Tag Archives: Brandon Morrow

WPA: A stat for everyone (except Francisco Cordero)

I understand a lot of the resistance from old-school baseball people and fans to advanced stats. I really do. Advanced stats can be confusing and, because of both their naming and the math that goes into them, intimidating. There’s also the problem that, dammit, I just want to talk baseball and not what somebody might theoretically do over the next so many years, especially considering this or that park factor.

Can’t we just talk about what happened last night?

Can’t we just talk about where our team is in the standings and how they got there?

If the above describes how you feel, I sympathize. I’m not in total agreement, but I do share your feelings to a certain degree. And I have good news — if you’re like me and seeking a middle ground, at least — there is an advanced stat just for you! Continue reading

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Today in good deals for the Blue Jays

For the last two seasons in Toronto, most Jays fans seem to have fallen into one of three camps when it comes to Brandon Morrow:

  1. Dude is AMAZING!!1
  2. He’s got great stuff, but what the hell? Why is he so frustrating?
  3. Morrow’s pitching? UGH. WHY BOTHER WATCHING? He SUCKS.

While I think hope nobody reading this falls into that third group, the second group is, rightfully, highly populated. In fact, I find myself in that second group most times, but Morrow’s got something that makes me and a lot of other people believe that he could make the leap into the AMAZING!!1 category — and he could do it as soon as this season.

Even the experts at Fangraphs think highly enough of Morrow to draw some comparisons between him and Justin Verlander. That’s some pretty high praise for Morrow and if the comparison turns out to even be fractionally valid, Toronto’s in a good place for at least the next four years.

Why four years? Because the Blue Jays just signed Morrow to a three-year extension worth $20 million. The deal also includes a $10-million option for the 2015 season.

At just under $7 million a season, Morrow’s a steal — even if he doesn’t improve all that much.

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Antihero

What Brandon Morrow did with the goat, I don’t want to know. But whatever it was, it worked: Jo-Jo Reyes got a win. His winless streak ended at 28 starts — tied for longest all-time with Oakland’s Matt Keough, who did it in 1978-79.

As meaningless as a winless streak is, I’m sure Jo-Jo feels good to get it out of the way. Good on him.

I was only able to watch random bits and pieces of the game — and they were all when the Jays were on offence — so I’ve got nothing to say whatsoever about how Reyes pitched, but I did manage to catch the bottom half of the 4th, when Toronto’s offence exploded for 7 runs. Two things stood out to me. They were both base running decisions.

1) Bases loaded, Rajai Davis on second, Corey Patterson at bat. Patterson hits what looks like a double play to Indians second baseman Orlando Cabrera, but Cabrera misplays the ball and ends up facing the outfield. Davis gets to third, glances at Cabrera fumbling with the ball and breaks for home. He scores without so much as a throw coming his way.

2) Jose Bautista on second, Juan Rivera at the plate. Rivera grounds the ball to the left side, Bautista gets looked back to second, but breaks for third as soon as the ball is thrown to first. The first baseman sees this and launches the ball back to third after disposing of Rivera. I don’t know if the throw was slightly off or the third baseman made a bad tag attempt, but Bautista makes it in safely.

Davis’s break for home was very smart baserunning. When I see the Hustle & Heart ads, that’s the kind of thing I like to picture as the hustle. (What I picture as the heart? Nothing that happens on the diamond.)

Bautista’s decision was dubious. It was a risky play that barely worked out. On top of that, Toronto was already winning by 7. It’s the type of thing that could be perceived by the opposition as disrespectful — and it comes the day after John Danks got all huffy.

But you know what? If Bautista’s competitive fire drive him to be somewhat unlikeable for people who aren’t Toronto fans, I’m OK with that. Guy’s doing what he has to do to produce at an extremely high level. Keep producing and you can do whatever you want out there, Jose.

Besides, I enjoy rooting for the antihero.

Links!

• Time writes about Jose Bautista. This is interesting because the headline is false by the time you’re done reading it.

