Brandon Morrow Needs A Lot Of Work

Dave · September 18, 2009 at 11:26 am · Filed Under Mariners 

This probably isn’t news if you watched him pitch last night, or really at all since he returned to the team, but Brandon Morrow isn’t any better now than he was before his trip back to Tacoma. In fact, he might be worse.

In his two starts since rejoining the club, Morrow has displayed his usual lack of command, throwing strikes on just 58% of his pitches. But combined with his inability to find the plate, he’s added the new inability to miss bats. Of the 177 pitches he’s thrown in those two starts, he’s gotten 11 swinging strikes. When batters have swung at his pitches, they’ve made contact 91.7% of the time. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched this year, the highest opponents rate of contact belongs to John Lannan, at 88.7%.

John Lannan is a pitch-to-contact groundball lefty with a fastball that averages 88 MPH.

His command is already Double-A quality. He can’t get left-handers out. And now, he’s not even fooling hitters. This version of Brandon Morrow is not a major league starting pitcher. He’s not even really close.

If I was advising Zduriencik on specific goals for the winter, #1 would be finding a team that still believes that Morrow can be a top of the rotation starter and is willing to pay for the right to try to turn him into one. He’s not anywhere close right now, and I think the M’s best option is to try to trade him to someone who still sees a 96 MPH fastball and thinks he’s got ace potential.


23 Responses to “Brandon Morrow Needs A Lot Of Work”

  1. Sports on a Schtick on September 18th, 2009 11:34 am

    Trade him or stick him in the minors for a long time. Those are the two most practical options.

    And please people, enough about how this was another boneheaded Bavasi move. Zduriencik royally screwed up on developing Morrow as well.

  2. Manzanillos Cup on September 18th, 2009 11:51 am

    What a frustrating player.

  3. urchman on September 18th, 2009 11:57 am

    If I was advising Zduriencik on specific goals for the winter, #1 would be finding a team that still believes that Morrow can be a top of the rotation starter and is willing to pay for the right to try to turn him into one.

    Hopefully, most teams don’t read places like USSM.

  4. jared_kopp on September 18th, 2009 12:07 pm

    Hopefully, most teams don’t read places like USSM.

    I know a team like that!
    I wonder what would happen if Z gave Dayton Moore another call and offered Jose Lopez and Brandon Morrow for Alex Gordon.
    Sure its not going to happen. But hey – he took Yuni off our hands. He’s certainly crazy enough…right?
    Move Bill Hall to second?

  5. ThePopeofChilitown on September 18th, 2009 12:23 pm

    Last I heard, St. Louis loves turning former M’s into useful pitchers.

    What is a realistic return for a Morrow-like player? Is he worth a decent prospect or MLB ready player?

  6. littlelinny6 on September 18th, 2009 12:36 pm

    You are cherry picking off a really really small sample size. Despite his lack of command he had 10 swinging strikes yesterday on 97 pitches, or 10.3% swinging strikes. He had a terrible first outing as far as missing bats but this outing was much different. The 11 missed bats is disingenuous and misleading. He needs at least 5-6 starts in the Majors before you completely give up on him.

  7. mw3 on September 18th, 2009 12:37 pm

    Amen Brother!

    Unfortunately I think his trade value has actually decreased considerably in the last seven days. The quintessential Morrow moment came early in the game when on an 0-2 count Moore signaled for a put away fastball high in the Zone and Morrow grooved one right down the middle.

  8. wabbles on September 18th, 2009 12:39 pm

    Jack Z to his administrative assistant: “Get me the Phillies on the phone, please. Thank you.”

    Yeah, what a reincarnation of Gil Meche. Blech. We should cut our losses and give the roster spot and coaches’ attention to someone else. He may go somewhere else where he is developed better and become a reincarnation of Roger Clemens minus the controversial stuff. If so, great. We’re not doing him or us any favors by keeping him around and, particularly, jerking him around the way we have been.

  9. Liam on September 18th, 2009 12:56 pm

    What are the odds that Morrow ends up in the bullpen next year?

  10. lokiforever on September 18th, 2009 1:00 pm

    Is this the product of unrealized potential, the nature of pitching prospects in general (Many don’t pan out), or a horrible development path given to him by the Mariners when he first signed?

  11. TranquilPsychosis on September 18th, 2009 1:49 pm

    Yeah, what a reincarnation of Gil Meche.

    With Mess Meche, it seemed to be a between the ears issue. He had the stuff, he just couldn’t figure out how to pitch.

    Is that the problem with Morrow or is it that said jerking around (by the team and/or himself)has thrown him out of whatever rythym he had?

  12. Liam on September 18th, 2009 2:01 pm

    Dave did a post over at Fangraphs on Smoltz saying that anything can happen to a pitcher in the span of 40 innings. Brandon Morrow hasn’t even reached 40 innings as a starter for the Mariners this year.

