Bye Bye Matt Thornton

Dave · March 20, 2006 at 8:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s have traded Matt Thornton to the Chicago White Sox for Joe Borchard.

There’s almost no way to not like this move, in my opinion. Thornton was, and still is, essentially useless. Yes, he throws 95, but big whoop-de-doo. He’s basically pitched well as a pro for all of one season, back in A-ball, pre surgery, and been mediocre to bad the rest of his career. He throws straight, without command, and has no real secondary pitches to speak of. He doesn’t hide the ball well, and hitters tee off on his hittable fastball, especially when they’re sitting on it 2-0. He didn’t deserve to be on the team last year, and he certainly didn’t deserve to be on the team this year. Removing him from the roster almost certainly guarantees George Sherrill a spot on the team, and he’s a vastly superior pitcher who was squeezed off the team by Thornton’s presence last year. Simply removing Thornton from the equation is a net positive.

Then we come to Borchard. He was one of the best college players of his time, earning a then-record $5.5 million signing bonus when the White Sox took him in the first round of the 2000 draft. He battled injuries, but showed promise in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching at the age of 23, hitting .272/.349/.498. He’s stagnated since then, failing to improve at all at the plate and losing agility and fielding prowess.

The guy has flaws that aren’t easily fixed. He has a poor approach at the plate, the main factor being a problem with pitch recognition. Borchard, essentially, has turned himself into a guess hitter. If he gets a fastball, bravo, the ball may go 400 feet. If he doesn’t, well, he’s screwed.

I’ve seen a lot of Borchard the past few years, and I remain convinced that there’s a good hitter hiding inside of the player he is now. His approach needs work, but it’s a fixable flaw. If he can improve his theories of hitting and turn himself into a .270/.330/.450 guy, that’s a valuable reserve, giving the M’s a legitimate major league hitter coming off the bench who swings the bat from the right side.

Borchard has the potential to fill a need; right-handed power hitting reserve outfielder. The M’s options for OF are currently all left-handed. If the team brings in a lefty to face Reed, Ibanez, or Everett, your options are essentially to let them hit or to replace them with Willie Ballgame.

Borchard, at least, has the chance to offer a bat with some juice from the right side and the ability to play all three outfield spots, though he’s a bit of a liability in center at this point. He’s essentially a slightly different version of Mike Morse; better defense, less contact, more power. I’m sure some folks would prefer Morse to make the roster, since he hit .800 for a few weeks last year, but the fact is that the team doesn’t have to choose.

If they deem Borchard able to help them in the role Morse was penciled in for, they get both Borchard and Morse. Morse goes to Tacoma, giving the team something they badly lack; depth. This team has been dangerously thin for several years, leaving them one injury away from playing a replacement level player at pretty much every position on the diamond. Having Borchard in Seattle and Morse in Tacoma gives the M’s one more layer to go through before resorting to Willie Bloomquist, starting left fielder, or rushing Adam Jones to the big leagues prematurely.

In the end, the team gets a few weeks to see if Borchard can fill a hole on the roster. If he can’t, no loss, because we didn’t want Matt Thornton on the team either way. If he can, well, congratulations Bill, you just got more free talent. These are the kinds of moves Bavasi has specialized in, getting potentially useful parts for nothing. Make enough of these moves, and you’ll eventually hit a home run.

Thumbs up. Good move for the club, and adios to Matt Thornton.

Comments

75 Responses to “Bye Bye Matt Thornton”

  1. Adam S on March 20th, 2006 9:01 am

    Putting this in the right thread…

    Wow, Borchard sure washed out as a prospect. 12th pick overall in 2000. All-star futures game (for what it’s worth) in 2001 and 2002. And as early as 2002 he was THE Sox star OF of the future. Now he’s played 4 years in row at AAA. Dave, I’ll be interested to read your insight after lunch.

    Getting rid of Thornton is addition by subtraction and makes room for Gonzalez. Borchard might become a useful fourth or fifth outfielder.

