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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 21, 2008 9:43 AM

Morrow versus Rowland-Smith

Posted by Geoff Baker

Many of you have written in, expressing amazement that the Mariners have sent Ryan Rowland-Smith down to Class AAA to work on becoming a starter, while Brandon Morrow remains in the bullpen. I won't weigh in on the merits of Seattle's decision not to move sooner on Morrow. The team made a judgment call a couple of months ago not to go the Joba Chamberlain route with Morrow.

But I will try to explain the difference between Rowland-Smith and Morrow when it comes to this decision.

I talked about this on the radio last week, but Morrow is not going to be worked out as a starter this year. It's too late for that now. First off, J.J. Putz is going to have to be slowly worked back into the bullpen and the team needs a closer for now. Look at how much work Morrow got on the last road trip. Until Putz is ready, which may not be until mid-August, you need a competent late-innings guy out there. I know the games don't mean much, but fans would be in an uproar if this team were to keep blowing late-inning leads, especially after making them sit through the first 2 1/2 hours or so.

Besides, if you keep forcing a bunch of guys to throw the eighth and ninth when they aren't used to it, who knows how it will impact the health of the bullpen in general? The team tried this already back in April, when Putz went down the first time and Morrow was just getting fully healthy. It was an adventure.

And if you know it will take until mid-August to get Putz back to closing games again -- if that soon -- then sending Morrow down is no longer an option. There would be only two weeks left in the Class AAA season and that's not enought time to stretch out a starter. You could try, but you'd wind up with a guy capable of going four innings or so. That's not what you want with Morrow. You don't want to rush him. What you want, is a guy who can routinely go five or more innings.

Rowland-Smith is a different story. His arm is already semi-stretched to begin with. He's been going two or more innings as a reliever and got up to three or four as a spot-starter. You can send him down a couple of weeks and get those extra innings out of his arm. They will likely be needed because of a trade of Jarrod Washburn, the continued uncertainty of Erik Bedard's health and the ongoing struggles by Miguel Batista.

When Rowland-Smith first got a start a few weeks back, we specualted that he was auditioning for the rotation in the event of a Washburn or Bedard deal. That still seems to be the case.

But Morrow is a different story. He's not some end-of-year fill-in as a starter. And I don't mean that disrespectfully to Rowland-Smith, but things are what they are. Morrow is a huge part of the club's future, you've used up a No. 1 pick on him, and you have to treat him with more care.

How long would it take to get him ready? Remember, he's been a closer. That's one inning of letting it all fly with his arm, not holding anything back.

Chamberlain needed a month from the time he began throwing two innings on a regular basis to when he moved up to his first six-inning start. That sounds about right. I remember covering Kelvim Escobar in 2003 when he made his transition from a closer to a starter. He did it the Chamberlain route, out of the bullpen. The move was made at the beginning of May and by May 23, he finally went five innings. By June 3, he was up to six innings.

Escobar is physically a lot stronger than Morrow, so the path might have been accelerated. Remember, with Morrow, it's best not to take chances and do something too quickly that might hurt his arm.

So, right now, if he goes to Class AAA, he'd have maybe two weeks to transition from a one-inning pitcher to a five-or-six inning starter. It's not going to happen. The only way that could work is if Morrow leaves tomorrow and goes to Tacoma. Then, he'd have roughly a month to get up to minimal status and could spend the final month of the season in the rotation.

But it won't happen now. Because of Putz not being 100 percent ready to resume the closer role.

As I said, this isn't only about Morrow. You have the entire bullpen to consider. Who would become the closer? Roy Corcoran? Sean Green? You've already used Green more than any other AL reliever this season. Want to blow his arm out? Send him out in the ninth inning a few days in a row and ask him to gas it up a bit more.

Mark Lowe is too inconsistent to handle the job right now.

Arthur Rhodes is a lefty and has not faced enough hitters to start throwing to three or four in a row.

Not many options for the ninth besides Morrow. And meaningless games or not, you still need the arms to get through nine innings per night. Morrow is helping this team get through those nine innings. Rowland-Smith was not as crucial for that. His role had largely been usurped by Cesar Jimenez.

If the team was going to do the Chamberlain thing with Morrow and get anything out of it, that move had to come back in late May when we were all discussing it here on the blog. The team was discussing it as well.

You'll remember that John McLaren quickly quashed all further talk about it. That was back on Memorial Day weekend.

With what we know now, I think it's pretty obvious to assume that the reason the move was quashed was because of Putz's ongoing struggles. The team likely felt that Putz wasn't himself and that it had to have a backup plan ready for the closer role full-time. Putz indeed went on the DL and Morrow became the closer.

Was it the right move? We'll know more next spring. If Morrow is indeed ready to start after doing so in winter ball then this discussion will be moot.

If not, it should be a fiery spring on the discussion front.

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Posted by Bill

9:47 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Can't really argue with Steve Kelley's article.


The starting pitching was supposed to be one of the team's strengths this year. However, how often does a team make it through the season without an injury to one or more of its starting pitchers? Hardly ever, right? It just seems to me that this M's team had absolutely no backup plan in case any of its pitchers went on the DL. If I recall, DIckey didn't even make the team out of camp, so it's only choice at the time was Cha Seung Beck?


Now it seems that we have 3 of 5 pitchers either on the DL or pitching through injury but no one available to take their place. I don't have as much of a problem with Silva as I do with Batista, but when you have Dickey, RRS, and Morrow in the pen instead of starting, while you send Batista out every 5th day something is wrong.

Posted by JP

9:57 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff i totally disagree with you. Fans will not be in an uproar if we lose late in the game because of not having a good quazi closer which is what Morrow is. Fans are still turning a blind eye to wins and losses just look at the turnstiles over the weekend. Send him down, stretch him out in AAA send him to Winter ball "again" with the idea of truly making him a starter next year. The season is lost in the wins loss column but please don't pontificate that 8 or 10 more wins means more than starting the rebuilding process now. So what if we lose 110 games instead of 102. If fans can see that the FO is truly buliding towards the future in an intelligent fashion than all will be forgiven....

