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Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrys Morales Is Ruining My Life

Something funny happened in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Red Sox. The Blue Jays, down by one, had Yangervis Solarte on first base with catcher Russell Martin at the plate. Martin ripped a 1-0 offering from Sox reliever Matt Barnes down the line and into the shady left field corner, starting a perfect relay from Andrew Benintendi to Xander Boegarts to Christian Vazquez to nab a less-than-fleet-footed Solarte at home plate.

The play itself was a pretty standard relay to cut down a slow runner at home. At no point was Solarte even close to scoring; it would have taken a botched throw somewhere along the line for Boston to not record the out. The real show happened moments later on Twitter, where, uh…look!

This isn’t a slight to Mike Wilner or anybody else that tweeted something of the like, it’s just that Kendrys Morales is now getting the Ryan Goins treatment. Ryan Goins! Just in case you forgot, Goins slashed .228/.275/.335 over five seasons as a Blue Jay, which is an improvement over 2018 Kendrys Morales and his .525 OPS. Morales’ job title is “guy that only hits” and the people that follow the team still don’t trust him to knock a runner in with two outs! If there’s a line between DFA and 25-man that doesn’t involve money (or uh, the future long-term defensive development of a 19-year-old), we’re well on the other side.

This would be easier to swallow if Morales was actually good last year. If you’re a proponent of good ol’ homeruns and RBI, you probably didn’t notice that the slugger was kind of horrific in 2017. In this entire decade, of all hitters with at least 25 home runs (he had 28), Morales’ OPS+ ranked eigth-worst at 94, behind guys like 2017 Mike Napoli, 2016 skeleton Ryan Howard, 2010 Aaron Hill, and 2017 human waste bin Rougned Odor. For reference, the league average OPS+ is 100. Morales, at this point, is a one-trick pony that is unplayable when he’s not leaving the yard consistently.

In 2018, Kendrys Morales’ exit velocity is up 2.6 MPH from his 91.7 mark last year, but his ground ball rate has reached alarming levels. Between the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Morales hit ground balls only 44.6% of the time as a member of the Kansas City Royals. Last season, that number went up to 48.4%, and to start 2018, his ground ball rate is at 53.7%. His line drive rate has fallen significantly in that span as well, and as a result, so has his offensive production. In this era of information and shifting, you can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if it’s on the ground a lot and you’re – how do I put this diplomatically? – a thick fellow like myself, you won’t be touching much green.

He admitted that he doesn’t pay much attention to the media due to the language barrier, so I really feel for the guy, but this signing has been an absolute disaster. Justin Smoak filled the void that Edwin Encarnacion left, but then Morales replaced the shitty Smoak that we were accustomed to seeing, this time with the same job security but a lot more money. It’d be hard to imagine the Blue Jays don’t cut their losses with him if this extends throughout the summer – even with them owing him $12M next year – and if actually being a player in the wildcard race is still in the fold for them, they just might have to. Besides, who knows, maybe watching Morales flail at pitches in the dirt means that we get to see our large adult son sometime this year.

By the way, he hit another dinger yesterday.

  • allstev

    Call up Vlady, the best coaches are in the bigs, so the wanting him to work on his fielding and baserunning is kind of a meh excuse to me. He can split time at third so he’ll still get reps there.

  • Sammy the Bull

    In my view Morales is clearly on borrowed time. If Grichuk and Pearce get healthy, at least from my perspective they would replace Smith Jr. and Morales on the roster. Run out an OF of Teoscar, Pillar, and Grichuk everyday, and move the LF platoon of Grandy & Pearce over to DH, and you now have greater positional flexibility in case JD or Solarte need a DH-day.

    Grichuk has been as bad offensively as Kendrys, but at least he is young, and offers both speed and plus defense. It’s worth seeing what we have with him, especially since he is under team control for two more years.

    As for Vlad, I’m of the view that there’s no rush. Leave him at AA until the All-Star Break and then move him up to AAA — if he keeps raking, then we’ll see him in September.

    • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

      I don’t think Morales is going anywhere, because if they dump him, his salary will count against this years cap. And I’m thinking, that would eat up anything extra they have to pursue any trades, if they are contending. I could see a dl stint and relegation to pinch hitting occasionally. But unless the Jays find a trading partner, they can’t afford to swallow Morales contract, under the conditions that they operate set by Rogers….or so I’ve read.
      But hey, any baseball gods out there who want to prove me wrong. Please do.

  • Dexxter

    If Morales’ contract counts against this year if he’s cut… it creates a crazy catch 22 for the Jays.

    They want to keep some payroll flexibility if they stay in the race…. so can’t cut Morales…. but it makes it harder to stay in the race while carrying him. If they fall out of the race…. then who cares. Use your payroll space this year to eat the contract and free up the room for next year.

    Not sure if this is true or not…. but can’t see any way the keep him through year end if the team starts to slip in the standings.