Mariners Analysis

Monday, July 21, 2008

More on why the Mariners are screwed with Morrow

Lots of emails on the Brandon Morrow situation. Do you leave him in the closers role or send him somewhere/anywhere on the planet now to start figuring out how to pitch as a starter (basically undo a lot the things he's been taught while being a 1-inning pitcher)?

Here's the biggest fly in the ointment for the Mariners plan to work.

Innings pitched.

Let's say you buy the crazy Mariner logic that Morrow saving 1-2 games a week for the rest of the season is more important than anything that could happen next year and beyond (what some fans refer to as "the future"). And let's say we accept the idea Morrow will be magically ready to start in 2009 and will be effective (what some fans call a "pipe dream").

How long will you let him pitch? August 1 or 31st, 2009?

Your prized arm, who will be starting his third season as a Mariner in 2009 will have to carry a significant pitch count limit. There is no possible plan that could realistically see him exceed 175 innings pitched next year. So even in the best case scenario, where Morrow is exceedingly effective and regularly pitches 6-7 innings a start, he'll be shut down before the team reaches September. The only thing that would save the club from having to make the hard decision on when to shut him down will be injury or ineffectiveness. Hardly the scenarios you hope for if you envision Morrow helping the club win next year. (that future thing again)

Last year the Mariners made Morrow pitch in Spring training, the entire 162 game schedule and then play winter ball. If the Mariners insist on repeating this awful treatment again don't be surprised to hear the word "dead arm" next year.

The ONLY logical, reasonable move for the Mariners is to start stretching out Morrow RIGHT NOW. As a Mariner, in AAA, AA, whatever. He needs to start learning to pitch more than one inning and he needs to learn when and how to throw other pitches while going through a lineup.

Let Fields, Lowe, Putz and whomever close out games this year and beyond. The Mariners could have Fields signed and pitching right now but are letting a few dollars delay his professional development.

It will be interesting to see how Morrow's future plays out, but every day the club delays his transition makes it harder and harder to see him being an effective starter for the Seattle Mariners.