The Fundamental Flaw

Dave · January 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

You’ve heard, by now, that the Mariners traded John Jaso for Mike Morse. The spin is essentially going to go something like this:

The Mariners needed to improve their offense, specifically, hitting for power. Mike Morse is a better hitter than Jaso, and because he doesn’t have Jaso’s large platoon splits, he can affect the line-up everyday. As a platoon catcher, Jaso’s value was limited to only playing against right-handers, and with Mike Zunino on the way, he didn’t have a future behind the plate for the Mariners. Jesus Montero and Kendrys Morales were going to make it difficult to get him at-bats at DH, and the team had hole in the outfield. Thus, by trading a C/DH for an outfielder, they’re dealing from a position of strength to fill a void.

There are some true statements in there. John Jaso does have big platoon splits. The Mariners did have a bit of a glut of C/1B/DH types. John Jaso is coming off a career year, and he won’t repeat his numbers from 2012 again. The problem comes when you try to stretch all those true statements together to form a rational defense of trading a younger, cheaper, more valuable player for one who is simply worse overall.

The only way to view Morse as an improvement over Jaso is to think in a particularly narrow minded way, seeing players primarily through the lens of labels, mostly defined by their hitting abilities. Mike Morse is a “power bat”, John Jaso is a “part time player”. And who wouldn’t rather have a guy who can hit cleanup rather than a guy who needs to sit on the bench regularly?

Of course, players are far more complex beings than that, and seeing baseball through that kind of particular worldview was a hallmark of the last Mariners front office. You remember those days, back when Carlos Silva was “an innings eater”, Jarrod Washburn was a “proven workhorse”, and Richie Sexson was a “big bat”. The Mariners fired the last guy who thought in those terms, but not before he had torn the franchise down to shreds and left it in ruins. You cannot build a winning baseball team by evaluating a player’s value in terms of generic cliches.

Back in October, I wrote about the need to stop underrating John Jaso. I’m going to quote three paragraphs from that post, but just go read the whole thing.

There is simply no argument to be made that Jaso’s problems against left-handers or his throwing serve to significantly drag down his value to the point where he’s best served in some kind of part-time bench role like he was used this year. His usage this year was a mistake, and one that should absolutely be corrected in 2013.

John Jaso is a Major League quality starting catcher, and based on his MLB performance to date — again, in over two full seasons worth of playing time — he’s showed that he’s probably one of the 10 best catchers in baseball. That doesn’t mean you have to run him out there against every left-hander, but using him like the Diamondbacks used Montero or the White Sox used Pierzynski is completely rational. That’s around 120 starts per year, with a bias towards using his days off when a left-hander is on the mound.

John Jaso is pretty obviously the team’s best hitter right now. He might very well be the team’s best player, even with his moderate power, big platoon splits, and his mediocre throwing arm. While Eric Wedge failed to recognize Jaso’s strengths and simply focused on his weaknesses, that doesn’t mean that we have to do the same. Jaso isn’t a perfect player, but besides Joe Mauer, there are no perfect left-handed hitting Major League catchers. Other organizations have realized that the positives so far outweigh the negatives that they’ve simply found a capable right-handed hitting back-up to start 40 games a year and let their lefty hitting catchers be significant assets to the organization.

John Jaso, with his inability to hit left-handers and his poor throwing arm, is still an above average Major League catcher. He’s comparable in overall value to Alex Avila, who was the starting catcher for the team that just won the American League. Because there are so few catchers in baseball who can hit, even a bad defender who can hit right-handers like Jaso can puts him in rare company. Even limiting him to just 450 plate appearances, due to strict platooning, Jaso’s career average grades out to about +2.3 WAR. If you assume that any of his 2012 improvement was real, and that he’s better than a straight career average, then he’s closer to a +2.5 to +3.0 WAR player.

Now, no one has figured out how to perfectly evaluate everything a catcher does. We can make a pretty good guess at the obvious things, like controlling the running game and keeping pitches from going to the backstop. Those things are already included in WAR, since they’re not that hard to measure. There are other parts of catching that are not easy to measure, and are not included in WAR, so no one is claiming that WAR is the gospel truth here. Jaso could easily be a worse player than WAR calculations suggest. In fact, given his defensive reputation, that’s probably the truth. So, hey, let’s just knock a win off of his value, in addition to the penalty he’s already getting for allowing stolen bases and blocking balls in the dirt. Let’s call him a +1.5 to +2.0 win player, assuming that there really are big parts of catcher defense that we can’t accurately measure, and assuming that Jaso is terrible at those things.

Guess what? That’s still better than Mike Morse. Dan Szymborski released his ZIPS projections for the Nationals a few weeks ago, and he has Morse at +1.4 WAR in 2013. Because, quite simply, there’s more to baseball than hitting home runs, and Mike Morse is pretty terrible at every part of baseball that isn’t hitting home runs.

For a more detailed breakdown, you can read this post I wrote on Morse last week. We go through his offensive projections (still pretty decent!), but also through his defensive value (awful), his baserunning skills (lousy), and his durability (not good). Despite all the talk about Morse being a “full time player”, he’s dealt with a litany of health problems during his career, and has only managed to play more than 102 games once in his career. You simply can’t project Morse as a 150 game regular next year, and his deficiencies in the field and on the bases cut into his value even when he is in the line-up.

Morse has power. His power is valuable. It helps make him a decent player even though he doesn’t do anything else at a Major League level. In a lot of ways, Morse is similar to Kendrys Morales, in that his power tool is good enough to carry him despite being a pretty one dimensional player. It’s useful to have these kinds of players, but if you don’t do anything besides hit, you better be a spectacular hitter. Morse is not a spectacular hitter. He’s a decent hitter, an above average hitter, but he doesn’t walk, he strikes out a decent amount, and he doesn’t run the bases well. When you only do one thing, it significantly limits your value.

So, in reality, the Mariners are swapping an average-ish player (if you give Jaso a big penalty for catcher defense) for an average-ish player. Only, the average-ish player they’re receiving has one year left on his contract, while the average-ish player they’re giving up is under team control for three more years. Even if you ignore the roughly $6 million difference in salary, Morse would have to be a significantly better player than Jaso to justify giving up two extra years, as the Mariners have done here.

And, of course, there’s the problem of roster construction. We talked about how the pieces fit together the other day, noting that the Mariners couldn’t simply acquire another hitter without giving any consideration to defense. While Morse officially takes Jaso’s spot on the roster, they obviously have to replace Jaso with another catcher, so there are one of three players who could go away to make room for Morse on the roster: Jason Bay (the best choice), Casper Wells (the likely choice), or Justin Smoak (the easy choice).

Because the Mariners already have a glut of 1B/DH types, Morse is almost certainly going to get a decent amount of playing time in the outfield. Right now, he displaces Wells as the third starting OF — despite the fact that Wells is probably Morse’s equal in terms of value going forward — and moves Wells and Bay into a competition for the fourth OF job. If the Mariners wanted to keep both, they could theoretically option Smoak to Tacoma, then use Bay in the outfield against lefties with Morse shifting to first base, which is the role Smoak was slotted in for when we did the exercise the other day. Or, if Bay shows nothing in spring training, then the could just cut him and go with both Smoak and Wells as reserves. The problem is that there wouldn’t be much playing time for either one, and the lack of defensive flexibility would cause the team some real problems with in-game strategy.

More likely, I think, is that the Mariners trade Wells along with one of their extra bullpen arms for starting pitcher, taking him out of the picture entirely. Then, they’ll bring in a super utility type who can play both IF and OF to round out the bench, then let Bay and Smoak compete for the final bench spot depending on who has a better spring.

In the end, I’d bet that this series of moves is likely going to end up looking something like Jaso, Wells, and a reliever for Morse, a free agent catcher of some sort, and whatever pitcher Wells can bring back in return. And the Mariners are not likely going to get any more production from their new trio than they would have from just keeping Jaso and Wells and using the salary difference to sign a free agent pitcher. Only, now, they also don’t have Jaso’s future, probably won’t have Wells’ future, and might very well get a worse pitcher than they would have had they gone after a free agent starter back when there were still some good ones available.

The Mariners didn’t need offense. The Mariners needed talent. The Mariners didn’t get a talent upgrade today. They turned one piece into a less valuable piece, all because the new guy does the thing that that everyone has been wanting to see more of; hit home runs. Home runs are nice, but the 1990s Mariners should have taught everyone that home runs don’t win games. Runs, of all shapes and sizes, win games. And Mike Morse won’t help the Mariners outscore their opponents any more than John Jaso would have.

