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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 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Morrow may start in 2008

Posted by Geoff Baker

jays0725 006.jpg

Just when you thought things couldn't get any more confusing in the Brandon Morrow situation, Mariners manager Jim Riggleman now says the pitcher may indeed start in 2008. The way he was talking this afternoon, it's almost like he expects that Morrow will start.

In Class AAA, at least to begin. Riggleman doesn't see Morrow making a transformation out of the major league bullpen. He says the quickest way to get Morrow's arm built up would be to send him to Tacoma for two or three weeks.

It all depends on how quickly J.J. Putz grabs the closer role again. Putz has come back strong from the injury, so strong that the Mariners are now back to discussing Morrow as a starter this year. According to Riggleman, the orgnaization is split right down the middle as to whether Morrow should start now or over the winter in winter ball.

For now, Riggleman is ready to go with a Morrow-Putz combination at closer. He doesn't want to throw either guy three days in a row right now. But -- and here's the catch -- if one guy goes two days in a row, then tells Riggleman he'd like to go three, the manager will oblige. If that guy is Putz, then Morrow will likely be sent down. Even if Putz can only go back-to-back days a number of times, there's a good chance Morrow would be sent out no later than mid-August. After all, who knows when this team will see three straight closing opportunities?

"He would pitch the eighth,'' Riggleman said of Morrow in the event Putz becomes the closer. "But again, we've tossed that some point, does he go in the rotation?''

Riggleman added: "Once we get into August, we'll have a little clearer indication of where we want to go with it.''

And although Riggleman managed in winter ball before, you can tell he's not thrilled with the idea of sending Morrow back there to pitch. Neither is a significant part of the organization, apparently. Last year, when Morrow pitched in Venezuela, there were "times when people were probably holding their breath about it.''

Here's Riggleman's take on winter ball and Morrow:

"It's not that often you're getting your Brandon Morrows down there,'' he said, adding that winter ball isusually a place for top hitting prospects and lower tier starters. "You're just so leery of pitching more innings on that arm that aren't directly affecting the outcome of the Mariners.''

So, that's it for now. Let's see what happens from here.

There's been another rotation shuffle. Carlos Silva's back is still hurting him. So, R.A. Dickey goes tomorrow in his place. Jarrod Washburn goes on Sunday. Felix Hernandez throws the opener in Texas (on his regular rest) and Silva goes Tuesday.

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Posted by Ben

3:12 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Today's game has the potential to be the worst game (for both teams) ever.

We're throwing Bloomquist, Johjima, Cairo and Vidro out there to help give Batista enough run support...

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are putting John Parish out on the mound - a mariner's favorite...

why... why do people like Cairo & vidro take away at bats from younger players that could use the swings?

It's the same story every day - so the comments will probably be the same as they have been every day (including this one)...

Posted by Ben

3:15 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Oh and let's not forget Wilkerson gets the start for the Jays as well...

Posted by westcoastbiased

3:16 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Is this Riggleman managing for a job next year or is it a good move for the mariners? I suppose they have to stretch Morrow out sometime.

Posted by Mike

3:18 PM, Jul 25, 2008

"We're throwing Bloomquist, Johjima, Cairo and Vidro out there to help give Batista enough run support..."

Running from computer, screaming....but good news reagrding Morrow.

Posted by BrianL

3:18 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Did I read that right, Geoff? Morrow may start in 2008?

Do you mean to tell me that management is considering making a forward-thinking, high-upside move?

Who are you, and what have you done with our front office?

Posted by matt

3:27 PM, Jul 25, 2008

It would be fun to know the front office whos and whys in support of keeping Morrow in the 'pen this season. If they believe they are making the correct decision, stand up and tell us.

Posted by NyMariner05

3:29 PM, Jul 25, 2008

IN this season of pure disgust... i applaud Lee Pelekoudas for at least having some intelligence and sending RRS down to work on becoming a starter.. and hopefully the same with Brandon Morrow..

Morrow very well could be a TOR starter as early as next season.. he has the arm, stuff, and makeup to be awfully good.. so why not let him get a few starts under his belt this yr...

RRS.. doesnt have the ceiling obviously that Morrow does.. but hes definately got the stuff to be an above average #4 starter...

