So long, Michael
In his first tour of duty with the Mariners, Michael was a young, eager shortstop who the M’s pegged to replace the departed Alex Rodriguez who chose to leave Seattle for greener wallets.
Morse was a lanky kid who didn’t have a great bat but still played some decent shortstop for such a tall guy.
The Mariners signed Cuban defector Yuniesky Betancourt and shortly thereafter Morse was turned into more of a utility player, playing first base occasionally along with corner outfield positions.
Despite a red-hot spring training, Morse was slowed by a variety of injuries in 2008 which led to little playing time and a trip back to the minors.
Morse was eventually shipped out of Seattle to the Washington Nationals in 2009. It was in Washington where Morse finally found his stroke over the next few years.
Which is why he made his return to Seattle
In what seemed to be a brilliant trade at the time by Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik the M’s re-acquired Michael’s services in time for the 2013 season by trading catcher John Jaso.
Michael was off to a fast start in 2013 for the M’s, clubbing 5 HRs in what seemed like his first 5 minutes of the season. Unfortunately Morse’s return to Seattle also marked the return of the his injury bug as he spent many weeks on the DL.
Finally returning from the DL just before the trade deadline Michael was unable to recapture his stroke. With the Mariners floundering below .500 I was shocked when Morse was not sent packing by the trade deadline in July.
This week, in a waiver deal, Morse finally got his ticket out-of-town and was traded to Baltimore for minor league outfielder Xavier Avery.
My first thought was: Xavier who?
Ok, so Avery might not have been a name you are familiar with right off the bat but this 23-year-old, lefty outfielder might just wind up surprising a few people.
The biggest asset Avery currently has is his speed, and as the saying goes- speed never slumps. He’s incredibly fast. He might be faster than Ichiro Suzuki was in his prime.
He could easily be the fastest guy in all of baseball, and that’s no joke.
Avery uses his speed and flashes some good leather to play any outfield position you want.
But can he hit?
Well, that’s what everyone has been asking for the past 5 years since the Orioles drafted him out of high school in 2008.
Avery has roughly 2600 combined minor league at bats in his 5 year career and he’s hit .260 during that time with 24 HRs and 204 RBIs. Not exactly, huge numbers over 5 years.
In 2012 Avery made it to the show for Baltimore when they were decimated with injuries. Avery wound up with nearly 100 major league at bats and hit .223, 1 HR, and 6 RBIs.
Two things leap off the his stats page that appear to be hurting him the most at the plate. Too few walks, and way too many strikeouts.
Every full season he has played in the minors he has struck out well over 100 times. His best season taking the base on balls was two years ago when he managed 51 walks in one season.
Eric Wedge needs to take the Lou Brown approach with Avery- Every time you strikeout you owe me 20 push-ups.
With his speed and the advantage of hitting from the left side he needs to be putting the ball in play and legging out more hits.
He also needs to show more plate discipline. 150 whiffs in a year is just flat out too many.
If he can figure those two things out, Xavier Avery might turn into a great leadoff hitter, rivaling the likes of Ichiro.
Time will tell and it’s worth watching to find out.