Choose Your Own Conclusion

Dave · December 23, 2009 at 9:04 am · Filed Under Mariners 

It’s not quite an adventure, but the Morrow for League/Chavez trade is certainly a departure from what we have come to expect from the Mariners over the last year. Safe to say, there are not too many Mariner fans who like the return. Whatever you think of Morrow, an arbitration eligible reliever and an A-ball version of Wladimir Balentien is not exactly what we expected his market value to be.

So, I think this trade leads to three possible conclusions. You can pick any of the three.

1. These guys are not fans, at all, of Brandon Morrow, and had no interest beginning the season with him in the starting rotation. They shopped him all winter, and this was the best they could do. They like League as a reliever more than Morrow as a reliever, and since they didn’t see Brandon as a starter, they took the chance to upgrade the bullpen. This also requires us to conclude that no one in baseball sees Morrow as a particularly valuable piece, since this was theoretically the best the team could do during a winter where it was obvious that he was going to be traded.

2. This trade is a setup to another deal. Some yet unnamed third team wanted League or Chavez, and the M’s will use them as chips to get something that they couldn’t use Morrow to get. Or perhaps some team wants Aardsma or Lowe or Kelley, and the Mariners preferred to bring in their replacement before they trade them away.

3. This deal was part of the Cliff Lee trade. It was always weird that the Halladay and Lee portions of the deal were announced together, yet they were essentially two separate transactions, with no players going back and forth between Seattle and Toronto. Remember, we all feel like the Mariners got Lee for significantly less than he should have cost, and the expectation the entire time the rumor was developing was that Morrow was going to be in the deal. Perhaps that portion of the negotiations just couldn’t get finalized before the trade had to be announced (remember, the Phillies only had 72 hours to negotiate with Halladay), so the Mariners and Blue Jays agreed to work out the Morrow aspect of the trade at a later date.

Personally, I think I believe #3. Can I prove it? No, of course not. But it makes the most sense. Does all of baseball not valuing Morrow strike anyone as likely, especially after rumors of Detroit offering up Edwin Jackson for him and the Brewers coveting him for several years now? Does it seem likely that the Mariners would trade Morrow for a less valuable reliever and a mediocre prospect in an effort to make another deal without actually securing that deal at the time? Jack knows how to make a three way deal, so if he was flipping parts to another organization for someone else, why wouldn’t they just do it at the same time?

To me, the last one is the most logical. The M’s didn’t give up enough to get Lee unless you include this as part of that deal, in which case the price is much more fair. This makes the Halladay deal look a lot better for Toronto, and explains why they were willing to kick in $6 million in salary to help Philadelphia be able to make the deal. It also explains why Philadelphia shipped Lee to Seattle, rather than shopping him for a better package somewhere else.

If we conclude that this deal was part of last week’s trade, then it answers a lot of questions. It explains why a team that has made so many good moves inexplicably makes a lousy one. It explains why the Mariners were able to get Cliff Lee for three mediocre prospects. It explains why the Phillies weren’t willing to look for another team who would pay more for Lee in the three way deal.

So, that’s my theory. The M’s actually traded Brandon Morrow, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and JC Ramirez for Cliff Lee, Brandon League, and Johermyn Chavez.


173 Responses to “Choose Your Own Conclusion”

  1. argh on December 23rd, 2009 2:59 pm

    Baker was on a call with Z and says that in essence, it was #1 — a little bit that Morrow was not valued as highly around the league as around here and the League was valued a little more highly by the internal Ms guys than around here. So, we will see.

  2. eponymous coward on December 23rd, 2009 3:00 pm

    RRS shouldn’t be grouped in with the other pitchers competing. There’s a parking spot in the rotation with his name on it.

    He’s also shown zero ability to get to the 180 IP level before getting shut down to to injury, and he’s coming into his age 27 year. Jarrod Washburn had even managed THAT one.

    I’m not saying he sucks, but I want to see him pitch 180+ average-ish or better innings before figuring him for more than a 4th-5th starter.

  3. Gibbo on December 23rd, 2009 3:06 pm

    I think a lot of us overvalued Morrow. League really does solidify the BP and gives us flexibility to trade a RP if needed. I would of liked a better prospect back, but obviously this was the best we could get and have to trust GMZ on this one. I he could of gotten better he would of.


    I like that and can see us getting a guy like Bedard, Wang or Escobar to come in during the year. With a dominant pen, just got to get a good bat.

  4. just a fan on December 23rd, 2009 3:06 pm

    I’m pretty sure if Snell stunk the joint up to the point where there were three better starters, they’d do to him what they did to Batista or Silva- stick him into garbage relief or send him to the DL with acute suckitis.

