Nationals Baseball: Win now! Wait... not NOW now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Win now! Wait... not NOW now.

Mike Morse is gone. He was traded overnight to the Mariners in a 3-team deal that has so far brought back the Nats AJ Cole and Blake Treinen.  It will also include a player to be named later.

It's a fair deal, in my opinion. We've discussed why Mike Morse, a guy who could hit .300 with 30 HR is not a big trade target. They weren't going to get back any really good major league talent or even a good prospect close to being in the major leagues, outside of maybe relief arms. Instead they've gotten two guys who are at least a couple of years away who add some organizational pitching depth to a team who's current minor league pitching can be described as 40 guys with arms held together with fishing wire now that Meyer has been dealt and they let Rosenbaum walk.

AJ Cole, who you may remember as being a Nats not so long ago, is still a legit prospect. While he didn't do well in Advanced A ball (ok he outright stunk it up), he will still be only 21 this year.  I can't even call that a step back at that age.  More like, he didn't step forward.  He's still got all his talent and he'll have another two years to figure out A+ ball before anyone starts pondering other plans for Mr. Cole.

Blake Treinen is kind of a throw-in.  He's got a ton of talent too, but was pretty hittable in A+ ball last year. Still it's a hitting friendly league so he was about average, but at 24 in that league you are kind of done with starters if what you see is just average. The most likely turn of events for Blake is a move to the pen but I'd expect the Nats to mess around with him starting for one more year at least. The Nats literally had no starter last year have a good year at a young age for his league. High-A and AA, where most of the studs usually sit, was a wasteland. Maybe the PTBNL will help, maybe not.

The more important side of this is it makes the Nats worse in 2013, right after they made kind of a silly move that seemed only concerned with making them better in 2013.  Morse was going to get some at bats, and he was fine insurance for an OF / 1B situation that includes one guy with concussion issues and two old guys one year removed from season-killing injuries. Now the responsibility for covering for these guys falls onto Bernadina and Moore.

Bernie had a great year off the bench last year, but also sported a BABIP much higher than he ever had before.  On the plus side he IS hitting the ball better (LD% is up) so I don't think he'll hit in the .240s this year, but the .290s is also unlikely.  High .260s and no power seems fair.  Really though Bernie isn't on the bench for long term solutions.  He's there to be a fair defensive replacement and pinch runner.

Moore on the other hand is ALL about hitting and when most people think of his 2012 they think of happiness.  I agree, as in it was a season that was just an illusion, full of sadness and confusion.  If you look at Moore's monthly splits you see this:


That one month - where everything went right for Moore really skewed the season.  He had a .481 BABIP.  That's crazy. He walked 8 times.  He walked 6 times the rest of the year combined. And it's not in like those other months things broke wrong for him.  That "very bad" and "below average" months were very fair for him luck-wise.

What does this mean? Well it mainly means you shouldn't consider Moore a viable long-term replacement at any position.  He's a one trick pony - a masher of LHP you bring up to put one over the fence when you need it. He's no Morse, who at least had two tricks.

In the end, if there are no big injuries, this isn't going to be a big deal. It may not even cost the Nats a win overall.  Morse wasn't going to get a ton of at bats and 6.75 mill is a lot of cash for insurance. Now, if there is a big injury then you're could feel the effects of Morse being gone.  It's still not going to be enough to knock the Nats into any trouble, but it does make them a tiny bit worse. 

On Tuesday it looked like the Nats were going all in.  On Wednesday they showed that they actually palmed a few chips because, you know, let's not be crazy about this.


prowley40 said...

do you think letting burnett walk was wise? Do we have a lefty in the pen?

Anonymous said...

You mean righty masher! But all that red is pretty scary. Do his minors stats back up that green month at all or was it a complete aberration?

Harper said...

prowley - it wasn't the optimal solution but good relief pitchers (of which the Nats have several) can get out anyone so it's not as big a deal as we might think. They have Zack Duke in the pen. That's it right now.

Anon - I meant a masher of lefties but yeah that didn't read right. I've changed it.

He had one month in 2012 (before he was brought up) that would go along with him being a good major leaguer. The previous 3+ years all say - low average big stick. An impatient Espinosa with more power but no fielding or speed.

Froggy said...

Can't say I'm surprised. Rizzo probably gave Morse a heads up and that would explain him going to ground and twitter silence. IMO Morse was insurance for 1B, LF and DH and a great PH option to compliment Tracy when last year we had that guy who hit below the Mendoza line instead. So now we have Moore and Bernie. That's it.

Anyway, I'm happy for Mike as he seems more like a West Coast free-spirit grunge guy who tried to fit in in uptight DC. Not to mention they moved the fences in Safeco field. And good to have AJ Cole back as well.

'take on me...take me on....I'll be gone...(voice cracking and trailing off)

Donald said...

While he would be good as insurance, it wouldn't really be fair to him in his contract year to have him sit the bench. I know business is business, as Mr. Lannan found out, but I do think that Rizzo factored in Mike's preference to start when making this deal. And treating your players fairly is good business in its own right.

DezoPenguin said...

*nod* Like I said in the other thread, so long as nobody in the 1B/OF group suffers an injury and has to miss a month or two (individually or collectively), then trading Morse is no big deal. If we have to replace him...well, actually, we spent a month of last year with Lombo and Moore platooning in LF and Rick Ankiel playing CF and Bryce at the third outfield position because we were out of warm bodies out there, and we still won 98 games. I feel a lot better about a Moore/Lombo/Bernie bench gaggle than I did about DeRosa/Nady/etc., that's for certain!