There are other guys in AAA now that could come up and replace Morrow. They may not be as succesful but really who cares at this point. The true M's fans don't care and it's obvious the latte drinking, blanket wearing, not paying attention at the game fans really don't care either.

Posted by stango

9:58 AM, Jul 21, 2008

The only problem with Kelley's article are his (very apt) complaints about Yuni's offense. The complaints are apt because his offense is terrible. However, the problem with Yuni is his defense. He has never been someone we were looking to for his stick. He WAS the classic prototypical SS: all glove, light bat. Now his glove sucks, he has no range, he seems to be gaining 5 lbs a month, AND he still can't hit.

There is virtually no chance of trading him, and he's signed through 2011, I believe. He will be an M next year, unless Bavasi gets hired somewhere else and trades someone who doesn't suck for him.

We have so many problems... this Morrow/RRS debate is a very small one in comparison.

Posted by Mike

9:59 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Or alternatively if we had started Morrow in AAA LAST year we might not have needed to pay $48M to Silva and we might have the makings of a pretty strong rotation.

Hard to get worked up any more. Going to the game tonight and the thought of watching Cairo, Bloomquist and Vidro leaves me wanting to just hang out in the Pyramide Beer garden.

Posted by YakimaMArinersFan

10:02 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff,

I agree with your logic, makes sense.

We keep talking about trade scenarios about Wash, Rhodes and Bedard. How can we know what kind of leash Pelakoudis is on? If we are going to bring in a new GM in the offseason, why would the FO let Pelakoudis make deals? Wouldn't they rather just give the whole thing to a new GM and let him build from the ground up?

Do you think we will only see guys get dealt who are free agents at the end of this year?

Posted by bhamhusky

10:03 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Stretch Morrow out now! This season is over. Bring up a minor league reliever if necc. I don't care about wins and losses this year. I want to see Morrow a starter which he should have been made to be last spring. Many of us felt that way in the spring. Bedard, Felix and Morrow - that was my post last March.

Trade Itchy now too! Tough pill for fans and ownership to swallow, but it is the right baseball move. I love Itchy's game. But, a singles hitter is not going to carry this team on his own. Get a young stud OF and a stud young pitcher for Itchy.

Posted by DC

10:04 AM, Jul 21, 2008

That's all fine and good Geoff, but a "closer" needs to have a game to "close". You say that its important for the team to prevent the fan uproar of blowing late-inning leads, to which I say, "What late-inning leads?"

Posted by Neil

10:06 AM, Jul 21, 2008

I agree with JP, Geoff. A closer on a 100-loss team is a luxury, not a necessity. What, so Morrow will help us lose five, maybe six less games by protecting a lead? Is that worth pushing back his development an entire season? Installing Morrow as the closer in the first place was a ridiculous move, and NOT one made by necessity. Morrow was sent to winter ball in 07 to become a starter, he came to camp in 08 expecting to be a starter, and couldn't work his way past Miguel Batista? Come on. The 2008 version of Batista has caused more growth-stunting in both the pen and the rotation simply by keeping him around. The guy is pitching like a sack of crap and every time he touches the ball, one of our future pitchers isn't.

Get Morrow out of the pen. Get him to Tacoma. Even if he doesn't come back up until September, he needs to know that the Mariners view him as a starter. We need starters. We don't need a closer right now--maybe next year, but not now.

Posted by BrianL

10:08 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Good post, Geoff.

You're right. It is too late to send Morrow to AAA. This really should have been something the team began working on back in May, but they were too short-sighted to admit the season was lost. At this point, there's no benefit to sending him to Tacoma.

I am encouraged by RRS being sent to Tacoma, though. The typical Mariner move would have been to stand pat and let Silva/Batista/Washburn implode every start. Rowland-Smith to AAA suggests that even our management is tired of the same tired performance from our grizzled veteran starters.

Small victories, I suppose.

Posted by MsFan

10:16 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Speaking of the "versus" conversation how about this lineup versus the current lineup?

1. Ichiro CF
2. Lopez 2B
3. Ibanez 1B
4. Beltre 3B
5. Clement C
6. Balantien RF
7. Diaz/LaHair DH
8. Redman LF
9. Bentancourt SS

This means call ups for Balantien, Prentice Redman, and Victor Diaz.

DFA Cairo, Vidro, Johjima (probably not likely due to the 3-yr contract)

Aren't we working towards the future? If it isn't these guys then who?

Posted by Bill

10:20 AM, Jul 21, 2008

"The only way that could work is if Morrow leaves tomorrow and goes to Tacoma. Then, he'd have roughly a month to get up to minimal status and could spend the final month of the season in the rotation."


I don't see anything wrong with that.


This team is going to have a late inning lead maybe once or twice a week. I'm sure JJ can handle pitching in a save situation once or twice a week, and then getting some additional work in here or there when the team is losing the other 5 days a week.

Posted by Mike

10:34 AM, Jul 21, 2008

We are are past the point of this being ridiculous. We are out of the race. Even if you somehow think Cairo, Vidro and Bloomquist give you a better chance of winning than younger guys (though I can't believe anyone other than the Ms believe this)wouldn't it be better to see what we have? The Ms decision-making is so bad they've driven me to agreeing with Steve Kelley.

Posted by Ryan

10:34 AM, Jul 21, 2008

We have one good starting pitcher. The rest of them are either fat, hurt, trying to pitch hurt, or just not very good. I will say this about Washburn: Over the last 5 or 6 starts he has pitched pretty well, of course he's due to implode any day now. Batista has imploded all year, and Silva is overweight and overpaid. As for Bedard, I don't even know that he has trade value, so we're stuck with him.

Wash will probably be traded, RRS will most likely take his spot in the rotation, hence the move now. Batista and Bedard can't be traded, no one wants them. So, we have Felix, RRS, Silva, possibly Dickey and anyone else we can throw out there. If we can get Morrow stretched out during winter ball, maybe he could slide into the 2 or 3 spot next year. It has the makngs of a decent rotation, if we can get rid of the excess baggage that is Batista.

