Perhaps one of the stranger stories to come out this weekend was news that the Florida Marlins were sending rookie outfielder Logan Morrison back to Triple-A New Orleans. The team was claiming this decision was based upon talent issues and the rookie needed to work on a few things in the minor leagues before coming back to Miami.
Below the surface there were rumblings that this decision had more to do with off-field issues than on-field. Morrison failed to appear at a scheduled meet-and-greet with season ticket holders and has been one of the more active players using social networking.
In the past Morrison has used Twitter as a communications avenue despite the team’s reluctance to utilize the medium. During June Morrison tweeted that manager Jack McKeon thought the social network service was a type of dog.
Front office personnel including club president David Samson expressed frustration at Morrison’s Twitter popularity wondering aloud whether Morrison’s tweets would matter in New Orleans (a thinly veiled threat to Morrison that he needed to reduce or eliminate his tweets).
At the time of his demotion Morrison’s offensive numbers had fallen but recently had begun making a comeback hitting .249 with an on-base percentage of .327 with 21 doubles, 17 home runs, and 60 runs batted in. On a team that has for the most part been under-performing the demotion of one of their best players makes little sense.
The Marlins are now setting up residence in the NL East cellar and given their recent play probably will finish there. There are questions whether the Morrison demotion is temporary and if the player will succumb to the requests by the team to not be quite so accessible on social networks.
If the rift between player and team goes deeper than this one incident (and it appears it does), a change of scenery may be just what is needed. The Marlins could send the youngster packing in exchange for high ceiling prospects or a major league ready player.
If that is the case, perhaps the Arizona Diamondbacks should consider inquiring what it would take to bring Morrison to the desert. While a Marlin, Morrison has been playing the outfield but that is not his natural position. Morrison is much more comfortable playing first base which could work well for the Diamondbacks giving them options in left field and first base.
The Diamondbacks recently brought up minor league sensation Paul Goldschmidt and are giving him an extended look. Goldschmidt who has led the minor leagues in home runs the past two seasons definitely is talented but his plate approach is far too similar to an earlier Diamondbacks minor league phenom, Mark Reynolds.
Goldschmidt has shown his power stroke hitting his first Major League home run off Giants ace Tim Lincecum and tying the game on a monster blast against the Houston Astros. What is somewhat concerning is that in 12 games he has 18 strikeouts to only 11 hits. Like Reynolds he has looked to be a streaky hitter as evidenced this past weekend when he struck out four times on Saturday then came back Sunday with a 3-hit game.
Shortly after taking over the team, General Manager Kevin Towers vowed to change the roster make-up reducing strikeouts. Keeping Goldschmidt as the everyday first baseman seems contrary to that goal. Granted 41 at-bats are a minimal sample size and Goldschmidt may settle down and reduce his tendency to strike out. Considering that Goldschmidt struck out 327 times in 315 games in the minor leagues that seems to be part of his make-up meaning the Diamondbacks will have to decide if they are willing to live with that for the power he gives them.
If the team is not convinced Goldschmidt will be able to cut down on the strikeouts, they may consider talking to Florida about Morrison’s availability. It may end up being one of those conversations that benefit both teams. I’m not suggesting giving up on Goldschmidt just yet; but given the Diamondbacks depth in some positions there may be a package of players that can be put together that will help each team and provide some flexibility for each to fill some holes in their rosters.