    Yes, but in terms of starting the season, it’s hard to believe that two months and spring training are going to change their assessment of Snell. If he’s bad to begin the regular season, I could see that in June or July.

    I’m not saying [Rowland-Smith] sucks, but I want to see him pitch 180+ average-ish or better innings before figuring him for more than a 4th-5th starter.

    Yes, but he will be a starter to begin the season. If he can’t make it to 180 innings, that’s an in-season issue — similar to Snell potentially sucking.

    Morrow was unlikely to begin the year in the rotation, he had to be traded.

  5. damariners on December 23rd, 2009 3:10 pm

    If it is number 3, then Jacky Z is a real stand up guy. He could have walked away after the first part of the deal was done. This would only be good for M’s fans as he is a trust worth trade partner…someone teams will talk to.

    My sense is it is number 1, and M’s fans over valued Morrow on potential, in part from the Yankee start, and the flashes of dominance we would see from time to time. I also remember a little bit of control issues.

    I’ll grade Jack after the winter.

  6. just a fan on December 23rd, 2009 3:14 pm

    Rowland-Smith is the only starter besides Cliff Lee (Cliff Lee!) and Felix that, the day after a 14-inning bullpen buster, Wak could hand the ball to and tell him “throw strikes and get me 8 innings.” Snell, Morrow and the Five Fives don’t qualify for that.

  7. Dave S. on December 23rd, 2009 3:18 pm

    I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

    RRS didn’t break in to the rotation until 2008, and landed on the DL after his first start in 2009.

    After returning from the DL, he started the remainder of the season and performed well.

    I fully expect the M’s to acquire a #3 pitcher to fill out the rotation with Felix, Lee, ?, RRS, and Snell.

  8. Gibbo on December 23rd, 2009 3:32 pm

    Yes I think they will too but will be a cheaper low risk high reward type SP or maybe even Washburn.

    Having three guys that take pressure off the BP will suffice. So if RRS, Felix and Lee give us plenty of innings then having Snell and one other that get through 5-6 innings a start will probaby be OK.

  9. low on December 23rd, 2009 3:45 pm

    The reason Morrow’s value on this trade is so “low” is that he’s 25 and he hasn’t done anything yet.

    Bbbbut… he threw an 8 inning no hitter against the yankees! He pitches in the mid-90s! If only we hadn’t jerked him around for the past three years he’d be good!

    Maybe I need to step away from these threads but it seems like most people are vastly overrating Brandon Morrow and his potential to be a solid starter.

    League is a good reliever! Chavez has potential! What I’m hearing from a lot of people is ‘Morrow may be a mess but he’s our mess.’

    I think the organization did the right thing in moving on and giving Morrow a fresh chance with a new ballclub. I only wish the fanbase around here would do the same.

  10. brawlyjunk on December 23rd, 2009 3:53 pm

    I agree, low.

    As it stands, our bullpen is looking pretty decent. I don’t think Morrow staying would make much of any impact, and a guy like League can really shine and contribute in the bullpen.

  11. djw on December 23rd, 2009 4:33 pm

    If it is number 3, then Jacky Z is a real stand up guy. He could have walked away after the first part of the deal was done. This would only be good for M’s fans as he is a trust worth trade partner
    I imagine the costs to GMs who do this are probably pretty sizeable. There’s a universe of roughly 30 actors here, and they talk to each other quite a bit, I’d imagine. They also have a strong collective incentive for informally punishing the untrustworthy.

  12. Kazinski on December 23rd, 2009 5:24 pm

    If this is #3 what would be the harm in presenting this transaction as part of the 3 team deal?

    Because it would be against MLB trade rules. If it was part of the 3 team deal it would basically be a Player(s) To Be Named Later deal. According to Wikipedia:

    The deal must close within six months of the conclusion of the rest of the trade, and the player must change leagues.

    Apologies in advance for quoting Wikipedia as an authoritative source.

  13. mwinkel on December 23rd, 2009 5:36 pm

    Am I really the only Mariner fan that actually likes this deal. First of all, there is an old saying that people always over value items in their own possession, and I think this is exactly the case of which most M’s fans are troubled with. Yes…I saw the couple of games where Morrow seemed unhittable. I also saw the games where he was overthrowing one fastball after another and walked himself into trouble all the while opponents were sitting on fastball since they knew he wasn’t going to throw anything else. I had high hopes for Morrow as much as the next guy, but the fact is he continues to be a 25 year old prospect who still cannot manage to get consistent secondary pitches or control. In return we get a very undervalued set-up man who can provide a great amount of consistency to a young bullpen as we get in better shape everyday for a strong playoff run. I agree that this is not another Jack Z highway robbery like the rest of his trades, but this is a good trade that helps our team. Keep it going Z