Posted by FelixTheKing

10:36 AM, Jul 21, 2008

re: Bill

The starting pitching was one of team's strengths only to people who have no idea how to evaluate talent. See: Bavasi, Bill; McLaren, John; Baker, Geoff.

Too bad the Times doesn't yank articles that should have never made it past the editor, who laughed for three days after reading it.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/mariners/2004313340_webballotb30.html

Baker went 2-10 by my estimates, 3-10 if I'm generous. Great call on the Richie Sexson bounce back season. You had us convinced.

Posted by scrapiron

10:37 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Ms Fan- I like it, except I don't know if Redman is ready. How about Reed CF, Ichiro RF and Balentien LF?

Balentien has now homered in 4 straight games at Tacoma, and Diaz leads the team in RBIs. They are ready.

Posted by oceansaway

10:39 AM, Jul 21, 2008

I understand your ideas Geoff, but it is still a load of manure.

Fans will not freak out about losing games this year because of blown saves if it means we are developing a plan to see Morrow groomed now for a starting role whenever he is ready; at the end of this year or beginning of next year.

On the other hand, if Morrow is going to be the closer of the future, then get a plan together to showcase Putz and trade him.

The point is HAVE A PLAN! and get started working it.

Posted by Tom

10:41 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff, you are mistaken when you keep referring to the games remaining in this season as "meaningless." Remember when one of the first things Mike Hargrove had to do when he was hired was to teach the team how to win again? We'll be going down that same long road again if Riggleman does not maintain a focus on winning ballgames. He's doing a good job of that, even though the team is still struggling.

The team needs to have practice taking the field with the expectation of winning. That is a learned skill just as much as pitching or batting, and if we dismantle this team to the point that it never has a realistic chance of winning this season, we are setting ourselves even further back for 2009.

Posted by Tek Jansen

10:42 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Morrow chances of being a starter in Seattle are less than 5%. The M's need to do more than make him throw in Winterball. They need to have him work as a starter during the season, yet they will not let him go because of his value to the pen. Blame this on the miserable HoRam/Soriano trade. If Soriano was here last year, Grover would not have insisted on having Morrow in the pen. If he had spent last year as a starter in AA and AAA, he may have been ready this year, which may have prevented one of the two following bad moves -- Bedard trade or Silva signing. I will continue to assume that the M's will make bad decisios regarding Morrow. It is simply in their nature

By the way, if RR-S needs to be strectched out to go more than 4-5 innings, don't Batista and Silva also need some minor league work to strecth out their arms. The combined for 5 innings this weekend. Good work you veterans with track records.

Posted by Nat

10:53 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Jeff has a good piece about RRS at LL:

http://www.lookoutlanding.com/2008/7/21/575649/38-60#comments


We can argue ad nauseum about Morrow, but he's not starting this season, so why waste energy over it?

Posted by Brad

10:57 AM, Jul 21, 2008

We need to go the Papelbon route with Morrow. Make him the closer, trade Putz for high level pitching or hitting prospects ready for the bigs next year. We know what we have with him as a closer, we don't know how he'll do as a starter. We need quality bats. RRS will be a good starter with experience.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:58 AM, Jul 21, 2008

And the reason that you can't have RRS / Morrow getting stretched out at the ML level, and have Silva / Batista do long relief, setup work or even closing, is...?

Posted by Scanman

11:03 AM, Jul 21, 2008

The Great Mariner Conundrum-----The Bloggers care about a winning, championship team and the Front Office cares about turnstiles. Until the turnstiles stop turning, winning baseball will never become a reality!!!!

Posted by Nat

11:05 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Felixtheking- thanks for the link. I didn't see it the first time around, so it's prety humorous to read now.

Well, Geoff, looks like you made as many bad calls as the rest of us! It doesn't take a whole season to know that.

Posted by BrianL

11:08 AM, Jul 21, 2008

On second thought, not sending Morrow down to Tacoma right now is still stupid. I thought there were fewer weeks left on the Rainers schedule than there really were.

The smart baseball move would have been to send Morrow and RRS to Tacoma. Fill their ML roster spots with some replacement-level pitchers. We're not in the middle of a pennant race.

Posted by matt

11:12 AM, Jul 21, 2008

So the differences between RRS and Morrow are that RRS is more stretched out and Morrow is more useful as the closer now? Maybe that is right, but I'm not sure those differences justify leaving Morrow in the pen this season. I think this is a discussion that should be framed in terms of short and long term goals. You state reasons why leaving Morrow in the pen makes sense, but it only makes sense in terms of finishing up this season and salvaging whatever wins Morrow can preserve as a closer. Does it make sense for the Ms with Morrow as a starter? Yes, this discussion will be moot if Morrow starts successfully from the get-go next season, but it will be a shame if next April and May serve as his learning period as a starter when that period could be August and September this season.

Posted by Gerald

11:20 AM, Jul 21, 2008

I'm going to go bald reading this blog.

The fans aren't ever going to be in any more of an uproar than they are now, Geoff. This insistence that the Mariners need a "closer" right now is insane. They don't need anything right now. They could play with zero outfielders and it wouldn't matter. If I could ever get an out, they could use me as the "closer" and it wouldn't matter.

Posted by Faceplant

11:23 AM, Jul 21, 2008

"Make him the closer, trade Putz for high level pitching or hitting prospects ready for the bigs next year."

Argh... Brandon Morrow as a starter is more valuable than Brandon Morrow as a closer. Closers are not as hard to find as everybody pretends they are.

Posted by Faceplant

11:31 AM, Jul 21, 2008

"Batista and Bedard can't be traded, no one wants them."

If he were healthy there are plenty of teams that would take Bedard. Even this years dissapointing version of Erik Bedard is still an extremely effective starter. He aint Miguel Batista.