Just like with the Brandon Morrow swap, this is just the Mariners misevaluating a player they had, because they focused too much on what he wasn’t good at. Just like the Brandon League acquisition is looked back on as a silly one, so will this. The Mariners paid a premium to not get better in the present and cost them some value in the future.

Blech.

Comments

126 Responses to “The Fundamental Flaw”

  1. Gormogon on January 16th, 2013 5:50 pm

    I really have no idea where the M’s are going with this trade. Smacks of some real desperation to me. I think Billy Beane appreciates Jaso.

  2. Jon on January 16th, 2013 5:54 pm

    I have no idea what I’m talking about, but this trade only makes sense to me if Jack Z has three or four more moves ready to go. If anything it added to the number of needed moves. Throwing away Jaso’s longer-term control and future value seems like bad idea, but then again Jack Z did it with Fister and Morrow, too. Look how those turned out. Predictably bad and short-sighted. At least this time I’m fired up about getting Morse back, except when I think about our glut of 1B/DH’s.

  3. the tacoma aroma on January 16th, 2013 5:55 pm

    Every time Jaso came up last year I was filled with promise that he could scratch out a hit. That optimism is now transformed into praying Morse doesn’t strike out. Or hurt himself running to first.

  4. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 5:59 pm

    And to a division rival. For several affordable years.

    Really, this is absolutely the dumbest move Jack has made. Other than re-signing Iwakuma and Perez, he’s done nothing to impress this offseason. I’m done with him. Really, I’d have no problem with both he and Wedge getting dumped right now.

  5. The_Waco_Kid on January 16th, 2013 6:09 pm

    I’m happy for Jaso I guess.

    Man, I hope this is part of something bigger. Taking a flier on Bay, whatever. But Bay, then Ibanez, now Morse? I wonder if Z is losing it, or if his bosses have somehow screwed him or are preparing to sell the team. Payroll was supposed to go up, but they’re making these budget moves, and they may, as Dave said, trade for a SP rather than pony up the money for one. So confused!

  6. lalo on January 16th, 2013 6:13 pm

    Wow, Ia really hate Jack Z… Morse is really awful and I loved Jaso… I really want ro cry, our GM is an idiot, just like Bavasi.

  7. californiamariner on January 16th, 2013 6:15 pm

    I’m tired of the narrow minded misconceptions that people use in every sport. When will people just look at the facts?

  8. GarForever on January 16th, 2013 6:19 pm

    I hate to say it, but this looks like a PR move for count-stat fans, and beyond that, stinks of someone trying to save his job. I was sorry the team traded Morse in the first place, but I understood it at the time from a roster/durability standpoint. This is just a straight-up dumb trade at this point. When (if?) Zunino proves to be the stud we all hope he can be, there still would have been plenty of time to trade Jaso for some value. As it is, we now have behind the plate Montero, who could stand to focus on developing his hitting but will now also have to concentrate on improving as a catcher as well, and whatever we get on Large-Item-Pickup day. I fear that between bringing Olivo back and letting Jaso go, Z may not be able to recognize a decent catcher when he sees one. Blech indeed.

  9. InigoMontoya on January 16th, 2013 6:22 pm

    Jaso was undervalued by the Ms and that sucks. But I believe this is in-process roster construction and that the Ms plan to jettison Carp and Smoak in trades (or possibly AAA, in the case of Smoak). And I wouldn’t bet against a Bourn signing after this based on how he fits at lead-off.

    Bourn-Ackley-Morales-Morse-Seager-Montero-Saunders-Guti-Ryan with Wells or Bay, Ibanez, CatcherTBA and Andino on the bench sounds OK to me despite the fact that Montero catches more often than not in this scenario (I don’t think the Ms saw much separation between Montero and Jaso behind the plate).

    Next year, add Zunino and either Stanton or the best outfielder money can buy and the Ms compete.

    Considering outfield defense…nothing lands in the outfield with Bourn, Guti and Saunders out there. (Morse becomes DH/1B along with Ibanez and Morales in this scenario). It leaves the “powder” and the money dry for a 2013-14 run at Stanton too.

    And we have either Wells or Bay as a 4th outfielder – not bad.

    It’s not over until Z says it’s over.

  10. BackRub on January 16th, 2013 6:28 pm

    Wow Kottaras was designated for assignment. Why couldn’t we have picked him up in the trade. That would have made it almost justifiable to add a catcher who has been worth 2.4 WAR in ~600 PAs over the last 3 years. Comes with three more years of team control. Sounds like Jaso-lite.

  11. greentunic on January 16th, 2013 6:51 pm

    This move sucks in a vacuum. But I do think it is wise to wait for any subsequent moves before we say we “really hate Jack Z” or make assumptions at what the next few moves will look like.

    After all, who has ever really been able to predict JZ’s moves?

  12. SonOfZavaras on January 16th, 2013 6:57 pm

    I’m going to be blunt.

    In and of itself, this is a horseshit trade.

    HORSESHIT.

    But I’m gonna hold off on the pure invective and vitriol I’m feeling until I see possible concurrent moves.

    The possibility that a clutter-removing move can still be made is non-zero.

  13. kwozzymoto on January 16th, 2013 6:59 pm

    I feel like the organization believes that Zunino will be up with the team in June anyways, and when he does, you can bet he’ll be playing a majority of the time so he can continue to develop. So once Zunino gets called up, Jaso would’ve been relegated to the bench other than a couple games a week. Despite his value, if he winds up playing 50 or 60 games next year and is exclusively a backup the years after, instead of getting the playing time that guys like Miguel Montero or AJ Pierzinski get like you suggested, then isn’t it better that they get value for him now instead of in the future when his numbers would be less impressive due to a lack of AB’s?

  14. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 7:03 pm

    This is the worst move since the deal for Bedard. If someone can think of one that’s worse, I’ll stand corrected, but really, this is the kind of deal that makes it hard to stay loyal.

    Best hitter on the team gone. But not just gone…. gone to a division rival. For probably three years.

    On the bright side, I suppose we’ll have a chance to re-acquire him with a new GM at that time.

  15. maddux on January 16th, 2013 7:09 pm

    The digs at Z seem off base. Can you really tell me our line up is not going to produce more runs this year than last year. We will produce more runs this year and at this point we still have all of our prospects.

  16. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 7:12 pm

    ^Read the last two articles by Dave again, and explain how the criticism is off base. It should be crystal-clear.

  17. miscreant on January 16th, 2013 7:13 pm

    Jack made this deal in a desperate attempt to save his job, mollify the average ignorant hydro lovin fan and well damn Jack just had to make a trade, any trade. So here we are with a roster that resembles a domino wash. Flip em over and see what ya got. Jack is hoping, no praying with all his might that he got lucky. Might as well be driving a stock car blindfolded drunk on moonshine. The ineptitude of this team is truly amazing…

    and now dammit there ain’t even Seahawk football to look forward to.

    and another thing….why the freakin A’s Jack? as if they weren’t already going to whoop our asses. You had to trade them a damn fine player in Jaso.

  18. miscreant on January 16th, 2013 7:17 pm

    With the additions of brittle Bay, Ibanez, Morales and now Morse Rick Griffin will definitely earn his paycheck.

  19. IPAinspector on January 16th, 2013 7:23 pm

    Are we trying to help Oakland win the division again? Wasn’t Jaso the best hitter on our team last year (or second best, depending on how you evaluate)? This is the first move that has really diminished my faith in Jack Z. I know, we should be waiting to see if this leads to another deal that will actually improve the team, but at this point I’m pissed if it doesn’t net us something great like Stanton.

  20. diderot on January 16th, 2013 7:27 pm

    Dave,
    Forgive the sacrilege, but despite your sound reasoning, you come off sounding like Geoff Baker here. By that I mean that you move from reality-based analysis to conjecture on motive:

    “this is just the Mariners misevaluating a player they had, because they focused too much on what he wasn’t good at”

    “The only way to view Morse as an improvement over Jaso is to think in a particularly narrow minded way, seeing players primarily through the lens of labels”

    You don’t know their motivation. It could be that they believe Montero can adequately catch 50 games a year…and that Zunino will start the other 100+ once he gets here, whenever that is. And that Ibanez can match Jaso as a left-handed pinch hitter.
    And for the time being, having missed on both Hamilton and Upton, they’re still short in the outfield. And that they perceive the upside of Morse’s offense being worth the downgrade on defense.