Posted by jeff928

3:30 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Riggles should give both Morrow and Rowland-Smith a hard look in the starting rotation. Washburn is likely to be traded, Silva and Batista are either injured or ineffective, and Erica Bedard has been a pussy wussy disaster.

Posted by Dignan

3:34 PM, Jul 25, 2008

After reading the first post, I see no reason to even watch the game. Instead of that quartet of RH hitters, whom I know won't do anything, I would much rather see our young LH batters get a shot. Perhaps they could get some good swings and gain some confidence to help them going forward.

This constant platooning with young players sucks.

Posted by gohuskies898

3:35 PM, Jul 25, 2008

I don't understand why we are worried about using either Putz or Morrow three days in a row. For that to happen, we would need to have leads 3 days in a row into the 9th inning. That seems highly unlikely. If for some freak reason it does happen, I'm perfectly ok using rhodes, green, or Burke.

If the plan is to start him, get him down there now.

Posted by Mike

3:40 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Starters work at preventing runs 180-200+ innings a year. Closers about a third of that. Most closers, in fact, are failed starters. Good starting pitching is much harder to find than good relief help.

Posted by shane/olympia

3:41 PM, Jul 25, 2008

diaz (AAA)

no joh
no cairo
no vidro
no bloom
no reed

a youth movement is needed

Posted by dave

3:43 PM, Jul 25, 2008

"It's not that often you're getting your Brandon Morrows down there,'' he said, adding that winter ball isusually a place for top hitting prospects and lower tier starters. "You're just so leery of pitching more innings on that arm that aren't directly affecting the outcome of the Mariners.''

This is something that I've always thought about and wondered why it wasn't mentioned. I can't believe it is riskier to stretch out a reliever like Morrow in the bigs vs down in winter ball. With all the experience they have in the coaching staff (Mel Sr., Riggleman, Norm, etc), and the Major League doctors and training staff keeping an eye on him, versus being in a third world country for months with more inexperienced coaches and training staffs.

I'd personally like to see Morrow on a Joba-like plan that would develop exitement within the fanbase for this year. That, along with a trade or two, you DFA a couple of guys, call up some young talent (Wlad!) and all of the sudden the M's are playing for the future. That creates a product that keeps me tuning into games and heading down to Safeco for the rest of the year.

Posted by DOUG

3:44 PM, Jul 25, 2008

johnson over clement? finally a voice of reason. CLEMENT HAS BUSTED, look at him guess at pitches.

Posted by DFA

3:50 PM, Jul 25, 2008

I guess next year we'll finally get to see if the Mariners made the right call when they drafted Brandon Morrow instead of Tim Lincecum. I'm skeptical.

Posted by Mike

3:55 PM, Jul 25, 2008

For what it is worth (and I wanted us to draft Lincecum) it may take more than another year to see how that draft plays out. Lincecum was certainly high-reward but because of his size and delivery was considered an injury-risk. So far, so good with Lincecum but as much as I think the Ms have made some really bad decisions, I'm willing to give them a pass on Morrow vs Lincecum.

But man, Felix and Lincecum back to back would be electric.

Posted by beezlebub

3:55 PM, Jul 25, 2008

All this reeks of FO befuddlement. It's like listening to Abbot and Costello's baseball act on an endless loop. Why bother to even comment on the Morrow 'decision' or the other insipidness cranked out by this dis-organization concerning the way the current roster is used. Everyone will know competence and creativity if and when it emerges.

Posted by Pauly215

4:01 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Geoff, I see the hole created by Morrow starting being filled if Josh Fields signs. Any idea what's holding that one up? He wasn't signed by Atlanta when the drafted him in the second round last year. If it's Boras holding things up with bonus demands, the Mariners should just take a mulligan on that one and get the 20th pick back in 09.

Posted by xteve

4:02 PM, Jul 25, 2008

"bad idea who is gonna close? closers preserve and get more wins for the team than a closer. think of it a good pitcher gets wins what 2/3 his start? well a closer "wins"40+ games a year!!! DUMB MOVE!!!!"

Adequate Closers are so much easier to find than starting pitchers it's not even funny.