Posted by Miles

11:36 AM, Jul 21, 2008

It's going to be really interesting to see who takes the field after the trade deadline. I guess I can see the value of playing veterans with trade potential until then, but after that it should be kids in every position getting long looks so that whomever is running the team in the offseason has a basis for making decisions. I don't want the team to be wondering what LaHair, Hulett, or Diaz have to offer just because this years management decided having Cairo, Bloomquist, and Vidro out there meant they would lose a few less games.

Posted by Faceplant

11:39 AM, Jul 21, 2008

"Arthur Rhodes is a lefty and has not faced enough hitters to start throwing to three or four in a row."

Uh, what? You don't need to be stretched out to pitch an inning. There isn't a pitcher in baseball who can't pitch one inning of relief. You can make your point without being ridiculous Geoff. Rhodes can't pitch an inning because "he has not faced enough hitters to start throwing to three or four in a row."

Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?


"Send him out in the ninth inning a few days in a row and ask him to gas it up a bit more."

Come on Geoff. Please explain to me how moving Sean Green to closer would tax his arm more than pitching practially every day anyway? With as much as the team loses it would arguably lead to him pitching LESS often than he currently is. And why exactly would he have to "gas it up a bit more?" Oh, yeah, because the prototypical closer throws hard, which means if you don't throw hard you can't be a closer, or some nonsense like that.

Posted by bongo

11:41 AM, Jul 21, 2008

"The Great Mariner Conundrum-----The Bloggers care about a winning, championship team and the Front Office cares about turnstiles. Until the turnstiles stop turning, winning baseball will never become a reality!!!!" There has to be a haiku in there somewhere.....

Posted by Mike

11:44 AM, Jul 21, 2008

"I don't want the team to be wondering what LaHair, Hulett, or Diaz have to offer just because this years management decided having Cairo, Bloomquist, and Vidro out there meant they would lose a few less games."

Cairo's OPS is .599. Vidro's is .587. They are doing nothing to help us lose less games anyway. The only people who think these guys give us a better chance to win are employed by the Mariners.

Posted by Lance

11:47 AM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff and the M's are correct in their handling of Morrow right now. No point getting him in the rotation at this time. By the time you wouldn't have to replace him each start with a long-reliever the season will be over. It's not really so much that you need him to close as it is that he's not going to help you much starting. It's too late for this season.

Best to repeat last year's process and pencil him in for the rotation next year. When a new spot opens this season give it to RRS.

Finish the year with Felix/Erik or Miguel (whichever can still pitch)/Carlos/A.J. and RRS. Showcase Bedard for a winter trade. When it happens give Morrow that slot.

Then next year count on Felix/Brandon/Carlos/RRS and A.J. That's about the best you can hope for unless you manage to trade for a major league ready starter. But, please, no more worthless free agent signings.

To rush Morrow into the role now would be pointless and worthless.

Posted by MsFan

11:50 AM, Jul 21, 2008

srapiron

You're right. I totally forgot about Reed.

Posted by Lance

11:53 AM, Jul 21, 2008

In fact, if J.J. is ready to get his closer role back by September it might be best to shut Brandon down for the last few weeks to rest his arm for winter ball. Otherwise, they could be risking a serious arm injury due to overuse.

Posted by G-Man

12:08 PM, Jul 21, 2008

RRS threw 75 pitches in his last appearance, 4 innings on 7/19 in relief of Bautista. It looked good for him to step into Miguel's sport in the rotation right now. He might only go 5 innings, but what the heck?

Anyway, I hope they get him back up here soon. A trade of a starter by 7/31 might make that happen.

Posted by Old Gold

12:29 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff, I understand and agree with you on the Morrow vs. Rowland take.

The problem is several of our starters cannot even go 4 innings now. Batista being the main culprit.

What I don't understand is why not just place Rowland Smith in the rotation now? He would be an immediate upgrade over Batista and he should be able to reach 6 innings in amatter of just a few starts. Batista is averaging 4.6 innings per start. I belive that Rowland Smith can better that while doing a solid job to boot.

If anyone should have been sent to the minors it should have been the awful Batista, not the productive Ryan Rowland Smith.

I would like to see your take on that when you get a moment.

Posted by harold T weatherby

12:44 PM, Jul 21, 2008

yo, I am starting to agree with the Betancourt doubters. I used to love the little dude when he was, well, little. But it looks like he has been kickin' it with King Tubby Vidro too much. Yuni used to be a spark of life, of energy for this team. He would get clutch hits, hustle doubles and make incredible defensive plays. Now he swings at the 1st or 2nd pitch and pops out. His defensive play has become average.

Now when I see Yuni come to the plate I cringe. I know that the opposing pitcher knows that Yuni will swing at a horrible pitch. He looks like he can't wait to go home.

One of the reasons I used to watch the Mariners, was to see Yuni's exciting play. Now I just turn away.

Posted by scottM

12:48 PM, Jul 21, 2008

""The Great Mariner Conundrum-----The Bloggers care about a winning, championship team and the Front Office cares about turnstiles. Until the turnstiles stop turning, winning baseball will never become a reality!!!!" There has to be a haiku in there somewhere....."

Haiku #15 (Bongo Inspired)

Why butts filling seats,
odd Mariner conundrum,
when asses fill field?

Posted by Adam

12:51 PM, Jul 21, 2008

This is really simple.


2008 is DONE. DONE. The games simply don't matter. And it frankly is an insult to Mariner fans to pretend that winning games and being competitive this year is more important than building for the future. If the FO thinks the majority of fans are more concerned with having a legit closer in 2008 than setting this team up for the future, well, they can take a flying leap.

That's idiotic thinking.

And there is plenty of time to stretch Morrow out - but you don't let him start in the bigs. You send Morrow down NOW to let him stretch out, so he can get 6-7 starts in the minors before the end of the season. Geoff, you are right - the Mariners should take more care with Morrow. So send him down and do it right - rather than hoping he'll be ready in ST or putting even more innings on his arm by sending him to winter ball again (which, by the way, the Mariners have NOT decided on). Send him down and let him spend the rest of an already lost year getting ready to start in 2009.

That's right - you send Morrow down and you don't bring him back up again this year. It really is that simple.

