“The Beard” is headed south while ”The Beast” returns to his roots in the Pacific Northwest.
In a three-way deal with Oakland and Washington, the Mariners sent catcher John Jaso to the Athletics in exchange for OF/1B Mike Morse, who spent the last four seasons with the Nationals after starting his career in Seattle from 2005-08.
The move is certainly a head scratcher given the glut of 1B/DH/OF’s currently on the Mariners roster, but maybe positional redundancy is the new market inefficiency and Seattle is just outfoxing the rest of the league. Oh what’s the New York, you need an aging slugger who should never, ever play in the field? Too bad! We’ve got them all!
Losing Jaso hurts not just because he was the Mariners best hitter last year (.276/.395/.850) but also because he provided a number of highlights in an otherwise bleak 2012 season. Jaso was an easy guy to like; he had a great beard, he provided clutch hits, and he made us forget all about that Josh Lueke fiasco.
He wasn’t exactly the second coming of Johnny Bench defensively, but Seattle has been content to roll out catchers like Miguel Olivo, Rob Johnson, and Adam Moore over the past few seasons, so why the Mariners decided defense behind the plate was important all of a sudden is anyone’s guess. Jaso was under team control for the next three seasons, and despite his superb offensive performance in 2012, Seattle decided that his inability to hit lefties (in a very small sample) and the impending arrival of Mike Zunino was enough of an excuse to jettison a fan favorite.
In Morse, the Mariners get a player they once traded for Ryan Langerhans (LOL!) that developed into a productive slugger for Washington (64 HR from 2010-2012). Morse doesn’t draw many walks, strikes out a lot, and is a liability on the basepaths and in the outfield. As a designated hitter Morse would be a valuable asset for Seattle, but with that position likely filled by Kendrys Morales, he appears to be penciled in as the starting left fielder, which negates the majority of his value.
To his credit, Morse has said all the right things about his return to Seattle and seems genuinely excited for a second chance with the Mariners. His power is good enough to play in any park and Safeco Field’s new dimensions might allow Morse to crack 25-30 longballs. Is one year of those home runs worth three years of Jaso’s advanced plate approach and high OBP?
And what happens to Raul Ibanez, who was brought in to spend time at 1B/DH/OF? Does he take time away from Michael Saunders in right and Justin Smoak at first or is he simply a waste of money and a roster spot?
No, this isn’t the worst move in franchise history. Neither was the signing of Ibanez, Jason Bay or Jeremy Bonderman, but taken together, they paint the picture of a front office that has lost its way.
You can’t keep treading water when Oakland, Texas, and Los Angeles are committed to contending for the playoffs every season. Seattle is going to start sinking…
New Year’s resolutions are like receipts – nobody but squares keep ‘em. That doesn’t stop millions of people from making them though, including your very own Seattle Mariners:
Carlos Peguero: Close eyes. Swing hard.
Eric Wedge: Bury Casper Wells even deeper on the bench. Stroke mustache more.
Casper Wells: Stare wistfully at field from dugout.
Michael Saunders: Capitalize on his nickname (“The Condor”) and start making bird noises when he hits home runs. Bacaw!
Felix Hernandez: Two perfect games.
Kendry Morales: Introduce fellow Mariners’ hitters to the mystical powers of Jobu.
Hector Noesi: Stop reading the newspaper the day after a start because it always hurts his feelings.
Alex Liddi: Get picture of cat eating pizza onto front page of Reddit.
Brendan Ryan: Contribute on defense AND at the plate.
Charlie Furbush: Work up courage to ask teammates to stop making fun of his last name.
Dustin Ackley: Found out more about all this “fiscal cliff” hubbub.
Justin Smoak: Play terribly for Seattle. Get traded. Turn into star for new team.
Wow! That sure is a lot to look forward to! Opening Day can’t get here soon enough!
Once, Twice, Three Times a Mariner: Seattle Does the Most Seattle Thing Possible, Signs Raul Ibanez. Again.
So the Mariners missed out on Josh Hamilton? No problem, we got Jason Bay! Nick Swisher chose to sign with Cleveland over Seattle? Big deal! Welcome back Raul Ibanez!
I keep hearing that Jack Zduriencik has a plan. At what point does it include building a winning team?
Seattle isn’t going to make the playoffs in 2013; I think everyone agrees on that. The team appears to be committed to building through the draft and letting young players get at-bats, so why are they dishing out $2.75 million to a 40-year-old on his last legs?
Is it the mythical, unquantifiable quality of leadership? I can’t think of any other reason to bring in another player to add to the logjam at 1B/DH/OF. Didn’t we just do that with Kendrys Morales? Is the front office admitting that the deals that brought in Casper Wells, Mike Carp, and Eric Thames (players who will lose at-bats or a roster spot to Ibanez) were failures?
Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of Raul, and think he can still contribute as a bat off the bench, but he’s not what the Mariners need right now. Ibanez hit .208 with a .365 slugging percentage (four points below Seattle’s team average last season) away from Yankee Stadium in 2012, and the last time he played full-time in the outfield he was worth negative 23 runs. That’s not just bad, that’s cover-your-eyes bad.
