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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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July 20, 2008 12:20 PM

Putz up, Rowland-Smith down

Posted by Bob Condotta

The Mariners announced before today's game that they have re-activated J.J. Putz and cleared space on the roster by sending left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith to Tacoma.

The plan is to have Rowland-Smith become a full-time starter in Tacoma with the thought that he will return to Seattle and join the rotation at some point this season.

Manager Jim Riggleman said Rowland-Smith was "not real happy'' about being sent down but that the team felt the best way to transform him into a starter was to have him make a few in Tacoma.

Rowland-Smith threw 75 pitches in Saturday's game and Riggleman said it won't take much to extend him out. Asked if Rowland-Smith would be back in September, Riggleman said "I doubt very much it would be all the way to September before we see him again.'' He said one option could be to simply add another starter to the rotation when Rowland-Smith is ready to return.

Putz could be used today in middle relief, Riggleman said, with the plan that Brandon Morrow will remain the closer for now.

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Posted by Spiderdawg

12:31 PM, Jul 20, 2008

So let me get this straight:

The best way to convert a reliever to a starter is to send him down to let him stretch out and work on secondary pitches, but the one guy that doesn't apply to is the one reliever the Mariners most want to make a starter, Brandon Morrow??

I am not officially confused.

Posted by M's Fan

12:32 PM, Jul 20, 2008

At this point, why not just give RRS the starts here and either DFA or send Batista down to Tacoma or elsewhere....

Posted by Noddigity

12:37 PM, Jul 20, 2008

ditto spiderdawg

Posted by Fire the FO!!!

12:43 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Spiderdawg - That would make too much sense. They don't use common sense when making these decisions. When will they ever get it right?!?!?!?!?!?!
Yay!! Vidro's still here.

Posted by 11Records

12:44 PM, Jul 20, 2008

This totally makes sense. But - you'd have to look at it as another move is right around the corner.

Because Jimenez and Corcoran have been so good, the M's feel confident in their situation in the pen. So - they've sent RRS to Tacoma to get a start or two while they work on trading Washburn.

They're not gonna DFA Batista and eat the remainder of his contract.

As to sending Morrow down to stretch him out - that's gonna be an off season project. They still need him as the closer right now. Plus - they've already gotten RRS out to around 80 pitches. It's a much shorter project to get him ready.

Posted by Adam

12:47 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Spiderdawg - Who says these idiots want to make Morrow a starter?

11Records - Pray tell, why do the Mariners "need" Morrow to be their closer? Why do they "need" any specific pitcher to close right now?

Posted by Brad

12:52 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Washburn to be traded soon? Have the M's shifted their thinking on Morrow as a starter to a closer. Trade Putz for high level prospects! Trade Ichiro before Ibanez. Ibanez is a far better leader for a group of young developing players.

Posted by 11Records

12:54 PM, Jul 20, 2008

The thing is - let's say it takes 4 weeks to get Morrow stretched out to starting... He's going to come up and make 2 or 3 starts in September? I think the organization is comfortable just having Morrow in the pen for the rest of the season, keep his innings total reasonable, and have him pitch a little in winter ball so that he's working as a starter nearer to the start of the 2009 season.

With RRS - he's a dude they really need to audition to see if he's gonna have a role in the rotation next year. Morrow's a guy who I think is already penciled in. And closing is pretty valuable experience for him.

I'm thinking that's how they're approaching it. Again - it's hard to assume they're acting logically, because they ARE the Mariners. But, that makes pretty good sense to me.

Posted by Gordie

12:57 PM, Jul 20, 2008

So it's better to have Morrow come into spring training next year and prepare to start then, rather than prep him now during a lost season and give him some experience under his belt going into next year? That's typical Mariners logic for you.

Posted by ken

1:06 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Timing of this move makes sense in context of Thursday being an off-day - team will probably skip Batista in the rotation and possibly have RRS ready to start the following Tuesday. RRS can have one start with Tacoma this coming Thursday. I think a move could be coming up involving Washburn and RRS would be a logical replacement for him. Does anyone know if there has been any progress in getting Josh Fields signed?

Posted by 11Records

1:06 PM, Jul 20, 2008

If they were going to transition Morrow to starting during this season, they should have started the process in May or June. Like the Yankees did with Joba, and the M's did with RRS.

Also, I think you can argue that closing at the big league level is better experience for Morrow's long-term makeup than starting in West Tennessee for a month.

Again - they'll get him innings in winter ball, and get him stretched out there. He'll be ready to start in spring training.

A couple of other things to consider...

1) They do need to continue to at least try to win games. And
Morrow is really valuable right now. If you're Riggleman, and you want to get rid of that "interim" in front of your title, the last thing you want is your best bullpen weapon slogging it out for the Diamond Jaxx.

2) The M's have a bunch of starters right now. They have a lot of sh*t to figure out. For instance, should Dickey and RRS be in the rotation next year? Will Bedard be here? What about Batista and Washburn? Obviously Felix is a constant. And, that's 6 starting pitchers right there.