    I don’t know that this is right. I defer to your analysis of the tradeoff in talent. Stick to the facts–you’re good at that.

    But for you to suggest Jack’s motivations is just like Baker saying, ‘they can only be doing these things because they’re preparing to sell the team’.

    Motivations are very hard to assess.

  21. maddux on January 16th, 2013 7:29 pm

    Will or will not this team score more runs than last year? We all know the answer is yes.

    hmmmm Morales hitting 3rd, Morse 4th. Yeah way worse than Seager hitting 3rd and Jaso 4th.

  22. maddux on January 16th, 2013 7:29 pm

    Will or will not this team score more runs than last year? We all know the answer is yes.

    hmmmm Morales hitting 3rd, Morse 4th. Yeah way worse than Seager hitting 3rd and Jaso 4th.

  23. kwozzymoto on January 16th, 2013 7:29 pm

    I also don’t think many of us feel like this was really a playoff caliber roster with or without Jaso, and even if they make a couple more decent moves that probably doesn’t change.

    If my team isn’t gonna make the playoffs, then I’d at least like them to be entertaining, because what else is baseball if not entertainment? This team has been boring as hell to watch at bat the past 4 or so years, and if Jack’s moves have done nothing else this off-season, they’ve made this team more fun to watch hit.
    Morse may have his many shortcomings, but he’s also hit the 2 longest home runs in the history of the Nationals ballpark, and if you go on MLB.com and watch his dingers from the past 2 seasons, I for one look forward to finally seeing that kind of pop in this lineup. I mean if you’re gonna suck, ya might as well do it in style.

  24. terryoftacoma on January 16th, 2013 7:35 pm

    I’ll wait until the roster is set before passing any judgement on Z. I never been a fanboy of Jaso as some have and trust me I know his stats. I’m not going to the weeping well on an average catcher who had a great season but probably won’t do it again. That fact that we couldn’t get more than just Morse bothers me more than losing him.

    Kottaras was just DFA by Oakland which is a possible replacement. Although he is a downgrade on offense. He had .211/351/415 wOBA .339 wRC+ 114 and 1.2 WAR.

  25. currcoug on January 16th, 2013 7:39 pm

    “I really want to cry, our GM is an idiot, just like Bavasi.”

    No, not even remotely close. Bavasi would have given Oakland a prospect like Nick Franklin and Jaso.

  26. horatiosanzserif on January 16th, 2013 7:39 pm

    All of this is Justin Upton’s fault, really.

  27. heychuck01 on January 16th, 2013 7:40 pm

    Since this is baseball, and strange things happen, this trade may work out.

    But that is still no excuse. This trade was evaluated correctly by Dave, and no matter what happens in the future, I see this as a slight to the current M’s management.

    Boo!

  28. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 7:42 pm

    Will or will not this team score more runs than last year? We all know the answer is yes.

    hmmmm Morales hitting 3rd, Morse 4th. Yeah way worse than Seager hitting 3rd and Jaso 4th.

    With the fences moving in, and the subtraction of four bad hitters, you could argue the team was likely to do better regardless. With Morales, even more so.

    But now, you subtract a significant piece of the offense that you would have had for three more years minimum, while adding one piece for just one year. And you strengthen a division rival for three years in the process.

    If you really can’t see the big picture, ask a friend for help.

  29. terryoftacoma on January 16th, 2013 7:57 pm

    Steve, I don’t think anyones saying this is a good trade. What some are saying is it’s not a terrible trade for what Z wants to do. Jaso was not going to be significant piece of the offense for the next three years. He would at best be the backup catcher possibly as early as July cutting into his value. He had 2.7 WAR last year if we add a catcher that gives us say 1 to 1.5. The team could come out ahead.

    Equal trade.. no… bad for the team.. we don’t know yet.

  30. easternWAmsfan on January 16th, 2013 7:59 pm

    The more i think about it I don’t mind the move.. The M’s most likely need another 1-2 years before they can contend anyway. Why not see what happens for 3+ months with these guys. If they are out of it in July, then trade morales, morse, and ibanez and bring up the prospects. Really all that is lost is Jaso and vargas (who also will be a FA next yr). See what young pieces you can add at the deadline unless one of them looks worth keeping. Maybe sign an extension? By next year hopefully zunino is ready to catch 120 games or so. Just some thoughts after thinking about this for a while

  31. ivan on January 16th, 2013 8:01 pm

    Could it be that they think (a) Montero is ready to carry a heavier load of catching duties, or (b) that they expect Zunino to make the team from the start, or (c) both of the above?

    I have no way of knowing that this is what they think, and I can’t offer any evidence that (a), (b), or (c) are true. But stranger things have happened.

    I would not have made this trade, for most of the reasons already stated. But there has to be some as yet unknown rationale behind it, and I’m curious as to what it is.

  32. currcoug on January 16th, 2013 8:09 pm

    We will see…I don’t expect Jaso to duplicate 2012 in Oakland, and he isn’t going to strengthen the A’s in regards to defense.

    BTW, if Morse stays healthy, I rather doubt Oakland’s staff (especially their lefties) will be thrilled to see Morse in the AL West.

    The A’s also gave up organizational depth to the Nats, in the three way deal to acquire Jaso.

  33. BackRub on January 16th, 2013 8:18 pm

    The reason this trade was terrible, without any rational counterargument, is even if M’s wanted to move Jaso we know they could have gotten more for him. The A’s gave up more to get him. Cole headlined the the Gio deal and the A’s traded him and others for Jaso. Cole has lost a little luster, but is still a top prospect. We could have flipped him for a better player than Morse-someone like Will Venable.

    I have defended Jack Z for a long time, and love what he has done with the farm system. However, after this trade I don’t feel like I would mind if he weren’t GM after this year. If he can be kept on board in some role and mainly manage the farm that would be ideal. And of course I’d want Tom Mac to stay, and he might not if Z is gone. But seriously, the mindset demonstrated by this trade gives me little hope for the M’s next few years. W/o ranting, how do you evaluate that a player like Morse isn’t great a few years ago and then make a trade like this that only makes sense if you think he’s better than the advanced stats indicate…

  34. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 8:23 pm

    @Terry

    How is losing your best hitter not bad for the team? The goal should be to add ML-ready talent without subtracting any.

  35. currcoug on January 16th, 2013 8:24 pm

    OK, lets say Morse stays healthy, puts up great numbers, and the M’s still suck. Zduriencik might just get better prospects from another club, than the A’s gave up to get Jaso.

  36. dirkvdb on January 16th, 2013 8:24 pm

    Can you say 5th place for the next 3 years?

  37. kinickers77 on January 16th, 2013 8:24 pm

    When I first heard the news, I was frustrated too, just like Dave and Jeff and most of the other great Mariners baseball thinkers.

    I say “most” because a friend of mine writes for ProBallNW and I called him immediately after I heard an his response was… Weird deal.

    He wasn’t upset about the deal. Just weird. He said he doesn’t think he’d do it if it were his choice but he said there’s more stuff going on in the background than we know.

    He thinks there may be something about Jaso that coaches/managers don’t like behind the scenes. After all, TB traded away Jaso to us for much less than we just got. And TB is known for having a great read on talent and player value. They didn’t want Jaso anymore and now we don’t. It’ll be interesting to see how long he stays in Oakland.

  38. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 8:26 pm

    @currcoug

    A 30 y/o injury-prone DH in the final year of his contract flipped for good prospects by the deadline? yeah, I’d love to see Jack pull that off.

  39. stevemotivateir on January 16th, 2013 8:29 pm

    @kinickers

    Nothing’s came out from Tampa. If there were really an issue, we probably would have heard something by now. All I’ve heard was that he’s been one of the quiet leaders.

    But who cares about gossip. He could produce on the field. And I’d bet Beane is feeling pretty good about himself right now.

  40. Westside guy on January 16th, 2013 8:33 pm

    Wow. Just wow.

    Earlier in the year I joked about Z trying to corner the market on guys who have the DH skill set but – it’s no longer a joke. We are seriously faced with the possibility of watching an outfield defense on par with Detroit’s infield offense, but without the monster hitters that make their infield worthwhile.

  41. currcoug on January 16th, 2013 8:36 pm

    Steve,

    The Nats just turned Morse into Coles and two prospects…

  42. terryoftacoma on January 16th, 2013 8:43 pm

    @ steve
    The goals not always possible. I doubt Jaso would have been our best hitter this year. Good hitter. yes… best.. probably not.

