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A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

February 18, 2013 at 3:06 PM

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Why Mike Morse is a perfect move for the Mariners

Sam Thomsen is a 15-year-old freshman at Liberty Bell High School in Winthrop whose passions are baseball, the Mariners and writing. He has been following the Mariners since he could walk.

There’s no denying it. Watching the Mariners offense for the last three years has been tedious and frustrating. At times, it was more aggravating than dropping a steaming cup of Starbucks in your lap.

The Mariners have been hitless in Seattle – over the last three seasons. The team batting average is an abysmal .234 over that period. Two out of the last three years, the Mariners finished last in Major League Baseball in total offense and last year they finished third from last.

The M’s offense has been more pathetic than Frasier’s Niles Crane trying to get his nerve up to ask Daphne out for a date.

While the M’s moribund lineup struggled mightily at times last year, the talented young guys – Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero, Eric Thames, and Michael Saunders – progressed through a season of growing pains. From Ackley’s fallen batting average – down .470 from his rookie season, to Seager’s impressive 20 homers and 86 runs batted in, to Saunders’s greatly improved 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases, the Mariners young players flashed talent and potential, and showed the limitations of their youth and inexperience.

The 2012 season showed the promise of team potential, with 75 wins – 8 more than in 2011 and the glaring weakness of continued poor batting.

To build on the promising young guys and add a big bat, the Mariners traded for slugger Kendrys Morales in December. Good move.

Then the M’s added power-hitting outfielder/first baseman Mike Morse in exchange for catcher John Jaso. Another good move that many critics blasted because of Jaso’s excellent on-base percentage – last year it was .394 – and his value to the team backing up Montero at catcher.

But I say, these critics are clearly mistaken. Morse is exactly what the Mariners need.

Stats tell the story best:

Last year, in 102 games, Morse hit .291 with 18 homers and 62 RBI. Two years ago, he hit 31 homers to go with a .303 batting average.

With this trade, the Mariners offense is immediately improved. The M’s get a career .295 hitter with extraordinary power – Morse slammed a 465-foot homer last year, the longest at Nationals Park. And when teamed with Morales, Morse gives the Mariners a powerful 3-4 punch in the middle of the lineup.

These two will take the pressure of the young guys and solidify an inconsistent and inexperienced lineup. They turn a previously powerless middle of the order into an authoritative punch.

Now the M’s have proven hitters and don’t have to spend another season waiting for half-a-dozen prospects to suddenly mature before their time.

Seattle gives away a back-up catcher for a powerful middle-of-the-lineup hitter. It would be like trading former catcher Rob Johnson for Nick Swisher.

Last year Jaso had an anomalous career year in which he hit .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBI in 108 games. It’s questionable if he can repeat that success. He’s a career .255 hitter with little success against lefties. His average against left-handers of .164, is .108 below his average against right-handers.

Morse, however, hit .290 against lefties last year, and was even better against them two years ago, hitting .297.

Plus, if you compare Jaso’s and Morse’s career seasons, the trade looks even better. The M’s swap a .276 average for a .303 average. 10 homers for 31. 50 RBI for 95. A part-time player for a full-time slugger.

The deal was a no-brainer. If given the opportunity to make the deal again, the Mariners should do it in a heartbeat. They didn’t have to part ways with any top prospects like Taijuan Walker or Nick Franklin, and they still got an excellent power hitter. It was a brilliant trade in every sense.

With his arms extended, his bat held high, and a high leg kick, Morse has the sweet power stroke that’s been missing in the Mariners lineup.

Want to be a reader contributor to the Seattle Times' Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.


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This 15 year old has more stats smarts than many folks on this comment board. MORE
Nice writing, Sam! You chose a great subject for your column, as Morse should be an... MORE
Seattle gives away a back-up catcher for a powerful middle-of-the-lineup hitter. It... MORE

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