Watching the Brewers first base saga has been extremely painful and I believe that the answer is already in the farm system. Hunter Morris has been mentioned on several occasions as a platoon option with Juan Francisco, but I for one would like to see him given the job on a full-time basis.
In 2012 at AA Huntsville, Morris hit .303 with with a .920 OPS and clubbed a reasonable 28 HR’s. Comparing that with Scooter Gennett (.293 BA and .714 OPS with 5 HR’s) over the same period, Morris performed admirably. Admittedly, the 2013 season down on the farm wasn’t quite so stellar for Morris, but he still hit a team-high 24 HR’s among a total of 53 extra-base hits, on what was frankly a horrible Nashville Sounds club. Gennett and Morris were a strong pairing at the right side of the infield in the minors and Morris brings a .992 fielding percentage and decent range in the field, certainly stronger than that of the only other option – Francisco.
The Brew Crew saw the benefits of calling up strong performers from the minors last season; Segura, Gennett and Davis have all shown their potential to hit in the majors and given the train wreck at first base last season it has got to be worth a shot. I’m not inspired by Francisco. He had ample opportunity to take control of the position in 2013 and isn’t setting the world on fire in Dominican League Winter Ball – batting .260 and playing third base. I think he will be a good back up at the corners, as Ramirez will probably play a maximum 120 games in 2014. Morris will need time to settle in, but Francisco isn’t a long-term option and Morris certainly could be.
Initially, I would have liked to see Hart re-sign. Loney would have also been a good fit, despite a lack of power. However, outside of providing Kendrys Morales with a crippling long-term contract, the free agent market hasn’t done the Brewers any favors. There really isn’t any options left in free agency…Wilson Betemit or Shelley Duncan anybody? Furthermore, I don’t want to see a trade to fill the gap. Everyone knows the Brewers are getting desperate, so the price is steadily increasing. I strongly believe that Tyler Thornburg is far too high a price to pay for mediocre first basemen like Ike Davis, Mitch Moreland or Lucas Duda. Especially when the Brewers have a clear in-house candidate who will almost certainly be an upgrade on the 2013 team.
Morris was widely accepted as the Brewers first baseman of the future twelve months ago and I personally believe that one mediocre year at Nashville hasn’t changed that. The New York Mets will still be shopping first baseman in a few months and probably for a cheaper price, but the Brewers shouldn’t give up a high-potential pitching prospect before giving Morris a chance to show he is the long-term option at first base.