    Sometimes you subtract from one position to improve at two.

    Again, I would not have made this trade but I’m not going to be upset about it, either.

    @kinickers77

    I mentioned something along those lines in the other thread. Makes me wonder, too.

  43. bookbook on January 16th, 2013 8:45 pm

    @currcoug,

    You can’t easily trade with yourself.

  44. eponymous coward on January 16th, 2013 8:48 pm

    Steve, I don’t think anyones saying this is a good trade. What some are saying is it’s not a terrible trade for what Z wants to do. Jaso was not going to be significant piece of the offense for the next three years. He would at best be the backup catcher possibly as early as July cutting into his value. He had 2.7 WAR last year if we add a catcher that gives us say 1 to 1.5. The team could come out ahead.

    And Horacio Ramirez could have turned out better than Rafael Soriano, and Brandon League could have turned out better than Brandon Morrow, and Erik Bedard could have stayed healthy and been a 5+ WAR pitcher… well, you get the idea.

  45. poetfiend on January 16th, 2013 8:50 pm

    News leak: The Seattle Mariners to announce team name change. To honor and acknowledge all the fine, and seemingly endless construction and reconstruction of the proud city of Seattle, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Lincoln will announce the team’s new name tomorrow: The Northwest Orange Cones.

  46. kinickers77 on January 16th, 2013 8:53 pm

    @stevemotivator

    Still, TB traded Jaso away for much less than we just did. They, and now the Ms too, seem to value him lower than his WAR suggests for unknown reasons. Not everything is made public.

  47. DarkKnight1680 on January 16th, 2013 8:58 pm

    Pretty silly deal. I have no issue with dealing Jaso, but Morse is an odd target. The only way I can rationalize it is as follows:

    1) The organization strongly believes that Jesus Montero is a future star at the plate. Thus, trading him now would be getting low value, and he needs as many days to play as possible. They also believe that Catcher and DH are his only positions.
    2) The organization strongly believes that Mike Zunino is very close to Major League Ready, requiring at most 3 additional months of Minor League seasoning. Since his only position is catcher, innings were going to be needed at C.
    3) The organization believed to some degree that Jaso’s offensive output last year represented a peak rather than a sustainable level.
    4) That Mike Morse, despite his generally atrocious defense, gives them a player who, for one year, can be slotted in at DH, 1B, OF, or 3B without the world crashing down.

    So to me, they see Jaso as expendable (this is silly), Morse as versatile (in the ability to cover in an emergency), and Montero and Zunino as the sure-fire (because that always works) DH and C combo of the next bunch of Mariner years.

    Still don’t like it.

  48. currcoug on January 16th, 2013 9:00 pm

    Book,

    I stated a fact…what are you talking about? If Morse stays healthy, and puts up good numbers, someone will give up value to get him, if the M’s want to move him.

    After all, Bavasi gave up Cabrera for 68 AB’s of Perez, and Choo for Broussard. Both moves were defended by most Mariner fans/blogs at the time. MLB history is rich with such trades.

  49. GLS on January 16th, 2013 9:02 pm

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so my apologies if someone already made this point, but don’t people know by now that when Billy Beane has his eye on one of your players, that you know, you might want to think twice about trading that guy?

  50. currcoug on January 16th, 2013 9:03 pm

    My bad…87 AB’s of Eduardo Perez…LOL.

  51. terryoftacoma on January 16th, 2013 9:07 pm

    @eponymous

    Oh, I get the idea. We’re all tired of this. I have learned to laugh and not take things so seriously. ST starts soon I’m looking forward to that.

  52. Paul L on January 16th, 2013 9:10 pm

    I really have no idea who to blame here. Yes, JZ is the GM, so ultimately he will take the heat. But I find it impossible to separate it from Lincoln & Armstrong.

    Bay: local guy!
    Ibanez: Ex-Mariner comes home! And a great guy! And leader!
    Morse: Ex-Mariner comes home! A big bat!

    This is all Lincoln/Armstrong thinking. And the fact that all three were done this offseason makes me wonder if, after a couple of seasons of being hands-off, they have decided to re-assert themselves in the decision making process.

    Sure seems like a bit more than a coincidence.

  53. kazuc on January 16th, 2013 9:25 pm

    Screw Jack Z, seriously. All he does is talk through his hat, and we’re supposed to believe he’s Billy Beane just because he isn’t Barvasi. Fast forward a few years, he’s done nothing to improve the team, and instead makes absolutely ridiculous acquisitions like Ibanez and Bay, and then trades a good hitting catcher for a guy who is maybe equally as good with the bat, but one who isn’t a catcher, isn’t a good defensive player, and isn’t under contract. I give up. Everyone here has been preaching patience and giving Jack a chance. Well after this move… my patience has run out. If the Mariners young guys ever do develop, the team will be good despite the management, not because of it.

  54. Westside guy on January 16th, 2013 9:29 pm

    Has anyone in Kansas City seen Dayton Moore this winter? I think he took a wrong turn on I-84 back in early December and ended up in the Mariners front office by mistake.

  55. madatms on January 16th, 2013 9:30 pm

    JZ should make this trade based on need then to show he knows baseball Carter Capps or Stephen Pryor for blue jays D.J. Davis and either Jimenez/Nessy to restock positions vacated by trade of Jaso

    we won’t be going nowhere this season so build up farm system before leaving

  56. raul_podzednick on January 16th, 2013 9:31 pm

    I have defended and stuck up for Z but man this trade makes it really tough. Jaso was a great pick up and now we shipped off to Oakland where he will be a Mariner killer for years to come.

  57. The_Waco_Kid on January 16th, 2013 9:38 pm

    I’ll go out on a limb and say I hated the would-be Upton trade more. I really liked Jaso, but he was not the future of our team. He was nice to have around, but the long-term plan is Zunino at catcher, Montero at DH, with Jaso moving to the bench or another team. The A’s angle hurts and I’d rather have Upton than Morse, but I’m glad we still have Walker, Furbush, Pryor, and Franklin.

  58. mln on January 16th, 2013 9:53 pm

    The Mariners need to convince Jay Buhner to come out of retirement.

    He’d be a perfect acquisition according to JackZ’s logic: Buhner’s a beloved “hometown guy.” He adds character to the clubhouse. He used to play for the Mariners many years ago. And he can play DH–thereby adding to the Mariner’s obsessive hoarding of players at this position!

  59. rightwingrick on January 16th, 2013 9:54 pm

    Unlike the majority here, I like this trade. And it has more to do with the middle of the M’s batting order than to do with either Jaso or Morse. What the M’s need is someone who, ALONG WITH Morales, can hit with consistency, and can hit with power with consistency. It makes our entire lineup better, because now the other guys can be slotted to their strengths, rather than to our team’s weaknesses. Jaso is a .280 hitter. Morse is a .290 hitter. Jaso is a 10 homer guy; Morse is a 25-30 homer guy. I think Zduriencik made a hell of a trade, and Oakland gave up all the prospects in the three-team deal. I really liked Jaso. But he wasn’t the difference-maker that Morse can be on a much more consistent basis. Morse has legit raw power and hits for average….and for this particular lineup, that is a very good thing.

  60. rightwingrick on January 16th, 2013 9:59 pm

    Here’s what the (usually pretty accurate) Baseball Forecaster says about Mike Morse: “legit raw power; he’ll be a force once more if healthy.” Projection: .290/.327 with 27 home runs and 84 RBI.

    If we get anywhere close to those numbers (and Baseball Forecaster is usually pretty close), everybody commenting here should be pretty darn happy.

  61. MrZDevotee on January 16th, 2013 10:01 pm

    I’m not excited about Morse (even though I predicted he might be a target on Dave’s “current roles” post), but I’m not irreparably disappointed either. And I just can’t see this ugly enough to get as worked up as most others here. It’s a move putting emphasis in a different area (is Morse a worse defensive corner OF than Jaso is a throw-em-out catcher?)… I mean, it’s almost like context to this particular team is irrelevant. People actually believe Morse won’t be an upgrade over Trayvon Robinson, or Carlos Peguero, or Eric Thames, or Mike Carp, or (yes) Casper Wells? Which is what we ran out there last year? Mike Carp was our starting LF on opening day, remember. A poor man’s LH Mike Morse.

    We obviously don’t know what the catching situation is going to be, because this can’t be the final answer. So I’m not worried about that. And I guess I might be the only one completely confident there’s no way Jaso is as “clutch-y” and proficient with the bat as he was last year. He just shouldn’t be the best bat on this team, so thinking that’s what we lost doesn’t make sense to me. Just as I also might be the only one who doesn’t think Brendan Ryan will bat under .200 again.

