## Wednesday, August 1, 2007

### Further Insight Into the Matt Morris Trade

So you've read about Sam's feelings about the trade. Let's check out what people around baseball are saying. Someone has to like the deal, right? Right? Uh, no.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com:

"The Giants' brass was sitting around its suite Tuesday morning, bemoaning the fact that it had no decent deals cooking whatsoever. And then, out of the blue, it happened. The Pirates called. And wanted Matt Morris. His 7.94 ERA since mid-June? Not a problem. That $9.5 million he's owed next year (not counting his$1 million 2009 buyout)? Not a problem. And so they swooped in and finished off a deal for Morris minutes before the deadline -- for a legit prospect (Rajai Davis), a second prospect to be chosen from an agreed-upon list and absolutely zero money changing hands. Well, it didn't take long. For the next two hours, after people around baseball learned of this deal, they couldn't stop calling, e-mailing and texting reactions that could probably be summed up with three succinct words: WHAT THE BX!GRZFDQ!!!!! Don't get us wrong here. We love Matt Morris. Terrific guy. Has had a wonderful career. Should be a fine mentor to those young Pirates starters. But the Giants were just about begging teams to take Morris and offering to chomp big chunks of his money if they had to. Then this team going nowhere dropped out of the sky and took the man and the money. What a country. "That move," said one incredulous front-office man, "is so far out of left field, it's in the Monongahela."

Keith Law of ESPN.com:

"Another year, another bizarre acquisition by the Pirates. But while last year's move to get Shawn Chacon was puzzling, acquiring Matt Morris is inexcusable. The last thing the Pirates need is another starter who gives up more than a hit an inning, but they got one in Morris. And unlike their other hittable starters, he's expensive. Morris is in the second season of a three-year, $27 million deal, so unless the Giants are kicking in some cash, he'll take up nearly 20 percent of the Pirates' payroll while contributing little or no value. To make matters worse, Morris has been pitching poorly of late, and he'll no longer get the protection offered by AT&T Park to pitchers with fringy stuff. There's no justification for this trade -- given how low the Pirates' payroll is, they just handicapped themselves for the next two years and it's not like they're making a push for the pennant this year. The Pirates are going nowhere right now, and with this deal, they're not going anywhere in the near future, either. The Giants get a fourth/fifth outfield type in Rajai Davis, but the big benefit to them is clearing Morris' salary from the books for this season and next year, while also removing the temptation to pick up the club option on Morris' contract for 2009. Davis is Joey Gathright with a little bit of plate discipline; he's very fast but has almost no power. He's a nice guy to have on the bench and is the type of guy a manager will overplay when he wants to "manufacture runs." Saving$14 million or so on Morris is good enough, so adding Davis is just gravy for the Giants. "

Jon Heyman of SportsIllustrated.com:

"Giants: Great job getting rid of the remaining $14 million on Matt Morris' contract (and Morris, too). But apparently everyone thought the rest of the roster was more suited for resting at home than a pennant race, because the Giants are stuck with all of 'em. Grade: B" "Pirates: Weird, very weird. I'll give them credit for spending on Morris, who'll give them innings. But it's hard to understand why they needed to add a veteran starter when they're so hopelessly out of the race. Might have been better to tear it up, or at the very least, sell a few relievers. Grade: C" Scott Miller of Sportsline.com: "I know, I know. San Francisco? Aren't the Giants out of it? Yes, they are. But anybody who could entice Pittsburgh to pay every bit of the remainder of Morris'$13.7 million this year and next deserves a gold star.

"We need to turn the page on the way we were doing things," Giants GM/snake-charmer Brian Sabean says.

"We're going to need as much flexibility as we can."

They just got some.

Are the Pirates trying to stink? Morris is a gamer and a terrific teammate. But haven't the Pirates suffered through far too many terrible contracts over the past decade (Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Derek Bell and Pat Meares, off the top of my head) to take on the remaining $13.7 million on a pitcher who is past his prime? The buzz is that both GM Dave Littlefield and manager Jim Tracy are in deep trouble with the ownership change and a bitterly disappointing season, so the Pirates need to spend their money a whole lot more wisely than this." (It should be noted that Miller had the Giants listed under "Terrific Work", while the Pirates were the one and only team listed under "Turn in your books and go home") Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com: "The idea of adding veteran right-hander Matt Morris to lead a young rotation isn't ridiculous. But has anyone with the Pirates seen Morris pitch lately? Over his last eight starts he has allowed almost two hits per inning, his ERA rising from 2.56 to 4.35. Morris, who turns 33 on Aug. 9, is one of the game's great competitors, but his successful opening to the season now looks like an aberration. No low-revenue team can afford a No. 5 starter earning$9.5 million, and that description could very well fit Morris next season. GM Dave Littlefield just keeps digging himself a bigger hole."

That Dave Littlefield. He's a genius!

End of Post