  2. Matthew Carruth on March 20th, 2006 9:02 am

    Problem is, he clogs the bench. If you count Lawton, Willie and a backup C as locked in, there’s your 4 man bench and only one of them can play the IF. This might force them to move down to 11 pitchers, but I don’t think it helps get Petagine on the roster. And what about Morse?

    Unless they just release Borchard, in which case, what was the point?

  3. Jim Thomsen on March 20th, 2006 9:04 am

    Great move … as long as the Mariners don’t get overenamored with Borchard’s “tools” and ignore his actual performance. I think there’s a real risk they have a Dobbsian crush on his swing.

  4. phildopip on March 20th, 2006 9:14 am

    This is the best news I’ve heard all week…oh, wait, it’s only 9:30 on Monday. So it’s the FIRST news I’ve heard all week.

  5. Tek Jansen on March 20th, 2006 9:16 am

    I do not know what Borchard’s options situation is, but, if he could be stashed at Tacoma, he is cheap insurance as a bench player to be called up when the inevitable injury occurs. But the best thing about this trade, as mentioned above, is the removal of Thornton. Let the Chisox worry about keeping him on the 25 man staff or trying to clear him through waivers.

  6. Nick on March 20th, 2006 9:19 am

    Thankfully, they kept Thornton in the AL, so we might have a chance for a little payback at some point.

  7. tgf on March 20th, 2006 9:21 am

    Any take the M’s could get for Thornton > 10 dozen baseballs (new) qualifies as a “win” in the trade win/loss analysis. Nice job there.

  8. Russ on March 20th, 2006 9:21 am

    Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

    That is all

  9. Scruffy on March 20th, 2006 9:22 am

    # 3 But unlike Dobbs Borchard can crush the ball

  10. Nick on March 20th, 2006 9:23 am

    According to the Chicago Tribune, Borchard is also out of options.

  11. Baseball Musings on March 20th, 2006 9:29 am

    Mariners, White Sox Deal…

    The Mariners and White Sox swap bench warmers. U.S.S. Mariner mentions the trade and promises analysis later. Baseball Musings is holding a pledge drive during March. Click here for details…….

  12. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 9:32 am

    Works for me. Borchard’s not going to be great, but he’s a better OF backup than Morse would be, and his .191/.254./.342 numbers at the majors are almost certainly Small Sample Size Theatre, based on his minor league numbers.

    Of course, once again, this brings into sharp relief what a complete waste of money and a roster spot Carl Everett is, since Borchard will be part of that logjam of good-to-mediocre-to-poor talent for DH and LF…

  13. Jmarineralw on March 20th, 2006 9:32 am

    Thornton’s only lasted here this long because he’s a lefty. Maybe he can finally get some control of his pitches, but let him work out those issues on Chicago’s time, not ours.

  14. joealb on March 20th, 2006 9:49 am

    This move begs for a 5 man bench! Pentagine, Rivera, Lawton, Bloomquist and Borchard.

  15. Adam on March 20th, 2006 9:52 am

    A bust for a bust.

    Atleast Borchard want haunt us for the rest of the season

  16. plivengood on March 20th, 2006 10:32 am

    I second (thrid? fourth?) the notion that anything in return for Matt Thornton is a bonus, and Borchard certainly has the tools to become a better player than he’s been at the major league level. Also seconding the thought that this highlights (again) what a crappy deal getting Everett was. Maybe this will allow the M’s to trade Everett after his first good three-week stretch….

  17. Tek Jansen on March 20th, 2006 10:39 am

    The only thing I fear now is that the Mariners will deal Everett to the White Sox, naturally, for . . . Thornton.

  18. joser on March 20th, 2006 10:41 am

    By the July trading deadline there’s a good chance Everett will have worn out his welcome despite hitting well, the M’s will be out of the race, and there will be a contending team looking to add a bat even if it comes with a lot of attitude. Anybody sent down to Tacoma should count on it being just half a season.

  19. Roger on March 20th, 2006 10:48 am

    Huh. Well, can’t say I’ll miss Thornton at all.

    And how did “Baseball Musings” make it through the spam filter?

