…. Five weeks ago, it would have been tough to find anything about Morris that clubs could grumble about, other than his contract ($9.5 million next year, with a $9 million option or $1 million buyout for 2009). After his first 13 starts, he was 7-3, 2.56, and had given up more than three earned runs just once all year.
But in five starts since, Morris is 0-2 with an 8.13 ERA — the highest ERA of any NL starter who can match his innings pitched. So it’s obvious, says one scout, that “the wheels are starting to come off a little bit.” But for teams in a big ballpark (Dodgers, Padres, Braves, Mariners, etc.), he might still be a fit. At least, said an official of one club with a laugh, “He’s one of the best of the worst.”
At the time Morris was 7-3, the Giants were already showing signs of having no real chance to contend unless something was done to bolster the offense, which I first wrote about in May. By the time Morris started to slip, it was June, and we were in a tailspin. Strike while the iron is hot, was the gist of this post, on June 7th:
…. A qualified GM worth anything would be harrassing the shit out of Brian Cashman. We’ve got a surplus of the one thing the Yankees need, starting pitching. Matt Morris will, arguably, NEVER BE AS VALUABLE AS HE IS RIGHT NOW. Never again. Morris and a couple of prospects so that Cashman can get rid of a headache, and Sabean can save his job. They’re friends, from back in the day. Call him. Again and again. I’d call him five times a day, reading him the stories in the paper about how (A-Rod’s) teammates don’t respect him, don’t like him. About how he’s leaving at the end of the season. Shit, throw in Vizquel, since A-Rod would get to go back to short. It’s a match made in heaven.
At the time, A-Rod had gone from a 14 home run April to a 4 home run May, and the Yankees were absolutely desperate for a starter, having send Kie Igewa down, and were running out a couple of Double AA boneheads, who were unable to get out of the fourth inning. So now that Morris has lost a ton of value, and A-Rod is on his way to AL MVP, now, we’re gonna trade him? For who, exactly? What real, quality Triple AAA prospect do you think we’re gonna get for a 30-something, .500 pitcher who’s owed another $20 million or so?
Like I said, when the moves are made, we’re all gonna sit here and shake our heads.
UPDATE: Obsessive Compulsive addresses the Sabean signing/direction of the team:
…. I think firing Sabean would have been a knee-jerk reaction to a bad situation while ignoring the positives of our newly reconstructed pitching staff. What harm is there for another year or two of Sabean? At worse, we add a year or two of rebuilding, but that would have happened anyhow with any new GM we would have gotten in place. We need to see if he is headed in the right direction, just like we had to keep Ainsworth and Williams to see what direction they were headed, that’s the same principle governing why Sabean has kept Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum. With such potential to the strategy, we need to see it through.
In the post, he does a great job disecting the path the Brewers have taken to get where they are, but incorrectly says they were on a 15-year rebuilding project. Well, that’s not really accurate. The Brewers didn’t rebuild for fifteen years. They were run into the ground for most of a decade, while the Selig-led ownership team pocketed tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing money. It was only during the last five or six years, after Selig was forced to divest interest in the team, did they begin to acquire MLB-quality draft picks and players.
No one is suggesting the Giants follow the same path as the Brewers, especially given the state of the Giants young pitching staff, which should be playoff ready in a year or two. What many people are suggesting, is that Sabean’s recent track record let’s us know that he is incapable of making the right decisions, of trading the right players and keeping the right ones, of analyzing the potential of other organizations talent versus his own; to lead the team through the next several years.
He is more likely to trade Morris for some journeyman outfielder than he is to find a gem in someone else’s organization. He is more likely to trade away another young pitcher for a backup first baseman than he is to land two speedy young prospects.
He is more likely to continue to derail the future of the organization than he is to get it back on track.
That’s what I’m saying.