BY SPNW Staff 10:39AM 12/20/2012

How Would You Grade The Vargas-Morales Deal?

The Mariners finally added offense in Kendrys Morales, but had to give up Jason Vargas to a division rival to get the deal done. What’s your take? Vote here.

First baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales hit 22 home runs for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. / Wiki Commons

Our guess is that Kendrys Morales hasn’t celebrated a single one of the 22 home runs he has hit since May 29, 2010. That day, the newest Mariner, acquired by the club Wednesday in a trade for LHP Jason Vargas, learned a valuable – and painful – lesson about the negative effects of unbridled enthusiasm.

In the bottom of the 10th inning against Seattle at Angel Stadium, Morales came to bat against Brandon League in a 1-1 game after League put three runners aboard. On League’s first pitch, Morales hit a ball to deep center that cleared the fence and scored Maicer Izturis, Bobby Abreu and Reggie Willits.

As Morales rounded third en route to his walk-off grand slam, Angels players surrounded home plate in anticipation of Morales’ arrival. Ten feet from the dish, Morales removed his batting helmet and flung it, took four more steps and leaped with the idea of landing emphatically on the plate.

It appeared that when Morales came down, he landed on a teammate’s foot and twisted an ankle. But after reviewing the play, manager Mike Scioscia said Morales simply slipped on the plate, and that all of his 225 pounds landed on his turned ankle, breaking his leg.

“This is bad,” said teammate Torii Hunter. “Right now, he’s the best hitter on the team.”

It was bad. Morales didn’t play the rest of the 2010 season and then missed all of 2011 when complications impaired his rehabilitation.

Morales returned to the Angels last year and hit .273 with 22 home runs, 73 RBIs and a .787 OPS in 134 games, mostly as a designated hitter. Those 22 homers would have led the Mariners, which, coupled with his other numbers, means that GM Jack Zduriencik probably just landed the guy who will be his best hitter in 2013.

In acquiring Morales, Zduriencik also added to the logjam at the first base and DH positions (Justin Smoak, Mike Carp and Jesus Montero, when he’s not catching), muddled the catching situation, probably took a lot of at-bats away from John Jaso, and punched a huge hole in the rotation.

Following Felix Hernandez now, as John Hickey pointed out here, are Hisashi Iwakuma, who has had one good half-season in the majors, two young pitchers in Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan, another young pitcher in Hector Noesi, a flop at big-league level last year, and some highly prized prospects.

After sending his No. 2 pitcher to a division rival, Zduriencik said, “I’m very comfortable this (trade) makes us better.”

Are you as confident?


  • Herb Huseland

    I hope Morales will be a super star. I hate to see Vargus go. He stated earlier in the season that he did not want to be traded and that Seattle was his home. That loyalty is seldom seen in baseball anymore. They should have kept him.

  • Bruce Fergusson

    The Mariners, with their stock of younger pitchers, could afford to give up Vargas whose effectiveness in Safeco would probably be impacted by the fences coming in. But Morales, who’s always done well in Safeco, should do even better with those shortened fences. As for the log jam with Jaso, Smoak, Carp and Montero, so what? Jack Z could use one or more of them in a trade. Morales alone won’t get the M’s to the playoffs, but he’s a start.

  • SandlotSam

    This trade has a ton of potential upside for the Mariners. From all indications Morales is far more likely to have a solid or even excellent year than he is to crash and burn. Sure, he’s coming back from an injury, but virtually all of the recovery is already done. He’s healthy, he’s motivated, and I can’t wait to see him in the lineup on opening day.

  • mark_proulx

    I want this to be a good deal, and indeed it could very well be. I am just so damned jaded after years of Lincoln/Armstrong-induced futility that it is difficult for me to even pretend to be excited. Years of lackluster owners (the original group including Danny Kaye, followed by Argyros, Smulyan, and Yamauchi), coupled with the most bone-headed GM’s this side of Pluto have screwed things up so badly that I sometimes wonder if it can ever be fixed. It saddens me because I’m not hung up on winning the World Series. I’d settle for competitive, entertaining baseball.

  • dinglenuts

    Vargas will go 15-7 for the Angels. Morales will hit .235 with 17 HR and 70 RBI.

    The Mariners marginally improved their offense and significantly impacted starting pitching and possibly middle relief since those guys will need to pitch more innings after ineffective starters.

    Bleah. This trade is a stinker.

    And don’t get me started on bringing in the fences….

  • Effzee

    I’ve been pretty much daring the M’s (for whatever that’s worth) to “do something” like this since 2001. I don’t know if its going to work, but I don’t see a franchise like the Angels giving us a deal that they think is going to bring us that much closer to competing with them. Even if it “works” and everyone else in the lineup can finally chill out and just do what they can do because the Big Guy is finally there, relying on all this young unproven pitching and moving in the fences seems like a recipe for a whole lot of 13-10 losses at the Safe. There’s too much track record of Choward Lincstrong doing the wrong thing for me to just have faith that this too will not end in something akin to a turtle flailing on its back.

  • jafabian

    Give it a C+ because they traded within the division. Not a good thing IMO. However I suppose the Yankees weren’t willing to do another deal.