  20. joser on March 20th, 2006 10:55 am

    Baseball musings’ post is a postback — a link from another blog.

  21. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 11:07 am

    If he can improve his theories of hitting and turn himself into a .270/.330/.450 guy, that’s a valuable reserve, giving the M’s a legitimate major league hitter coming off the bench who swings the bat from the right side.

    So, basically, Borchard gives us an extra shot at getting a cheap RH backup OF that we already had with Mike Morse, with the advantage that he doesn’t have to learn a new position.

    And yeah, I agree this is the stuff Bavasi’s done well of late (sloughing off junk and rebuilding organizational talent)…the catch is that there’s enough stuff he’s screwed up with that this team could easily go 75-87 and completely be out of contention by June for the 3rd straight year. It will give the next GM a nice starting point, however.

  22. Dave on March 20th, 2006 11:10 am

    So, basically, Borchard gives us an extra shot at getting a cheap RH backup OF that we already had with Mike Morse, with the advantage that he doesn’t have to learn a new position.

    Bingo. We basically just doubled our chances of getting a useful RH backup outfielder.

    the catch is that there’s enough stuff he’s screwed up with that this team could easily go 75-87 and completely be out of contention by June for the 3rd straight year.

    Barring an injury to Felix, I can’t see this team winning less than 80 games.

  23. Paul Covert on March 20th, 2006 11:21 am

    Good move.

    Last year I thought it was worth giving Thornton a chance (though it should have been at the expense of someone other than Sherrill). Or, at least, it would have been worth a shot if Hargrove hadn’t kept thinking, “Lefty! Throws hard! Let’s bring him into close games with men on base!” The problem was not so much the roster spot as the usage– using the 25th roster spot to take a chance on a guy with talent who might or might not pan out is okay, but treating him like the 17th man isn’t.

    With a year of added evidence, it now seems almost certain that Thornton’s control was left on the Tommy John operating table, and isn’t coming back regardless of what approach he and any pitching coach try. He just doesn’t have the physical coordination for it.

    What caused his worst problems last year, though, wasn’t just the walks, but a tendency to walk a couple of guys and then just start getting nuked. If his next coach can help him get beyond that mentally, and if he accepts a long-relief role and doesn’t get upset that he’s not turning into a star, then I still think he could be a useful spare part, a little better than replacement level. (The upside would be a left-handed Jeff Nelson, but that’s only if he can get the BABIP and HR/Fly back down to normal levels.)

    The trade reminds me, in an odd way, of the Cirillo/Jarvis thing from a couple years ago– except that this is “unfulfilled potential” rather than “unjustified salary.” It could realistically help both teams, as in both cases the absence of a prior emotional commitment to the player will make it easier for them to put him in a role for which he is suited, rather than in the role of which they’d dreamed for him.

    But it does still look better for the M’s on both angles: The original potential was higher, and the chance of becoming usable even now is probably better (though I’ve not followed Borchard’s career carefully enough to say that with strong confidence). The key for the M’s will be to avoid falling in love with his talent.

  24. Steve Nelson on March 20th, 2006 11:21 am

    I thought Borchard was at least nominally a switch hitter. Is he totally inept from the left side?

  25. jtopps on March 20th, 2006 11:23 am

    Maybe we can allow Bavasi to only do little deals — scrap heap pickups, bad player trade-offs, Rule 5, minor league delving, etc. and leave the big FA contracts and headline-trades to someone else. Maybe the semblance of a respectable bench will help to convince Hargrove not to carry so many pitchers…

    Maybe, maybe, maybe…

  26. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 11:25 am

    I’d probably put them in a window of 75-85 wins. I could see Felix going winning 14-16 games with a high 2 ERA like Johan Santana did last year, and the rest of the starting staff being sucktastic in aggregate around him, and not luck out on some player development and offense (maybe Lopez and Johjima struggle some, Everett+Beltre+Willie+Betancourt are a giant OBP vacuum) and thus the team goes under .500.

    I’m not saying that’s the likeliest scenario (one where Johjima, Lopez and Beltre bust out strong seems possible as well, and any number of possibilities), but it is one I see as a possibility.

