In my last post I gave my best guess on the 25 Mariners that will be introduced come opening day, and as I said, figuring out whom the final bullpen member will be is the toughest decision the Mariners face. However, that is not the true question. Really, the issue is whether Brandon Morrow should be that guy or not. To do my best to summarize this debate, I present "Initiative 85."
INITIATIVE 85: Regarding Brandon Morrow being a member of the opening day bullpen
Who should be on an opening day roster? The best 25 best players a team has of course. What is the point of spring training? Obviously, to find the 25 best players a team has.
Clearly, Brandon Morrow has been one of the 25 best players in Mariners camp this year. He has only allowed one run while striking out eight in only eight and a third innings. With an upper-90s fastball and a wicked splitfinger, similar to Jonathan Papelbon and J.J. Putz's repertoire, it is easy for anyone to see why Morrow has been so effective this spring. Therefore, why is there any debate about whether Morrow should be on the team or not? All indications are that he will succeed in a Major League bullpen right now, and that he is of the Mariners' best relievers.
Prepared by: Fans of Actually Seeing High Profile Mariner Pitching Prospects Like Ryan Anderson Make the Major Leagues
Rebuttal of Statement For:
Morrow has been very impressive this spring, but as mentioned, he has only pitched in eight and a third innings. Is that really a big enough sampling size to determine how good he is, especially given how little professional experience he has? He has looked like one of the best relievers this camp, but there are tons of examples of players that overachieve in Spring Training. Is Willie Bloomquist really going to bat over .400 this season? No, but based on his spring numbers alone he could. Brandon Morrow is too big of a question mark.
Brandon Morrow has electrifying stuff, and he has shown how electric it is in Spring Training. Nobody doubts his potential, or that his stuff translates well into the bullpen.
However, is it really in the best interest of the Mariners to keep him in the bullpen now? Brandon Morrow would be so much more valuable as a starter. If he were sent to the minors and allowed to develop, in a couple of years he and Felix Hernandez could be the best 1-2 starting punch in baseball, and by then young guys like Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez will have developed, and the Mariners will be on the brink of something special. This year's team looks solid, but the franchise is still building to the future. Morrow may be good now, but he can be so much better if given the chance to properly develop, and in the long run the Mariners will be much better off for it.
Prepared By: Diamond Jaxx Fanataxx
Rebuttal of Statement Against:
There are tons of examples of players who started their careers in the bullpen and went on to be great starters. Nolan Ryan comes to mind. More recently, John Smoltz went from elite closer to All-Star starter again, and this year the Cardinals are converting Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper into starters, both of whom were integral parts of their bullpen last year. The list goes on and on.
If this were a real initiative, I would have to vote no. I see Morrow's spring numbers and I am impressed, and I also believe he has the stuff right now to be a quality reliever. However, every player also has hot and cold streaks and nobody can say for sure or not if what Brandon Morrow has done this spring is what can be expected on a normal day, or on an exceptional day.
In addition, while many players have gone from the bullpen to the starting rotation, they also have much more starting experience than Brandon Morrow. Really, Morrow only has one year of starting experience in college. That's it. Even Tim Lincecum has three years worth of starts in college, and Adam Wainwright was a starter all through the minor leagues. If Morrow become a reliever now, it will impact him more than the average pitching prospect because his starting experience is so limited.
In the end, I am not convinced Morrow is one of the best Mariner relievers right now, though with his stuff he certainly could be. However, I am certain that he is much more valuable in the future as a starter, and that for him to realize that potential he needs to be starting in the minor leagues right now. I am not willing to lose some of his potential to make this year's team better, especially when I am not sure he makes the 2007 Mariners better.