Ever since the Mariners traded for Joe Borchard I've become more and more enamored with him. Looking at his college numbers he should have much better plate discipline than he has shown as a pro, and I thought it might be because the White Sox handled him so badly. The evidence is mounting in my favor.
Players often have mixed reactions when they are traded for the first time in their career. Matt Thornton wasn't overly enthused with leaving the Mariner organization, saying, "Being traded is a new experience for me. I don't know how to react to it. I've heard some good things about Ozzie Guillen, and I'm looking forward to playing for him."
However, Borchard's reaction was crystal clear. "It's very exciting," he said. "I'm happy to be part of this organization. I'm looking forward to the opportunity that's been presented to me here. It's a clean slate. It seems to be the best thing for me."
Like Thornton, Borchard is out of options so he must stick with the Mariners or be released, which means he definitely won't be in AAA as I had hypothesized yesterday. There was no place on White Sox roster for Borchard, so it's possible he's excited mainly because his chances of making an opening day roster improved dramatically. Still, I think the reason he is happy runs much deeper. Borchard had the following to say about the White Sox:
"I don't want to sit here and say anything negative about my time there," he said. "I think the best thing to say is that it did run its course. It was just a good time for everyone to move on."
Joe Borchard went to Stanford so he's got a good head on his shoulders and knows better than to torch his former organization. Still, he seems surprisingly thrilled to leave the World Champions to be a reserve outfielder on a team that has lost over 90 games in consecutive years and, though Borchard didn't say anything negative about the White Sox, he had nothing positive to say either and made it abundantly clear that it was time to move on.
There's no doubt in my mind that the White Sox doomed Borchard for failure now that Borchard has said a little bit about his time there. Despite being the 12th pick in the 2000 draft, Borchard received a signing bonus that was the biggest for any draft pick in MLB history, which immediately put ridiculous pressure on him to be an instant star. Then, after an unfortunate injury, Chicago panicked and didn't let Borchard work his way through the system as any prospect should be allowed to do. Instead, they threw Borchard to the wolves by sticking him in AAA and, though he did not fail, he did not look like a guy who should have been given the biggest signing bonus in MLB draft history. As a result, Borchard was pressed by Chicago to deliver and likely especially pressured to hit home runs because his power potential is obviously what netted him such a huge signing bonus. It would only follow that Borchard's walk totals would plummet and strikeouts soar as he swung for the seats every time he stepped to the plate.
Maybe I'm reading into a few paltry comments too much, but Borchard's quotes line up with my original theory on what the White Sox did to him. The more I see and hear, the more I believe that the Mariners have stolen a really good ballplayer, as long as the White Sox did not damage Joe Borchard beyond repair.
Joe Borchard quotes were taken from an article written by Doug Miller for MLB.com. Matt Thornton's quote was gleaned from and article written by Josh Weinfuss for MLB.com.