    The thing is that 75 wins would still represent improvement on last year.

  27. leetinsleyfanclub on March 20th, 2006 11:26 am

    I actually think this hurts Petagine’s chances of making the club. With Borchard here Morse goes to Tacoma. Not only was Morse going to play OF but also 3B and 1B and could always play SS in a pinch. That in effect gave you two back up IF’s with WFB being the other. Now you only have one backup IF. Morse’s versatility gave you more options. The beneficiary will be Greg Dobbs. Since Dobbs plays 3B as well as 1B I believe that he will stick over Petagine.

  28. Eugene on March 20th, 2006 11:33 am

    Given the emphasis on defense, I think that Borchard is the best available option to replace Ibanez in left late in games. If just for two innings every other game, this is still a substantial upgrade. Not to mention addition by subtraction.

  29. G-Man on March 20th, 2006 11:34 am

    What sort of contract does Petagine have? Could they (try to) stash him in Tacoma?

    While Lawton is serving his suspension, there is no roster replacement allowed, right? They go with 24 men.

  30. Dave on March 20th, 2006 11:35 am

    Petagine is signed to a minor league deal. He was signed to give Tacoma a cleanup hitter. The plan all along was for him to head to Triple-A.

  31. DMZ on March 20th, 2006 11:38 am

    Drug suspensions don’t put teams down a roster spot. They get to run a 26-man for the suspension term, if you want to think about it that way.

  32. G-Man on March 20th, 2006 11:48 am

    Thanks, Dave and Derek. So then, could Petagine (rather than Morse) ber on the big club until Lawton is back, or would that mean that Roserto would have to clear waivers (and agree to it) to be assigned to AAA?

  33. Dave on March 20th, 2006 11:50 am

    Roberto’s not on the 40 man. For him to come north with the club, someone would have to be removed from it, he’d have to have his contract purchased, and then, when they went to send him down, he’d have to clear waivers and accept the assignment.

    If they plan on keeping whoever for just ten days, it shouldn’t be Petagine. Morse would make the most sense, since he has options.

  34. BrianThornton on March 20th, 2006 12:05 pm

    Wow, good thing that I special ordered my very own “THORNTON” spring training jersey last year, before this deal went down. Good riddance, “Cousin” Matt. Here’s hoping a move back to the Midwest reignites the career that arm troubles helped kill.

    Sounds like a pretty good deal for the Ms, to me. Then again, I said that about the Garcia deal when it went down, and who has benefitted more from that one?

    I ask because I honestly have no opinion.

    Brian (No Relation To Matt) Thornton

  35. G-Man on March 20th, 2006 12:08 pm

    Thanks; that’s about what I thought. I’d just like to see the guy get a chance in Seattle. At least he’ll be avaiable in AAA.

    I’ll find the biggest stuffed dinosaur I can to take to games and wave at Carl Everett.

  36. Dave on March 20th, 2006 12:10 pm

    Sounds like a pretty good deal for the Ms, to me. Then again, I said that about the Garcia deal when it went down, and who has benefitted more from that one?

    Right now, the White Sox.

    After this year, the M’s. And every year after that, the M’s.

  37. joser on March 20th, 2006 12:11 pm

    Just got the auto Mariners Mail about the trade, including a suggestion to “Customize Your Own Joe Borchard Jersey!”

    Uh, yeah, I’ll get right on that.

  38. Homer Runt on March 20th, 2006 12:26 pm

    Should the M’s continue to pursue Mr. Williams in hopes of putting interesting lil’ pieces together in the quest to build a nice team? Seems to be working. Yay! Good move.

  39. jglongball1 on March 20th, 2006 12:31 pm

    This is a boon to all the guys named “Thornton” who post here, and no longer have to prepend their surname with “not related to Matt”. But, Brian, are you related to Steve?

    I wonder if this almost forces Hargrove to carry 5 on the bench – catcher, up-the-middle guy (WFB), corner OF bats (Lawton and Borchard), and a corner IF guy (Morse or Dobby). Not having to carry Thornton on the 25-man could mean a more reasonable bullpen makeup – unlike last year where we had to carry Thornton and “another lefty to bail out Thornton”.

