The Seattle Mariners have stumbled out of the gates following the All-Star Break. They had a tough series against the Angels, losing two of three dropping games in the sixteenth and ninth innings, and followed it up losing two of three to the Mets. Their wild card lead has evaporated as they now sit in a dead-heat tie with Toronto and the New York Yankees. It wasn’t that they lost two of three to the Mets; it was how they lost, scoring three runs in the two losses. A week before the trade deadline Seattle made a move: they acquired Kendrys Morales from the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Stephen Pryor.
So, this is a plus, right? Morales has proven he can hit in Seattle, not the easiest thing to do as Safeco Field has been shown to be a pitcher’s park. Last season in Seattle, Morales led the team in batting average, hits, doubles, RBI, multi-hit games, and extra base hits. This season in Minnesota, Morales is batting .234 with 1 HR and 18 RBI. Morales, who didn’t make his debut until June 8th, did have a twelve game hit streak until it was snapped last night vs. the Cleveland Indians. So, Morales is heating up, and he can slide into the DH role in Seattle giving the Mariner line-up some much needed pop.
The problem, to me, is the timing. Morales was a free agent until June. Seattle didn’t wake up one day and, all of a sudden, the offense was bad. The Mariners are 24th in team batting average and 28th in on base percentage. If you’re not getting hits and getting people on base, baseball becomes much more difficult. So, what has changed? On June 1st, the Mariners were 28-28. At the All-Star Break, Seattle had improved to 51-44 and was in sole possession of the second Wild Card in the A.L. By bringing in Morales now, I think the front office is admitting they should’ve signed him in the beginning of the season – a move I called for here. When the Mariners signed Robinson Cano, that was an announcement this team was moving forward and trying to make the playoffs. Adding Morales at the beginning of the season may have meant more wins, and, right now, this second Wild Card spot looks like it is going to be a dog fight. Did the Mariners not want to field the best possible team they could have in April? Now Morales, whose power numbers are down, is coming back, at the cost of a young pitcher Stephen Pryor, and he might have mixed feelings. He may feel he wasn’t good enough for the team in April as the Mariners let him sit in free agency, but now he will be asked to come in and produce for the very team who didn’t want him.
I hope that doesn’t happen, and I hope Morales has a successful second tour of duty in Seattle. He is starting to heat up, and we know he can hit in Safeco Field. But, the Mariners also could’ve used him in April, and now I hope it isn’t too little too late.