Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ace in Hand?

When the Blue Jays acquired righty Brandon Morrow in the offseason, I immediately approved of the trade. It was not long after the trade of Halladay and they needed someone to provide effective innings for what looked to be an extremely inexperienced rotation. While he played with the Mariners I was able to catch a few of his starts after Jays games and he certainly impressed me. I watched him almost no-hit the New York Yankees and watched him dismantle the A's last year in his final start of the year. Obviously those starts were/are not the norm, but it did show his vast potential.
When the M's drafted him 5th overall in the 2006 amateur draft he was thought of as a future ace who could potentially help in the bullpen as soon as that upcoming season. He was an enigma of sorts and the organization admittedly gave him the "yo-yo" treatment by sending him between the rotation and bullpen, both in the majors and minors. They obviously regretted the decision because his potential was never met in the Northwest.

Furthermore, the fans saw the success of local hero Tim Lincecum who was taking the National League by storm just as he had done at the University of Washington. With every Lincecum quality start the Mariners fans would shake their collective heads at the fact that he could have been on their team. I think Jays fans know the feeling after the proposed Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum deal fell through.

Brandon League, along with highly touted outfield prospect Johermyn Chavez, were sent to Seattle in a deal that could work out well for both teams. The Mariners are hoping to contend this year with League moving into their bullpen and the Jays will likely move Morrow into the three-spot in their rotation (they can send him to the minors by using his remaining option, though).
I, unlike some fans, enjoyed watching League even though he did struggle at times (especially in multi-inning situations), but it is a swap where all players involve may prosper with a change of scenery. Morrow, more so than League, had worn out his welcome and tried the patience of the new front-office of the Mariners and they sent him packing. With the dearth of bullpen arms available to the Blue Jays they could afford to move one piece for a big-armed starting pitcher.

Immediately we heard Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos compare Morrow to former Jay A.J. Burnett. Morrow is a guy who struggles with command, but can reach 98 on the radar gun with relative ease. It is that type of "stuff" that fans love to watch and opposing batters hate to face. On any given night he can strike out twelve or walk six. He can tantalize or frustrate fans or opponents alike and that is what the Jays will attempt to harness.
The Jays, who have a history of turning mediocre pitchers in to serviceable ones, will get the opportunity to turn a talented (albeit wild) pitcher into a future front-end starter.

Something that I will enjoy this season is going to be turning on the television every game and having the possibility to watch something special. Whether it be Morrow, Romero, Marcum, Cecil, or Rzepczynski. In addition to those guys, there are pitchers such as Drabek and McGowan who are just as young, talented, and fun to watch. In a year where there are no expectations, these are the guys I want to see pitch. With all due respect to guys such a Brian Tallet the Jays know what they have in him.

Here are some of Morrow's statistics from years past along with Bill James' projected 2010 statistics:

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