M’s after Matt Morris

Jeff · December 2, 2005 at 8:36 am · Filed Under Mariners 

We all appreciate Dave around here. Some of us appreciate his well-reasoned statistical analysis. Some of us are fond of his mad photographic skills. And often, we are grateful for his Karnacian ability to predict the future.

This is not one of those times.

Jim Street reports this morning that the M’s may be turning their attention to Matt Morris. You may recall that this is one of Dave’s projected moves for the Mariners.

Note the difference between “projected” and “endorsed.” He’s also on Dave’s list of free agent landmines, and with substantial justification.

Morris’ numbers post-All Star Break: in 88 inning, he had just 44 strikeouts and gave up 113 hits on his way to a 5.32 ERA. Those after-the-break numbers compare to another pitcher you might have heard of.

Fortunately, several other organizations are tiptoeing around the Morris landmine, so one of them has a chance to save the M’s from a mistake. And for your daily dose of sunshine, Jon Paul Morosi speculates that the team’s chances at Kevin Millwood may be enhanced by Bill Bavasi’s relationship with his agent.

On balance, though, I’d have to guess that Dave’s prediction will be borne out. He’s often right about things, and we usually like it when he is. Usually.


44 Responses to “M’s after Matt Morris”

  1. eponymous coward on December 2nd, 2005 8:43 am

    Yeah, my reaction to Dave’s projections was sort of “oh, no”. Pavano? Morris? Burnitz? Those are 3 signings that could turn into big piles of poo really quick, and get Bavasi fired.

  2. Gag Harbor on December 2nd, 2005 8:47 am

    Well, there’s also speculation that the M’s are targeting Millwood instead of Morris or anyone else…


    I’ll keep hope alive that Morris is not the chosen one.

  3. KingCorran on December 2nd, 2005 8:50 am

    Jim Street, as you may recall, also said something about Manny Ramirez not being a good addition for this team…

    Based on that piece of wisdom, I’m waiting for a second opinion before getting too concerned just yet. ^_^ Especially with all the nice Millwood rumors starting to gather.

  4. Todd on December 2nd, 2005 8:52 am

    Maybe the M’s will sign both Morris and Millwood, and, like the Sexson and Beltre signings, the one most people disliked outperforms the one most people endorsed. We can hope.

  5. GWO on December 2nd, 2005 8:54 am

    After the All-Star Break, Morris sucked.
    Before the All-Star Break, Morris was good to excellent (73:16 K:BB, 3.10 ERA).

    Now, you and Dave have asserted that the sucky Morris is the real Morris, but you haven’t offered any evidence of it, let alone “well-reasoned statistical analysis”. Compared to his previous statistics, it’s the post All-Star statistics that are the anomaly.

  6. chris w on December 2nd, 2005 8:55 am

    I just can’t believe any organization would give Morris anything other than a really short or heavily incentivized deal, given his injury history and second-half collapse last year. It’s not like his traditional, but less predictive stats, like ERA, were good in the second half last year. His serious struggles were plain for all to see, and it’s hard to believe any team is going to ignore them. For the right deal – like Boston’s Wade Miller deal from last year – I’d bring him in.

  7. Evan on December 2nd, 2005 9:29 am

    I believe Dave argued that Morris’s mechanics are broken.

  8. Bodhizefa on December 2nd, 2005 9:29 am


    Did you watch Morris in the first half versus the second half? If you did, you have your answer. And I believe Dave has alluded to it as well. Morris’ velocity dropped precipitously in the 2nd half of ’05. He’s now an 86-88mph “power” pitcher. Um, I’d stay pretty far away from that unless he comes realll cheap on a one-year deal hoping his arm benefits from rest over the off-season.

  9. Mr. Egaas on December 2nd, 2005 9:29 am

    4 – I asked Dave about this a few days ago. He suffered a labrum injury before last year, which is why his salary was so low, giving a home discount for the Cards to take a chance on him before he could ressurect himself for the free agent period after the season.

    Apparently it’s not just his numbers that were bad, his velocity is lacking as well.

    5 – Problem is, Wade Miller made like 1.5 million. I think anybody on the M’s would have wanted him for that price too, but he was pretty set on going to Boston. The thing with Morris, if we don’t give him a 3 or 4 year contract, somebody else will, and he’ll probably get at least Esteban Loaiza money. We aren’t looking at a 1.5 million small risk, high reward option here.