As for putting another closer at the end of the pen, I'm sorry, but the team can afford to live with Mark Lowe as temporary closer until Putz is 100%.


And yes, Geoff, we know the FO believes the fans would be mad if the team threw in the towel for 2008. Of course, the FO is full of idiots, so why, exactly, should any credence be given to their way of thinking?

Posted by bongo

12:53 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Best Haiku yet! How about publishing a book of these that can be sold alongside the Mariner cookbook?

Posted by RustyJohn

12:54 PM, Jul 21, 2008

If what the fans thought weighed into the decision making process of management, this would be an entirely different team. Is that what management does now? Ignore problems and then, when they remove one major issue, the mob is focused on the next collosal mistake- then Sexson, now Vidro. When the mob scream, Armstrong and Lincoln turns thumbs up or down and then decide to make a move? Great way to run a business.

Maybe they should run for office- they can ignore things like printing copious amounts of money, inflation, budget deficits and then, as the voter gets angry, drag out "Big Oil" or some other party to throw under the bus for their mistakes.

Ooops, getting too political here.

Posted by Stat Prof

12:55 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Some of you guys seem to be blaming Geoff for explaining what he sees is management's justification for the decisions regarding Morrow.

What I read from Geoff is an explanation of management's point of view about sending Morrow down to stretch out. As far as they are concerned, there's little to gain --- might as well wait until Winter. Management doesn't want to not have a closer.

Management has chosen to keep Cairo, Batistia, etc., not Geoff. Don't blame him for management's logic He's just explaining it. If you don't like it, that's fine, but don't beat up on somebody who is explaining the logic of the people who have the power to make the decisions

Posted by RustyJohn

12:57 PM, Jul 21, 2008

The issue is not whether he is available in August or September- the issue is having him build up enough innings so next year he isn't limited to 110 innings as a starter. Unless, of course, the M's decide to not put an innings cap on their prized possession and have him throw 175 innings in 2009 and have zero career.

Yes, so important for a team with 40 wins nearly 2/3rds of the way through the season to have that "stopper" to slam the door shut.

If you think they are going to the stadium to watch quality baseball I would propose that garlic fries might have something more to do with it.

Posted by WHITE FLAG

1:02 PM, Jul 21, 2008

I say we fans raise the White Flag now!

The Red Sox are coming!

The Red Sox are coming!

Let em have The Safe!

Show the FO we are not the idiots they perceive

Do not put 30,000 fans in the seats.

The Red Sox are coming!

Let them have The Safe

this Mariner's team is not ours anyway

Do not pay any more outlandish ticket prices to watch this feeble team!

Stand Up

but do not sit down at The Safe!

The Red Sox are coming!

The Red Sox are coming!

surrender The Safe

Posted by Jonathan

1:03 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"Argh... Brandon Morrow as a starter is more valuable than Brandon Morrow as a closer. Closers are not as hard to find as everybody pretends they are. "

Doubtful... A good closer saves you around 40 games a season. A good #2 starter gives you what? 20-22 quality starts?

I wouldn't be confident with anyone closing in this organization other than Morrow or Putz. If you're going to trade Putz make Morrow your closer as the future. If you're going to keep Putz, get Morrow in the rotation that's the way I see it.

Anyone who wants to deal Putz, get Morrow in the rotation isn't too bright for counting on a guy like Lowe or Green as a closer or Fields who hasn't thrown a pitch yet.

Posted by Adam

1:21 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Doubtful... A good closer saves you around 40 games a season. A good #2 starter gives you what? 20-22 quality starts?


You do know that Joe Borowski had 45 saves last year, right?

Are you telling us he was a more valuable pitcher than a good #2 starter?

Posted by neilmber

1:27 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Makes sense. But there are still several related issues. The Ms are institutionally incapable of bringing up starting pitching. Unlike the A's, whose ability to promote pitching into starting roles allows them to restock their talent pool, the M's haven't brought anyone up since Felix. And how long before that did they bring up their last regular starter?

In fact, the basic failure is making player development and roster moves as demonstrations of future promise and as justifications of front-office moves--never because it is best for the developing player or for the team. Jeff Clement, for example, is ready neither to hit at this level nor to provide adequate defense at catcher. While batting against AAA pitching might not add to his offensive skills, it would not hurt, and he would surely benefit from more development as a catcher. And imagine if Yuni had been allowed to mature into a disciplined yet opportunistic hitter--or if Morrow had been groomed to join the team as a starter.

Yes, those are past mistakes. But they reflect a continuing management impulse to make roster moves for PR not for productivity.

Posted by RustyJohn

1:27 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Thank you Adam- I was drafting a long and lengthy response- I have no idea why people think a closer is such a specialized and elite pitcher.

Washburn v. Hallday- Washburn has a WHIP of 1.5 and has only thrown 100 innings this year. Halladay has a WHIP of 1.01 and thrown over 150 innings. Clearly, by Johnathan's logic, Halladay should go to the pen and Washburn should start.

Also, look at the "elite" closers. FRod has like 2 losses and thre blown saves. The worst closer when looking at blown saves? Sherril- he has five. So a "great" closer saves you two blown saves.

It is not that difficult to go and throw 15-20 pitches and get three outs with a three run lead.

By the way, for a perfect example of this argument, look at the Yankees- Joba has a 2.5 era as a starter and they have found sufficient replacements at AAA to fill his 8th inning role.

Posted by JP

1:31 PM, Jul 21, 2008

As I said, this isn't only about Morrow. You have the entire bullpen to consider. Who would become the closer? Roy Corcoran? Sean Green? You've already used Green more than any other AL reliever this season. Want to blow his arm out? Send him out in the ninth inning a few days in a row and ask him to gas it up a bit more.

We don't need to consider the rest of the bull pen. It does not matter who gets called up to replace Morrow. It does not matter who saves games. We do not care about win loss record. All we care about is to do the right thing. Send Morrow down stretch him out, send him to winter ball "again" and see what he does in spring training. He needs to work on more than just his fastball if he wants to be a succesful starter so that being said what good does it do us bringing him in to close or pitch the 8th throwing nothing but fastballs on a team destined to lose over a 100 games. Seriously, debating this is like debating tastes great or less filling.

