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A Response to Geoff Baker, And Why Adam Jones Means More Than Brandon Morrow

December 26, 2007

by Brett

Recently Geoff Baker–who is the best writer the Seattle Times has had in years, so don’t get me wrong here–of the Seattle Times wrote this Blog explaining his belief that “Keeping Morrow, I feel, is far more important to this team than holding on to Adam Jones.”

Uh…what? Morrow is in NO way more important than Jones. Adam Jones is a great defensive outfielder and plays every day. You covered the same team I watched last year, and you can’t for a second tell me that Raul Ibanez and Jose Guillen didn’t cost the team runs in the field, Raul especially. Guillen with his ankle issues, and Ibanez with his old-man issues and hamstring problems. I don’t want to have to see two sub-par outfielders limping after Jarrod Washburn’s flyballs again. And Silva is a groundballer, but not an extreme groundballer, so he’d be hurt by losing Jones too.

Keep in mind, the Mariners team xFIP and FIP last year were above average (aside from Weaver and Horacio, but they were at best AA arms–especially Horacio) This implies that based on the pitchers individual skills, all but two pitchers on the team were average or above. The Mariners had what I think was the third worst defense in the league by most sabermetric statistics–that is more of a contributor to the team’s high ERA than the pitchers. ERA+ takes park factors into account, but not defense. FIP, xFIP, and tRA (a new stat developed by Cambridge mind and longtime Seattle resident Graham MacAree) are much more accurate indicators of a pitcher’s ability.

(Here’s a link to tRA )

Adam Jones has the potential to hit .285/.355/.500, even as a right-hander in Safeco field. With a center-fielder’s glove in right or left field (I’d put him in left–more ground to cover in left at Safeco than right) that’s a borderline MVP candidate. Brandon Morrow just does not have anything close to Cy Young upside.

Morrow is a #3 starter at his peak. He walks too many, and doesn’t have command of his secondary pitches. I know his Venezuelan Winter League stats suggest some control, but keep in mind he’s not really facing Major League competition and doesn’t have to use anything more than his fastball as much more than a show-me pitch. Also, they say Morrow will NOT spend any time in AAA which will hurt his development, and if he ends up as a bullpen pitcher then that’s a wasted draft pick.

If you could trade Brandon Morrow, Wladimir Balentien, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, and Matt Tuiasosopo for Erik Bedard, you do it. And that is entirely possible. I have to believe that a deal would’ve already gotten done if Bavasi had offered Jones or Krivsky had offered Joey Votto. No one is willing to give up their best prospect for two years of a guy who will likely sign elsewhere once his contract runs out. A team with Adam Jones AND Erik Bedard has a chance to win the division. A team with just Adam Jones, or Just Erik Bedard does not.

In my mind, if we trade Jeff Clement, Adam Jones, or Carlos Triunfel for Erik Bedard then we’ve been fleeced. We get two years of a guy with incredible talent but an injury history while Baltimore gets either a 35 HR catcher, a potential MVP center fielder, or a 17 year old with Miguel Cabrera’s upside. Bedard could be had without putting any one of these players in the deal. Morrow is a very good centerpiece and more than Baltimore would get if they waited to deal him (after all, there will be less time on his contract).

In short, Morrow is very, very expendable. Jones, Clement, and Triunfel are not. If we lose any of those three in a deal for Bedard, it’ll be exciting as a fan, but depressing for the future of this team and it would show once again–like this organization has proven for years–that they don’t know how to evaluate talent.

Felix-Bedard-Silva-Batista-Washburn is a really good rotation. But it’s only good enough to win the west if Adam Jones is chasing down flyballs that Silva, Bedard, and Washburn will give up.

Trade Brandon Morrow. Just say no to trading Adam Jones.

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