Excited about Morse and a potentially potent lineup
By Jim Moore
The past 18 weeks, I have written posts about the Seahawks, predicting the outcome of each game against the spread.
I mention this because I knew what I was going to write about each week and so did Brady Henderson, my 26-year-old boss who runs the 710Sports.com website.
But this week is different because the Seahawks’ season is over.
“So, Jim, what do you want to write about?” Henderson asked me Thursday night.
I usually respond with an “I don’t know, Brady,” but this time I surprised him by saying: “I want to write about how excited I am that the Mariners traded for Mike Morse.”
“Really?” Henderson replied, thinking I was being sarcastic because I usually am.
Yep, really. I’m genuinely excited to the point of being thrilled that the Mariners have reacquired Morse.
As you know, the Mariners got Morse from the Nationals in a three-way deal that sent John Jaso to the A’s.
Let’s get this out of the way first – I’ll miss Jaso. He was the Mariners’ best hitter last year. He delivered in the clutch. He had a cool beard going at the end of the season.
He was also a terrific interview, and there will never be another Mariner with an English Bulldog named Bruce, a chinchilla named Gustavo and hedgehogs named Bill and Marble as pets.
The seamheads will trout out their acronyms and tell you why this is a bad trade. They’ll tell you that Morse is a bad defensive player and a bad baserunner. They’ll tell you a bunch of negative stuff about Morse and a bunch of positive stuff about Jaso.
And ya know what? They’re right about all of it.
But I don’t care. If we’re going to complain about the Mariners’ lack of power – which most of us have done for the past three years – how can we complain when Jack Zduriencik brings in a bopper like Morse?
The guy hit 31 homers two years ago. In 102 games last year, he hit 18. That projects to 28 if he’d played 162 games. Then with the fences coming in this year at Safeco Field, it’s hard not to imagine Morse hitting 30 home runs in his first season back with the Mariners.
Unlike Justin Upton, who nixed a trade to the Mariners, Morse wants to be here, says he feels like he has unfinished business here. If I were him, I might be disappointed, going from a team that was in the playoffs last year to one that won’t make the playoffs this year. But he’s not.
I’m also fired up about the arrival of Kendrys Morales from the Angels. He brings the potential for even more pop in the lineup. Speaking of lineups, here’s one I scribbled down. It features a lot more hope than anything that Eric Wedge trotted out there last year:
1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
2. Kyle Seager, 3B
3. Kendrys Morales, DH
4. Mike Morse, LF
5. Justin Smoak, 1B
6. Jesus Montero, C
7. Michael Saunders, RF
8. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
9. Brendan Ryan, SS
I’m not as excited about the return of Raul Ibanez at 40 but hoping that he’ll have a little life left in his bat while providing veteran leadership in the clubhouse.
The Mariners have a legitimate chance of getting 100 home runs combined from Morales, Morse, Montero and Smoak. Throw in Seager, and you might get to 125. I know, you have to pray to the baseball gods if you’re thinking Smoak is going to hit 25 home runs, but it’s possible.
The Mariners still aren’t good enough to finish ahead of the Angels or the Rangers and probably even the A’s in the AL West.
But the acquisitions of Morales and Morse will at least make it more fun at the ballpark.
After so many 2-1 and 2-0 and 1-0 games, I’m ready for some 8-7 games at Safeco Field. I’m ready for some 7-2 deficits that the Mariners actually have a chance to come back from.
If it means that Morse is going to butcher some plays in the outfield, fine. Besides, he can’t be worse than Milton Bradley.
Spring training is less than a month away. For the first time in three years, Mariner fans have good reasons to be optimistic about the season ahead.