Why I Tend to support the Morse trade (Updated)
By JJ Keller
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.