December 20, 2012 by Matt Musico
The Mariners have been in search of some power, and since they lost out on Josh Hamilton, they decided to use their surplus of strong pitching to acquire a bat, as they sent Jason Vargas packing in exchange for Kendrys Morales. To say Seattle had a tough year at the plate is being incredibly nice. How bad was it for the Mariners? Let me put it into perspective for you.
As a team, Seattle hit .234/.296/.369, which is dead last in the Major Leagues for all three categories. They ranked 19th in the MLB with 149 team homers, but their general power outage since moving into Safeco Field has prompted the fences to be moved in this winter. However, one would think with a very spacious ballpark, there would be lots of doubles hit, but that’s not the case, as Seattle only racked up more two-baggers than the White Sox and Astros in 2012.
What are the Mariners getting in their acquisition of Morales? After missing all of 2011 due to a serious knee injury, the 1B/DH hit came back and played in 134 games, hitting .273/.320/.467 with 22 homers and 73 RBI. Obviously, it was probably easier to hit and have a successful year in the Angels lineup with the likes of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hitting around him than it would have been in Seattle. However, acquiring Morales not only gives Seattle a power bat to compliment the still developing Jesus Montero, but it could also make it a more attractive destination for free agents, such as Michael Bourn.
For the Angels, after trading away Ervin Santana and letting Dan Haren leave via free agency, they needed to find a way to rebuild their rotation around Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. So, they made a trade for Tommy Hanson and signed Joe Blanton (and grossly overpaid him at two-years/$15 million) before making this deal for Vargas, who went 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 2012. Their rotation isn’t as star-studded as their lineup is, but these are exactly the types of pitchers they need to be successful (minus Blanton…can you tell I’m not a fan?).
Inter-division trades are rare, but with the Angels primed to compete for the postseason after finishing four games behind the Athletics and the Mariners finishing 18 games back in the basement, GM Jerry DiPoto felt the pros outweighed the cons here, and I agree with him. With the way the off-season has gone for Seattle, I don’t think they’ll be gaining many more pieces to challenge the more powerful AL West teams.