December 20, 2012 @ 10:27:30 PDT
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim shipped Kendrys Morales to the AL West rival Seattle Mariners for Jason Vargas. Both teams have answered some questions but might have created more that may lead to more action on the rumor mill.
Jack Zduriencik made good on his overall shift toward improving his offense. Morales took a spell to bounce back from his leg-breaking celebration in 2010 that cost him all of the next season and his 2012 first-half skills. He gradually recovered his profile throughout the season, peaking with a .290-7-17 August. Leg strength drives power, after all, so now that it appears he has his back, optimism will follow his fly-ball rate upward.
Even if Safeco Field weren't bringing in and lowering its fences for 2013, Morales hardly would've been intimidated. In the friendlier version for arms, Morales posted a .292/.346/.558 trio with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 120 at-bats, his biggest sample size of any park besides Angel Stadium. The switch-hitter, whose pull tendency comes through more so in the left box, can still club it to center field with authority regardless of side, so that 12-foot reduction of the left-center power alley looks like a bull's eye.
His weak batting eye will jeopardize how much he can improve on his .273 BA, but with a dinger total inching toward 30, that's a sacrifice most are willing to take on. Morales squarely fits as a starting 1B in NFBC-style mixed leagues that you can wait on a bit. He's part of the ever-growing group of value difference-makers at the position.
Though he'll play just about every day, this leaves the 1B-DH picture somewhat in limbo. Morales, in the initial plan, will share time at the scooper with Justin Smoak and at DH with backstop tandem of John Jaso and Jesus Montero. (Buy Montero. Everywhere. Even in NL-onlys.)
The Smoak Monster could drift out of town, too, and wherever he goes, he'll remain a breakout candidate with a clearance-rack fantasy commitment.
As for the rotation, Vargas' departure opens up a busy competition for as many as three SP spots. The allure of a Seattle SP drops a tad because of the new dimensions, but it remains a fine armbience, so Erasmo Ramirez and prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker must be watched by deep-leaguers heading into March.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
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