Category: AJ Burnett

What Morrow may bring

Brandon Morrow, Seattle Mariners, development hampered, Toronto Blue Jays, What Morrow may bringThe common wisdom within the Blue Jays organization and Toronto sports media suggests the Seattle Mariners rushed Brandon Morrow to the big leagues, then further hampered his development by using him inconsistently as both a starter and closer. For that reason, Morrow, who is only in his second uninterrupted season as a starter, will only improve on his success.

Ghostrunner on First refers to an article in the Bellingham Herald, in which Brandon Morrow (he of the glowing FIP) espouses his preference for SABR stats.

Drunk Jays Fans takes exception to a Bleacher Report post that ranks Ricky Romero in the top five for the AL Cy Young award.  According to DJF, Morrow’s superior fWAR makes him a far better candidate than RR Cool Jay (he of the knock-you-out ERA).

Concerning the Morrow-for-League-swap, even though Brandon League has had an all-star season, I would rather have Morrow. A good starter trumps a good closer, in my mind, because he would pitch about three or four times as many innings. The 162-game season is a marathon, and a good team requires three or four long-distance runners. League did flirt with dominance in 2006 and 2008, but he failed to put it together in consecutive seasons. We gave him five. We’ll see in two years how the Morrow for League trade looks.

Hopefully Casper Wells, drilled in the face by a Brandon Morrow fastball, suffers no serious damage. The Ghostrunnner post links to Morrow’s immediate apology tweeted to Wells.

Brandon Morrow better than Brandon League, What Morrow may bringA professional in the twittersphere and on the pitcher’s mound, Morrow did get in some hot water loading the bases in the sixth inning Wednesday. But he managed to get out of the inning, allowing just one run.

The Morrow line – 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 12 SO

“Morrow is a fireballer,” I typed on MLB Gameday.

In response, a frustrated Blue Jays fan wrote:

“Morrow is nothing more at this point than a #3-4 starter, League is already an elite closer. Morrow is very frustrating to watch, he is like AJ Burnett.”

I replied:

Morrow is a #2 starter on a good AL East team that’s getting better. He’s also 27 and improving. As for Burnett, sure, he’s frustrating to watch (34 and past his prime), but don’t forget he’s a former *18-game winner, who made a significant contribution to the Yankees 2009 World Series championship. Having said that, Morrow’s ceiling is higher than Burnett’s because Morrow doesn’t throw emotionally, he pitches with resolve. As for League, he’s had a good season, but MLB is littered with the carcasses of closers, who had one good season. I’ll take Morrow over League any day.

*Wins, as per AJ Burnett’s 18 of them, are not the best measure of a pitcher’s contribution. To say wins mean nothing, however, ignores far too much data, on winning and losing teams alike, correlating strong ERA (in various incarnations) with positive W-L records. Likewise, poor ERA often correlates with negative W-L records. I have yet to determine which combination of traditional and SABR statistics provides the most accurate overall picture of a pitcher’s contribution. If one employs traditional stats, Romero is our ace. If one is purely sabermetric, then perhaps Morrow becomes our ace. No matter the case, they make a fine one-two punch.

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The Odyssey of Dustin McGowan

On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, as the Toronto Blue Jays took on the Oakland Athletics, attendance was a meager 16,102 at Rogers Center. I was on a first date with a cute girl, a serious baseball fan from Japan. It was her first time going to a Major League Baseball game, and it was my last time watching Dustin McGowan pitch. Normally a 500 level dweller, but looking to impress, I purchased tickets in the 100 level. Our seats were in row 13, aisle 115, right by Mr. Overbay and within decent sight range of McGowan’s new lamb chops.

The brilliance of Harry Leroy Halladay and the hype surrounding Allan James Burnett had pushed the emergence of Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and underdog Jesse Litsch somewhat to the background in 2007. But with each young starter having established himself as part of the rotation that season, the future looked bright, indeed. And so it still was on that crisp Spring evening.

He started strong and struggled a little in the 4th and 5th innings.

“He’s young, but has a lot of talent,” I assured my seatmate.

Not quite a quality start, but a respectable one, walking three and striking out seven, allowing just two runs over five innings in a no-decision. The Jays would ultimately lose 6-3. But despite the loss and some less than culturally sensitive words thrown by hecklers in the direction of the Athletics Hawaiian (and Japanese-American) catcher Kurt Suzuki:

“You’re not even Japanese, Suzuki,”

the game, like every trip to the ballpark, was enjoyable in its own way.

While McGowan didn’t get the win, I did get the girl, with whom I would return to the Rogers Centre when the Jays took on superstar and occasional comedian Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners.

She especially enjoyed that game, from where we sat in right field to be closer to the “Hercules” of Japanese baseball.

I likewise would have soaked up every one of 101 pitches thrown by Dustin McGowan that April 9, had I the slightest inkling that it might be the last time I would see him pitch live. All that power, along with his considerable arsenal of pitches, were analysed in poignant fashion at Baseball Analysts.

What hope Jays fans had for McGowan would be somewhat dashed three months later when it was announced he would have season-ending surgery on a frayed labrum in his shoulder. His career, and the hopes it roused, were further threatened when in July, 2009, another surgery was announced, this time on his knee to repair cartilage damage.

The bright lights that once shone upon the right-hander all but burnt out, when, in June of 2010,  news broke that McGowan would undergo season ending surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff.  In the realm of the ridiculous, the McGowan situation and the possible role the now 29-year-old might play, if he does make a return to the Jays roster this year, is entertainingly measured at Getting Blanked

In terms of his roster status with the Jays, as May 27 bleacher report article indicates, a decision must be made within 30 days of the end of extended spring training, June 8. He would have to clear waivers, in order to qualify himself with a Jays minor league outfit OR……… re-join the Blue Jays and its active 25-man roster in Toronto for the first time in about 1000 days.

The most improved Blue Jay of 2007 was once thought to have possessed the 4th best fastball in Major League Baseball.

His cutter was recently clocked at 95 mph. Not bad for a guy who’s looked deep into the abyss of a baseball-less future.