Posted by Montucky

1:31 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Great comments Mark, Faceplant, Adam.

This danged org keeps us repeating ourselves year in YEAR OUT. Its like the LHB thing. EVERY single year, for about 7 years, we talk about adding MORE left handed hitters. These are simple, DUH-type, moves. Clearly, Riggs and Pele STILL don't get it. We ARE going to be the first 100Mil-100Loss team. There's no stopping it. Find out what you have organizationally. That means, play youngin's in what you would consider as thier 'future positions'. Don't waste ANOTHER half a year. If Morrows going to be a starter for this org, which they still claim, sort of, then MAKE HIM A STARTER. I really don't care if he does it ALL in the majors. I would give him/us something to get excited about. SCHEDULE him to go the first 2-3 innings; that's all were getting from our starters ANYWAY, at least then the bullpen can plan for it. Get him used to pitching against the Angels/A's/Rangers, not VWL. Give him the winter off. Ramp up his innings till the end of the season. He'd be throwing 5-7 inn by EOS. Give the 9th to Lowe, and WHO CARES how wild he is. Saves are a funny stat for the '08 M's, TOTALLY irrelavent.

M's org plan= take what a well run org would do with player development/team building and GO 180 to give it our own 'spin'. That'll show'em. Total dysfunction breeds championships, doesn't it? That's what the 'Bronx is Burning' taught me. Apparently the M's thought it was a good plan too.

Posted by ashtray

1:39 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"It is not that difficult to go and throw 15-20 pitches and get three outs with a three run lead."

That is an ignorant statement. You do not truly understand bseball if you believe that. If that is the case, why not throw Batista into the closer's role or hell even Jaimie Burke since it is not that difficult.

Posted by ashtray

1:42 PM, Jul 21, 2008

and as far as Borowski goes...he saved 45 of 53 games! The indians won 96 games. Meaning Borowski had a hand in almost half of those wins.
Sure Borowski was no Trevor Hoffman of the glory days, but he did his job. He got alot of luck and help but he did his job.

Posted by Mike

1:50 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Since preventing runs in the first inning is just as important as preventing runs in the 9th I'd say starters are certainly more important than closers (who I think are important by the way).

Borowski pitched in 65 innings last year. Cleveland's #2 starter Fausto Carmona pitched in 215.

Posted by Montucky

1:53 PM, Jul 21, 2008

According to Jonathen, I'm not too bright. I'm not sure we'll ever see the JJ of '06-07 again. My hope would be that he finishes the year super strong and he is dealt in the winter for a LHB(!!!!!) If he comes back strong in '09 great, if not, our chance at a HUGE return is gone. Like ALL of our prior players.

Who'll close, should it matter? How about: someone who needs work that day. Who's fresh and feeling froggy? But that might put someone 'out of their role' which must be terrifying considering how afraid of it the M's managers are.

Yes TRADE Putz the moment he has a good month. and YES, move Morrow to rotation EITHER in the bigs OR AAA. Don't care. He's already been getting big league hitters out. WHAT's the Difference?? He's so incredible at getting MLB hitters out that he can't be removed from the bullpen, and yet, he'll never be able to transition to the starting rotation without going down? No sense can be made of this. Give him innings 1-3 (45 pitches) FRIDAY, he'd be ready. He's throwing thirty something on some of those nights ALREADY.
EXCUSES EXCUSES. Always a reason to mismanage players with this team.

Posted by Montucky

1:55 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Thank you Mike.
No need for a closer if its 0-9.

WHERE"S MY 5 ACES???!??!

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

1:56 PM, Jul 21, 2008

You have to have quality starting pitching to get to your closer! Let's not put the cart before the horse.

By the way, who are we projected to take with our #1 pick in the 2009 draft?

Posted by Matt W

1:56 PM, Jul 21, 2008

For Seattle under Hargrove/BB, McClaren/BB and now Riggleman/LP there always appears to have been a reason to delay sending Morrow down to convert to a starter. The reason is never very clearly explained and usually appears to equate to needing to "win" now which (i) has more often than not not been the outcome and (ii) cannot excuse the shortsightedness of the policy which kills the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The same goose was killed every time Jones was kept on the bench last year when it became clear the Mariners would not make the playoffs and is killed now every time Vidro, Cairo et al are trotted out for games at the expense of younger players who we hope will be able to fulfill their potential and help the Mariners out of the current mess next year and thereafter.

If this policy is a result of Riggleman/LP's thinking then they need to take a look at their predecessors and consider what makes them think the policy will work for them when it did not previously.

If this policy is either directed by or is forced upon Riggleman/LP by persons higher up then they need to take a look at their predecessors and consider the advantages of taking a stand (publicly if need be) against this policy. In the short term they might lose their jobs but given the results that may save their careers in the long term.

Either way it would be nice to see a little more intelligence and integrity in the club, all round - management, media, fans, the lot.

Posted by James from Walla Walla

2:13 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff,

I Disagree with your above statements!!

What does it cost us to start Morrow?? I contend Lowe can fill Morrow's role. So, he is not as consistent as Morrow. Lowe has the stuff, his slider is like K-Rod's when he is on and throws 95+ that has good movement. The starter's spot Morrow takes can come in and pitch the middle innings. Let's let him learn now when it doesn't count for anything. I believe the Mariners are way to conservative most of the time. We all know Morrow spent time in Venezuela this winter working as a starter. I think he was there even longer than Rowland-Smith. Correct me if I am wrong. He did not get injuried while he was there,
pitched quite well I seem to remember. Let us not forget we have a #1 draft pick closer type who will soon be knocking on the Mariners door come September, or in spring training next year.

Whether we start Morrow or not. PLEASE, lets get Batista out of the starting role!! I a going to stop watch games he is a starter. Put a fork in him he is done. It is like HORAM all over again with him!

