A few weeks back, the Jays sent relief pitcher Brandon League and outfield prospect Johermyn Chavez to their expansion cousins, the Seattle Mariners, for pitcher Brandon Morrow.
Initially, I was disppointed in the move, given Morrow’s abuse at the hands of the Mariners, bouncing him back and forth between the rotation and ‘pen like a ping-pong ball. Trading Chavez initially appeared to be a mistake too as he hit .283/.346/.474 with 21 home runs and 89 RBI in A-ball as a 20-year-old. However, upon further inspection, the deal actually seems better for the Jays than I originally thought. At worst, it should be a classic even baseball trade.
I was disheartened by the fact that the Jays were giving up on League and his 98 mph sinker as well as that split-change that was swung on and missed 35% of the time (most for any one pitch in baseball in 2009). I was also concerned that letting Chavez and his great arm (rated #3 in the Minors) go would rob the Jays of one of the few strong prospects they had. That was until I looked at the numbers in closer detail.
Morrow has walked 5.83 batters/9 IP in his Major League career and will be 26 at the end of July, but is much younger developmentally and definitely has room to improve. The key for the Jays will be to settle on a role for the young right-hander. The Jays see him as a starter and providing that his diabetes does not get in the way, he should turn out to be a good #3 or serviceable #2 in most rotations. Ultimately, this is where Morrow’s future lies. His walk rates are too poor to be an effective late-game reliever. The Jays should use him as a starter and commit to that (whether in the Show or minors) regardless of the outcome. Every role switch is a leap back in his development and the time has come where all strides must take place in the same direction – forward.
Chavez did put up good numbers but stikes out a ton (27% in 2009 in A-ball)
League arguably had his best year in 2009 with a 3.16 xFIP, however this simply amounted to 1.0 WAR. This seems right as top relievers rarely reach 3 WAR (Jonathan Broxton led the way in 2009, being worth 2.9 WAR). 3 WAR is what you would expect from a #2 or #3 starter (A.J. Burnett, Randy Wolf, John Danks). That’s right, the top relievers are worth about the same as #3 starters. That’s not the greatest advertisement for relievers. League will all but never have a chance to close in Seattle given the presence of David Aardsma and his penchant for wildness (3.25 BB/9) would also preclude him from being considered as a backup plan. This will provide a career path of a decent, to above-average setup man, really not that much. 1.0 WAR last year was the approximate value of Ross Ohlendorf or Jeremy Guthrie and this is around where League will likely peak.
On the surface, the trade seems rather odd. However, the question truly becomes, “Would you trade Ohlendorf or Guthrie for Morrow?” That requires a one word answer:
The story of Roy Halladay is a tale that will remain etched in the minds of Blue Jays fans for generations, as he is the greatest player that we have ever had. The question is: which tale will be remembered – the dominant ace of Cy Young credentials; or the messy breakup, that would have been on par with the Brett Favre saga, if not for the small market?
Ever since Halladay was drafted by the Jays 17th overall in 1995, there was hope that he would return to beleaguered franchise to its former glory. However, Labatt Brewing Company was purchased by the Belgian firm Interbrew, an organization that had virtually no interest in the success of the the team. The team was purchased (80% share, fully shortly after) by Rogers Communications, on September 1, 2000, but it soon became apparent that they had little interest either.
J.P. Ricciardi was brought in 2002, with an order to severely slash payroll for 2003. He did just that, slashing payroll by $25 million. Due to payroll constraints, he was forced to let the franchise’s greatest hitter, Carlos Delgado, walk for nothing by two draft picks after the 2004 season as trimming continued.
All of a sudden, Ted Rogers comitted $250 million to be used on the payroll for for 2006-2008. This period saw the signing of Bengie Molina, A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan. Unfortunately, Molina was let go after one year, Ryan needed Tommy John surgery in 2007 and was never the same and Burnett opted out of his contract after 2008. Injuries to many pitchers hampered 2008, but there was belief that the team was only a couple of hitters away from contention.
With the passing of Ted Rogers prior to the 2009 season, his sons assumed control of the team. They are purely concerned witrh financial succes and cut payroll again. They have set the team on a course of additional rebuilding. Roy Halladay was not interested. He wanted to win now. That is the sign of a true athlete.
The hiring of Alex Anthopoulos in the offseason of 2009, put him in a difficult situation: trade roy Halladay because he would not re-sign after 2010. He got three former first rounders and did the best he could.
Yes, Ricciardi made several horrendous mistakes in the media, and Anthopoulos is a rookie, but before assigning blame for the latest fiasco consider this: Were these decisions of baseball, or have these two men been unfortunate puppets of a higher authority?