Michael Morse

Michael Morse reveals how Bruce Bochy used him as decoy with Giants

Michael Morse reveals how Bruce Bochy used him as decoy with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy officially has sent more than 6,000 pinch-hitters to the plate in his 25 years as a big league manager, but that astounding number falls well short of capturing the number of times he has actually told a hitter to get ready.

The Giants manager uses the on-deck circle as a weapon at times, sending a hitter there with no intention of actually letting him take a swing. It's a matchup game, and Bochy will use anything at his disposal to get a hot starter out of the game or a favorable matchup in the late innings. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Michael Morse explained how Bochy used him as a decoy a couple of times when Morse wasn't physically available to actually pinch-hit.

"There were a lot of times when he wanted a starter out of the game. He would tell me to go up there and he would tell me, 'You're not hitting. You're not hitting, but I just want to get this starter out,'" Morse said. "I would warm up at the bat rack and then you would see the manager make a move and all of a sudden now there's a righty in the 'pen. By the time I got to the on-deck circle, there's somebody else already waiting -- like a (Gregor) Blanco or somebody -- was waiting down in the tunnel to hit.

"But I'm out there showing my face. Next thing you know, the manager comes out, takes out the starter, puts in the right-handed reliever. I just walk back (to the dugout) and here comes Blanco to the on-deck circle, ready to hit."

[RELATED: Morse reflects on love for Giants, future of the team]

Morse laughed as he recalled Bochy's late-innings moves, which sometimes would lead to the manager smirking and telling the dangerous Morse, "I'm in their head."

"He would always get his match late in the game," Morse said. "He would always make sure that the pitcher-batter matchup was in his favor somehow. And he manipulates it."

For more from Morse on what it was like playing for Bochy, what he remembers most about his famous NLCS homer, and his future plans with Hunter Pence, you can stream the Giants Insider Podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Michael Morse reflects on love for Giants organization, future of team

Michael Morse reflects on love for Giants organization, future of team

“I was mad. In May I was very mad at this team, mad at the organization, I was just a mad guy. Just because it goes back to all the feelings I have for this organization."

Michael Morse has plenty to say about the Giants. NBC Sports Bay Area hired him as an analyst to talk about the team he cares so much about, and he's done just that after years of experience playing and talking about the game.

An MLB journeyman in his own right, Morse spent his 13 years in the league as a member of six different teams. Two of those seasons he spent wearing the orange and black and earned a World Series ring in 2014. Needless to say, he's aware of the "Giants mentality," a term he preached when I spoke to him back in May. Morse said the team at the beginning of the season was definitely in a rebuild, as much as he hated the word, but he noticed a drastic change from when he roamed the field.

Are things different now? Well, slightly. He likes what he sees in outfielder Mike Yastrzemski.

“I think the one thing that the Giants can bring out of this year is Yaz," Morse said. "I think Yaz is a great pickup, I love his background, his grandfather you can see Yaz -- Mike, and Carl they all play the same. They’ve got just good baseball blood. You know, if that’s one thing the Giants can take out of this year, being a rebuilding year supposedly, I’m not even sure in spring training next year if some of these guys will be on the team or even invited to camp, but you can guarantee that Yaz will be in the mix next year as an outfield spot.”

Morse said of everyone on that roster, Yaz brings that "Giants light" he's been talking about.

But is he that Max Muncy-type Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was searching for? Sure.

"Well, I mean if you pick up 100 players you’re gonna find one," Morse explained. "[Zaidi] has picked up a ton of guys and if you remember during the beginning of the season, he started picking up every other team's trash and we were all saying, ‘What is he doing, why are we picking these guys up?' And you know one's going to land."

"It’s like you throw a bunch of junk on the wall somethings gonna stick," he said.

Yaz stuck. After years in the minors, Yastrzemski got the call he had been dreaming about. He then called his wife, his family, then eventually his grandfather, who, as Morse said, is a legend in the baseball world.

We know Yaz could be part of the Giants' future, but what about Madison Bumgarner? He was the big "what if," heading toward the MLB trade deadline. And maybe the right situation didn't present itself when it came to MadBum.

“Honestly I just think there wasn’t a deal out there for him," Morse said. "I don’t think the right deal was out there. I think he wanted a lot for him, we 'San Franciscans' think a lot of our MadBum and it would be a shame to see him go away for nothing. If you’re not going to get a good package for him you might as well not get rid of him and then you can spark the conversation of ‘we’re trying to go for it.'”

And with that, what about the future for the Giants? Well, Morse hasn't shut the door on the team by any means, but agreed it'll be an arduous journey ahead. 

“Right now there are a lot of really good, young teams out there. The Giants still have a couple of core guys that are aging and they’re tied up with money."

There are some bright spots, however, Morse said. Including the starting pitching that is starting to show some promise. But beyond that, he remains unsure. 

"I don’t know. It’s sad because I love this team, I love this organization. I think Bruce Bochy retiring this year he kind of knows that the next couple years are going to be different. Everything’s going to start changing and I think we’re going to see it on the field. Look at the A’s across the Bay. Five years ago they stunk and now look at them, they’re a playoff potential team.”

[RELATED: Yaz knows it'll be 'emotional' to watch grandson at Fenway]

And how does he feel overall about the organization? Well, his tune has changed from being angry. He remains hopeful.

"It’s going to be a long road," Morse said. "But I think we’ve got the right GM to steer this boat in this storm.”

Tim Flannery, Michael Morse react to Derek Holland's comments on Giants

Tim Flannery, Michael Morse react to Derek Holland's comments on Giants

Not everyone likes change. The latest case is Giants pitcher Derek Holland, who is being moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. 

"To be honest, I have no idea what they're doing," Holland told reporters on Saturday. "I don't mean that by Boch and them, it's more from the front office. We keep changing a lot of things. I did a fake injury, so I'm not happy about that. But at the end of the day, I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do."

Holland, 32, is 1-4 with a career-worst 6.75 ERA this season. He was also placed on the injured list on April 29 with what the Giants said was a bone bruise in his left index finger.

"Winning takes care of a lot of that stuff," former Giants coach and current analyst Tim Flannery said Saturday on Giants Postgame Live. "Right now it's a tough stretch. There are changes, and change does ruffle feathers." 

The Giants are going through both organizational changes and another disappointing season. The philosophy throughout the front office is clearly different with Farhan Zaidi as the new president of baseball operations, as evidenced by the seemingly non-stop roster moves. On the field, the Giants are in last place of the NL West with just a 16-23 record. 

"We're definitely seeing change," former Giants outfielder Michael Morse said on Giants Postgame Live. "Sometimes it's not pretty, and sometimes weird stuff like this happens."

Holland isn't the only one dealing with change. After a surprising rookie season that looked like the start to a bright future, Dereck Rodriguez was demoted back down to Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. Rodriguez has a 5.05 ERA through eight starts this year after just a 2.81 ERA in 2018. 

Whether its new additions to the roster, demotions or Madison Bumgarner trade rumors, the Giants are going through change and it's not going to stop anytime soon. 

[RELATED: Bumgarner's eight-team no-trade list revealed]

"We're seeing the whole organization itself evolving and changing," Morse said. "And at times it's gonna look bad, like this."