One thing about Brandon Morrow, he never gets too high, too low, too angry or too happy. He always seems to have the same kind of laid back demeanor when you talk to him.
And it was that way over the phone from Tampa where he had taken a physical earlier in the day for the Toronto Blue Jays as the trade that will him send him to Toronto for reliever Brandon League and a prospect – possibly Johermyn Chavez – will be finalized tomorrow.
“It went fine,” he said of the physical. “They really haven’t told me anything specific yet, other than I have sit back and wait for everything to go through.”
After yesterday’s bombardment of information, Morrow felt basically numb. But the call from Jack Zduriencik did bring some emotion.
“I knew I was on the trading block,” he said. “With all the stuff on the internet and friends calling and and texting, it didn’t come as a surprise. But when you get a call from your GM telling you, it was a little overwhelming.”
Morrow had originally planned to fly to Oakland on Wednesday to see his family. But the side trip to Tampa today will make him mimic George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air”
“I got a long trip tomorrow,” he said as he rattled off a cross country trip that included one stop and two layovers on his way home for the holidays.
“I wasn’t really planning for this trip to Tampa,” he said trying to maintain some level of humor.
Morrow praised the only organization he’s ever known.
“I really have nothing but good things to say about the organization, they’ve always treated me great,” he said.
Well, I would tend to disagree with him there. Not so much the current regime, but I truly feel that the handling of his progress in terms of pushing him into the big leagues too soon and never totally defining his role stunted his growth. Would he be better than Tim Lincecum, the pitcher he’ll be forever compared to, at this “point in time?” Probably not.
But he would be further along.
The decisions by Mike Hargrove and Bill Bavasi were CYA (Cover Your A**) and done to keep their jobs.
But Morrow said that no other pitcher in his position – getting a spot in the Mariners bullpen after 16 innings in the minors – would have told them no.
“I mean, they’re asking you to be a part of a major league baseball team,” he said. “That’s what we all dream of. You can’t say no.”
But when pressed, Morrow finally admitted one episode of his frustration.
After the 2007 season, much was made about Morrow converting to a starter – the role that the Mariners envisioned him as, when they drafted him with the fifth pick of the 2006. He was sent to the Venezuelan Winter Leagues and he pitched well.
“I thought I really made a step,” he said. “I featured my off-speed pitches. I got into the routine and the mentality of being a starter. I had like a 2.2 or 2.3 ERA i seven or starts. I felt good.”
But Bavasi signed Carlos Silva to a gargantuan and ludicrous contract and then gave up half the organization to get Bedard. Morrow wanted to believe he’d still be allowed to compete for the rotation. Instead, John McLaren informed he’d be going back to the bullpen and all the offseason work was basically wasted.
“I think that was the biggest blow,” he said. “I come out Venezuela after pitching well and all ready to come into start and they sign Silva, trade for Bedard and I didn’t have a spot.”
And the ping-ponging from reliever to starter to reliever continued.
It apparently stopped last season when the M’s made the midseason decision to switch, including a fair amount of time spent in Tacoma and a decent showing at the end of the season with the M’s. It was a feeling similar to the offseason between 2007 and 2008.
“I felt like I was going to make quality starts and more accustomed to being a starter and being in that role,” he said. “They saw what I can do.”
But now he’s headed to Toronto and looking at it with optimism and a fresh start.
“It’s nice to know that an organization wants you and is willing to trade for you and wants you to be a part of their future,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the chance to really focus on being a starting pitcher, which is what I’ve always wanted.”