I wasn’t going to ask for votes in the Brock and Salk media pool, but I was just on their show, and they urged me to do so. Far be it from me to disrespect their wishes. I have a tough second-round matchup against Brock Huard himself, so I need your support. Follow this link for all the details. I’m in the Wayne Cody Region. The deadline is 3 p.m. (Pacific time) today, so there’s not much time left. Thank you, all!.
Traveling around Florida, and talking to some of the ex-Mariner phenoms (or, more accurately, ex-Mariner ex-phenoms) sprinkled around the Grapefruit League, it struck me (or re-inforced) that Jack Zduriencik has guts.
Jeff Clement. Brandon Morrow. Phillippe Aumont. J.C. Ramirez. Tyson Gillies. In order to get the players he wants, Zduriencik has shown little hesitation in dipping into the club’s inventory of young players.
The fact that most of those players were acquired and developed in the previous regime – which I’ll explore in an upcoming story for the newspaper – means that Zduriencik didn’t have the same emotional investment in the players. And, of course, it might say something – volumes – about what he thinks about the potential of those players.
Yet anytime a young player is traded, especially ones that were once well-regarded enough to be high draft picks, the possibility exists that those players will come back to haunt you. Nothing is more frustrating to fans than to watch touted (or untouted, for that matter) youngsters thrive in another organization.
Mariners fans have many living, breathing examples of the hauntability potential of trading prospects, of course, starting with the still-painful duo of Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, not to mention David Ortiz. And we won’t even get into this.
A more recent example is Shin-Soo Choo (pictured above in spring of 2003), whom the Mariners traded to the Indians three years ago for the long-departed Ben Broussard (whom they just had to have to solidify the DH spot along with, ahem, Eduardo Perez), and has now developed into one of the more dangerous hitters in the American League.
In honor of Choo, I have developed a rating system to evaluate the potential of the young players traded by Zduriencik to come back and make the Mariners wince, I call it the Career Hauntability Or Obscurity index – or the CHOO index. The higher the number on a 100-point scale, the more the likelihood the player will come back to haunt the Mariners during the course of his career. The lower the number, the more likely the player will fade away to obscurity — like Juan Gonzalez (not that one), whom the Mariners acquired for Carlos Guillen.
Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (traded to Toronto for Brandon League, December 23, 2009) 75 CHOO Index. No doubt Morrow has electric stuff, but the yo-yoing between relief and starting didn’t serve him well. Nor did starting his first full season as a professional in the majors rather than learning his craft in the minors. But now the Blue Jays say he will be solely a starter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the change of scenery, along with the cessation of Tim Lincecum comparisons, allows Morrow to thrive.
J.C. Ramirez, Phillies (Traded with Phillippe Aumont and Gillies to Philadelphia for Cliff Lee, Dec. 16, 2009). 50 CHOO index. The Phillies project him as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Whether he’s more or less than that depends on his development – he’s just 21 – but the potential is there.
Aaron Pribanic, Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin (traded to Pittsburgh for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson, July 29, 2009). 30 CHOO Index. Of course it’s patently unfair to lump these three as a group. They are individuals with distinct differences. Yet I’m going to do it anyway, since they were traded together as low minor leaguers, and were lightly regarded by scouts. Not much hope was given at the time for a breakout, but players sometimes take an unexpected leap, whether via maturity, a new pitcher, a change of scenery, or whatever. You have to leave that possibility open. Most scouts believe the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Lorin, who was 5-4, 2.44 in Class A for Seattle, and 3-1, 1.57 in A ball after the trade, with a combined 116 K’s in 123 innings.
(Seattle Times photo by Mark Harrison)