    I guess my deficiency is in deferring to other quality organization’s designs. Like the fact that Boston, the NY Yanks and the Rays were all seeking to add Morse. The Yankees, Rangers and Phillies wanted to add Ibanez.

    I mean I just can’t get venomously worked up over the idea that we signed a starting OF of the 2012 New York Yankees, and a starting OF and prominent bat of the team with the best record for most of the 2012 season (in the Nationals). For good portions of last season we started 2 OF’s who wouldn’t be above AAAA in other top organizations.

    They’re not ideal fits, no. They’re not what my deepest wishes for making the Mariners better included a couple months ago. Sure.

    But also, neither of them is Mike Carp, and we all clapped politely at running him out there in LF last year on opening day. Wrong as it was. Only to watch the guy hurt himself out of position.

    And I guess I’m misreading numbers, or relying on old-fashioned stuff to compare them?

    During their careers-

    Morse .295/.347/.492/.839 OPS+ 126
    Jaso .255/.359/.395/.754 OPS+ 114

    Other than OBP there’s nothing that Jaso does better with the bat than Morse over their career numbers (which literally means he’s better at NOT swinging the bat than Mike Morse, he’s better at NOT hitting). Yet Morse is signficantly better in all the other categories, including nearly twice above average at OPS+. (And if you wanna look at last year, how much better would Morse be only facing the types of pitchers he’s most successful against– like Jaso?)

    And also, Jaso doesn’t play full time either, if you’re gonna ding Morse for health issues:

    Games played past 3 years:
    Morse
    2010 98
    2011 146
    2012 102 = 30+ more games than Jaso

    Jaso
    2010 109
    2011 89
    2012 108

    One is 29, one is 30. The age thing is irrelevant to me. And it’s great to have more years of Jaso, but a 32 year old platoon catcher (like he’ll be) is the sort of guy we’ve been looking for to be our BACKUP, and nobody’s thinking “boy we REALLY need to find that guy”.

    I mean, if trading Jaso for Mike Morse is the stupidest move the Mariners could make, The Rays should have to give up their “League Membership” for the trade they made with the M’s to send him here.

    But oddly, they’re still doing quite well. (Scratches head…)

    Would everyone STILL be as upset if we ended up with Dee Gordon and Michael Bourn, too? ‘Cause we still have money to spend, and all our prospects.

    Repeat again– we still have money to spend and all our prospects.

    I really can’t believe how down on this team people are, when compared to how we started last season.

    (Fun to note- no matter how AARP they are, we’ve added THREE guys with MVP votes on their resumes to our roster. Bay, Morse and Ibanez… 3X’s for Ibanez, which I was honestly shocked to see.)

  62. kenshabby on January 16th, 2013 10:01 pm

    This trade has shitty shit dumb dumb shitty stupid shit written all over it. C’mon Jack, stop being Bavasi II.

  63. MrZDevotee on January 16th, 2013 10:12 pm

    And for the record, I don’t think it was right for you to call the move “stupid” Dave. No matter how much, even justifiably, you don’t like the move.

    Not very professional. Sorry. I respect you greatly, but that post struck me as immature. And I don’t think of you like that.

    Everyone can flame me for saying it, which I expect. But Dave doesn’t need to stoop to that.

  64. terryoftacoma on January 16th, 2013 10:21 pm

    @MrZDevotee

    You said it much better than I did earlier in this thread but I agree with you. Morse in left is such an upgrade over what we had last year.

    What interests me is we’re not done yet. We still need a starter or two and a catcher.

  65. The_Waco_Kid on January 16th, 2013 10:22 pm

    Jaso is probably a 15-HR guy with deserved playing time. He has a bit more defensive value than Morse and walks way more, which helps a little. If we get 2011 Morse (30ish HR), great. If we get 2012 Morse (20ish HR), I’ll be pining for Jaso and his .394 OBP. Big risk.

    Also, if Zunino’s up soon, I guess we don’t need Jaso, but don’t rush him. If we get a veteran catcher, I guess that works too, so I’ll reserve final judgment til Opening Day.

    This still strikes me as a traditional “over-value HR, undervalue OBP” move. I think Jaso is wrongly dismissed as a backup catcher and above average HR guys are wrongly hyped as game changers.

  66. Dmaster on January 17th, 2013 1:04 am

    The other side:

    Moving Morse in the first place was a mistake. Yes, he’s terrible defensively in the OF. Langerhans was a stud, right? Not by a long shot. He wasn’t an OF until 4 years ago. He came up as a bad SS and an OK 3B. Beltre was there and we moved him to keep Beltre’s D.

    What’s missing here is that Morse was always a good hitter. We never had a spot for him.

    Also, I refuse to believe Z made this move without some idea of moving 2-3 OF’s for some pitching.

    Jaso was one of the reasons I bothered to tune in last year, but that says something about how terrible we were.

    Let things play out before shredding Z. The season hasn’t even started yet. We still have all our great prospects.

  67. zak24 on January 17th, 2013 1:52 am

    John Jaso who? The Mariners are going to acquire Victor Martinez and Rick Porcello.

  68. stevemotivateir on January 17th, 2013 4:06 am

    Sometimes you subtract from one position to improve at two.

    This trade doesn’t do that.

  69. stevemotivateir on January 17th, 2013 4:08 am

    Steve,

    The Nats just turned Morse into Coles and two prospects…

    Yeah, to the Mariners, and before the final season on his contract started. Big difference from a trade at the deadline, where he becomes a two month rental.

  70. stevemotivateir on January 17th, 2013 4:14 am

    Really, why is anyone even trying to justify this trade? Dig all you want, but at the end of the day, we lost a great hitter with more skills and under team control, to a division rival. And in exchange, we get a one year rental who offers nothing defensively.

    This is a move that slightly screws us this season, but really screws us the following years.

  71. Barron on January 17th, 2013 6:06 am

    This move seems to be a vote of confidence for Justin Smoak.

    Now Smoak, Montero, and Morales are going to have a spot in the lineup most every night, whereas before Jaso would take some ABs against RHP.

  72. built2crash on January 17th, 2013 6:08 am

    Let me be clear–I hate this trade. One thing I want to say is that Jack Z. had to make an effort to bring in a bat like he said he was going to. He tried to get Stanton, or Upton and other players but ended up with nothing. This is one of those moves that are made just to make a move. It tough to say a GM got pressured into making a move, but it sure feels that way.

  73. deadmanonleave on January 17th, 2013 6:32 am

    Is there any likelihood at all that Z may be doing this with the intention of trading Morse to somebody that couldn’t/wouldn’t do the trade with the Nats? It’s probably a long shot, and I guess we’d have seen it by now if so.

    Just running out of straws to clutch at, at least last year when I’d set the alarm for 0300 to see M’s games I had optimism that however crap they were, there was a strong hand on the wheel and a desire to get better. Feels like a step backwards, much more so than taking a punt on someone like Bay did.

  74. Snuffy on January 17th, 2013 6:34 am

    Adding 1 year of Morse seems like a modest improvement. But losing 3 years of Jaso puts this in negative territory. I’m guessing that Jack was under orders to bring in a middle of the order bat and this was the best of the bad options. Giving up top prospects would have been much worse. Now who is the catcher when Montero is not in the lineup? The A’s designated George Kottaras who is a decent backup offensively, but not much defensively. Apparently the Mariners were not interested. It’s unlikely Kottaras will be released before another trade is made. Many teams will be interested in him.

  75. stevemotivateir on January 17th, 2013 6:42 am

    This move seems to be a vote of confidence for Justin Smoak.

    Now Smoak, Montero, and Morales are going to have a spot in the lineup most every night, whereas before Jaso would take some ABs against RHP.

    Yeah, thank God we don’t have to deal with Jaso sucking up PA’s from Smoak.

    By the way, where do you think Morse will play? Do you think he was brought in just to face LHP’s?

    Jack made it clear he intends to play Bay, and he wouldn’t have signed Ibanez if he didn’t intend to use him.

    Something still has to give.

  76. Mekias on January 17th, 2013 6:47 am

    I believe there is some reason to hope with Morse. He had a great year in 2011. 2012 was hampered by the torn lat in the beginning and trying to play through hand/wrist issues near the end. 31 isn’t that old so I think if he can stay fairly healthy, he’ll be a nice bat for us. It also sounds like he’s genuinely happy to be back so maybe he’ll be one of the few hitters who might want to sign with us.