  14. ninjasintheoutfield on December 23rd, 2009 5:51 pm

    Not difficult to see how/why Brandon Morrow could have been overvalued in the eyes of mariner fans, but i agree that #1 seems rather unexpected given the rumored deals Morrow seemed to be a rather large part of in november.
    Also, I would completely agree with the sentiment that in a business community that includes so few players, a handshake would suffice as a precursor to a deal.. It would seem to me that any gains a business could make from pulling out of such a deal would be peanuts compared to the losses the business would be setting itself up for as their peers stop dealing with them. I would think that front office types (specifically GM’s) or any businessman competing in such an enclosed business environment would NOT be out out to swindle anyone, but would prefer to have the deal seen as a net positive for both sides. This leads me to #3. The return for Aumont, JC, Gillies was stunning… and we were all waiting for that other name to drop… Morrow, Triunfel, etc… Well, maybe this is it? Which then leads to the question….. and not to poo poo the absolute stud we just landed, but is one year of Cliff Lee and two top picks the best we could get for that package? Am i off base here?

  15. PackBob on December 23rd, 2009 6:41 pm

    The pitching would have been pretty good with or without Morrow. If League is a groundball pitcher, he may well be a better fit for this park and team.

    One thing that seems evident is that this is Jack Z’s team, and he is going to get the guys he wants out on the field, not whoever someone else happened to leave him with. This is one of those deals that could work out either way, good or bad for the Ms, and only playing the games will tell.

  16. Dave S. on December 23rd, 2009 7:31 pm

    On the Edwin Jackson front – isn’t the most likely explanation one of these:

    – The Mariners’ offer wasn’t good enough OR
    – The rumor wasn’t true?

    It’s possible that it may have been an attempt to inflate Morrow’s trade value.

  17. mln on December 23rd, 2009 7:44 pm

    There is a fourth possible conclusion to this trade.

    It was part of Jack Z’s brillant master plan to mess with the following Facebook group.

    Brandon Morrow: Insanity at 60 Feet, 6 Inches

  18. Pete Livengood on December 23rd, 2009 7:54 pm

    Dave S. wrote:

    “On the Edwin Jackson front – isn’t the most likely explanation one of these:

    – The Mariners’ offer wasn’t good enough OR
    – The rumor wasn’t true?”

    I suppose it’s possible, but reports at the time were that the Mariners turned down the Tigers’ offer, not the other way around.

  19. diderot on December 23rd, 2009 8:36 pm

    Am I really the only Mariner fan that actually likes this deal.

    No, you’re not. Back when this thread began three years ago, I made the point that League is not only inarguably a better pitcher than Morrow, his numbers show he’s also better than Aardsma. No offense to either Aardsma or Morrow…but the numbers don’t lie. And if the goal is to win this year (which Lee proves) there simply isn’t a question that League projects to help more than Morrow.

    What has been conspicuously absent from this whole discussion is an analysis of what League’s season was like last year. He’s the part of this deal that no one seems to want to talk about.

  20. Dave S. on December 23rd, 2009 8:39 pm

    Assuming it was true, then, it was probably the insistence of including Morrow & Kelley (not that the organization is too high on Kelley, but losing two relief pitchers – one a potential starter – for a project starting pitcher seems like a steep price for a team looking to win now).

  21. Pete Livengood on December 23rd, 2009 9:16 pm

    I don’t think Edwin Jackson is a “project starting pitcher,” but I agree that losing a key member of a bullpen that (at least before this trade) goes into next year with health issues, plus a guy who is either an expected part of your rotation *OR* the fill for your bullpen issues, was a bit much to ask. The fact that this trade reached for bullpen help tells me that Jack was too nervous about the ‘pen to make that deal.

  22. frontstreetfan on December 24th, 2009 12:25 am

    Dave, Morrow in the last 3 yrs. of professional baseball minors and majors has pitched a grand total of 298 innings. I also don’t believe he has pitched in college or HS greater than 100 innings in a season. assuming a starter should go 6 and ideally 7 innings. Morrow would be slotted as a 4/5 starter for say 30 starts. So all of sudden he’s going to jump up to twice his previous workload?? Lets just say Morrow is no Javier Vazquez. Please this is ridiculous to label Morrow a solid big upside starter prospect. He’s not going to be able to handle the workload and the Mariners know that all too well. By the way, League and Chavez are a reasonable return for a talent with questions, potential doesn’t translate and three yrs good or bad is enough. Hardball times had Chavez as Toronto’s no. 1 prospect:

  23. DMZ on December 24th, 2009 12:45 am

    Link fixed. Please use the link button instead of posting long, naked URLs, so the IE6 people don’t all write us confused email about how the site layout’s broken.

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