  10. Mr. Egaas on December 2nd, 2005 9:33 am

    To Millwood, I don’t see much downside other than the insane market price he’s going to get. Signing him before Burnett would definitely eliminate some of the competition, which is definitely a good thing. He’s coming off of a money year and has been historically pretty solid, has the numbers and tools to back himself up.

    If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the M’s sign Sexson last year before Delgado landed in Florida? Same philosphy.

    I think at this period of time I’d prefer Jeff Weaver to Matt Morris, but I haven’t really looked at Weaver’s numbers either. He hasn’t exactly been perfect considering he’s pitched in Dodger Stadium for a few years.

  11. Scooter the Mighty on December 2nd, 2005 9:36 am

    I hate to be overconfident, but I think M’s are aware of his arm troubles and will do something to satisfy themselves that they are over before they back a dump truck full of money up to his door. They are clueless about some things, but lord knows they’ve had experience with injured pitchers.

  12. chris w on December 2nd, 2005 9:36 am

    I bet Morris gets either a 1 year deal or a deal where his base pay is $2M or less plus performance incentives. I don’t think a team will give him more than that. Teams are overpaying for high-end players (and the Cubs are overpaying for relief pitchers), but I haven’t seen any teams overpay for obviously high-risk players this year or in the past few years, really. In fact, I’d argue that’s where some of the best values lie – in players with significant risk but high upside.

    Maybe I’m totally wrong about what Morris is going to get, but I would be disappointed if the Ms didn’t at least offer him Wade Miller-like deal.

  13. Pilots Fan on December 2nd, 2005 9:36 am

    I’ll go back and read Dave’s post again, but initially I have to agree with GWO in #4. Is it possible that Morris was pitching through an injury (knee, ankle, hangnail, anything?) in the 2nd half? A cursury look at some of his numbers over the years (ERA, SO/BB) don’t look bad — including 2005 as a whole. He seems to be a groundball pitcher, which I prefer with our infield, even in Safeco.

    We do need 2 SP’s — I trust he is the 2nd, not the 1st, and that he is given a reasonable contract, of course.

  14. Mike Snow on December 2nd, 2005 9:54 am

    I would at least hope that any deal with Morris is contingent on a thorough physical, with very serious consideration given to letting the physical scuttle the deal if anything comes up.

    I’m reminded of the Aaron Sele situation a few years ago, where he initially signed with Baltimore for four years before they backed out on account of his physical. He then signed with us for two years instead, which turned out to be the right length of time.

    Along similar lines, I believe Dave has said he’d consider Morris on a one-year deal, but not for the length of contract he’s actually likely to command.

  15. Mat on December 2nd, 2005 9:56 am

    “Is it possible that Morris was pitching through an injury (knee, ankle, hangnail, anything?) in the 2nd half?”

    Isn’t this bad enough in and of itself? The M’s don’t need to be worried about yet another pitcher who is bound to re-injure himself and put millions more on the DL. It’s not like they have a great track record of keeping pitchers healthy.

  16. Frozenropers on December 2nd, 2005 9:58 am

    This doesn’t sound like the M’s are turning toward Morris to me…..

    “It’s hard to quantify their interest,” Morris’ agent, Barry Axelrod, said on Thursday. “We haven’t received an offer, and I sense that the Mariners are a team that keeps a lot of options open. But I expect to hear from before the Winter Meetings.”

    From the PI article this morning combined with yesterday’s it sounds more like Bavasi is going strong after Millwood……but has contacted the agents of Burnett and Morris in order to keep in the game and in order to keep alot of options open…just like Morris agent says.

    After reading Street’s article I really didn’t get the feeling that the M’s were turning their attention to Morris…..matter of fact from the sounds of his agent…..the M’s have only shown enough interest in Morris to let them know that they could develop more in the future….(ie, if what they currently are working on doesn’t pan out).

    Just my 2 cents though.

  17. Southpaw on December 2nd, 2005 10:10 am

    “I bet Morris gets either a 1 year deal or a deal where his base pay is $2M or less plus performance incentives. I don’t think a team will give him more than that. Teams are overpaying for high-end players (and the Cubs are overpaying for relief pitchers), but I haven’t seen any teams overpay for obviously high-risk players this year or in the past few years, really.”

    This made me laugh.

    Magglio Ordonez
    Pedro Martinez
    Richie Sexson
    Troy Glaus

    Morris will get a Loaiza contract. At the minimum.

  18. Southpaw on December 2nd, 2005 10:12 am

    Oh, and AJ Burnett.