Posted by scrapiron

2:35 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Borowski had a lot of saves last year, but had a LOT of luck to get them, if you look at his extremely high ERA. Want further proof? He was so "valued" as an elite closer he was released by the Indians this year.

There is no reason Putz couldn't be the closer now. He just isn't ready to go in back-to-back nights yet. Rotate the closer duties between Putz and Lowe until Putz is healthy enough to take the ball on consecutive nights. In the meantime use the time to get Morrow stretched out in AAA.

Posted by scrapiron

2:38 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Remember too that the Mariners drafted Josh Fields specifically as a closer. He's supposedly only a half season from being ready for the majors, if they ever sign him.

Posted by ashtray

3:06 PM, Jul 21, 2008

say Fausto Carmona goes 8 strong innings. Leaves with a 2 run lead. Some crappy closer blows that lead, Carmona loses, Indians lose game over. So what if Carmona prevented the other team from scoring much in the 1st 8 innings. They couldn't prevent the opponent from scoring in the last inning. They LOSE.

Posted by Jerry

3:12 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff,

I think your argument is pretty similar to the one the M's front office would use to explain their actions.

The problem is, that line of reasoning is insanely shortsighted. It amounts to choosing a few wins this year for the long term good of the organization. Its just a really stupid decision.

Morrow as the closer would be convenient, in that it would give Putz some time to get back into shape, and could be the difference between 94 and 98 losses.

But this is already a lost season. The M's should be focusing on 2009, and anything that deviates from that plan is just idiotic.

Morrow has a shot to be a great #3 starter for the M's in 2009. Sending him to AAA right now is absolutely the best thing for the M's. If they did so, he could spend a month getting stretched out and be back before September.

That is critical for the M's, because it would give him a chance to transition to a starting role in a relatively low-pressure context. If you are going to let him learn on the job, 2008 is the time to do it. He hasn't racked up too many innings yet, and the timing is perfect. It gives him time to work on his repertoire, pitch against big league hitters, and work on all the things he missed by being rushed to the bullpen by an organization that clearly didn't understand how to best utilize their assets.

Putting this off until next year is not nearly as advantageous. First, Morrow will have a lot to work on in transitioning from the pen to the rotation. It is not just getting stretched out. He will have to pitch differently in that role. Putting that transition off any longer is not a good move at all. Second, winter ball is not the same as the big leagues. Sending him to Venezuela next year is not nearly as useful as a month in AAA and a month in the majors. Third, sending him to Venezuela to start would put him on a pace to pitch a crazy number of innings over the course of 2009. For a guy who has never racked up a ton of innings in his career, that would be a recipe for disaster. Over the rest of this season, the M's could let him accumulate innings without over-taxing his arm this season OR next season. Let him learn how to start now, and save his innings in 2009 for Seattle.

Regarding who would close: who cares? It is not like this club is winning games as it is. Putz should be fine in a few weeks. In the meantime, let Lowe and Batista split the load with Putz. Again, who cares who closes? Do you seriously think that a few blown saves this season is worth severely limiting the M's options next season?

All in all, I think your argument above is very similar to what the M's have in mind. That is really sad. It is just one more example of how this organization has no idea how to build a winning club.

Posted by MtGrizzly

3:19 PM, Jul 21, 2008

I wonder if Billy Beane will consider what A's fans will think of having a few blown saves down the stretch after he deals Street?

Kinda doubt it. Whether one agrees with his moves or not, Beane's a man with a plan. And balls. No evidence of either in Seattle lately.

Posted by Bill

3:23 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Further, if JJ isn't ready to close, then what was the point of bringing him off the DL and letting him pitch rehab? Isn't the purpose of the rehab to get him back into shape where he can resume closing?

Posted by Waz

3:33 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Morrow vs Rowland-Smith is not a big issue for Mariners.

The big issue is that Batista and Silva just can't pitch. They have to go to Tacoma. We all know that in every start Batista and Silva are going to pitch and they guaranteed going to lose. Who will want to go Safeco Field and watch M's losing? Do something.

Also to put Cairo and Vidro to Tacoma for Balentien and Diaz, That'll be nice.

Posted by Mike

3:41 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"say Fausto Carmona goes 8 strong innings. Leaves with a 2 run lead. Some crappy closer blows that lead, Carmona loses, Indians lose game over. So what if Carmona prevented the other team from scoring much in the 1st 8 innings. They couldn't prevent the opponent from scoring in the last inning. They LOSE."

Or conversely you have a lesser starter and trail by 2 runs after 8 you don't even let your closer warm up. Closers often pitch in high-leverage situations and that is important. But a good starter is worth more than a good reliever.

Posted by greyguy3

3:55 PM, Jul 21, 2008

I don't think it's a huge deal either way, I'm just anxious to see the M's start viewing Morrow as a possible starter, because he has a lot more value as a starter.

But really, wouldn't it be better to send him down, stretch him out in AAA, let him start in September, and then take the winter off? I think young guys need rest. If Mark Lowe isn't a great closer, well, so what? It's not like we're winning anything this year anyway. We need to be looking long term now, and giving Morrow a chance to start adds value long term.

Posted by greyguy3

4:08 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"say Fausto Carmona goes 8 strong innings. Leaves with a 2 run lead. Some crappy closer blows that lead, Carmona loses, Indians lose game over. So what if Carmona prevented the other team from scoring much in the 1st 8 innings. They couldn't prevent the opponent from scoring in the last inning. They LOSE."

The point isn't that it doesn't matter if you give up 3 runs in the last inning. The point is that if you have a good pitcher and a bad pitcher, you'll do better if the good pitcher pitches 8 innings and the bad pitcher pitches 1 inning.

I mean yeah, if you have the choice of good pitchers everywhere you take it, but how many teams have that choice?

In this case, keeping Morrow in the pen means we have to suffer through starts by people like Batista.

