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Logan Morrison's Knee Injury Should Convince Marlins to Move Him To First Base


Over the weekend, Logan Morrison was put on the DL with a knee injury that could sideline him for the rest of the season, depending on whether surgery is necessary to alleviate the pain.

Morrison hopes to avoid surgery, but admits it is a realistic possibility. If he does need to undergo a procedure, he could miss the remainder of the season.

"Rest and rehab and we will see how that goes," Morrison said of his plan going forward. "We can start to build up activity, and if it's pain free, then we will go back to playing. If it's not, then we'll look to have surgery."

The knee inflammation has apparently been nagging him all season, and he and the Marlins finally decided that it was best to sideline him, even for the rest of the season, for the betterment of the 2012 squad. Manager Ozzie Guillen sounds especially concerned due to the fact that Morrison may have had issues before last year's trip overseas to play in the Taiwan All-Star series and ignored them in favor of goodwill services.

Sure, keeping Morrison out of games while he rehabs his knee inflammation issue is going to be important. But I hope the Marlins realize, more importantly, that this knee injury should be the final nail in the coffin that has been Logan Morrison the left fielder. The combination of him being injured and ineffective in the outfield has to be a sign for the Marlins to give up the failed experiment of fitting him into a position he was never capable of playing.

Terrible Outfielder, Spacious Outifeld

The Marlins have spent years clamoring about making their team about defense and pitching, and yet their decisions go clearly against that so-called philosophy. There is no better example of how the Marlins have done their part to ignore their defense than the use of Logan Morrison in left field. Since he came up from the minors in 2010, Morrison has been a poor outfielder. The numbers have attested to that; UZR rates him as 25 runs worse than average in his 2044 innings in left field, good for a 150-game average of 14.5 runs worse than average per year. Baseball Info Solutions' DRS statistic is even worse on him, rating him as 36 runs worse than average in that time span, including 26 runs worse in 2011. Only Baseball Prospectus's FRAA stat has him as anywhere close to average at just over five runs worse than average in these two-plus seasons.

The statistics more or less back up the idea of Morrison being a poor outfielder, but the wisdom of the knowledgeable Fish Stripes fan base and the Fans Scouting Report also agree. While the Fans voted him as a tad below average, the sampling of readers here at Fish Stripes clearly support a move for Morrison away from left field because of his atrocious instincts and speed at the position. You will not find one person on this site with a positive or even average review of Morrison's defense in left field.

This is compounded by the fact that the Marlins now boast a much more spacious left field than they used to in years past. Back in Sun Life Stadium, the most challenging part of left field was playing doubles off of the Teal Monster scoreboard, but now the Marlins have moved back left field almost universally, with the dimensions as much as 25 feet further back than in the old stadium. With more room to cover, the Marlins are at an even worse disadvantage by throwing out the slow-footed Morrison, who is well-recognized as one of the worst runners on the team.

Injuries Due to Outfield?

It is difficult to tell the exact reasoning for the recent bout of lower-body injuries for Morrison, but it is safe to say that playing in the outfield consistently probably did not help and could have contributed to the injuries in the first place. If you will recall, Morrison initially ran into an injury in 2011 when he suffered a listfranc foot sprain in his left foot, perhaps due to a foul ball or improper twisting of the foot. The injury was relatively mild, but he missed almost a month of playing time and went right back to the outfield when he returned. In the offseason, he suffered from right knee soreness and eventually had to get surgery to repair a partial patellar tendon tear. When he returned in Spring Training, the knee sidelined him again after a stitch from the surgery ripped.

In short, Morrison has suffered a number of lower-body injuries that, at best, can be said to be aggravated or not helped by his constant play in the outfield. This would not be an issue, except that Morrison is already a poor defender in the outfield, and those injuries probably only served to worsen the already bad effect he has in left field.

Replacements Available

Moving Morrison to first base allows the Marlins to perhaps better maintain his health and improve his effectiveness. By moving to first base, the team also likely saves perhaps as much as one win per season just from the move, provided Morrison is an average first baseman defensively.

But the additional benefit of the move is that the 2013 free agent class is actually fairly deep in available outfielders. With the Marlins in need of an additional outfielder to flank Giancarlo Stanton and potentially Justin Ruggiano, the team can choose from any number of available free agents like Michael Bourn, Melky Cabrera, B.J. Upton, or Shane Victorino, all whom of can potentially play center field. This does not even mention to unlikely but potentially plausible of the Marlins ponying up an enormous amount to go after Josh Hamilton.

With the amount of available free agent outfielders, the Marlins can freely move Morrison to first base and not worry about having a difficult time finding his replacement. Any of the above center fielders can move Ruggiano to left field for 2013, making him a more effective defender as well. In addition, Morrison can have a season of play at first base to acclimate himself for when the Marlins promote outfielder Christian Yelich to his eventual role in left field. By that time, Morrison may be a better defender at his new position as well.

This latest injury from Morrison is just another in the long list of reasons for the Marlins to end his time as a left fielder in 2013. He is of much greater benefit to the Marlins and to himself in his future career as a first baseman.