  40. Mat on March 20th, 2006 12:32 pm

    I thought one of Ozzie Guillen’s best traits as a manager last year was his ability to effectively handle his bullpen. He was willing to be creative and throw guys into the 9th inning regardless of whether they were “proven” or not. This move ought to tie Ozzie’s hands, though, by adding a non-option in Thornton. I still can’t believe Thornton was actually worth something. Wow.

  41. Paul B on March 20th, 2006 12:35 pm

    #40, but a left hander that throws hard will be given every chance to fail, and then some. So it doesn’t surprise me that someone was willing to take him, but I agree it is surprising that they gave up something that might be useful.

  42. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 12:37 pm

    After this year, the M’s. And every year after that, the M’s.

    That’s assuming, of course, that we don’t do something stupid between now and next year like the proposed Reed-Arroyo deal, of course, AND that Garcia would have resigned with us at the rate he gave the White Sox, neither of which 100% certain, and given the poisonous relations between Freddy and the front office, I don’t think the latter is even the most likely outcome.

    I don’t think there’s a lot of question Garcia > Washburn, though (I don’t think it’s very close, given the peripheral numbers and health records of the pitchers in question), which is the other angle to take on the question- could the M’s have found an answer in CF instead of Reed that made up for the disparity in talent between those Garcia and Washburn?

    All that being said…I think the Garcia deal was perfectly justifiable at the time, and still is today, even if the front office was lowballing the talent Garcia represented, because Reed + Morse + Olivo > first round draft pick if Garcia walks in the offseason and you offer arbitration, which was definitely a possibility.

  43. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 12:55 pm

    I wonder if this almost forces Hargrove to carry 5 on the bench – catcher, up-the-middle guy (WFB), corner OF bats (Lawton and Borchard), and a corner IF guy (Morse or Dobby). Not having to carry Thornton on the 25-man could mean a more reasonable bullpen makeup – unlike last year where we had to carry Thornton and “another lefty to bail out Thornton”.

    I think WFB is going to do the Mac “supersub” thing and play corner IF as well. Keep in mind Beltre and Sexson played 155 and 151 games at their respective positions last year. Unless Hargrove’s planning to change his usage patterns a bit (not bloody likely), there simply aren’t a lot of reasons to carry a specialized backup to play less than once a week, barring injury- and why not have your injury replacement staying fresh in Tacoma instead of rusting on your bench if your manager prefers keeping the everyday lineup on the field 90%+ of the time?

  44. Steve T on March 20th, 2006 12:56 pm

    No, Brian and I are, as far as I know, not related to Matt or each other.

    I believe I WILL customize my own Borchard jersey — customized by using the name of an entirely different player and number on it.

    This is a small incremental improvement. Good. If we can continue to improve at this rate, we’re a lock to break 80 wins by 2038 or thereabouts.

  45. Mat on March 20th, 2006 1:02 pm

    “#40, but a left hander that throws hard will be given every chance to fail, and then some.”

    This is true, but still boggles my mind. Wasn’t anyone paying attention when the Angels had that run of great bullpens without a functional left-hander? Being left-handed just isn’t that valuable.

  46. Evan on March 20th, 2006 1:04 pm

    Though McLemore was a vastly superior hitter to WFB.

  47. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 1:08 pm

    Evan, no kidding- but unfortunately that’s not how he’s perceived.

    The thing is that the way the everyday lineup pencils out, WFB isn’t likely to get a lot of playing time unless Lopez or Betancourt falls on their face or gets injured, if you figure Lawton is the first candidate to replace Everett, the most likely starter to come up lame.

  48. Evan on March 20th, 2006 1:22 pm

    I don’t think Everett has any coming up to do in order to be lame.