Posted by Dave from the coast

4:19 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Arthur Rhodes can't throw to three or four hitters in a row? What, is he too weak? It must be really cool being a reliever. You get paid lots of money for facing one or two batters, and it doesn't matter if you get them out or not. Poor relievers. They're not trained to pitch to more than a couple of batters. ARE YOU KIDDING? These big, muscular, overpaid arms? And say the M's do get their reliever situation the way they want (which is actually quite a fallacy), they'll still be putting up from dismal pitching from most of the starter core.

Posted by Ziasudra

5:01 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Let Jimenez close a few (what's his ERA?); bring up Dorman to start in the meantime while Morrow goes to AAA. Or, just let him start now. At least he'll get thru an inning or two, in distinction to our two losers. . . .

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

5:17 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Latest rumblings from MLB.com are that the M's will likely be keeping Raul for the remainder of the season and if he walks as a FA, they will get two draft picks as he will be a Type A guy. I would rather see them get an MLB- ready prospect(s) for Raul right now rather than wait until 2011-12. I think part of the problem is Pelekoudas has never made a trade or been involved much in the talent evaluation end of things - his role was primarily numbers crunching for Bonehead Bill. You have an inexperienced interim GM to go with an incompetent
club president in Armstrong so it is no surprise that nothing can get done that makes much sense.

Posted by -j.

5:27 PM, Jul 21, 2008

The bigger question here is...

WHERE IS WLADIMIR BALENTIEN!!!!

The guy absolutely torched the PCL this month and has hit homeruns in 4 consecutive games. He has slugged like .750 so far in July and is a man amongst boys in AAA.

Trade Ibanez or move him to first base so Vlad can have left field. This is the most glaring non-move the Mariners have neglected this month.

BRING UP BALENTIEN NOW!

Posted by Ace in the hole

5:35 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Geoff, you're making wayyyyy too many excuses and bs assumptions.

Why does Putz need to be worked slowly back into the closer's role once he comes up here? That's ridiculous! this is why the team sent him down to Tacoma for rehab assignments. If he says he's ready, he's ready and you give him the job he had. It's not like we have anything to lose at this point in the season.

But by stalling his return to his job, you are creating something new to lose, that is the status of Morrow as a starter. That is something that is very critical, it's not something that you just shrug off, like "oh well we'll convert him in the offseason." No. You do it now when you have the opportunity.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

5:37 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Morrow is a starter and needs to be worked into that role now! Stretch him out and get him in the rotation ASAP. If he needs rest this winter give him some. This kid is a starter, he can close later.

Play the future now and find out if they have game...

What is the point of running out guys who will not return?

PS: Get that sandlot jerk-off Betancourt off the team NOW! Who is in charge of this guy?

Posted by Faceplant

7:07 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"say Fausto Carmona goes 8 strong innings. Leaves with a 2 run lead. Some crappy closer blows that lead, Carmona loses, Indians lose game over. So what if Carmona prevented the other team from scoring much in the 1st 8 innings. They couldn't prevent the opponent from scoring in the last inning. They LOSE."

The only problem is that relieving is inherently easier than starting simply due to the fact that the hitters are only going to see you once, you can throw max effort (unlike a starter who has to pace himself) and relievers generally gain a few MPH of velocity when they convert from being starters. And the majority of the time there is going to be more than a one run lead.

I'm not saying everyone can do it. Joe Borowski was a talentless pile of garbage who got lucky. But lets use Sherrill as an example. The M's were convinced Sherrill didn't have "the mental makeup" to be a closer. He was better suited to being a lefty specialist. Now look at him.

Mariano Rivera was a failed one pitch starter. J.J. Putz was a middling fringe prospect.

Pitching one scoreless inning just isn't that hard. Obviously having a dominant closer is an added bonus, but IMO just isn't as important as most people think it is.

Posted by Faceplant

7:10 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"In this case, keeping Morrow in the pen means we have to suffer through starts by people like Batista."

Exactly would you rather see 8 innings of Miguel Batista and one inning of Brandon Morrow, or 8 innings of Brandon Morrow and one inning of Miguel Batista.

I realize that the chances of Miguel Batista going 8 innings in any start is pretty much non existant, but you get the point.

Posted by RustyJohn

9:13 PM, Jul 21, 2008

Yes, I would rather have Morrow start and Batista close. Batista, statistically speaking, will give up four runs in five innings if he starts. If he pitches one inning he will giver up 3/4 of a run. Since a save can be earned by pitching with a three run lead, he will likely earn a save. Even with a one run lead he would likely get a push or better.

Let's try the "keep my good players on the bench" logic with batters- Bench ARod because he is too good a player- he should sit on the bench until the last two innings when the score may be tied or close. THen he can bat. In his place, bat Miguel Cairo. Clearly the last two innings of the game are too important to play Arod every inning or have him start.

Posted by Jonathan

11:24 PM, Jul 21, 2008

"Let's try the "keep my good players on the bench" logic with batters- Bench ARod because he is too good a player- he should sit on the bench until the last two innings when the score may be tied or close. THen he can bat. In his place, bat Miguel Cairo. Clearly the last two innings of the game are too important to play Arod every inning or have him start."

That is a huge strawman and completely apples to oranges. There is a big difference between a closer getting 3 outs and a pinch hitter taking one at bat. The fact you even posted that is hilarious.

Posted by Jonathan

11:30 PM, Jul 21, 2008

I have no problem with Morrow starting but I think you need to keep Putz. I don't believe it makes since to throw in anyone as a closer.

Do you remember the 1997 Mariners? The anguish guys like Bobby Ayala and Jose Mesa caused us? A weak bullpen can be just as demoralizing or painful as a bad starter.

I also don't want to count on Fields because we haven't seem him pitch yet. If he kills it as a set up man next year maybe I'd deal Putz but in the meantime I wouldn't touch JJ if we're going to put Morrow in the rotation.

Posted by RustyJohn

7:31 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Batista came in during the 9th and guess what? He gave up zero runs. If it were a save situation he would have earned the vaunted "save"- a meaningless stat whose creator has passed. Hopefully the stat itself will pass.

Posted by Jonathan

11:17 AM, Jul 22, 2008

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know pitching with a 4 run defecit is the same is pitching with a 1 run lead.

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