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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 25, 2008 3:27 PM

Sights and Sounds: Morrow "shelled''

Posted by Geoff Baker

The "shelled'' part was Brandon Morrow's description, not mine. He pitched in a Class AAA game against Texas this afternoon and it wasn't pretty. Morrow gave up five runs on four hits, including a three-run homer and an RBI triple. Also issued two walks. All in just a third of an inning. He managed a strikeout, his only batter retired on a frustrating day. The M's pulled him with a runner on third and the inning wasn't continued (that's the way these minor league games work down here).

My take? Morrow obviously struggled with his location. He said the mound height made it difficult to spot his pitches early. They were coming in too low. Morrow said he felt fine, but obviously was not happy with the results. I'm not all that surprised, given that he's barely faced live hitters the past two weeks. That said, I'm concerned about the state of this bullpen heading into the first week of the season. Morrow does not look ready to get big-league hitters out. You need control to do that. Control was an issue for him for much of last season. He needs work. As of right now, he's got a few days before the season starts. I think he'll be on the opening day roster. But this is a work in-progress. I think you can assume a 12-man pitching staff to start the year.

Anyhow, our video today is of every pitch of Morrow's outing. You'll see his two opening walks, sandwiched around a stolen base, then an RBI single. After that, the home run, a single and then a triple. Bronson Sardinha nearly killed himself leaping at the wall for the triple. He's OK. But Morrow got whacked. No doubt about it.

Thanks for all the great responses to this morning's post. I'll post some thoughts on it a bit later. Forget about Reed Johnson for now. As predicted, he was snatched up very quickly. A $1.3-million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

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Posted by wally

3:57 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Wanna know what worries me more than Morrow getting shelled this close to the regular season? "M's count on Cairo to guide younger players" scares the bejeebers out of me. What can a below average journeyman teach any youngster that can be of benefit? We need them to be around someone that's done something in their career, not somebody like Cairo. Does the management not understand that Cairo isn't very good, and you don't want your hot young prospects to be anything like him? AUGH!!

I hope they compete for the division crown, but it is starting to feel like things could unravel very quickly.

Posted by Pete

4:03 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think this is a prime example of why Morrow doesn't belong on the major league roster, and never has. He has never demonstrated consistent control.

He belongs at AAA developing into a starter. The longer they mess around with this, the less chance he will ever help the team as much as his potential says he should -- even as a reliever.

Darn it, I'm being negative again.

Posted by Pete

4:10 PM, Mar 25, 2008

You're right wally,

Keeping him around for that purpose is a public cop-out. There are plenty of respected veterans on the team to learn from. PLENTY. It's an excuse for his inclusion on the roster.

Given the choice between a veteran with a good track record who can influence rookies, and a veteran with a Cairo track record who can influence rookies... who would you choose.

It really is hilarious to me. They already have veterans to guide!!!

It's just a bunch of rhetoric. But take into account that the paper needs stories like this fill the pages. It's not like the Mariners contacted the Times and said, "Hey, can you do a story on Cairo and his guidance of young players?" It's just something for people to read.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

4:19 PM, Mar 25, 2008

M's management needs to do the right thing here and let Morrow pitch in Extended ST and then send him to Tacoma to become a starter. In the meantime, this allows Lowe to be the bridge to JJ.

Posted by Nat

4:20 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Pete and Wally, I think you may be missing the point about Cairo. While I'm not in favor of his signing either, he was brought in as a spanish-speaking player to keep the spanish-speaking young guys on track - similarly to Jose Guillen last year - only Guillen could actually deliver. That's the thinking of the FO. If they brought in a spanish-speaking player who could deliver the goods it would be different, wouldn't it? Just another bad call by the FO.

Posted by JP

4:22 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Pretty obvious Morrow was not comfortable today... hopefully it was more rust and (sounds like and excuse, but certainly could have been) the mound. When you can't get anything over, its pretty easy to sit on a "get me a strike" fastball and hit it hard.

Let's hope he gets some more work in before they decide to bring him North to start the season. He can't be still working out the kinks and rust when we need someone to get outs when it counts.

