Mariner LogoIn a recent article I took the Mariners to task for having a weak winter as far as acquisitions to improve the team. (Please see my blog of 29 December, 2012 “Why Bringing in the Fences and a New Score Board Won’t Fix the Mariner’s Offense…One Fan’s Protest”) While I still feel that way generally, I was remiss in not acknowledging that the Mariners’ prime off season acquisition so far, designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales, is a player who will help the team. The Mariners acquired Morales from the Angels last month in a straight up deal for southpaw pitcher Jason Vargas.

Kendrys Morales

Kendrys Morales

Though Vargas was coming off his best season ever as a starter with 14 victories and a career low in E.R.A, one look at Morales hitting stats shows why this was a deal Mariner GM Jack Zduriencik had to make. Last season for the Angels Morales hit .273 with 22 home runs, 73 RBIs and a .320 on base percentage in 522 plate appearances. Among Mariner players with 250 at bats or more last year, with those stats Morales would have been number 1 in home runs and number 2 in batting average, RBIs and on base percentage. As good as those stats are, I think Jackie Z is expecting that Morales is on the verge of returning to his 2009 form when he it .306 with 34 home runs, 108 RBIs and a .355 on base percentage;  figures that if repeated would make the switch hitting Morales one of the top power hitting first basemen in baseball. (Morales missed most of the 2010 season and all of 2011 with a severely broken leg.) If Morales just repeats last season’s production he will improve the Mariner offense; if he comes close to his 2009 levels it will make the Vargas trade an unqualified success regardless of what Jason does with LA.

Kendrys Morales at work

Kendrys Morales at work

An added bonus to the trade is that it gives the Mariners viable first base options which open the door to either trading Justin Smoak or giving him more time to develop in the minors. Going into the 2013 season hoping once again that Smoak will start to fulfill his potential is now a mistake that the Mariners will not be making. They at least will have the potential of someone at first besides the frustrating Smoak.

I, for one, am glad of that!

If I am critical of the Mariners for not being pro active enough to help the team this off season, then I should be man enough to acknowledge them when they do something right. This trade is a good one for the Mariners. Kendrys Morales will help this team.

Copyright © 2013
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved

 

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