Meanwhile, the Mariners press is crucifying Seattle for making this trade, so I hope Mike goes full-on Beast Mode again for his sake. While the Nats win the Series without him, of course. ^_-

blovy8 said...

This is ok; they obviously liked Cole all along, and at worst the other guy is another fungible highA/AA type of rigthy swingman to fill in innings all the those rehabbing guys won't be able to pitch. Maybe he turns into something usable in the pen.

The offseason still is a big net plus. Span is better than Morse, Cole is probably better than Meyer. Haren is probably better than Jackson. Soriano is better than Burnett. The money they spent to keep LaRoche, and sign Soriano and Haren still won't put the payroll in the top 10. Ultimately, they still have OF depth in AAA too, one of those guys may have a hot streak in him if Bernadina/Moore don't look good.

The Mariners sure have a lot of guys who can't field now. I have a bit harder time with the Oakland side of this, although I suppose they have plenty of pitching, they kind of gave up on Norris's catching chances a bit soon. I don't know that another AAA year helps him much. Maybe Jaso is the next Hatteberg.

It's interesting that they held out for a player to be named - maybe Peacock is coming back too.

Wally said...

I agree. Moore isn't Morse, even though they get talked about interchangeably. I mean, Moore might produce similarly to Morse when all is said and done, but you wouldn't think it likely when looking at all of their stats.

But, even though I was advocating for keeping Morse, I'd do this deal. Cole is probably still a top 100 prospect, which I didn't expect for Morse. Everything else is gravy, and there might actually be some gravy. I think you have to take it. Everything is a balance.

Laroche becomes the critical guy now, I think, both injury and performance wise. Seems like we can cover an injury to an outfielder better, but 1B is basically Moore. Multiple injuries ... well, it just isn't realistic to expect to cover several big injuries. Them's the breaks.

Donald said...

If LaRoche is out for an extended period, I agree that Moore is probably the answer, but what about Ramos? A lot of catchers seem to be able to handle 1b. Has he ever played there? The other option would be to promote Skole, but that seems a bit rushed.

I think if Desmond or Espinosa is hurt, Lombo could fill in okay. Replacing Zimmerman would be harder for a long stretch. Maybe they'd have to promote Rendon in that case. A single outfield injury is probably covered by a Moore / Bernadina platoon.

Beyond that, I think Rizzo would try to swing a trade, assuming it happened early enough.

Starting pitcher may be where we are thinnest.

Wally said...

Donald - if Laroche goes down, I think they go Moore and Tracy. If one of those guys gets hurt, I am not sure what happens. Maybe Rivero from AAA? He could also back up Zim, I guess. Does he have options left?

It hard to see them using Ramos there. I am not sure if he has ever played it, plus he probably has some mobility issues coming off the knee. Maybe they make a trade at that point?

Anonymous said...

Loving the trade, way beyond what I thought Morse would bring and he apparently was not going to be happy being OF #4 or whatever. Cole has a definite upside, depth is still good all around.

Chaos...behind LaRoche? there's this Chris Marrero guy that Rizzo thinks is pretty good.

Thomas said...

Re Marrero

Wally said...

Well ok, I am going off topic here for a moment. Denard Span is starting a conspiracy show (Denard Span's Conspiracy, with Denard Span!). Anyone think this is real? I mean, some of the quotes seem hilarious if they are real, and I can't tell if it is a spoof or legit. I am on the verge of laughing uncontrollably. Here are a few (emphasis mine)

"We don't need go over who shot J.R. or where babies come from, because those arguments are pretty much 'agree to disagree' type things . We're going after the stuff where you sit and wonder, whoa, wait a minute, you know?"

"You can't believe everything you read in a paper or on the internet. Sometimes, you have to think for yourself. That's what we're going to do for people. "

blovy8 said...

every twitter posting starts with a a twit.

Harper said...

Froggy - It weakens the bench, but then again it IS the bench for a reason.

Donald - You think more highly of Rizzo than me. I personally think it was about sitting a 6.75 mill on the pine and watching his trade value diminish

Dezo - yes, this is the sign of a good team. Gnashing teeth over your best bench guy. Worrying about being a 95 win team instead of a 98 win one.

blovy8 - agreed souless automaton Harper gives Rizzo a A- for the offseason.

I think the A's will send Norris back down to work on hitting (rather than platoon) I think he's still their catcher of the future. the M's? I have no idea.

Wally - If Cole is still top 100 he's right at the edge - he was like 60 last year. Do I makes this deal... probably not but I'm in WIN NOW mode.

Donald - agree with Wally - doubtful Ramos there at first. If he's healthy they're going to exhaust his chances at C. Nats don't have a perfect bench but who does? Morse would have helped though.

Chaos - Marrero is far more interesting to me than Moore. I'm not betting on him making it but I'd put my money on him over Moore for the better MLB career. Problem is I think Rizzo is a gambler and wants to bet on longshots (currently Skole is his fav)

Wally - no not real. funny though

Kevin said...

Tyler Moore is a masher of righties.

vs. RHP .286/.357/.571
vs. LHP .247/.307/.473

as 1B(35 PA) .452/.514/.968
as OF(105 PA) .219/.286/.375

Moore isn't comfortable playing in the OF. He's a 1B. He played 4 minor league games in the OF, and had a total of 5 Defensive Chances.

Minor League Stats

A- .200/.239/.306
A .297/.363/.447
A+ .269/.321/.552
AA .270/.314/.532
AAA .307/.374/.653
Total .268/.321/.491