Could the Mariners hide his Benny Hill act in the outfield by keeping the majority of his at-bats at DH? Sure, but then better hitters like Morales, John Jaso, and Jesus Montero would be forced to the bench, and on days when Ibanez is in the outfield, Michael Saunders or Wells would lose playing time – how exactly does that help their development?
The Mariners don’t need leadership right now, they need talent. Ibanez doesn’t make Seattle any better in 2013, and the belief that his veteran presence will make the M’s young hitters better in coming years is ludicrous. Is Raul going to make Montero stop swinging at sliders in the dirt, or is Montero going to figure that out on his own with (gasp!) playing time? Seattle wants its young players to improve? Hire a good coach; don’t send them to the bench so a star of bygone days can parade in front of an apathetic fan base.
I used to joke that the Mariners would finish fifth in the A.L. West. Now, with Houston in the division and a front office committed to ineptitude, it seems like a very real possibility…
CLICK PICTURE TO ENJOY RAUL IN THE OUTFIELD
Hasta La Vista Viva Las Vargas: Mariners Swap Southpaw Jason Vargas for Angels’ Superflous Slugger Kendry Morales
In a typical tight-lipped Jack Zduriencik move that developed seemingly out of thin air, the Seattle Mariners agreed today to ship their number two starter to the L.A. Angels in return for 1B/DH Kendry Morales.
Vargas has been a serviceable starter for the Mariners the last three seasons, averaging innings and posting ERA’s of 3.78, 4.25, and 3.85. He’s a gritty pitcher with good control, but his so-so stuff, gopheritis (35 home runs allowed in 2012), and increasing salary made him a likely target to be moved this off-season. Vargas has always been a pitcher who benefited from Safeco’s spacious dimensions (2.74 ERA at home vs. 4.78 ERA on the road last season) and with stadium alterations in place for the 2013 season, the Mariners likely sold Vargas while his value was at its peak.
Trading within the division isn’t a common occurrence, but the Angels needed a starting pitcher to round out their rotation and had a glut of 1B/DH players on their roster, making Morales expendable. The switch-hitting slugger posted a triple-slash of .273/.320/.467 in 2012 and added 26 2B, 22 HR, and 73 RBI in his first season back from a horrific injury suffered in 2012 against, you guessed it, the Seattle Mariners. Morales finished 5th in the AL MVP vote his last full season (2009) and finished 2012 strong, posting OPS’s of .900 in August and .829 in September/October.
While the trade makes sense for both sides (and both players are free agents after the season), it doesn’t come without some inherent risks. The Mariners are leaving a gaping void in their pitching staff behind Felix Hernandez, and will be counting on young players like Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beaven or James Paxton to produce at the big league level. Los Angeles is gambling that Vargas can produce away from the friendly confines of Safeco Field and that Morales won’t return to his pre-injury form.
Seattle’s net gain is somewhere close to zero in terms of WAR, but the team does add some desperately need offensive thump to the lineup, and may be setting themselves up for another move with Morales/Smoak/Montero all competing for plate appearance at first and DH.
The Mariners might not be a better team today than they were yesterday, but at least they’re a bit more interesting. That’s about all we can ask for…
After being linked to nearly every big name bat on the market (Nick Swisher, Josh Hamilton,
Raul Mondesi Jr, Justin Upton, etc.), the Mariners left the Winter Meetings instead with a player that the New York Mets paid to go away — let that sink in for a moment. Then drink copious amounts of liquor and try to understand Seattle’s thought process. Afterwards, dial 9-1-1 to seek treatment for alcohol poisoning.
No, Jason Bay isn’t the worst player in baseball, but he also isn’t close to the player who hit 36 home runs for Boston in 2009. Bay’s averaged has dropped every year since 2008, bottoming out at .165 in 194 at-bats for the Mets last season (a year in which he was paid $16,000,000 to produce -1.3 WAR). There’s a difference between a reclamation project and a reanimation project, and I’m not sure even Dr. Frankenstein could shock life make into Bay’s cadaverous career arc.
The move doesn’t come with a lot of risk ($1 million + incentives) but neither does eating at Applebee’s and I’m not lining up to try their newest sizzlin’ skillet. Seattle already has a younger version of Bay on the roster in the form of Casper Wells, so Bay’s presence is redudant unless veteran leadership is the only thing missing from a World Series roster. Here’s a hint, it isn’t.
It’s not an awful move, it’s just such a Mariners’ move. We’ve been down the washed up player looking for a change of scenery route before and it hasn’t worked out. Eric Wedge has a track record of giving more at-bats to players with “experience” (happy trails Miguel Olivo) so keeping Bay on the roster may steal playing time away from prospects who could make a difference when the M’s are ready to contend. What’s the upside?
Attendance is dwindling, Seattle hasn’t been to the playoffs in over a decade, Ichiro is gone, and this is the answer?
We don’t ask for much as Mariners fans, but we deserve better than Jason Bay.
Your move Jack Zduriencik.