  19. DJ on December 2nd, 2005 10:23 am

    I think Morris with a one year contract with crazy incentives and an option year has the potential to be a low risk, high return deal. A 3 year deal with an option has the potential to be a Spezio type of deal that kills the M’s when maybe a better pitching market hits next year or the year after.

    There is no truly great FA pitcher this year you can stick into your #1 spot. Burnett is obviously a good choice but i never thought the M’s could get him still think he’s on his way to Toronto. Millwood has always been my choice. He’s just as much risk as anyone else. On a good year he’s an ace on a bad year he’s spotty with about 150 innings and a 4 era. The rest is an injury crap shoot. Loaiza, Byrd, Morris, Rogers, Weaver, and Washburn are the next level down. Of the six probably 2 or 3 will be a great pick up and the others will tank.

    Ideally i think Millwood to a 4 year deal worth just under 40 mil. and one of the other six with a short, high incetive laced contract would make me have hope for next season. Whether the front office is willing to fork over that kind of money for a fairly high risk rotation…..I don’t know.

  20. Tod on December 2nd, 2005 10:27 am

    Note that Morris is also a Type A free agent (another example of absurdity by that system). I can’t see the Cards offering him arbitration, but if they do, that is another reason to stay away from him. No point giving up a draft pick for him – even on a one-year deal.

  21. chris w on December 2nd, 2005 10:35 am

    Southpaw No. 16 – only one of those guys is a pitcher – Pedro – and when the Mets signed him he was coming off three years in which he pitched 199, 187, and 217 innings, with an average ERA under 3 and more strikeouts than IP in each year… To say the risk with him was as high as with Morris is ridiculous. The other three are hitters, and hitters routinely come back from surgeries to be just as good as they were before. If a hitter passes the physical, he’s usually OK. Maybe I’m overestimating Morris’s risk profile, but, to me, he doesn’t look like anyone who’s gotten a “Loiaza-like” contract in recent memory.

    Let’s just stay posted. It’ll be interesting to see.

  22. Colm on December 2nd, 2005 10:58 am

    Oh God. Morris, Bunitz and Pavano and 100 Years of Ineptitude….

    That would be a terrible off-season. I feel sad that stupid people are allowed to work at such high levels in baseball.

    And what’s with the Juan Pierre rumour at the end of the Morosi article? A powerless outfielder with sketchy on-base numbers. Why would we want one of those?

  23. The Other Tom on December 2nd, 2005 11:17 am

    I can definitely see the Cards offering Morris salaray arbitration given that he only made $2.4 million last year. I imagine he might even accept arbitration if he doesn’t see any serious offers by the acceptance deadline.

    While I think that signing Morris to anything more than a two year deal would be terrible, signing Burnitz to a one year $4 million deal certainly wouldn’t be a death blow for the Mariners given that it’s only for one year for a relatively small amount of money. Given the available free agent choices, he might even be worth it.

  24. msb on December 2nd, 2005 11:42 am

    #15– and FWIW, the headline actually says “Morris among Mariners’ options”

  25. Frozenropers on December 2nd, 2005 12:26 pm

    #23: FWIW I was refering more to Jeff’s interpretation of Jim Street’s article…..implying that the M’s might be turning their attention to Morris and away from Burnett and primarily Millwood.

    I didn’t interpret Street’s article that way and especially not considering Morris’ agent’s quote that sounds like the M’s have contacted him, but seem to be putting him off for the time being as they work on bigger Fish…….or Indian’s, should I say. ;o)

  26. Southpaw on December 2nd, 2005 12:36 pm

    chris, Pedro has a balky shoulder. Like Eddie Guardado balky. There’s high risk in that, no matter how good Pedro had been pitching, his contract was high risk because of his injury status.

    Magglio came with all the assurances of his agent, Scott Boras, saying he was healthy, no workout. Incredibly high risk.

    etc etc. They were all high risk.

    If you think Morris is going to get a one year contract, accept arb, or sign for less than 5-6 mil guarenteed, I think you’re stuck in the early 90s.

  27. msb on December 2nd, 2005 1:00 pm

    #24, yup– I was elaborating on your earlier thought, not intending to contradict 🙂

  28. joebob on December 2nd, 2005 1:33 pm

    I seem to see alot of people turning to Kevin Millwood as the possible big target for the mariners this offseason. My concern is that usually the USS Mariner crowd is smart enough to be turned off by a 30 year old pitcher looking for a 4 or 5 year deal. Does anyone have any information that indicates millwood would age well and justify a long term contract for a pitcher entering his declining years?

