy to expect improvement because it really can't get any worse.
  • And what could be the most telling stat of them all is Morris' own ground ball/fly ball ratio. Normally he's getting a chunk more ground balls than fly balls hit against him (his career number is 1.64). This year he's about dead even at 0.96, which sometimes could mean there's a lot of line drives being hit -- and with that .558 SLG percentage against Morris, I wouldn't doubt that. Morris has induced an average of 20 double plays over the last five years, this year he's on pace for about four.

In essence, there's nothing Morris is doing well. For better or worse, he's going to get ample opportunity to right the ship because of the type of signing this was thought to be. Let's just hope things turn around, because right now it's looking as if bringing back Brett Tomko was the move to make.

...just had to end it that way (chuckle).

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