Posted by carl

4:28 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Should have drafted lincecum not this LOSER who got shelled all the time at cal

Posted by Snowbound

4:30 PM, Mar 25, 2008

The majority of managers and coaches that are in the game today were not above average players when they played the game. The guys that do the teaching are usually the guys with less ability because to reach their highest potential had to become students of the game, alot of the upper echelon players aren't teachers of the game because they had natural ability that required less study of the mechanics of hitting or pitching.

Now I'm not endorsing Cairo as being on this team, but discounting the help he could bring to Lopez and Betancourt in his backup role because he's not blessed with raw talent is also a disservice.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

4:31 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Nat - Beltre speaks spanish and understands the role of an infielder. Beltre is who the two young middle infielders should be looking towards (ok don't listen to him about swinging at pitches low and outside).

Plus who would you be more fearful Cairo or Beltre. Me..I wouldn't want to piss off Beltre.

Posted by wally

4:42 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Raul speaks spanish also. There are PLENTY of guys that speak spanish. Heck, if that's all they are looking for then sign me, I speak fluent spanish and would love for people to look up to me. Signing Cairo to guide the youngsters is like hiring Matt Foley to talk to your kids about going to college. It'd make a lot more sense to hire someone that went to college and was successful, not some guy living in a van down by the river. Unless they are trying to show the youngster what not to do, then Cairo is a perfect fit. I've got a better idea, why don't we bring in talented ballplayers so that the youngsters feel what it's like to win. I think that would help their development a lot more than bringing in a crappy backup infielder who has never, ever been good.

Oh, Matt Foley was Chris Farley's character on SNL that lived in a van down by the river.

Posted by Nat

5:00 PM, Mar 25, 2008

From Romero's article re: Cairo it seems obvious that Cairo was brought in specifically as a bench guy who could spend time in the clubhouse with Lopez and Betencourt and perhaps other spanish-speaking players whereas Beltre and Raul who are friendly and probably helpful in their own way with the young guys, nevertheless simply go about their business. While that expectation would be spelled out to Cairo in his signing with the M's. That's my take on it anyway. It sure sounds to me like exactly what the M's FO would do.

Posted by Charles

Posted by Mr. X

5:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Speaking of getting "shelled".

"Ichiro moved to CF per the team's request. In 2006, Jeremy Reed got hurt and Ichiro, per the team's request, moved to CF. Then, before the 2007 campaign, he agreed to stay in CF." "Ichiro did not block Adam Jones" "Unfortunately, saving their own rear ends got in the way. Ichiro had nothing to do with it." - Adam

Jeremy Reed was placed on the DL (disabled list, for non-fans and lurkers) on July the 3rd. Ichiro made his first start on August 20th, after Bloomquist, Choo, Jones, and Ellison all played games in Center. On August 20th, the Mariners were 56-68, 14 games back, and in last place. Jones played center between July 14th and August 19th, the game before Ichiro's first start on the 20th. Adam Jones was sent down 2 days later on August 22nd. In other words, Ichiro stepped in and took Adam's position in the midst of a lost season with nothing on the line but future contract considerations.

"Hargrove said the idea of sticking his Gold Glove right fielder in center field wasn't made on a whim."

"We've had discussions on and off for a while," Hargrove said. "I left it for him, when he felt it was the right time he would come to me. He came to me last night [after Snelling pinch-hit] and said it was a good time to try."

As for how much Ichiro -- who wasn't available for comment before the game -- would play in center field, Hargrove said that would be up to Ichiro himself.

"A lot of it has to do with how Ichiro feels about playing center field," Hargrove said. "... It's important they stay in the right frame of mind. If he's uncomfortable in center field ... I want to play him where he'll be more productive."

Maybe you should be the one to "brush up" on your Mariners history. 2006 wasn't that long ago. Your made-up memories are almost as embarassing and hilarious as those recalled recently by a certain unqualified presidential candidate.

Posted by BrianL

5:56 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Mr. X

This whole "Ichiro hurts the team by...." meme is getting really, -really- old.

Posted by Mr. X

6:02 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Maybe you could cite a recent example of me saying that Ichiro hurt the team. He definitely helped himself, and sealed Adam Jones' fate in the process.

Good luck.

Posted by BrianL

6:05 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Your entire post boiled down to "Ichiro hurt this team by playing center field and sealing Adam Jones' fate"

Adam Jones' fate was sealed by the Mariners front office, who (for some bizzare and unknown reason) felt Wladamir Balentein and Brandon Morrow were more valuable and had higher ceilings.