    Just trying to put a positive spin on this. I’m still disappointed that we had to lose 3 years of Jaso for likely 1 year of Morse but that isn’t Morse’s fault.

  77. tmac9311 on January 17th, 2013 7:00 am

    I’m guessing we’ll see something in the ballpark of

    1. Ackley (2B)
    2. Seager (3B)
    3. Montero (C)
    4. Morse (LF)
    5. Morales (1B)
    6. Raul (DH)
    7. Saunders (RF)
    8. Guti (CF)
    9. Ryan (SS)

    There’s no real way to make a case that this lineup is better than it would be with Jaso, but it works better in a traditional sense which probably pleases Wedge.

    Unfortunately I would guess Z is in the position where he knows regardless of what we do this year we are going to finish 4th in the division barring an A’s like run, and with Zunino right around the corner he traded his future backup catcher for a “middle of the order bat”. With the stadium renovations and a team that can hit a few more dingers than last years team I think the goal for the season is to get out of the 26th-30th range of attendance this season.

  78. dmanjam on January 17th, 2013 7:21 am

    Your analysis of this trade doesn’t mention that Jack Z is looking for reasonably priced veterans he can trade for prospects at the deadline. Lets face it, the Mariners are going nowhere this year. If they repeat their 75 wins Wedge should be manager of the year.

  79. ChrisFB on January 17th, 2013 7:29 am

    tmac – You have Montero too high in that lineup. Remember, Wedge has veterans now. He must be over the moon. Morse/Morales/Ibanez as the 3-4-5, with Montero batting 6th so as not to have too much pressure on him.

    paul L: The ‘family reunion’ angle of bringing back Morse, Bay and Ibanez is an interesting one. If we see Moyer, Garcia and Bloomquist here in spring training I’ll get on board with that conspiracy theory…

    diderot: You have a good point about Dave having a bit of conjecture on front office motivations, but really, with how bad this trade looks on paper, I think a little bit of emotional reaction is justified. Guessing at and disdaining the thought process that may have gone into this, is a valid and rather Dave C. way of expressing that emotion, from what I know of his writing.

  80. ChrisFB on January 17th, 2013 7:36 am

    And further expanding on tmac’s lineup above…

    1. Ackley (2B)
    2. Seager (3B)
    3. Morse (LF)
    4. Morales (1B)
    5. Raul (DH)
    6. Montero (C)
    7. Saunders (RF)
    8. Guti (CF)
    9. Ryan (SS)

    Bench: Andino, Wells, catcher TBD, utility TBD – Smoak in AAA, Bay cut in spring training
    Bullpen: Same as 2012, yay
    Rotation: Felix, Kuma, Erasmo, pitcher TBD, pitcher #2 TBD

    Because there’s no way they’re starting the season with just Andino as the utility infielder, and no way they start the season with Noesi and Beavan in the rotation again. Right?

  81. Westside guy on January 17th, 2013 7:40 am

    To be clear: while I hate the trade, I’m confident Morse will hit… If he stays healthy. And I’d probably like the idea more if we hadn’t already acquired Ibañez (although still – not at the expense of Jaso). But it seems bizarre that we’re loading up on multiple guys who really shouldn’t wear anything other than a first baseman’s mitt.

    As presently constructed, this lineup will likely score significantly more runs than the 2012 lineup did.. It also will likely give up significantly more runs than 2012′s. Morse and Ibañez in the corners will be a disaster.

  82. ChrisFB on January 17th, 2013 7:51 am

    Westside – .500 team?

  83. terryoftacoma on January 17th, 2013 8:00 am

    Paul L. I was laughing at that very possibly last until I remembered we still need a starter or two and both Garcia and Moyer are FA. Garcia may actually be better than Beaven.

    Snuffy. Just because Kottaras wasn’t included in this trade doesn’t mean he’s completely out of the picture yet. They have 10 days.

    Jack has done a quick change this winter from a run prevention team with mostly kids to an offensive production team using veterns/kids. More power less defense runs against the grain around here so people are upset. I don’t blame them. But it’s done. I hope it works.

    I don’t think Bay is going to make this team but I changed my mind and think they’ll go with 5 outfielders. Morse gives us that emergency backup third baseman that Dave mentioned. Smoak who has an option left may start in Tacoma. Carp is just plain out of a job.

    The loss of Jaso hurts but he was probably going to end up as a backup after this year anyway.

  84. currcoug on January 17th, 2013 8:01 am

    Steve,

    I got it the first time…and you ignored the examples provided for “two month” rent a players (like Eduardo Perez). Again, you know as well as I do this sort of thing occurs in MLB. You don’t think Zduriencik could deal a healthy, productive Morse for a player such as Jaso? Really?

  85. Phightin Phils on January 17th, 2013 8:01 am

    I know this site is about facts, and not about rumors regarding PEDs.
    The fact is Mike Morse is a cheater — he is an *admitted* steroid user. He used steroids when in the minors for fear that an injury would end his career. Maybe it would have. Maybe he got a shot at the majors — that someone else didn’t — because he cheated.

  86. currcoug on January 17th, 2013 8:06 am

    Phightin,

    He already paid for that mistake. Good grief.

  87. Arron on January 17th, 2013 8:12 am

    Baseball America has Cole as Oakland’s #1 prospect…so asumming that they liked Jaso enough to make a two-team deal with Seattle, we could have taken a divisional rival’s #1 pitching prospect and instead got Morse.

    Beyong depressing. If you are inclined to part with Jaso, which can be debated, you need to maximize the talent return. Not look for “roles” or types of players.

    Power. Yippee.

  88. Phightin Phils on January 17th, 2013 8:12 am

    currcoug — fair enough. But there’s a chance we’re now also paying for it.

  89. currcoug on January 17th, 2013 8:21 am

    I am a bit tired today, could you rephrase?

  90. mymrbig on January 17th, 2013 8:27 am

    I don’t like the trade for the M’s, but this seems like a little too much ink hating on the trade. Jaso had some value, but he was also likely to be displaced by Zunino sometime in 2013. He has a skill set that not every team values. His defense was at least shaky enough that a couple different teams, both largely regarded as pretty smart teams (the M’s and Rays) traded him away without receiving much in return (Josh Lueke anyone?).

    Again, I don’t love the trade. I’d rather have seen the M’s trade Jaso to the A’s for the prospects the Nats received, then seen what Jack Z could have done with those prospects. But considering that Jaso just wasn’t going to get a lot in return from a trade, that the Rays also had given him away for not much, and that his playing time was going to go down in the near future, I don’t have the energy to get to worked up about it. I think its a loss for the M’s, but not THAT big of a loss.

  91. Westside guy on January 17th, 2013 8:42 am

    I don’t know, Chris. Morales was an improvement – but enough to get us to .500?

    I’m just not convinced Morse’s overall contribution is going to be significantly more than Jaso’s would’ve been. Plus if Morse and Ibañez are Wedge’s usual starting corner guys (which I think likely), Condor and Guti are left to split one spot. I don’t think Raul will outhit Saunders, and his defense is horrid – so Condor rotting on the bench is just dumb.

  92. stevemotivateir on January 17th, 2013 8:53 am

    You don’t think Zduriencik could deal a healthy, productive Morse for a player such as Jaso? Really?

    Two months of use for a Jaso? No. And I didn’t ignore anything. You’re assuming Morse will retain the same value. There is no guarantee of that, and odds are, he wont. He’ll have to stay healthy and be as or more productive than last year.

    If he can do that, there’s still the issue of his defense. So no, again, I don’t see him being flipped for someone as good as Jaso.

  93. Barron on January 17th, 2013 9:14 am

    Yeah, thank God we don’t have to deal with Jaso sucking up PA’s from Smoak.

    By the way, where do you think Morse will play? Do you think he was brought in just to face LHP’s?

    Jack made it clear he intends to play Bay, and he wouldn’t have signed Ibanez if he didn’t intend to use him.

    Something still has to give.

    Yes, thank G-d. Whether it be from Smoak, Montero, or Morales, Jaso’s ABs were going to come from somewhere. It seems as if people were hoping for 400ish ABs (amount a team plays against RHP), and now those ABs get spread the three above-mentioned players, plus Raul/Bay (which is not enticing).

    I think Morse will probably play LF. He is going to be a defensive liability. Hopefully having Guti and Saunders playing the other two positions allows them to shade over in order to help cover Morse’s defensive deficiencies.