Posted by Tom

1:07 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Well that's a stupid choice.

Posted by CheapSeats

2:14 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Not happy? No kidding. Batista can't by the 3rd inning and he is still on the roster. Doesn't surprise me though.

Riggly bought into Mac's story and now he is brain washed.

"My Oh My" Mariners Baseball!

Posted by Capo

2:16 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Mind boggling......

Why do the M's cater to unproductive POS like Batista and Vidro, who are hurting the team on a daily basis.....but are more than willing to alienate a guy like RRS, who has pitched relatively well and done everything asked of him?

I understand that our bullpen cannot sustain five pitchers who can only go 5 innings at most....but in this case, let RRS get his innings here in Seattle. At least we'd get 5 competitive innings, as opposed the the crap Batista has been giving us.

As to Morrow, i honestly don't think he has the stuff to be a SP, he has two plus pitches and a show me pitch, plus command issues......I'd personally rather see him stay in the closer spot. JJ will have tremendous trade value is he proves he is healthy over the next week....A top rate closer who is really inexpensive is a luxury on a 100 loss team, but to a contender like Tampa Bay, he might command a guy like Price if we throw in Inamez.

Posted by Bums

2:18 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Don't worry about Morrow for next year because next year will be a lost cause as well, especially with Batista and Silva coming back. He will get his chance of starting in a meaningless year. The closing is a good way to get him experience and build confidence.

I like giving RRS the chance. Not sure you need him to go to the minors considering he can go more innings than Batista and Silva combined with 60-70 pitches. He may be needed with that huge hole they have in the rotation, even if for only 70 pitches for a couple of starts. It will be better than Batista and Silva. It will be a fun next three years watching Silva suck.

Posted by Scanman

2:24 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Itís not too hard to see why some of us were down on this team from spring training on. If I didnít know better Iíd say PT Barnum was running this Circus.

Posted by Adam

2:48 PM, Jul 20, 2008

If the Mariners begin now, they can move Morrow down to the minors and have him start to stretch out. By the middle of August, he'll be ready and can start 6 or 7 games IN THE MINORS before the year is out.

There's no need to bring him up to the majors. He doesn't need to throw another pitch with the Mariners this year.

Of course, the idiots wont even think of it...

Posted by Briguy17

2:56 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Where's the game thread, Bob?

Posted by bammy

2:58 PM, Jul 20, 2008

I believe the F.O. is now trying to lose 110 games. Must be the result some high-stakes office pool from the bowels of ineptitude our Front Office is known for.

Posted by Adam

2:59 PM, Jul 20, 2008

11Records - Why do you assume Morrow will pitch in winter ball again? I doubt they do because they probably are still concerned about his innings.

Besides, regardless of how nice it might look to see Morrow throwing 76% fastballs past ML hitters, he still needs to develop his slider and split, and learn how to pitch more than one inning at a time. He's never gone through a ML lineup more than once. Those are things he has to learn, and he can do it in one innings stints, and he can't do it against the lineups he'll face in winterball.

Posted by Dave from the coast

4:03 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Bill Kruger's just said that he's never seen a season where so many pitchers left ball games yet didn't end up on the DL. If they went on the DL, perhaps whoever filled that pitcher's shoes would be more effective. Not that I know anything, 'cos I don't, but wouldn't that be a way for the M's experiment a little more with viable pitching combinations? Not that the M's have to actually plan on winning ball games, because the rest of this season is shot anyway...

Posted by Scott

4:28 PM, Jul 20, 2008

Batista should've gone on the DL or Vidro should've been cut to make room for Putz. Even if R-S only gives us 4-5 innings of work, it is certainly better than Batista's 2 innings of crap. I think I recall Blowers saying earlier this year that in about a month, you could have R-S stretched out to 100 pitches. Why not do that here, not Tacoma?

This team has absolutely ZERO direction. The fans know it. The local media knows it. And, listening to Buster Olney on ESPN radio earlier today, the rest of the league is also confused about this organization.

Posted by RustyJohn

9:03 PM, Jul 20, 2008

For the record, I know it has been said before, but the idea of a "closer", particularly a team that sucks sphincter as much as this one, is overblown. Since they are going to need to up Morrow's innings amounts, why not start this year?

This front office needs to realize that this season is lost- rather than worrying about putting out a "major league team" and worrying about declining attendence this year, they need to prepare for the years to come and a rotation of Felix, Bedard, Morrow, RRS and Dickey is a lot better and cheaper than the 30 someodd million they are blowing on the suckfest that is Batista, Silva and Washburn. Get Washburn and Silva out of here to a NL team, thow Batista in the pen and work on getting an offense.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:09 PM, Jul 20, 2008

No, the best way to make RRS a starter is to put Batista on the DL and give RRS his starts... but what do I know...

Posted by Waz

8:33 AM, Jul 21, 2008

What? It's a dumb move.

Get Rowland-Smith Back, Send Bootista aka. Batista to Tacoma.

It would be wiser move if M's do that.

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