  49. eponymous coward on March 20th, 2006 1:39 pm

    OK, amend that to “injured”. :)

  50. Rain Delay » Thorton headed to Chi-Sox on March 20th, 2006 1:43 pm

    [...] The USS Mariner is reporting that Matt Thorton has been traded to the Chicago Whitesox for Joe Brochard. Keep an eye out on the USS Mariner, as they plan to comment on this further. You can also bookmark this on del.icio.us or check the cosmos [...]

  51. IP on March 20th, 2006 2:37 pm

    So long, Lighter Fluid!

  52. Jim Thomsen on March 20th, 2006 2:46 pm

    I don’t believe in Joe Borchard as a credible major-leaguer.

    But what matters most is, why would the Mariners want to put a player with massive hitting flaws on the 25-man roster to start this season? He needs to be in Triple-A (or even Arizona) with a top-flight hitting instructor.

    Jeff Pentland needs to be saved to work with legitimate major-leaguers, not devote day and night to someone who needs remedial instruction in hitting fundamentals.

    Joe Borchard may figure it all out someday, though the annals of recent baseball history are littered with talented players who couldn’t, wouldn’t and didn’t. But he shouldn’t be playing for the Mariners while he works on figuring it out, in my opinion.

  53. Joshua Buergel on March 20th, 2006 3:15 pm

    There’s a big difference between having a pitcher around who doesn’t deserve it and a hitter, which is that the crummy hitter will very rarely have an opportunity to single-handedly lose a game, while Thornton not only had that opportunity on multiple occasions but gleefully seized hold of it. So even if Borchard turns out to be useless, I really doubt he can do as much damage.

  54. Jim Thomsen on March 20th, 2006 3:40 pm

    I agree that it’s not a bad deal. I just don’t think it’s anything more than a nothing-for-nothing, you-take-my-problem-and-I’ll-take-yours trade … you know, the kind the Mariners usually make with the Padres or Rockies.

    I just looked up Borchard’s numbers at The Baseball Cube, as well as his PECOTA (weighted mean 2006 forecast of .242/.307/.416). He’s 27 and hasn’t taken one step forward in years. I think he’s the hitting equivalent of Matt Thornton, with power as his calling card and nothing else to go with it. If a Stanford grad was ever going to learn to hit, you’d think it would have happened a long time before age 27.

    In Marinerology, he’s Dave Hengel, Greg Pirkl and Jim Maler. In Rainierology, he’s Aaron Rifkin, A.J. Zapp and J.R. Phillips. Bucky Jacobsen with less plate discipline and more defense.

    But since we have him, I’d like to see him get some top-flight help in extended spring training. There’s no point in having him in Tacoma, because it’s already well-established what he can do in Triple-A, and on the major-league roster as he is right now, he could indeed do some actual damage to the Mariners.

    I have a lot of respect for Dave and his analytical acumen, and freely admit he’s much smarter than I am … but this time, I think he got the wrong prescription for his rose-colored glasses.

  55. mln on March 20th, 2006 3:41 pm

    Wow. Bavasi made a good trade and possibly gets the better of Ken Williams. Who knew?

    Of course, the last trade the Mariners made with the White Sox (i.e., the Freddy Garcia trade) was also supposed to be in the Mariners favor also.

  56. jtopps on March 20th, 2006 3:49 pm

    IMHO, the whole out-of-options and Rule 5 rules are kind of messed up.

    It was like a bad Catch-22. You have a pitcher who you can’t send to the minors, because he is too talented and you risk losing him, but yet, he is not actually talented enough to be on a major-league roster. So you have to keep him on the team, so no one else makes the same mistake you did of thinking he is talented.

    Good luck Matt Thornton. I hope you see your dog more this way, and I hope you figure out enough about pitching to be a good contributor on someone else’s team (but not before you give up a lead or two to the Mariners).

  57. terry on March 20th, 2006 3:51 pm

    #52: I prefer massive hitting flaws to a complete inability to hit (e.g. Morse) :-P

    Also, Borchard is a much better glove in the outfield compared to Morse.

  58. msb on March 20th, 2006 4:24 pm

    Finnigan has his write-up (and speculations) about the Thornton trade — you can view it at the exciting newly re-vamped Seattle Times online sports page

  59. John D. on March 20th, 2006 5:11 pm

    BORCHARD A SWITCH-HITTER? (See # 24)- I thought he was too. [According to ESPN, he sure is.](Mendoza-linish from either side.)

