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Tag:Brandon Morrow
Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:11 pm
 

Farrell has what Jays need: Pitching knowledge

The Toronto Blue Jays interviewed something like six dozen candidates to replace Cito Gaston as manager ... and they wind up hiring a man who has managed nothing other than pitching staffs during his coaching career?

Moving to hire John Farrell as skipper is either going to be young general manager Alex Anthopoulos' most brilliant move yet ... or a crashing disaster.

In the AL East, with a Blue Jays team that fared better than expected post-Roy Halladay in 2010, there will not be any in-betweens.

As Boston's pitching coach the past four seasons, Farrell was the typical genius when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and, well, not-so-genius in 2010, when most every pitcher other than Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz under-performed.

Still, he's got a strong background in player development in Cleveland, he helped develop young arms like Lester and Buchholz in Boston and that's exactly what the Blue Jays want. Even in the post-Halladay days, they've got a strong nucleus of young pitchers, guys like Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek.

Anthopoulos is overseeing Toronto's latest rebuilding project, and based on the Blue Jays' 85-77 finish in 2010, fourth in the AL East, it's moving along more quickly than anticipated.

But here's the key: Toronto, over the next two or three seasons, will move as far as those aforementioned pitchers will take it.

If they stay healthy and continue to progress, the Blue Jays may finally get over the hump and climb back into the upper reaches of the AL East.

If too many of those pitchers flat-line, then all 2010 was for Toronto was one more mirage.

I like that Anthopoulos is thinking outside the box, so to speak. No, Farrell does not have any managerial experience. Yes, he knows pitching. And given where the Jays are, and that the game is returning to an emphasis on pitching, this has a chance to be one of Toronto's wisest moves yet.

Time was, former big league pitchers were looked upon skeptically as future managers. But look at what Bud Black is doing in San Diego. That perception is beginning to change.

Obviously, it is imperative that Toronto hires a bench coach who has been a manager, a wise old coot who knows strategy and rules. That's the type of guy who can help Farrell, with his knowledge of pitching, make a major difference as the Blue Jays look to soar.

Posted on: March 1, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 5:15 pm
 

When will young Jays' pitchers take flight?

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Roy Halladay is gone and Toronto is auditioning starting pitchers.

And while you have to travel long distances to find anybody willing to pick the Blue Jays anywhere other than dead last in the AL East (I know, I've been traveling long distances here in Florida and have yet to find that person) ... well, maybe it's not quite as bad as it looks.

At least, with Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow aboard, a healthy Shaun Marcum and kids Brett Cecil and Brian Tallet, maybe it won't be Kansas City bad around here.

"Even though they're young, I feel some of them are ready," says catcher John Buck, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Jays over the winter after six seasons with the Royals.

"In Kansas City, I feel they were forcing guys up a year or two before they were ready. They were rushing them, and it was tough to catch them.

"These guys are telling me why they like to do this and why they like to do that. They have a plan, and that's huge."

Nobody in camp has thrown 200 innings in a major-league season -- Romero's 178 last season is the high. Marcum has never made more than 25 big-league starts in a season. Morrow is still trying to catch up to the hype. Cecil needs to throw more strikes.

Dustin McGowan, Mark Rzepszynski, David Purcey, Scott Richmond ... the list of candidates is a long one. Jesse Litsch is injured and due back sometime just after the All-Star Game.

"Romero is somebody who stands out," Buck says. "You hear a lot about him. The way he works, the way he gets after his day. Some of the small stuff he does to get ready ... that probably relates to Halladay when he was here. The drive."

The Jays will miss Halladay tremendously. But if he left a few things behind -- such as his model work ethic for these guys to follow -- then maybe, for now, that's as good as Toronto can hope for.

Sunblock Day? And on the seventh -- eighth? -- day, the sun came out. Beautiful on Monday, sunny and 70 and yes, a sunblock day.