  13. don52656 on September 18th, 2009 2:04 pm

    I have to wonder whether this “jerking around” was all the organization’s fault. First, we already know that the decision to go from a starter in spring training back to the closer was Morrow’s idea. Second, the team announced 10 days or so ago that Morrow was going to remain in Tacoma for the playoffs then issued another statement a day or so later that he was inexplicably coming up to start in Seattle. I wonder how much of that scenario is Morrow preferring to start in Seattle rather than a playoff game in Tacoma.

    I think Morrow is more responsible for the back-and-forth handling than we know. Of course, the organization still has the ultimate responsibility for the decision, but I’m agreeing with Dave that Morrow isn’t close to being a useful major league starter.

  14. Liam on September 18th, 2009 2:24 pm

    don52656, the Mariners flip-flopped twice. On the 6th, Morrow was going to pitch against Texas. On the 8th, he was going to pitch against Sacramento in the AAA playoff game. On the 9th, back to Texas.

  15. ivan on September 18th, 2009 2:36 pm

    Last time Seattle had a #1 draft choice like that, they traded him for Joe Borchard. Don’t you love the way that worked out?

  16. Chris_From_Bothell on September 18th, 2009 2:39 pm

    For evaluation purpose now – I agree that it’s too small a sample size. And not just the innings as a starter; there’s too much bad history and too many weird circumstances around his performance overall this year.

    The Ms should start over with him in spring training 2010 and pretend that all his experience to date was with some weird other club. Treat him the same way as they approach someone they got as a throw-in player in a trade.

    For trading purposes, Morrow should be treated like any other player and any other position this offseason. If there’s someone available through trade or FA that is a significant upgrade at his position, go get that person. He doesn’t need to be actively shopped, but he shouldn’t be off the table either.

    For role purposes, the Ms need to commit to a role for him and then see if he succeeds or fails at that, period. This year has shown he can’t be one of those long relief / spot start guys. He can’t close. He’s not a guy you can move to the bullpen as an innings eater when he’s off his game (or when better talent comes in).

    His role is a #4-ish starter. And neither he nor the Ms organization should deviate from that; where the flip-flopping came from and who had how much say in his role is irrelevant by now, as the damage is done.

    If he makes the team in spring training 2010, it should be as a starter or not at all. And if he falters as a starter next year, shop him or designate him.

  17. WildBeggar on September 18th, 2009 2:49 pm

    I really hope we see him in ST preparing to be a starter.

  18. TomTuttle on September 18th, 2009 3:09 pm

    Well, see ya later Brandon.

    Snell is good enough to be a #3 (MOR) starter and R-R, French and Fister can fill #4 and #5.

    But we desperately need a legitimate #2 behind Felix.

    We shouldn’t be so desperate that we trade the farm like we did for Bedard, but if we want to win next year, Felix needs a sidekick.

  19. Liam on September 18th, 2009 3:20 pm

    I’m sure we could get a legitimate #2 if we moved Felix.

  20. TumwaterMike on September 18th, 2009 4:01 pm

    I say if Bedard is willing to re-sign at a discount (which he might do) then we bring him back for a year and he can be #2. We would have Felix, Bedard, RRS, Snell and probably French. Not too bad. You’d also have Fister and that would give Morrow a chance to mature at AAA.

  21. nathaniel dawson on September 18th, 2009 4:30 pm

    I’d like to see them keep him. Free agent starting pitchers cost a hell of a lot of money and bring a lot of risk along with the contract. If a team can develop their own, they’re way ahead of the game. I’d like to see the M’s make it a priority to develop starters from within their own system. Go out and buy free agent position players, but rely on your own pitching.

  22. idahowriter on September 18th, 2009 6:22 pm

    I’m with Dave on this one. If I was Z, I’d be on the phone telling other teams, “Look, we f**ked up with guy. He needs a change of scenery to clear his head and get back on track.” Drafting Morrow #1 was a mistake from the start. I’ve been rooting for the guy, but I just don’t see him putting it together in this organization. Let’s get what we can for him, while we can.

  23. naynay51 on September 21st, 2009 2:19 pm

    I’m reminded of another M’s starter with a lot of promise who we gave up on a few years back, but is now one of the more effective pitchers in baseball and is on a playoff bound team. His BB/IP rate has dropped out of site and his ground ball %age is way above MLB average and he’s going to get big money next year. With maturity and the right instruction/environment, Joel Pinero has opened some eyes, and Morrow has more raw talent than Pinero. We should probably show some patience with this guy and see if we can develop him in our organization rather than assuming that the only way that our talented prospects can develop into effective players is to be sent to another team.

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