    I think Bay will be cut. My guess is that Bay/Raul (less Raul) were somewhat of a backup plan if nothing else worked. Plan A- Hamilton, Plan B- Upton, Plan C-Morse, Plan D- fill in the blank, Plan E- Bay/Raul/Well play the third position.

    I am sad to see Jaso go. His heroics last year were something else. In the end, having Montero and Zunino on the depth chart did not help. And eventually, his platoon split was the nail in the coffin. I remain hopeful that our core youth group progresses and “the plan” will put a team that can compete on the field.

  94. Rick L on January 17th, 2013 9:18 am

    How does Morse compare with Mike Carp in value? Although Carp isn’t that great an outfielder either, is he better than Morse?

    Also, does this make Oakland, the division champs, better?

  95. currcoug on January 17th, 2013 9:29 am

    Steve,

    The Eduardo Perez trade is an excellent example of what I am taking about (and you didn’t comment).

    I think you overvalue Jaso, and undervalue Morse, but I can respect that. We will see.

    BTW, would you have been upset if Z had dealt Jaso to the A’s for the package the Nats received?

  96. bookbook on January 17th, 2013 9:42 am

    The fit would have been even worse. The M’s are strongest in high upside starting pitching prospects, of course.

  97. mymrbig on January 17th, 2013 9:49 am

    You can never have too many high upside starting pitching prospects, of course, because a significant percentage of them will not come close to achieving their ceilings.

  98. AlvinDavisEyes on January 17th, 2013 9:55 am

    Jack Z is quoted as saying: “We’ve added to what we think could be a pretty good middle of the lineup there with Michael, Kendrys Morales, and Raul [Ibanez] and Jason Bay.”

    That implies (on some level anyway) that all/most of those guys will be in the lineup every day. The only way to do that is to have Montero catch every day, have 2 of Bay/Ibanez/Morse in the OF every day, and have Morales DH/1B every day. Our outfield went from young/good defensively/fragile to old/washed up/not good defensively/fragile.

  99. JasonJ on January 17th, 2013 10:12 am

    To me, Jaso was a guy on a 25 man-roster filled with question marks who was a no-brainer. Under control for three more years, can catch, play 1B, get on-base and hit the crap out of the ball against right-handers.

    Even if Zunino is ready this year, Jaso is a great guy to have on the bench as a pinch-hitter/platoon player and he just flat-out adds value to a team’s roster even if he’s not playing every day, as his WAR provides. Bottom line, I think winning teams have guys like Jaso as depth.

    But gave that up, and spent more money on an injury prone rental who, based on the numbers, doesn’t bring the same overall value to the team even if he has “big-time power” (as JZ stated much to my dismay).

    Btw, am I the only one who is upset seeing our supposed stats-oriented savior GM talk like the fossil GM’s from 20 years ago? Maybe Wedge has corrupted him

  100. terryoftacoma on January 17th, 2013 10:13 am

    Currently, I see Montero catching, Morales 1b/dh, Morse of/1b, Ibanez of/1b/bench, and Bay of/bench assuming Bay even makes the team which I hope he doesn’t. Having Wells as our fifth outfielder would limit the times we have to see more than one defensively challenge guy at a time.Lots of ways to get most of them in the lineup every day. Of course, injuries will happen. No way you could call this a run prevention team.

  101. terryoftacoma on January 17th, 2013 10:15 am

    Not upset at all Jason(well maybe some) I fully expected this short term run this year.

  102. ChrisFB on January 17th, 2013 10:15 am

    I don’t know, Chris. Morales was an improvement – but enough to get us to .500?

    It depends on who you think is an upgrade or replacement for who on the roster, production-wise. Morse is a replacement for Jaso, in one sense, because they’re swapped out, literally replacing one another. But will their playing time be the same? Will the net effect of Morse plus whoever-backup-catcher is, be equal to or greater than the net contribution of positions-Morse-plays plus Jaso?

    If for the sake of optimism, and the sake of simplicity of math, you assume everything is net neutral… i.e. assume the bullpen is still good, that full seasons of Iwakuma and Erasmo are equivalent to last year’s Vargas and Millwood, that the net add of Morales-Ibanez-Morse-Andino-TBD catcher is no worse than the loss of Jaso-Kawasaki-Olivo-Figgins… I guess it’s a way of asking what the improvement from the kids will be.

    It’s a huge assumption, yes, but what if all other things were equal and we saw a step forward from Ackley, Montero, Smoak (assuming he stays…), Saunders, and if we see Seager contribute in 2013 similar to 2012? That seems .500ish. It’s also a house of cards.

  103. amnizu on January 17th, 2013 10:26 am

    Overall, this is a bad trade but it is not a catastrophic one, its not like it will prevent the M’s from a playoff run. Once you it combined with all the other poor moves this off season a pattern of suboptimal management becomes clear, which makes me wonder why? I personally don’t think Z is stupid of desperate. I would call for Z’s head but this move has changed my perception on the overall direction of the franchise.

    Perhaps this really is a long term play and bet on Montero or Zunino being the catcher for the next 3 season.

    Perhaps the team has finally decided that it needs to get worse before it can get better.

    Perhaps this is why Z has been reluctant to give up the #12 pick to sign a mid-market free agent.

    Maybe the FO is finally saying, we need to stop the mediocrity and be bad enough to get top five draft picks and truly build through youth.

    The down side of this approach is, if true, it means that Felix will probably need to be traded for young talent and we’ll have to suffer through a few years of 60 to 65 win seasons. I’m fine with this if it means the team is built to Z’s strength, drafting and grooming young talent. It is probably what should have been done four years ago.

  104. bfgboy on January 17th, 2013 10:59 am

    After being ticked off and wondering aloud how much of a buffoon Jack Z. was, I think I started to grasp a little bit of what he might be trying to accomplish. After realizing that none of the “big fish” were interested in coming to Seattle, he had to re-format a plan that not only moved the team forward, but addressed the issues that kept the “big fish” away. I think it is reasonable to say that a huge factor in not getting people to play here is that Safeco is viewed as a wasteland for well-hit balls. How can you break that perception? By putting out a lineup that has hitters that can have the power to hit the ball out of EVERY park, Jack Z. can change the perception of Safeco.

    Check out the data at hittrackeronline, and you’ll see that both Morales and Morse AVERAGED well over 400 feet on each of their home runs last year, and Ibanez averaged over 390. Z didn’t just get home run hitters, he got guys that hit monster shots. In terms of average distance on home runs, each of those guys are top 20. Every home run these guys hit would be out of just about every ballpark in the majors. By moving in the fences (helping the current M’s) and getting these guys to each knock 20-30, he is banking on obliterating the view that Safeco is where homers go to die.

    The beauty of this whole plan is that they are all signed to one-year contracts. Along with Guti and Chone, the worst case scenario is that they all tank, we get 30 million off of the books next year, and start the whole process over, but with twice as much money to throw around and more “seasoning” for our kids. The best case scenario (which is very real) is that these guys perform or even exceed expectations, obliterate the negative perception of Safeco, and get traded for good pieces at the deadline. All this occurs while Zunino, Cerberus, Franklin, and Romero get their initiation to the bigs.

    I am sick to death of the “wait ’till next year” crap, but I can kind of see this. We are no longer in five-year plan territory, but two-year territory looks real. While I’m not jumping for joy, I can convince myself that these moves, along with maybe Rick Porcello and Kelly Shoppach, can get us through this year. As long as we beat the Astros…

  105. eponymous coward on January 17th, 2013 11:15 am

    Perhaps the team has finally decided that it needs to get worse before it can get better.

    How much worse do you need to get than three consecutive last place finishes, and seven last place finishes in the last nine years, with precisely zero meaningful games after the first week of September during that whole time?

    I’ll point something out here: Morales, Ryan, Morse, Bay, Ibañez, Gutierrez will all be pretty much able to be cleared off the books after this year. So if this does turn out to be a debacle

    That being said, if I told you the Mariners were going to spend $10 million in combined salary in 2013 on three over-30 guys to play the OF with a combined WAR that was less than Casper Wells’ 2012 WAR, and that they’d also trade John Jaso to do it… well, yeah, I think it’s perfectly valid to think that this is Bill Bavasi 2.0. Overspending for marginal bats is just as dumb as overspending for mediocre starting pitching. The only upside is that if this turns out to be as bad an idea as it appears to be at first glance, it isn’t going to cripple the franchise past 2013. We’ll have just wasted another year of Felix, etc.