Don't blame Ichiro for the front-office's ineptitude.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

6:12 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I do not think we need to waste a player position on someone who can speak Spanish. There are many translators around who would love the opportunity w/o taking a spot on the bench.

Play Ball!!!

Go M's!!!

Posted by BrianL

6:17 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Miguel Cairo really epitomizes the reason a lot of people have no faith in the Mariners' front office. If Cairo was brought in to be a "Spanish-speaking clubhouse guy" then I can only shake my head in disgust.

If that's really the reason, then hire Cairo as a coach. There is absolutely no reason he should be taking up a spot on the 25 man roster. He brings nothing to the table that Willie Bloomquist doesn't already.

Posted by Mr. X

6:21 PM, Mar 25, 2008

That's a pretty big jump. I'm not going to accept your premise, sorry.

I just proved that Ichiro made the decision to move to center. The day before he made that decision, Jones was stinking it up in center. (3 errors in 25 games). Two days later, Jones was back in AAA. How is that hurting the team?

If Ichiro hadn't made that decision, he would have started 2007 in right field again, and we would have had Reed or someone else holding Jones' place until mid-year. With centerfield locked down, Jones became the piece that brought a player who filled another huge, glaring need.

Bavasi may be a fool, but even he knows that corner outfielders are a dime per dozen. Jones became more valuable on the trading block than he ever would have been in left field.

Posted by BrianL

6:28 PM, Mar 25, 2008

You'll have to forgive me, Mr. X, I didn't quite understand the intention of your original post.

Sometimes it's hard to decipher the correct context in an internet blog.

Posted by Mr. X

6:44 PM, Mar 25, 2008

No problem, Brian. My intention was only to refute the lie (intentional, in my opinion) that was posted by Adam today. It was common knowledge that Ichiro made the decision to move to center, and it's baffling that anyone who follows the team would believe that he was moved to center field just because he was told to do so. As we Mariner fans all know, Ichiro does not do anything that he doesn't want to do.

Posted by wally

6:48 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Yes, that's true that guys with less talent usually make great coaches, but are HORRIBLE guys to have on the roster! This is exactly why I've lost all faith in McVasi. I still love the M's, but it's easier on me to not get my hopes up. It's just like dating, if you actually let yourself like somebody, they're only going to break your heart. But if you are good looking (or telented, in a baseball world) you can be the one breaking hearts (and winning games). Bavasi has turned us into the guy in his basement shopping for the new D&D figurines and acne treatment.

Posted by BrianL

6:48 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Mr. X

Well, that might be for the best. If Ichiro listened to Johnny Mac this season, he'll probably steal 80 bases this year.

Of course he'll probably also be thrown out 40 times.

I'd say at this point I'm fine trusting Ichiro's decision-making accumen.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

7:31 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I get the sense some folks can't wait for Cairo to fail. See previous epic thread for reasons, rooted in Seattle fan psychology.

I don't think he's that great, and I also think he's redundant with Bloomquist in both role and profile. But c'mon! People are throwing this guy under the bus before the driver even got ON said bus.

Won't take much - a strike-3 call here, an error there - for Mr. Cairo to get the Sexson 07 treatment, it seems.

Posted by PRchef

7:54 PM, Mar 25, 2008


Your post at 4:42 PM, was very funny, I just thought I'd say thanks for giving me a good laugh. I love that SNL character.

On the whole Morrow thing, kind of makes me think about Soriano. Anyone know how he is doing by the way?

Posted by BrianL

8:19 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Soriano? He was just tabbed to be Atlanta's closer.

Posted by r0ryAK

8:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"Ichiro made his first start on August 20th, after Bloomquist, Choo, Jones, and Ellison all played games in Center.

Maybe you should be the one to "brush up" on your Mariners history. 2006 wasn't that long ago. Your made-up memories are almost as embarassing and hilarious as those recalled recently by a certain unqualified presidential candidate."

Ellison wasn't on the Mariners in 2006. What were you saying about embarrassing made-up memories?

Give me a break.

Posted by Mr. X

9:13 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Not Ellison, Snelling. Not sure how I confused an actual Major League player with Chris Snelling, but there you have it. He played part of a game in center on the 18th of August. Must have been a defensive replacement for Adam Jones.

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