Likes: I still get a big kick -- too big, perhaps -- out of the fact that the Blue Jays' vice-president of communications is named Jay, Jay Stenhouse. Jay of the Jays. Perfect. ... Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson in Roy's for dinner Sunday evening in Tampa. Don't know what Reg was eating, but the seared and blackened Ahi was superb. ... The 2010 Baseball Prospectus will be in bookstores soon and, as usual, it's a must-read -- for executives, scouts, baseball writers and fans. You will not find more thorough scouting reports, and smarter analysis. ... Good to see Troy Glaus healthy in Atlanta's camp. He says he's feeling terrific and says the move to first base should be no big deal. ... When it's a bright, sunny day -- as Monday was (finally) -- there is no more spectacular sight in Florida than cruising over the Tampa Bay on the Sunshine Skyway, pretty blue and green water surrounding you for miles. ... Paul Schaffer's book We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives is a fun read. Some very entertaining behind-the-scenes stories from the Saturday Night Live, Blues Brothers and David Letterman days. Who knew the legendary Bob Dylan was a huge fan of Larry "Bud" Melman from the old Letterman show? You'll read this and other nuggets in this page-turner. ... Sandy Koufax actually taking the stage with Dodgers manager Joe Torre for a benefit for Torre's foundation Saturday night in Los Angeles, the two allowing themselves to be grilled by LA Times columnist T.J. Simers.

Dislikes: Anybody who knows me knows I love Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band. And within that, I think Clarence Clemons can do no wrong. However ... oh my Lord, Clemens' "book" Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales is unreadable. Just brutal. Here's the problem: He picked the wrong guy to write it. The New York Times reviewer nailed it when he wrote that ghost writer Don Reo "hijacked" the book. Reo keeps butting in with show biz stories of his own that he thinks are terrific and, apparently, Clemons does, too. But what they are is lame. Lame and unfunny. Nobody bought the book to read name-dropping and stories from Reo, a television writer who worked on such shows as M*A*S*H and Blossom. It is maddening. I picked up the book not expecting much over the winter, and it fell miraculously far below even my very low expectations.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"My allergies were bad so we moved to the desert to a city called Palm Springs
"We trick-or-treated at Liberace’s house
"Each finger had a diamond ring
"We met Elvis Presley in the middle of the summer
"He hugged my sister for far too long
"Well, it felt kinda weird, but I woulda pimped her out
"Just to hear him sing a song
"We talked Hollywood, and baseball in the car
"The voice of Jack Buck; It would travel really far"

-- Steve Poltz, Brief History of My Life

 

Posted on: June 25, 2009 9:09 pm
 

Of Morrow and Tomorrow in Seattle

It isn't often that a team in contention experiments on the fly. But it also isn't often that a club like the Seattle Mariners has an in-between situation like Brandon Morrow's.

The 24-year-old right-hander, transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation, made his third start on Wednesday night against San Diego, threw 87 pitches and continued to build his endurance.

Morrow has provoked fierce debate in Seattle since the Mariners picked him in the first round of the 2005 draft and then installed him as their set-up man to break him into the majors in 2007. When the Mariners fell to 61-101 last year and the back end of the bullpen became less important, many folks began to rightly view Morrow's arm as being wasted.

The Mariners, thinking along the same lines under new general manager Jack Zduriencik, were going to stretch him out and make him a starter this spring. But Morrow missed some time with forearm tightness and that, combined with a bullpen that wasn't taking shape at the time, caused the Mariners to put him back in the pen to open the season.

Flash forward two months, and David Aardsma has emerged as a solid closer (15 saves), Sean White and Mark Lowe have proven serviceable and the Mariners' bullpen ranks second in the American League with a 3.16 ERA.

What the Mariners need now are starters. And that's what Morrow has decided he'd like to be.

"We realize he's a young guy with a very talented arm who needs to develop his pitches," Zduriencik says. "You're not going to do that in the closer's role. We made the decision to get Brandon more innings."

With Erik Bedard out with a sore shoulder and, a couple of weeks ago, with Jarrod Washburn nursing a pulled muscle in his back, it made sense to begin breaking Morrow into the rotation. Currently, manager Don Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair are limiting Morrow to somewhere around 95 pitches. He threw 87 in Wednesday's no-decision against San Diego.

Chris Jakubauskus, who made eight starts earlier this season for the Mariners, effectively is tag-teaming with Morrow, taking the baton from him in each of his three starts this month.

"There's no question he has the ability," Zduriencik says of Morrow.

Now, the goal?

"At the end of the year we want to say, 'He has X amount of innings, and he's pitched enough for us that we know what he can do,'" Zduriencik says.

Complicating matters, Morrow has diabetes. That brings up questions of just what Morrow's endurance will be as a starter.

Those answers, though, will come later. What the Mariners know right now is they have a young man who throws 97 mph and has a whole lot of potential. They also know they have a handful of other young pitchers who are looking for a permanent niche: Jakubauskus, White, Garrett Olson, Shawn Kelly and Mark Lowe in particular.