Posted by HenryOatis

4:04 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Did one of u folks just try to say that a closer is more important than a good starting pitcher?

Wow, how lost are u..

Closers are the most overrated position in baseball..

These are guys who come in the 9th inning, with nobody on, and a lead of 1-3 runs.. and only have to get three outs... its not a tough job..

Its not even the toughest relief job.. the high leverage 7th/8th inning man who has to come on with runner on base, down a run, up a run, or tied, and get outs, is much more important than the closer..

Posted by Marl

4:05 PM, Jul 25, 2008

I predict this game will go approximately 25 innings with the score tied 0-0. The Blue Jays will win it in the bottom of the 25th on a "walkoff" passed ball.

Jaimie Burke will pitch three scorless innings, prompting Riggleman to give him the starting job on Sunday as we will learn that Washburn had been traded to The Yankees for Ritchie Sexson.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:06 PM, Jul 25, 2008

I guess I can't argue with it. Even a losing team needs something of a closer, and Rhodes / Batista / Lowe aren't really it. Might as well have Morrow for insurance, and then when Putz is settled out, send Morrow down. Though, doesn't AAA season end earlier?

So, the logic goes:

- Morrow is backup closer now, see if JJ is alright
- Send him down in August to stretch out as a starter
- When AAA season ends, bring him up in September to have him start 2 or 3 times

Do I have it right?

And any idea if a healthy JJ would get traded to a contender for prospects? Or do the Ms really think they have another year of lights-out closer out of him?

Posted by deron

4:09 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Everyone seems to believe that Morrow can be a TOR starter. Who even knows if Morrow can be a good starting pitcher. I know he isn't going to throw 99mph for 9 innings. Guess we'll find out though.

Posted by WeNeedChange

4:13 PM, Jul 25, 2008

What's with this team- who gives a two rats doing there dirty business in a wool sock who closes out the games this year. This year has been lost since early May-have Vidro on the mound in the ninth for all I least then he might be fun to watch.

Send Morrow down. I can't believe this club is split down the middle on sending him down right now. It truly is dumb and dumber with this club.

Posted by Bums

4:14 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Hopefully Riggelman will not be around to have say on the Morrow decision.

Speaking of greatness, anyone think Batista will make it past the 3rd? Might as well start warming up RRS now. Oh wait, he is no longer around. Should be a good and depleted bullpen for tomorrow. Hope RA can put in 8.

Posted by kaseyswagger

4:15 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Bottom Line Morrow needs to be a starter and we arent playing for anything so get him down in Tacoma get his arm stretched and let im start getting expierence.Winter ball is not going to help its just going to put more stress on his arm.

Posted by Patrick from Kent

4:18 PM, Jul 25, 2008

If you do not want to have either close too many days in a row then sign your 1st rd pick.

Posted by pablo

4:24 PM, Jul 25, 2008

Trade Putz. Morrow should be the closer. We can get something for Putz, no? RRS replaces Washburn after he's traded to the Yankees. Release Batista and Vidro. Include Lopez in a trade (perhaps with Putz) and get a CF. Play Bloomquist at second because a) he at least brings energy, b) he can play 2B, c) he can at least steal, and d) gotta just fill the spot until Triunfel comes up. Lopez is overachieving: may as well get something for him while we can. Trade Burke for a six-pack of beer and call it good.
Build some fun for next year, and we'll let the Seahawks ride us through until Opening Day 2009...

Posted by Gerald

5:30 PM, Jul 25, 2008

I'm not going to get all angry anymore (today) about the organization's ridiculously obsessive NEED to have a "closer" the rest of this season.

I just had to laugh at the idea of using the same closer three days in a row. I mean, it's crazy enough that they feel the "closer" is like some sort of panacea for all their 2008 woes, but to presume that there will ever be a time when they'll have a ninth inning save opportunity for three consecutive games? Oh man, that is good comedy.

Posted by tg3me

8:13 PM, Jul 26, 2008

OMG who is going to close. It is insane not to have someone to closer, can we trade for a closer.
maybe we can trade Morrow for a closer or Putz
then we would have a closer I will go insane if we don't get a closer OMG

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