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Mariners Trade Good Player For Older, Less Good Player

January 16, 2013

KFC

 

The honeymoon is over, Mr. Zduriencik. For the first time since he was hired, my faith in Jack Zduriencik was shaken when Jon Morosi tweeted that the Mariners were close to acquiring Mike Morse. The return has been announced, as I’m sure all of you are now aware; John Jaso is being sent to Oakland in a three-team deal that returns Morse to the Mariners.

This ball was hit exactly six inches behind where Morse was standing before the pitch was thrown.

This ball was hit exactly six inches behind where Morse was standing before the pitch was thrown.

Mike Morse is not in and of himself a bad player. He’s not good, but he’s not bad. Morse is coming off a season where he hit .291/.321/.470 with 18 long balls and a 113 wRC+ in 102 games. Of course, he sucks really, really, really bad at defense, so despite beign 13% above league average with the bat, his -8.9 UZR score saw him finish with just 0.3 WAR. It’s not like that’s his upside, though. Morse hit .303/.360/.550 in 2011 with 31 home runs, and  despite a -13.0 UZR, he finished with 3.3 WAR that year. A statue on defense, Morse has posted UZR/150 scores of -20.9 at shortstop, -26.2 at third base, -9.3 in right field, -20.4 in left field, and -3.6 at first base. He’s got Manny Ramirez’s glove with about 65% of Manny Ramirez’s bat. Morse does bring one thing the Mariners don’t have, and that’s power. Unfortunately, acquiring a guy just because he hits home runs is stupid. The Mariners need to be looking to acquire players that make the team better, not players with one skill that everyone perceives as a need for the Mariners.

A better player than Mike Morse is John Jaso. Jaso is one year younger that Mike Morse, and has two years left of team control. Last season, Jaso was the Mariners’ most productive hitter, putting up a line of .276/.394/.456 with 10 home runs in just 361 plate appearances. Jaso’s .180 isolated power was exactly identical to Morse’s 2012 number. Not to mention Jaso plays catcher, and while he is below average there, he’s not a disaster. Jaso racked up 2.7 WAR, second on the Mariners to Kyle Seager, despite basically only playing against right-handed pitchers and not getting out of Eric Wedge’s doghouse until May. Not to mention, Jaso walked 15.5% of the time while only striking out 14.1% of the time. John Jaso had more walks in August than Mike Morse had all year.

Another issue is Health. Morse has had exactly one full season with over 500 plate apperances since becoming a starter, as he was injured in both 2010 and 2012. Despite being a regular, he’s never played in more that 146 games. Not to mention, over the past three seasons, Morse’s WAR total of 4.7 is eclipsed by Jaso’s 5.5 mark. Jaso, despite being a part-time player, as been worth almost one more full win than Morse.

Add in the fact that the Mariners already have about 150 different options for 1B/DH/RF, and this trade makes even less sense. The Mariners traded a player who is good, with years of team control left, for a player who is less good, with two years less of team control. Morse won’t be a disaster, and should hit the ball out of the ballpark, but he’s just not better than John Jaso, no matter how you look at it.

This was a stupid trade. This is easily the worst trade Jack Zduriencik has made as the Mariners GM. Worse than Morrow for League. Worse than the Fister deal, which at least looked ok at the time. This is the trade that got me to hop off the Jack Zduriencik bandwagon. Jack is going to have to make some awesome moves out of nowhere to get me back on board. Because after this deal, it’s clear to me that he’s much better at evaluating minor league talent than major league talent. I’m not calling for him to be fired, but give me another couple of moves like this, and I’ll be leading the charge.

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