"They're trying to figure out exactly what they are," says Zduriencik, who has done an exceptional job in hurrying along the Mariners' rebuilding efforts. "They're fitting into their roles very nicely right now.

"We have a lot of nice arms here. A lot of talented guys. In Brandon's case in particular, he just needs to pitch. And we're making an attempt to get him that opportunity."

Likes: Johan Santana vs. Chris Carpenter on Thursday. ... A new haircut and a home run for Detroit's Magglio Ordonez, within 24 hours of each other. It was a career high 40-game homerless drought for Ordonez, who is auctioning off his hair on eBay for charity. Great line by manager Jim Leyland, too: "If I had hair like that, I'd still be single." ... Excellent (and poignant) piece here at Athletics Nation on the A's 1989 World Series trophy and how it rings hollow today, particularly within the recent and poorly attended 1989 celebration and the Jose Canseco-Carney Lansford war of words. Ugly, ugly, ugly. ...

Dislikes: Sleep well, Farrah. I'll always remember you on the wall of my room as a grade schooler. Me and thousands of others.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I took my baby to the doctor
"With a fever, but nothing he found
"By the time this hit the street
"They said she had a breakdown
"Someone's always tryin'
"To start my baby cryin'
"Talkin', squealin', lyin'
"Sayin' you just wanna be starting something"

-- Michael Jackson, Wanna Be Starting Something

Posted on: July 1, 2008 1:38 am
 

What if Brandon Morrow was a starter?

From his perch in the Seattle Mariners' bullpen, where he is chief set-up man to closer J.J. Putz, Brandon Morrow can't help but keep an eye on his old college rival.

He isn't alone. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum is tearing it up at 9-1 with a 2.38 ERA (second in the National League) and an NL-leading 114 strikeouts.

They pitched against each other in college, sort of, Lincecum starring for the University of Washington and Morrow for Pac-10 rival University of California.

"They were rained out or something right before we played them, and they jumbled their rotation and he didn't pitch that Friday," says Morrow, who did.

He wasn't exactly disappointed at the time -- "Gave us a better chance to win," he says -- and the two would run into each other across the country in the Cape Cod League as well.

Morrow was Seattle's first-round pick in the 2006 draft, fifth overall. The Giants chose Lincecum 10th overall in '06.

Morrow made the majors to stay in '07, ahead of Seattle's schedule, because the Mariners had a need in their bullpen. He was good as a set-up man last summer, going 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA over 60 appearances, but as Lincecum deals, he can't help but wonder what life might be like back in the rotation.

"I was always a starter," Morrow says. "You can't put enough importance on a quality start. If you don't get a good start, the relievers don't matter."

Until the Mariners traded for Erik Bedard and signed Carlos Silva as a free agent last winter, the club intended to slot Morrow in the rotation this season. He even made seven starts in the Venezuelan Winter League, working on building his endurance so he could pitch more innings.

"I was slightly disappointed I went through all that" and then was pushed back to the bullpen, Morrow says. "But anytime you're in the big leagues, you can't complain."

Meanwhile, several hundred miles south of Morrow, Lincecum's All-Star season continues for San Francisco.

"He's been throwing the hell out of the ball all year," says Morrow, who's seen it before.

Likes: Tampa Bay and Boston this week in a meaningful series. What fun. ... Roy Halladay, and six complete games. He would have fit in very well alongside Mickey Lolich,  Gaylord Perry, Catfish Hunter and Bert Blyleven. ... Safeco Field. Still beautiful after all these years. ... The way they arrange the AL flags in order of standing at Safeco. And yes, what an odd thing to see the Rays flag flying ahead of Boston's and the Yankees'. ... Seattle's "Countdown to Cooperstown" -- it's at 27 days -- in anticipation of legendary broadcaster Dave Niehaus' impending induction into the broadcasters' wing. ... Tim Lincecum pitching, any night. ... ... Ferndale, Wash., from Sandy Point to Barlean's Fishery.

Dislikes: Racial threats against Boston Red Sox players? What is this, 1859? Sad to say, that kind of backwater thinking continues to exist. Look at the Democratic primaries this year, where a stunning number of voters in West Virginia and Kentucky admitted in exit polls that race factored into the way they voted.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Racism lives in the U.S. today
"Better get hip to what Martin Luther King had to say
"I don't want my kids being brought up this way
"Hatred to each other is not okay
"Well, I'm not a preacher just a singer son
"But I can see more work to be done
"It's what you do and not what you say
"If you're not part of the future then get out of the way"

-- John Mellencamp, Peaceful World

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com