Logan Morrison Involved in More Drama

Logan Morrison, once scolded by the Florida Marlins for being so candid on Twitter, found himself in more hot water yesterday as he was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans. The Marlins lost 3-0 to the San Francisco Giants, their eighth loss in their last nine games. While Morrison had been dreadful at the plate in June and July, he posted an .836 OPS in August. Overall, he has been a big part of the Marlins’ offense with the third-highest wOBA among Marlin hitters with at least 100 plate appearances.

Joe Capozzi, the Marlins beat writer for the Palm Beach Post, tweeted that Morrison thought he was demoted because of “an off-field issue” as opposed to his recent offensive struggles. Morrison refused to go any further on the issue, but based on what has been in the news lately, we can make some deductions.

From the Miami Herald on June 22:

Logan Morrison gave Hanley Ramirez an earful when the shortstop was the last to stroll in before new manager Jack McKeon addressed the team for the first time on Monday. Sources said that Morrison ripped into Ramirez, saying his tardy behavior could be the reason why he is hitting just .200.

Ramirez was scratched from Monday’s lineup, though McKeon said the reason was because he didn’t care for the way Ramirez ran the bases in St. Petersburg on Sunday. On Tuesday, Ramirez was not only in the lineup, but batting cleanup for the first time since Little League.

It is no secret that Ramirez means more to the Marlins going forward than Morrison. At his best, Ramirez is a top-five player in all of baseball playing a premium position, and the Marlins owe him $46 million over the next three seasons with a new ballpark on the horizon. Morrison, a 22nd-round pick in the 2005 draft, is a corner outfielder with limited offensive potential. While many people defended Morrison upon hearing the news of his demotion, the Marlin front office defended the player who means more to the franchise in the long run.

Based on everything that has happened between Morrison and the Marlins, it is hard to envision the relationship working out. Morrison will not just accept his demotion as if it was completely justified. And the Marlins will not want to retain a player who is combative to cornerstone players and his superiors. Eventually, the  Marlins will need to trade Morrison. If and when they do make him available, 29 teams will be waiting anxiously for a shot at the young outfielder who is cost-controlled through at least 2016. Worst of all for the Marlins, they will have little leverage as their hand has been revealed.

Could the Phillies get involved? With the acquisition of right fielder Hunter Pence, the Phillies’ outfield is set through at least 2012 with Domonic Brown in left and Shane Victorino in center. But Victorino is a free agent going into ’13 and, given his MVP-caliber season thus far, could become quite expensive. It is hard to imagine Brown moving to center, but Pence has over 844 innings of experience playing center field at the Major League level and an additional 112 games in the Minors. If the Phillies feel that their odds of (or interest in) re-signing Victorino are low, they could try to pick up Morrison as a left-handed bench bat and back-up outfielder/first baseman for the 2012 season, then move him to left field in ’13 with Brown moving back to right field and putting Pence in center.

The Phillies recently signed lefty Jack Cust as Triple-A filler and a potential replacement for the injured Ross Gload. Via Comcast SportsNet, GM Ruben Amaro said,

We don’t have a ton of power off the bench. We don’t have a guy who can pop the ball out of the ballpark—we don’t have that threat, so we thought it was worth a shot.

Cust, a noted power bat, has a career ISO only two points higher than Morrison, .197 to .195. While having both is redundant, Morrison would obviously supersede Cust if acquired; Cust was a no-risk, medium-reward signing — the Phillies can get rid of him at any time.

Additionally, Morrison has a good fan following within the Phillies community, certainly not common for someone playing for a division rival. Needless to say, Morrison wouldn’t need to find ways to get fans to the ballpark, and he would be a boon to merchandise sales in jerseys and t-shirts. This is one aspect of Morrison’s repertoire that applies to the Phillies and no one else, just one more reason why the Phillies should at least strongly consider acquiring Morrison.

As for what he would cost, given that the rift between Morrison and the Marlins’ front office is public, and they demoted him for “performance issues“, the Marlins simply cannot ask for much. And the longer they wait to resolve the situation, the worse off the team is and the worse off the team looks in the public eye. Already, Marlins fans on Twitter are trying to organize a “no show” until Morrison is brought back to the Majors. With what little attendance they get now, they cannot afford to hemorrhage any more.

There are only two worries: the Phillies are a division rival, so the Marlins may be hesitant to deal with the soon-to-be NL East champions five consecutive years running. The other worry is that there will be a lot of interest in Morrison as mentioned previously, so the more teams that are interested, the more expensive he becomes.

It is unfortunate that an energetic, fan-friendly player had a falling-out with his team, but the Phillies can use that to their advantage and improve their team through 2016. A lot of pieces have to fall in the right place, but it is certainly possible and something Amaro and his front office pals should be watching closely.

