Really? I call poppycock on this! In no way did the Mariners feel that Morrow was just a “dose of command and a dash of consistency away from becoming a big winner.” If they did, they wouldn’t have traded him for Johermyn Chavez (a low-level minor leaguer but with some potential) and Brandon League (a, albeit good, relief pitcher). Or if they did believe it, that means they value relief pitching way too much.
After the Mariners were done yanking him between pitching roles, the Blue Jays decided to let Morrow start and let the chips fall where they may. While he started 15 games total for the Mariners and appeared in 116 others, he started 26 games for the Blue Jays, and shockingly, only appeared in 26 games.
He also pitched 146 innings for the Jays in one season, compared to the 197.2 IPs he threw for the Mariners across three seasons (of course there were some demotions and injuries, but still). According to Baseball America, Morrow was worth 1.6 wins above a replacement player last season. In his career (seven seasons), League has earned exactly 1.6 WAR (including -0.1 last season).
If you’re scoring at home, folks, this trade was a TKO for the Jays. Sure the odds of Morrow both staying healthy and continuing his 2010 form are slim given his history. But the Jays already won. League would have to pitch another seven seasons for the Mariners to fully return the value that Morrow had in just one year.
So what about Morrow’s future? It is hard to say given the incredible amount of young pitchers the Jays have and the volatility in any arm asked to throw a baseball. Can he be better than he was last year? I think so, absolutely. While he benefited from an above-average strand rate (69%), his BAbip was .348 – a number that typically rests around .300 for a major league pitcher and has been .310 for Morrow’s career.
At the time, I remember being somewhat confused with the trade. I mean, at the worst, Morrow is an above average reliever, which League is. At best, Morrow can be a #3/#4 starter or above-average innings eater. I assumed Morrow was injured again, clearly he wasn’t. Maybe I am missing something with Chavez, but he seems pretty far from the majors to me to even out this trade.
You have to give the Jays a lot of credit for this move and the way their organization is going. They have some shades of the Rays going on right now.
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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.