  106. ThanatosK on January 17th, 2013 11:16 am

    hmm, very interesting bfgboy. i hadn’t thought of that but yes, i can at least see that idea. even if it’s not true, i’ll choose to believe it cuz it gives me more hope and makes me feel better.

  107. Seattleken on January 17th, 2013 11:22 am

    Interesting idea but its a scary reach that Z was looking for guys who can hit not only homeruns but ones that travel a long way. You might be right that this was a consideration in his thinking.

    But if that is true it makes him worse as a GM in my mind. What basis is homerun distance a critical factor on player value? The GM should be looking at overall player value on base percentage, power, speed, defense, durability and of course team need.

    To focus on going for guys that hit the ball farther in very low sample sizes is frankly quite faulty. Why not then only look for hitters who pull their homers down the line like Jose Lopez did, as then the distance to hit a homer is less?

  108. ThanatosK on January 17th, 2013 11:27 am

    are you sure he didn’t? how much do morales, ibanez, and morse pull their HR’s?

  109. downwarddog on January 17th, 2013 11:33 am

    This medieval linear comment board makes the discussion very difficult to follow, please switch to Disqus or some other format.

  110. currcoug on January 17th, 2013 11:34 am

    14 of Morse’s 18 HR’s in 2012 were to RF..but his moonshots averaged almost 403 feet. As Frank Stampf pointed out, however, it is going to take Morse time to adjust to AL pitching again…

  111. amnizu on January 17th, 2013 11:35 am

    >How much worse do you need to get than three consecutive last place finishes, and seven last place finishes in the last nine years, with precisely zero meaningful games after the first week of September during that whole time?

    You’re only looking at AL West finishes, not overall MLB finishes. As far as overall record is concerned this team has been in the mediocrity range for the majority of the last 10 seasons. The seasons they were awful, they got good picks back. Zunino, Ackely, Morrow.

  112. Dobbs on January 17th, 2013 12:20 pm

    Dave, what are the chances you ever work for the FO of the Mariners? I’m tired of reading these posts and would rather the Mariners follow some of your advice, as you’ve clearly demonstrated the proper acumen for acquiring players to help build a roster.

  113. hailcom on January 17th, 2013 12:21 pm

    The emotional reaction to this trade seems overblown. There are some talent evaluators I respect, Jason Churchill for one, who regard Morse as a significantly better hitter than Jaso. So, losing Jaso’s years v. improving the hitting for 2013 seems like a decision a not-crazy, not-stupid GM might make. Projections are just projections, of course, and the trade may look bad in hind sight, or it might not. I’m happy to have our prospects not traded away. The team make-up does seem heavy with bad defense, slow-footed types right now and I hope that changes, but this trade seems more of a blip than a catastrophe to me.

  114. Dobbs on January 17th, 2013 12:26 pm

    Also… Morse, Ibanez and Montero are pretty much the same player at this point. None can play the field and aren’t really good enough hitters to be average as a DH.

    Jaso and Wells were at least average players who can play the field. With Morales we got a guy who can hit well enough to DH. The focus on acquiring a big hitter could’ve just been in getting Laroche in FA without giving up a guy like Jaso.

    Instead, Oakland just got a great hitter that can catch… Billy Beane just improved his team and we got worse.

  115. eponymous coward on January 17th, 2013 12:44 pm

    You’re only looking at AL West finishes, not overall MLB finishes. As far as overall record is concerned this team has been in the mediocrity range for the majority of the last 10 seasons. The seasons they were awful, they got good picks back. Zunino, Ackely, Morrow.

    The “majority” of their seasons post-2003 (five out of nine) have been 93 losses or more. So 55% of the past nine years this has been a team you can’t call anything other than “bad”… and for the rest of the franchise’s history, they have only had eight other of those seasons (out of 25). Oh, and Jack Zduriencik was so enamored of that great pick you mentioned he traded the player picked for a mediocre reliever.

    You’re not exactly making a strong argument for “it needs to get worse before it gets better”. News flash: we are already a franchise that’s a joke, things are already “worse”. Remember, this is one of two franchises to have never appeared in a World Series, as well as one of a handful who’s not played in the postseason in a few years, and you have to think the Nationals have a decent shot in 2013. Us? Not so much.

    Also: how is it that if the strategy is to get terrible before you get good, how does Billy Beane make postseasons with cheap A’s clubs and never having a terrible team (no years with 90 losses ever)? Is he screwing things up by not having a couple of 100 loss A’s teams over the past decade or two?

  116. Snuffleupagus on January 17th, 2013 12:52 pm

    @hailcom:

    I think the emotional response is due to the stupidity, not the impact on the team.

    If someone does something really stupid that barely hurts the team, it almost illicits a more emotional response. It’s kind of frightening for the state of the team and future.

    If someone does something smart(or at least not stupid) that really hurts the team (like Chone Figgins), the response is less emotional.

    fuck this stupid trade.

  117. Dobbs on January 17th, 2013 12:55 pm

    “So, losing Jaso’s years v. improving the hitting for 2013 seems like a decision a not-crazy, not-stupid GM might make.”

    Problem is it doesn’t improve the team and Jaso should have more value than Morse. Know any other good-hitting left-handed hitting catchers on the market that could also DH pretty well?

  118. Dobbs on January 17th, 2013 12:57 pm

    “If someone does something really stupid that barely hurts the team, it almost illicits a more emotional response.”

    Except this could be a 4-win swing if we have a 0-win catcher replace Jaso and a 1.5 win Morse replace a 2.5 win Wells.

    Not to mention the money spent on Morse and Ibanez could’ve easily been spent on Edwin Jackson or Adam LaRoche to increase our wins in other positions.

    And where do you find a 2+ win catcher now other than rushing Zunino up?

  119. Westside guy on January 17th, 2013 1:03 pm

    “Dave, what are the chances you ever work for the FO of the Mariners?”

    The team already hired Tom Tango a couple years ago – why would they need a SECOND person to ignore?

  120. currcoug on January 17th, 2013 1:04 pm

    Unlike Upton, Michael Morse isn’t crying about being traded to Seattle.

  121. terryoftacoma on January 17th, 2013 1:09 pm

    Just curious but what source are you using to get 2.5 WAR for Wells? Fangraphs has him at 1.2 last year and 1.1 is this year fan projection.

  122. terryoftacoma on January 17th, 2013 1:31 pm

    haha Westy. That made me laugh.

  123. Choo on January 17th, 2013 1:52 pm

    You guys are crazy. Logjam? I don’t see a logjam. I see a group of pinch hitters that is nothing short of fucking bad ass. Down 5-1 in the 8th inning? Yeah, good luck holding that lead, Texas! We are about to empty the bench and fuck up your shit to the tune of 5-2, maybe even 5-3!

    Wait. What’s that you say? Our pinch hitters are in the starting lineup? Well sheeeit . . .

    This roster is a total clustercuss.

  124. amnizu on January 17th, 2013 1:53 pm

    eponymous coward

    The point is for only 3 of the past 10 years the team was BAD ENOUGH to receive a top 5 pick. Two of those three pick were made by Z. We know that Z has a history of being an excellent scout and talent identifier.

    He is showing through the trade of Morrow as you mention and his other recent moves, or non moves, that he isn’t much of a negotiator at the MLB level. So play to your strengths, much like Billy Beane does. If you’re good at talent evaluation then build the team through the draft the way he did in Milwaukee. Billy Beane builds his team the way he knows how and using his skills and abilities. Z is not Beane, he never will be, so stop expecting him to behave like someone he is not. There is more than one way to construct a winning MLB roster.

  125. stevemotivateir on January 17th, 2013 4:01 pm

    BTW, would you have been upset if Z had dealt Jaso to the A’s for the package the Nats received?

    This is really dragging out. I really don’t think you’re following me, but that’s ok.

    To answer your question, which should have already been clear, NO. No I didn’t want to see Jaso traded and especially not to a division rival.

    I don’t care about the return of a pitching prospect. Jaso’s a proven, effective player now, who is now under Oakland’s control for a significant amount of time.

  126. Dobbs on January 17th, 2013 4:07 pm

    “Just curious but what source are you using to get 2.5 WAR for Wells? Fangraphs has him at 1.2 last year and 1.1 is this year fan projection.”

    In 656 plate appearances over his career, he has 4.1 WAR. Double his plate appearances last year and he’s about 2.5.

    Make him a full-time player and he’s shown to be plenty capable of being at least average.

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