  60. scotje on March 20th, 2006 6:36 pm

    So, from the analysis, it sounds like the ideal situation for us would be to have Thornton pitching to Borchard when we play the White Sox next season. :)

    A guy that basically throws nothing but straight fastballs pitching to a guy who can’t hit anything but a straight fastball.

  61. Typical Idiot Fan on March 20th, 2006 7:51 pm

    I’m trying to figure out if Borchard got seriously injured or just totally messed up by being called up to the Majors in 2002. He had a decent season in 2002 at AAA Charlotte but also went down to single A Winston-Salem for a couple of games.

    After that, his AAA numbers have been okay, but unimpressive. He had a crappy 2003, got better in 2004, then regressed in 2005. His XBH percentages go up and down every year. In 2002, 57 of his 119 hits were XBH (47.8%), then only 35 of his 110 hits in 2003 (31.8%), then back up to 37 of 80 (46.25%), and then down to 49 of 130 hits (37.6%). There doesn’t appear to be any corollation between his power jumps or dips and plate discipline. Struck out 139 times in 117 games in 2002, 103 times in 114 games in 2003, 68 times in 82 games in 2004, and 143 times in 139 games in 2005.

    So this guy is incredibly inconsistent. He has managed an OBP about .070 points higher then his batting average, so he’s not hopeless. I think Dave’s assessment about him being a “guess” hitter is right. It would explain the fluctuations in his power numbers and strikeout rates.

    Can that be fixed? Oh yes. The only question is whether or not he’s willing to change. He’s basically entering his peak performance years, so he doesn’t have a whole lot of time after this to improve himself.

  62. Typical Idiot Fan on March 20th, 2006 7:53 pm

    Forgot to add a question to my previous post:

    Dave, even if you don’t consider him worthy to be added to the Future 40, what would you rate his risk / reward?

  63. Matthew Carruth on March 20th, 2006 8:11 pm

    a .700+ OPS would be perfectly reasonable for a bench bat/OF defensive sub.

    Anything to further reduce the ABs the Ms give to sub .600 OPS players last year (1082 in 2005).

  64. The Ancient Mariner on March 20th, 2006 8:14 pm

    Hey, .242/.307/.416 with a legit 4th-OF glove (good D in the corners, able to cover CF acceptably for short stretches) qualifies as a real upgrade on this bench.

  65. The Ancient Mariner on March 20th, 2006 8:21 pm

    And I hope that’s sufficiently redundant to get the point across . . . :)

  66. Mr. Egaas on March 21st, 2006 12:49 am

    Interesting. But I like.

    Plenty of LOOGYs in camp and Thornton has been a thorn in my side for a while now. I was just going through Baseball Prospectus the other day looking at Borchard and saw some potential there. I was wondering what we would for a reserve righty outfielder, and this clogs that hole. Who knows, if he starts hitting, he could start in left more often than not.

    If Grover wants to sit Reed vs. the lefties there’s another option that’s not Mike Morse or Willie Ballgame, and I like that.

  67. BelaXadux on March 21st, 2006 1:40 am

    “Getting something useful for nothing” has been a consistent skill of B. Bavasi and his talent team, and this is another instance which I applaud. Thornton was _not_ going to make the Ms, but this is the example of why I wasn’t in favor of him being waived or non-tendered over the winter as there was some call for. Not only is there often a greater fool, sometimes the other guy is, in fact, desperate: the Chisox have bullpen woes, and a semi-useless bullpen arm looks like something of value to them. The Ms wanted Borchard in the Garcia deal, purportedly. At least Kenny Bigguy made use of his mouth in the press at the time, lauding Joe Borchard as untradeable. Tired of seeing him now, _I_ guess.

