Oct 03, 2012; Washington, DC, Washington Nationals outfielder Michael Morse (38) at bat against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Why I Tend to support the Morse trade (Updated)

As you have heard, the Mariners agreed to be part of a three-team deal in which they acquired outfielder/1st baseman, and former Mariner Michael Morse, in exchange for catcher and fan favorite John Jaso.

It’s fairly apparent that many fans and writers are very against this trade, including Dave Cameron, Jeff Sullivan, and to a lesser extent, our own Matthias. And I can understand a lot of what they are saying, particularly Matthias, who chose to look at it objectively rather than go on a blind rampage like Dave did.

Yes, Jaso was under control for 3 years compared to one for Morse. Yes, Jaso was more valuable last year. Yes, he has a true position. And yeah, he is younger and seems to be in his prime while Morse maybe leaving it.

But there are some things that are either being overlooked. These include the fact that Morse has been a better hitter for his career, fills a bigger need if you consider him an outfielder, and he can hit against both righties and lefties, whereas Jaso can’t touch lefties.

When you consider those things, I think the deal evens out a lot more.

First off, Morse didnt play full time. He played 103 games and was injured. Its not fair to completely judge him on one injury laden season. You can also, expect regression from Jaso. He is a platoon catcher and will always hit righties well, but most likely not at the level he did last year, judging by the rest of his career.

Here are both players batting stats for their career:

Jaso: .255/.359/.395, .337 wOBA, 116 wRC+, 5.4 WAR in 311 games, 297 of them against RHP.

Morse: .295/.347/.492, .363 wOBA, 127 wRC+, 6.1 WAR in 485 games.

We tend to look only one year in the past to judge players, but that’s not always the best way to do so. A larger sample size is always better, and in this case, it shows support for Morse, at least offensively. Jaso’s WAR value will most likely always be better because of his defensive position, and the fact that Morse is a butcher in the outfield.

But somehow I believe this deal wasn’t made with defense in mind. Jack wanted right handed power, and he got it with Morse. I am not saying defense doesn’t matter, because it does. But for this team, offense was a huge need, and became the focus.

Let’s also not forget that the M’s still have Montero, who it seems will get most of the catching reps, and top prospect Mike Zunino, who could see The Bigs as early as this year. This is a team with some depth at catcher, and a giant hole in the outfield, that can now be filled by a giant man.

And finally, there are Jaso’s struggles against lefties that people seem to be forgetting. For Jaso to be as valuable as he is/was, he has to only play against righties. As soon as he starts facing lefties, those stats are going to plummet. Then you have Morse who is almost identical against both righties and lefties, and has succeeded in a fairly spacious park. Against lefties, Morse has posted a .371 wOBA and 132 wRC+ for his career, and a very similar .360 wOBA and 126 wRC+ against righties.

So when you really think about it, you aren’t trading 3 years of Jaso for 1 year of Morse. Its more like 250-300 games of Jaso, for 150 games for Morse (assuming he is healthy). That looks a lot different than people were making it out to be.

That said, what happens with Morse after this year? I honestly do not know at this point. It depends on what he does this year, as well as what Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak do. There won’t be room for all three, Montero and Zunino next year. If Smoak hits well this year, Morales is probably out due to the money differences between him and Smoak. But if not, then both Morse and Morales could be back, with Smoak cut. They could also trade him at the deadline, or hope he hits well enough to be worth a draft pick return if he leaves in free agency. It all depends on how this year turns out, and how much the front office wants to spend.

So while I don’t think is a great trade, it certainly isn’t as bad as Dave said (yelled) it is. I think any way you rationally look at it, there is potential for this to be a good trade, as well as a bad trade. But I don’t see it as “Jack’s worst trade” even before we see what has happened. That reaction by Dave really made me lose respect for him. If he, or you, or anyone thinks its a bad deal, fine. But make sure you know why and have taken the time to see both sides before making outrageous claims. The best thing to do is reserve judgement until we actually see how these guys play going forward.


I continue to go back and forth on this deal. I have almost been arguing with myself because there are valid points on both sides.  While my points above still stand, I would like to add some others, both pro and anti-trade.

First off, here are both players stats from last year:

Morse 2012: .291/.321/.470/.791, .340 wOBA, 113 wRC+, 18 HR, 3.7 BB%, 0.3 WAR in 430 PA
Jaso 2012 : .276/.394/.456/.850, .372 wOBA, 143 wRC+, 10 HR, 15.5 BB%, 2.7 WAR in 361 PA

That obviously favors Jaso. He was the more valuable player last year. There is also the common misconception that power trumps on base skills, and that is just not true. On base percentage correlates to run creation better than almost every stat. And as you can see, Jaso was much better at getting on base last year, and as a result created more runs.

But on the other hand, If we take each of the last three seasons and weight them properly (triple for 2012, double for 2011, and single for 2010), this is what we get:

.295/.325/.508 – .362 wOBA — 128 wRC+
.256/.358/.409 – .340 wOBA — 119 wRC+

This point favors Morse, and fairly heavily. He has a commanding lead in all but OBP, which Jaso takes easily. When we factor in the last three years (which pretty much constitute their careers), Morse looks better. He has had more success overall, even when we give a boost to 2012, in which Jaso shined and Morse struggled a little, at least by his standards.