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18 comments

  1. hk

    August 14, 2011 09:35 AM

    “…they could try to pick up Morrison as a left-handed bench bat and back-up outfielder/first baseman for the 2011-12 seasons…”

    Unless I misunderstand the rules once we pass the July trade deadline, it seems to me to be very unlikely that the Phils would be able to get him for the remainder of this season. If the Marlins try to get him through waivers, surely a team lower in the standings than the Phils will claim him leaving the Marlins to either deal with the claiming team or call him back from waivers and hold him into the off-season. I would also think the Marlins would be better off waiting until the off-season, so they could deal with 29 other teams, not 1.

    As an aside, if the Marlins fans organized a no-show, how would anybody know?

  2. Bill Baer

    August 14, 2011 09:37 AM

    Oh yeah, I totally forgot it was August. lol, forgive me, I wrote this at 2 AM.

    I’ve fixed it, thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Jeff T

    August 14, 2011 10:03 AM

    I would love to have Morrison on this team. I think he will be a great player and his personality would play very well here with our fan base.

  4. sean

    August 14, 2011 10:13 AM

    but the off field issue could have to do with him skipping charity events and autograph signings, and not the hamram comments. also LoMo is a future first baseman. I get it that he has a good bat but defensively he can be an adventure

  5. hk

    August 14, 2011 10:22 AM

    sean,

    A team that’s willing to put up with the misadventures of Raul Ibanez in LF and not even replace him late in close games would probably also be willing to play LoMo in LF.

  6. bsizzle

    August 14, 2011 11:09 AM

    Players have tiffs with management all the time, I’m sure LoMo’s pissed now, but I don’t see why the Marlins would feel like they have to trade him. Like you mention, he’s cost-controlled, so if he’s upset, I’d imagine they’d just tell him to suck it up and play ball. It’s not like he has any other options, unless he wants to play in the minors forever.

  7. Chip

    August 14, 2011 12:09 PM

    He can refuse assinment then they have to deal him!

  8. bsizzle

    August 14, 2011 12:17 PM

    He’s only been up and down once right? The Marlins probably have a couple more options on him. I’d love to get Logan. I just doubt the Marlins feel much pressure to get rid of him based on a couple tiffs.

  9. hk

    August 14, 2011 12:22 PM

    Chip,

    If he refuses assignment, I’m sure they can put him on list similar to the one on which the Cubs put Zambrano. They would not be forced to trade him as he’d have much more to lose (like service time and eventually his career) than them if he refuses assignment.

  10. Chris

    August 14, 2011 02:12 PM

    Unless he develops 30+ HR power in a year or two, no thanks. Otherwise he doesn’t do anything better than Pence besides walk and while he (at least so far) has shown more power than Brown, the organization is committed to Brown so I’d rather the organization just does it’s best to re-sign Vic when the time comes. It’s an interesting idea though considering he’s still very young (same age as Brown) and a young OF of Brown, Pence, and LoMo has a ton of offensive upside. The defense throughout would be kinda questionable though so I don’t think the tradeoff would be worth it unless Vic has another monster year and a Werth-esque situation develops financially.

  11. Phillie697

    August 14, 2011 08:48 PM

    All this is assuming Vic keeps up his offensive numbers next year. I’m thinking he’s going to regress some, regardless of what his peripherals suggest. Come end of next year, he might not be so expensive.

    Besides, after Jayson Werth, other teams might be hesitant to give another Phillies OF big money, hahaha…

  12. Ryan

    August 15, 2011 08:41 AM

    He can NOT refuse the assignment because he does not have the service time to do that.

  13. Phillie697

    August 15, 2011 01:22 PM

    @Ryan,

    Technically he CAN… Last time I checked indentured servitude is illegal in this country. He just won’t play in MLB anymore. Kinda like how you and me quit when we don’t like our jobs anymore. Obviously, he probably won’t resort to that…

  14. Duane

    August 15, 2011 05:56 PM

    Sigh…. I would REALLY like to have LoMo on the Phils. This kid has impressed me, even with his short MLB Career, because he hits for avg, against righties and lefties, and he shows good plate discipline when his team isn’t a disheveled mess around him, or atleast he did last year. While Hanley is obviously the centerpiece of their organization, IMO that guy is too immature to handle being a leader for their team. They need to figure out something else, because building around him is a recipe for disaster. I guess they may just be waiting to see if he acts right after playing in a new stadium. “I asked a tall man what a Land Shark is”

  15. dave

    August 16, 2011 03:14 AM

    Pfft, I say go bold: keep Victorino and move Howard. Morrison can play 1B a hell of a lot better than he can LF, I imagine, and it’s not like we’d be losing a lot if we send Howard to the American League where he’s destined anyway.

  16. Bill Baer

    August 16, 2011 04:44 AM

    Move Howard? Who would give up anything of value for a slightly above-average 1B with a mammoth contract worth $125M over 5 years?

  17. olo567

    August 16, 2011 11:45 AM

    If we move quickly, I know a GM who might…

  18. Phillie697

    August 16, 2011 03:22 PM

    Maybe offer Howard to the losers of the Pujols/Fielder sweepstakes? They just might take him in order to save a little face, LOL.

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