    The Ms actually do need a somewhat useful outfield reserve at this point, with Bohn being not quite ready and Jones as not sensibly in the picture yet. Mike Morse has an idea of how to hit—but no high rate of contact, no power, no speed, and no defense whatsoever. Borchard is an experienced outfielder with some positives. Whether he _ever_ becomes a credible major-leaguer isn’t the point; he’s not starting now, and probably never will. He fills a need better than anyone available in the organization. Which is more than one can say regarding the departed Matt Thornton. QED.

    Sherrill all but certainly has made the team then, yeah, and that’s a good thing. He’s having a crappy spring, but his talent is real, and of a much higher caliber than Thornton will likely ever produce. It’s a win-win-win transaction, as long as we see the ‘w’s in the lower case. I’m hoping the Ms can also hold onto Luis el Dodger, but it may take cutting a deal with that organization to bring it off.

  68. brianekst on March 21st, 2006 1:53 am

    I stopped reading all the replies at about number 25 or so, but as a Sox fan who has watched Joe Borchard not realize his potential over the last 5 and a half years I can safely tell you a couple of things:

    1. Joe Borchard is definitely a switch hitter.
    2. I know very little about Thornton, but from what I have read here and elsewhere, he basically IS Joe Borchard, only a pitcher. I was at the game where Joe Borchard hit the longest HR in the Cell’s history. Don’t let this fool you. He can’t touch a breaking pitch, and can’t recognize the difference between a fastball and a breaking pitch. This basically equates to Thornton’s complete lack of control.

    Basically, both players are out of options and weren’t going to make their respective clubs coming out of camp, so the teams swapped junk for junk in hopes that they could get something decent out of them. I doubt either team will get anything decent out of either player. In short, it might be a net positive to get rid of Thornton, but don’t count on anything from Borchard. Be ecstatic if he’s ever a decent fourth outfielder, but don’t count on it.

  69. brianekst on March 21st, 2006 1:54 am

    Sorry, the point of me saying that I stopped reading at post number 25 was to point out that someone else might have already informed you guys that Borchard is a switch hitter and not a right handed hitting outfielder.

  70. ray on March 21st, 2006 2:18 am

    Don’t worry. Thornton will magically improve his pitching and put up a 3.5-4.0 ERA in relief with less walks and more K’s.

    BTW, congrats to Ichiro and Team Japan. Nice victorty!

  71. The Ancient Mariner on March 21st, 2006 9:06 am

    Yeah, Borchard as a hitter looks a lot like Thornton as a pitcher. The thing is, in their other dimension (fielding), Borchard’s a lot more valuable, especially to this club, where we have a crying need for a bench OF who’s actually competent in the field. As long as he can do two things — play LF/CF/RF better than Wee Willie, and outhit him, both of which seem well within his grasp — he’ll be an asset. That might be more of a comment on the M’s than on Borchard, but there you go.

  72. DMZ on March 21st, 2006 9:40 am

    Here’s another way to think about this: the M’s had a nearly-useless player in Thornton. Whatever he can do is duplicated by other, better players already with the team. Maybe he’ll be a star, but it’s pretty unlikely. Maybe he’ll be a regular, but that’s also unlikely.

    Borchard is the same thing, but for the White Sox. For the Mariners, he’s still nearly useless, except that if they can figure out how to teach/drill/otherwise use him such that they get marginal usefulness out of him, he’ll be worth a lot more to them than a marginally useful Thornton would be.

    Even if it’s a bust, this is a nice little move.

  73. Evan on March 21st, 2006 11:48 am

    Frankly, I’d rather give the DH job to Borchard than Everett.

  74. The Ancient Mariner on March 21st, 2006 4:54 pm

    Frankly, I’d rather give the DH job to Ibañez, whose glove qualifies him there, give the LF job to Borchard, and trade Everett back to the White Sox.

    And may I just say, btw, that the one thing I really dislike about this move is that I’ve never been able, name-wise, to keep Joe Borchard and Curtis Borchardt straight?

  75. pensive on March 21st, 2006 11:42 pm

    Petagine would seem to be the best choice as DH. Perhaps as pointed out in an earlier thread as early as early June Everett may have worn out his welcome or will be reasonable trade bait in July to contender.

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