Monday, May 24, 2010

Couch Time: Don't Trade Morales

Everybody's frustrated by the struggles of Franklin Morales in 2010.

I am. You are. He is. The Rockies are.

By my count, that's everybody.

Frustration (anger, disgust, so forth) often lead the less disciplined to make rash and reactionary decisions.

Example: When you're young, your boyfriend/girlfriend does something that really pisses you off or frustrates you, there's a pretty decent chance you break up with them.

Of course that all changes again a couple days later you talk and things are normal. The door to reconciliation opens up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but the point is that door remains open despite your reactionary decision.

In MLB, that door doesn't reopen. Once you breakup with a player (release or trade) that has frustrated you or underperformed, they're gone. You can't take the decision back, and chances are you don't receive a fraction of value in return that equals the player you just broke up with.

All those years (and money) spent scouting, signing and developing the player are just gone... wasted.

That's why teams don't react the way we want them to sometimes. That's why GMs frustrate us with votes of confidence for struggling young players. They are disciplined. They see the big picture we often don't.

Even if they privately lose faith in a player, there's no way we're going to learn that. It makes no business sense to make those feelings public. It makes much better business (and baseball) sense to bite your tongue and allow things to play out.

What if the Cleveland Indians had pulled the plug on Cliff Lee in 2007. He'd been a very solid pitcher for a couple seasons, but really hit the wall. Even though 20 teams would have been happy to take a chance resurrecting Lee, they wouldn't have parted with more than one marginal minor leaguer for the purchase of the Lee lottery ticket.

Cleveland wisely held on.

What happens?

In 2008, he bounces back with a Cy Young season (22-3, 2.54 ERA).

In 2009, they pull the trigger and received four quality prospects in exchange. Their patience paid off.

Maybe a better example.

What if the Kansas City Royals had completely given up on Zack Greinke in 2005?

It would have been very easy for them to do. His head and heart were clearly not in the right place. His game suffered for it. He even needed to take himself away from the game to get the situation resolved.

All the while Kansas City avoided making a rash decision on Zack. Now if they decide they're ready to move him, he'll bring them no less than three really good prospects.

The patience paid off again.

  • Francisco Liriano (Minnesota)
  • Phil Hughes (Yankees)
  • Barry Zito (Giants)
  • Matt Cain (Giants)
  • Jonathan Sanchez (Giants)
  • Jon Lester (Red Sox)
  • Ervin Santana (Angels)
  • John Danks (White Sox)
  • Mike Pelfrey (Mets)
These are all pitchers that struggled to varying degrees at one point or another in their careers. In each case, the team stuck by their player and has been rewarded for doing so.

Sometimes it doesn't work out this well, but I can tell you this. 100% of GMs would rather be wrong holding on to a guy too long, than cutting bait and watching them flourish somewhere else.
  • Chris Carpenter (Blue Jays, now Cardinals)
  • Joe Nathan (Giants, now Twins)
  • Dan Haren (Cardinals, A's, now D-Backs)
  • Matt Garza (Twins, now Rays)
To name a few.

If the Rockies were to just up and trade Morales right now, there's a pretty decent chance he'd end up on the second list. I want him on the first one.


Jerry said...

I agree with you. People can't say those are unreasonable comparisons either, because you're not really comparing talent level, you're just showing what Franklin's upside could be, and the reward that could come with patience.

Well done.