The Seattle Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik made a very surprising move on January 16th, when they completed a three-way trade that sent C John Jaso to the Oakland Athletics, Right-handed pitching A.J. Cole to the Washington Nationals, and brought 1B/OF Mike Morse back to Seattle for his second stint with the team.
We knew that Morse had become available after the Nationals re-signed 1B Adam LaRoche and we also knew that the Mariners were still in pursuit of an impact bat. Many were opposed to trading away Jaso, who had been the team’s best hitter throughout the course of the 2012 season (.276/.394/.456 in 108 games). However, Jaso offered absolutely no power, having only 20 home runs in his three years of MLB service time.
The Mariners had to introduce some power hitters to this lineup, especially with the changing dimensions of Safeco Field. I’m glad to see that the front office has finally decided to do something about the lack of home runs and offense in general.
According to ESPN.com’s Park Factor, Safeco Field has been the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the MLB over the last three seasons, resulting in the worst offensive outputs in the DH era (since 1967) in 2010 and 2011. With his 20 home runs last season, Kyle Seager, became the first Mariner to eclipse 20 home runs since Russell Branyan in 2009.
Mike Morse adds much need power to this Seattle Mariners offense. In 2011 Morse had a breakout season, hitting for a line of .303/.360/.550 (AVG/OBP/SLG), with 31 home runs, playing his home games at Nationals Park, which played very neutral in 2011, 16th in ballpark factor.
If the new dimensions do their job, Safeco will likely play close to neutral, similar to Nationals Park in DC. If so Mariners fan can expect Morse’s power numbers to be very similar to what they were in 2011. It is safe to say that Morse, along with another new acquisition Kendrys Morales, along with young power hitters like Jesus Montero and Kyle Seager, will put these new dimensions to the test.