Speaking Of Marinerisms: Langerhans Vs Morse, Did Zduriencik Make A Bad Call?

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Nothing, and I repeat, nothing beats having a cup of coffee and a movie on a lazy morning the day after Christmas. Just a really enjoyable morning/evening (because my morning is 8 o’clock at night) with my friends and I hope you also have enjoyed your holiday as I’ve enjoyed mine. These are the times to remember for the rest of your life and to pass a long as you get older.

As we move out of our Christmas coma and back into the world of baseball (as well as other things that don’t really matter but still irrational take up an irrational amount our daily lives) let’s talk about crappy things of Mariner past.

While doing my evaluations of Smoak and Montero on Christmas Eve it sparked a bit of criticism about the lack of talk concerning the Ryan Langerhans for Mike Morse deal (speaking of really going into Marinerisms). Some people feel that was a huge error on the front office and naturally, there is going to be some criticism about this deal, simply due to the fact of what Morse has produced since that deal. Not to mention it’s completely contrary to what Langerhans did for the Mariners, which sadly wasn’t much.

The thing that we always will wonder: “what if Morse could have ever produced the numbers”  as he has with Washington with that of the Emerald City nine. The Seattle Mariners are of course in dire need of some type of pop and Morse has sufficiently supplied that for his new team since the trade that sent him. The problem with I have with people that are have called out the front office is at the time of trade there  wasn’t any type of proof he would offer some type of offensive value that he has since supplied.

Morse was, at best, a role player at that point in time. In fact, he and Mike Carp both are two players who have auspiciously morphed out of the bench/AAAA player into a suitable starter. Neither are stars, but both have become interesting players by seemingly improving their ability to hit for more power. Compared to what they previously were as line drive hitters that showed a propensity for getting on base.

Obviously, Morse showed some ability to “hit” and supply some offensive value. The problem was it hardly was any more attractive than any of the other dozen options that they had currently in AAA.   

I think it’s fair to say the Mariners perhaps saw Langerhans as an undervalued asset. A guy played a very good corner outfield defense, got on base, supplied a bit of power yet didn’t hit for a very impressive average. He was stashed away in AAA after his surface level stats, during a few limited appearances with the big league club, were seen as unfavorable. Langerhans offered the Mariners a very similar ceiling as that of Endy Chavez and one that could be acquired for cheap — relative to what you were giving up — and while you weren’t likely to get an every day starter you properly get a dependable defensive corner outfielder.

Looking at what Morses’ managed to accumulate– via wOBA– over the past two years with the Nationals isn’t a painful reminder of giving up too soon on someone who is defensively disinclined. The problem with the idea of giving up on Morse is simply that Morse never showed the type of elite power while within the Mariners organization that he has displayed with the Nationals.

It’s fair to say that those who thought he would be a solid power guy simply pulled that opinion out of nowhere. He maybe had a possible career as a platoon player or key bench hitter, I could buy a person believing that, but let’s not re-write history and try to make something out to be there that wasn’t. There isn’t any evidence that points towards the idea that he’d be an above-average league hitter.  

Year Age Tm Lev Aff PA R H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 22 San Antonio AA SEA 173 18 43 10 1 6 9 27 .274 .326 .465 .791
2005 23 Tacoma AAA SEA 203 20 46 12 2 4 16 36 .253 .317 .407 .723
2006 24 Tacoma AAA SEA 228 23 51 15 1 5 14 46 .248 .300 .403 .702
2007 25 2 Teams AAA-Rk SEA 342 50 93 27 0 6 29 47 .304 .367 .451 .818
2007 25 Mariners Rk SEA 18 2 3 1 0 0 3 0 .200 .333 .267 .600
2007 25 Tacoma AAA SEA 324 48 90 26 0 6 26 47 .309 .368 .460 .829
2009 27 Tacoma AAA SEA 289 38 81 14 0 10 20 50 .312 .370 .481 .851

The thing most people cling to is his remarkable spring training in 2008, where he hit a crazy .492/.584/.769 and then was subsequently injured diving for a ball after making the club out of spring training. That injury (a torn labrum) required shoulder surgery and took him the whole 2008 season to recover. Outside of that there was near any proof that he’d even be anything outside of a league average hitter with a poor glove. His ISO in both 2007 and 2009 were .151 and .169 which doesn’t exactly scream “power” gem.

 Greg Johns, during his time at the Seattle PI, was a Morse supporter and even suggested that he be the starting third basemen when Beltre had the shoulder injury in early 2009. But outside of Johns there were few Morse supporters and certainly no #FreeMorse hash tags being floated around twitter. 

Looking back at Langerhans, it’s not to say that anyone thought the trade was an amazing move.  I don’t think even the “saber heads” (as some like to call people that like stats and is a really stupid and kind of derogatory nick name) that he’d be an everyday hitter or even anything more than just an average player.  Obviously, he didn’t even become that, but that’s not to say it was a bad trade at the time or that the front office made a poor decision.

Take a look at what was written at the time of the trade:

What it comes down to is that the M’s have dealt a worthless player – worthless to them, at least – in exchange for an awesome outfield gloveman with a career batting line of .233/.335/.378. It’s like bringing in another Endy Chavez, except this one comes with more upside, given that Langerhans has a good idea of the zone, decent lefty power, and a track record of producing in AAA. He probably won’t be quite as good as Chavez in the field, but few people are, and he swings a better bat. – Jeff Sullivan 6/28/09

He’s absolutely perfect for what the M’s need. His preseason ZIPS projection had him as a .239/.341/.375 hitter, which would make him about the fourth best hitter on the M’s right now. ZIPS doesn’t know that he’s gone down to Triple-A and started whacking the baseball this year, hitting .279/.383/.508 and showing the best power of his career. He’s drawn 30 walks and has 23 extra base hits in 216 plate appearances for Syracuse, and those secondary skills combined with his range in the outfield make him a very useful role player – Dave Cameron 6/22/09

The departure of Morse should be viewed as a benefit to both the team and the player. Morse had virtually no role with the Mariners, but should compete for playing time with the lowly Nationals. He was never able to stay healthy when it mattered, and paid the price for his injuries by spending significant time stashed away at Triple-A. – Alex Akita 6/29/09

You also can’t turn a blind eye to park factors which are sure to come into play if you start the enigmatic discussion of whether or not he’d be the same hitter with Seattle as he was with Washington. It’s a widely accepted fact that Safeco Field suppresses right handed power, though to what degree is disputed.

Bottom line it’s impossible to tell if any of his adjustments could have happened as member of the Mariners organization and it’s rather duplicitous to even attempt conjecture on the matter. What’s important in looking back on the situation is whether or not the Front Office punted on him or not, similar to that of Shin Soo Choo, and based on the information that was supplied at the time I can’t see how fans would believe that.

Sometimes it’s just about a player getting to another organization and making adjustments. At this point all we can do is applaud the efforts of the coaches in the Nat’s organization that worked with Morse and were able to transform him from a bench player into a useable piece for their teams’ future.

Ironically enough, it’s also a combination of Morse and Adam LaRoach that is preventing the team from going full on crazy-Jayson-Werth-mode on Prince Fielder. With that in mind maybe more fans (who desire to see Fielder sign with Seattle) should be grateful he was traded to Washington.

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Tags: Mike Morse Ryan Langerhans

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