  29. chris w on December 2nd, 2005 2:17 pm

    No. 28 – this is desperation, both from the fans and the Ms. Everyone’s costing more than expected, and the Ms are stuck because they don’t have realistic internal options. No one’s getting good deals on the free agent market. So, what to do? Either lower our expectations about the team’s ability to compete next year, increase our willingness to overpay, or – and this is what I advocate – get creative.

  30. Andren on December 2nd, 2005 2:40 pm

    Should we have any interest in Kris Benson? Apparently he’s on the block.

    Can someone saber-crunch this guy?

  31. newbie on December 2nd, 2005 2:42 pm

    28: While Millwood is about to turn 31, I think it’s a stretch to say he is entering his declining years. It may be unusual, but I think Millwood is just now realizing his potential. I think signing him for four years is less of a gamble than signing a proven inconsistent and even mediocre pitcher to a longer contract for more money. Somebody tell me why Burnett is more sought after than Millwood, he is only 2 years younger, and his numbers are far from impressive.

  32. Southpaw on December 2nd, 2005 3:05 pm

    Easy newbie, because Burnett has “stuff” while Millwood doesn’t.

    It’s the same reason Matt Thornton has a job.

  33. Frozenropers on December 2nd, 2005 3:23 pm

    #28: I have yet to see a term of years associated with Millwood and his demands……..

    ….the latest we’ve seen regarding Burnett is rumored from the Cards at 4 years $40 million……thus if nobody is even going 5 years on Burnett yet I don’t see how that issue is even brought up with Millwood.

    I may be crazy, but I could see Millwood ending up with a 3 year deal with an option for a 4th……but Burnett is going to have to get 5 years from someone before I believe anyone will offer Millwood 4+.

  34. mariners on December 2nd, 2005 3:50 pm

    We need 2 starting pitchers for sure… I really don’t understand why Washburn or Kenny Rogers isn’t an option for us… There both lefties who have proven they can be decent not great but decent… Both should be pretty affordable to…

  35. Colm on December 2nd, 2005 3:52 pm

    They’ll be affordable because many people understand their inate mediocrity.

    Why Morris is ‘sought after’ is more mysterious.

  36. Gomez on December 2nd, 2005 4:00 pm

    Benson got lit up the last six weeks of the season, gave up more homers than average (1.24 per 9) and didn’t strike out many guys. Plus, he was hurt last year. His Fielding Independent ERA’s around 4.70ish. For the money due to him, he ain’t worth it.

  37. Gomez on December 2nd, 2005 4:00 pm

    Re: my last comment… By last year, I meant 2004. Whoops.

  38. jtopps on December 2nd, 2005 4:35 pm

    Speaking of average pitchers…

    Chad Gaudin was released by the Blue Jays. While he is not a major leaguer yet, he is only 22. Might not be a bad guy to get supercheap to help fill out the minor league rosters. Bill “Stockpile-Arms” Bavasi, are you listening?

  39. jtopps on December 2nd, 2005 4:59 pm

    Oops…DFA’d not released. Maybe they’ll trade him.

  40. Gomez on December 2nd, 2005 5:06 pm

    Gaudin got rocked in limited duty last season. Looking at his previous years with Tampa Bay, he didn’t allow too many homers but had a problem with walks (3.6 per 9, a bit high). He’s allowed too many baserunners and doesn’t strike out enough guys to justify it. I’m not sure he’s even AAAA fodder at this point.

  41. TomC on December 2nd, 2005 8:29 pm

    #30: Kris Benson would be great addition — bu not for strictly baseball reasons. I would thoroughly enjoy watching the M’s organization deal with the inevitable Anna Benson pseudo-scandal.

  42. Terry on December 3rd, 2005 5:56 am

    I think its kind of funny to read qualifiers such as “if the M’s added a top guy for X amount of jack and then added one of the other six guys for X (which by the way will be a helluva lot more than a 1 year incentive-laden contract), then ill have hope.

    I guess Id have hope if the M’s actually had 4 reliable arms in the rotation (guys who could reasonably be expected to have ERA’s under 4.8)-no matter what their contracts…

    Arguing salary is a bit premature….how about actually having a chance to even sign a few?

  43. RickL on December 3rd, 2005 10:26 am

    Sounds like we would be better off to stick with Ryan Franklin. He’s cheaper, his numbers (in the second half) are comparable, and he faced American League, not national league hitters last year. Surely there are better moves than this with the remaining 15 million.

  44. Mr. Egaas on December 4th, 2005 1:06 pm

    Byrd appears to be off the market. 7 million a year for that schmuck. Guess that leaves Cleveland out of the Millwood picture.