The Morrow Situation
I think we’ve made it obvious that we’re pretty big fans of the new administration. Since Zduriencik was hired and put his team in place, we’ve seen the organization take some huge steps forward. The Putz deal was fantastic. Signing Branyan was exactly the kind of move we’ve been arguing in favor of for years. The team prioritized outfield defense, and we’ve seen the benefits of the Three CF Plan. Honestly, the new front office has given us a ton of reasons to be extremely excited about where this team is headed and to believe in the future of the Seattle Mariners. With all that said…
What on earth are you guys doing with Brandon Morrow?
Going into spring training, he was slotted in as the team’s #3 starter. Then, we had the whole end-of-spring training fiasco where Morrow asked to be moved to the bullpen, because he wasn’t going to be ready to start the year in the rotation and apparently didn’t want to go to the minors. Now, we don’t know what Morrow told Zduriencik and Wakamatsu at that time, but given how much waffling he’s done on the issue since, it’s hard to imagine he was so forceful in his conviction that they didn’t have the option to say “no, you’re a starter, you’ll be up with us in May.”
But, maybe the diabetes thing really was convincing, and they believed him when he said he’d been thinking of moving back to the bullpen ever since the Putz trade, feeling like it’s where he belonged. We’ll give them some benefit of the doubt on how that part was handled. It doesn’t end there, of course.
After getting himself straightened out and pitching well, he showed up with some shoulder soreness and the team decided to put him on the disabled list, despite the fact that he claimed he could pitch. I’m all for caution with arm problems, but Morrow was legitimately upset that they put him on the DL when he claimed he was fine. To make matters worse, he was immediately placed back into the closer role as soon as he came off the DL, and predictably, this didn’t work out so well. Wak even admitted that this wasn’t a very good idea, Morrow’s struggles after coming off the DL eventually led him to losing his job as the closer and ending up in middle relief.
Wait, we’re still not done. After failing as a closer because of his lousy command and over-reliance on his fastball, Morrow came to the club and told them he wanted to go back to the rotation. He felt like he was selling himself short by moving to the bullpen, and wanted to give starting another shot. He knew he needed to work on his secondary pitches and to improve his command, and he was willing to head to the minors “for as long as necessary” in order to work his way back to the big leagues as a major league ready starter. After a roller coaster ride of three years of being mishandled, he was finally going to get the minor league seasoning he needed, working on his pitches in low pressure environments and refining his command away from the spotlight of major league action.
It had taken a long time, but we were finally at the right point. Morrow would go to the minors, learn how to pitch, work out his mechanical flaws, and come back to Seattle when he possessed more than just a big fastball. The long, windy road at least ended up at the right place.
Then, for reasons that still don’t make a lot of sense, the M’s reversed course again and gave him a start in Colorado due to Bedard’s shoulder pain. The team had other options – Chris Jakubauskas could easily have made the start, or the team could have recalled Ryan Rowland-Smith or Gaby Hernandez from Tacoma. Yes, there are issues with each of those guys, and I get that the team doesn’t feel like RRS is ready to start in Seattle yet, but neither was Brandon Morrow.
But, you know, we can overlook a short speed bump in the plan. Bedard’s shoulder problems threw a monkey wrench into the timetable, so Morrow had to stick around for a little bit longer. Okay. Fine, whatever. But now, the team has announced that Morrow will get another start against San Diego, and now he might not go to the minor leagues at all. Wak is talking like he wants Morrow to transition to being a starter in the major leagues.
Come on. Can we please stop changing our minds with this guy every 10 minutes? If going to the minors for a few months was a good idea a week ago, it’s still a good idea. Nothing that happened in Colorado on Saturday should have changed anyone’s mind about Morrow’s need for some time in Triple-A. The organization was convinced it was the best thing for him. He was convinced it was the best thing for him. Everyone who watched him pitch was convinced that it was the best thing for him.
But now, for whatever reason, we’re going to have watch Morrow walk the world in San Diego while the team tries to stay in a playoff race that they’re not really in. We’re getting the worst of both worlds – the team’s failing to give themselves the best chance to win games and they’re failing to put Morrow in the situation where he’s best able to develop long term. What we have now is this weird middle ground where the team isn’t buyers or sellers, Morrow isn’t a major leaguer or a minor leaguer, and he’s not really a starter but also not a reliever.
Welcome to confusion land.
Can someone in the front office just make the right call, write it in stone, and end the conversation? Send Brandon to Tacoma and tell him he’ll be back when he figures out how to throw strikes 65% of the time and throw less than 65% fastballs for 7+ innings. If that takes a month, great. If that takes until September, fine. But no one wants to see Morrow start in San Diego, continuing his high wire act where he tries to develop and win at the same time.
The front office has done a lot of things right. They’ve just done this one thing very wrong. Please fix it.