However, if you consider the fact that Jaso should/would have only played against righties, and weight his numbers versus RHP only, the momentum changes a little.

Taking his vs RHP numbers:
.357 wOBA, 130 wRC+

Much, much closer to Morse, and depending on what you value, he probably overtakes him. Is it fair to only look at him versus righties considering its actually a weakness? Maybe, maybe not. Just something to think about.

Lastly, I wanted to point out that it became increasingly obvious that the M’s did not view Jaso in the same light as most of us. They saw him as a backup catcher with poor defense. They brought in multiple guys who were going to take at bats away from him. I even think that he would not have been the everyday catcher against right handed pitching like many people assumed. So it really isn’t trading three seasons for one season; it was more like trading 800 PA for 600 PA.

Then again, is it fair to rationalize the ignorance of the organizing using another questionable move? That’s up to the person. Most of this stuff is. And that’s why the best, and most logical thing to do is to reserve complete judgement until we actually see how this trade turns out. If both guys go back to 2011 form, the M’s win pretty easily. If its more like last year, then the M’s lose. Its just all too up in the air to make an accurate call right now.

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Tags: John Jaso Michael Morse Seattle Mariners Trade

  • Casey McLain

    297 games against lefties is misleading, as Jaso has also “played 110 games against righties.” Games played are a funky stat for splits.

    • Matthias_Kullowatz

      Yeah I noticed that, too. I think it includes any game in which he happened to face a righty at least once.

      • Casey McLain

        That’s exactly what it is, which is why that’s a bad stat to use. Or a misleading stat. Plate appearances are a better one.

        • Casey McLain

          Still about a 75/25 ratio. Makes the point but maintains credibility. The point is valid.

          • JJ Allen Keller

            Yeah, I noticed that after writing it, but I thought the point was made. Probably like 300 PA this year, and then less next year and the year after. Became apparant that the FO and Wedge didnt see him the same way we did. So in their eyes, it was a backup catcher who can only hit one side, for a full time guy (if healthy) who can hit both sides and “play” a position of need.

  • Harrison_Crow

    Morse didn’t just have one injury laden year, he happened to have a few injury laden years.

    • Matthias_Kullowatz

      He seems to have played through his prime, and he has yet to reach 600PA. Kind of like playing Super Mario Bros. for SNES for your entire childhood and never beating the 7th castle. Or Special Land. Or Star Road!!!

    • JJ Allen Keller

      True. But the point was, people were ignoring every other year, in which Morse gains an advantage, at least offensively.

      • Matthias_Kullowatz

        You’re too young to know what an SNES is! ;-)

  • Troy Bannish

    Come on guys, we can’t have it both ways! Would you Honestly have given up the FOUR Players to get Upton? or would you rather lose a guy thats a Platoon player at best & can’t hit lefties? This move really has no effect on the 25man roster, and especially not from a Prospect point of view. Morse has the Pop needed to go yard at SafeCo, & Morse WANTS TO BE HERE! If you listen to what he had to say about this deal anyhow. I like Jaso also, but I would make this move everyday of the week, and Taijuan Walker is still a Mariner, for now at least, because once Miami opens for business, I am sure we will hear Walker’s name in trade talks once again.
    Morse, Welcome back to Seattle, Now all you have to do is produce!

  • maqman

    I liked Jaso but he had no future with the M’s beyond Zunino’s appearance. Even before we got to the off season everyone was screaming for BATS! Now we have got Morales and Morse (the M&M Boys) hopefully they will cut Z some slack. He knows what he has and what he needs and he’s still got all of our good prospects.

  • Matthias_Kullowatz

    After mulling over it for a while, I have to believe that Wedge was just not going to play Jaso that much. There was not a lot of flexibility at catcher anyway. If the M’s started Jaso at C and Montero at DH, then they would have no one to catch in the event of an injury to Jaso. So that was probably not an option. As much as I would have enjoyed seeing Jaso for 450 PA each season, that probably wasn’t going to happen.

    That doesn’t speak volumes to Wedge, but maybe Jack Z felt he had to do something like this to salvage something for Jaso. And it’s not like Morse is chopped liver.

  • Casey McLain

    Without going super anal on this one, I am pretty sure that the wRC+ in your Marcel-style projection is wrong at leaste for Jaso, I didn’t check Morse. I imagine you viewed each season as a unit and then weighted them, but such a projection shoul go more granular, and still weight for PA’s.
    I went like this:
    total of 247739
    Divided by a total of 2033 (weighted plate appearances)
    equals wRC+ weighted projection of 122 for Jaso.
    I don’t know that that makes Morse or Jaso any more separate or close since I didn’t run Morse’s, but it’s the better application of the principle used for Marcel projections.
    Of course, this completely ignores that Morse doesn’t play catcher..rabblerabblerabble