• Ghostrunner on First pulls thoughts about John McDonald out my brain and does much better with them than I ever could.

• A smart man calls the Rogers Centre “dreary and passé.”

• A different smart man takes the common “E5 should never play the field; he is a DH” argument and convincingly turns it into “E5 is not a Major Leaguer.”

• Toronto Life dirties itself up with some sport talk. Corey Patterson even! One problem though: They seem to think he plays centre field.

• Joe Carter did some great things in Toronto, but was he overrated in general? Yes.

• Bautista wears Chucks!

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The Age of Aaron Cibia

As the Chicago White Sox roll into town for tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays, it would be easy to look at it as just another late-May game. But there’s more to it than that. Take a look at the lineup:

On first glance, it may not look particularly interesting, but take another look and you might catch it. Brandon Morrow is starting and Jose Molina is NOT catching.

For years now, J.P. Arencibia has been Toronto’s Catcher of the Future. He’s played well so far this year — both behind the plate and at it (128 OPS+ !!!1) — and now he’s broken Molina’s hold on being Morrow’s personal catcher.

This is really the last step in removing the Catcher of the Future title; I think we can officially say that Arencibia is the Catcher of the Now.

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Why would Toronto want Slowey?

Should Alex Anthopoulos trade for Kevin Slowey? The gut reaction is definitely no. The Blue Jays don’t need more starting pitching. And Slowey’s no stud who’s worth bumping people for.

But gut reactions are no way to run a team and there are reports that Toronto is interested in bringing in the Minnesota right hander, they even had soem scouts watching the Twins the other day when Slowey was pitching. According to MLB Trade Rumours, Slowey might even be had for some bullpen arms, which the Jays have more than enough of.

So, should the Jays trade for Kevin Slowey if it only costs them some bullpen arms? That scenario’s a lot easier to agree with, but is it the right move?

Right now, Toronto’s set to break camp with a starting rotation of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, probably Kyle Drabek and one of either Marc Rzepcynski or Jesse Litsch.

Slowey’s a decent pitcher, but he’s an extreme flyball pitcher — his flyball rate tends to hang out in the 50% range.

The SkyDome, as we all know, is a park that’s very friendly to flyball hitters (Jose Bautista!) so Slowey’s flyball rate is a pretty big strike against the case for him to pitch in Toronto. Combine that with the starting pitching depth Toronto’s already got and a trade for Slowey doesn’t make sense.

Unless Anthopoulos is getting ready for a deal with another team that’s crying for starting pitching (St. Louis? Rasmus? We can dream.)

Then again, there may be nothing at all to these reports. We all know Anthopoulos doesn’t talk about rumours, so the Jays get connected to every player that was ever discussed in any sort of rumour. And those scouts who watched Slowey pitch? Well, could be as simple as doing a bit of recon; Toronto opens the season against the Twins.

(UPDATE: I’ll often try not to read other blogs before writing a post. Sometimes this means that another blog will have written a similar post previous to mine. This is one of those times. For a much more thorough look at these rumours, you really should check out Getting Blanked.)

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#TeamEntirePitchingStaff

Listening to Jays Talk last year, somebody called in asked something about who Toronto’s fifth starter might be next year.

Mike Wilner basically responded by telling the guy that Toronto fans are spoiled. We’re lucky to have such quality pitching. Most teams, he said, have lousy No. 5 pitchers.

He’s right. We Jays fans are lucky. Whether we’ve got Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow or Brett Cecil taking the hill, we know our teem has a shot to win.

But do you have a favourite?

Marcum’s my man. I was lucky enough to randomly catch his first pro start back on July 18, 2006. He only went five innings, but he held the Texas Rangers to one hit and struck out five. Good numbers to be sure, but it wasn’t what he did that won me over, it was the way he did it.

I love watching pitchers make batters look foolish and Marcum’s changeup does that on a regular basis.

The fact that Marcum has since embraced filth and expanded it beyond his just his pitches (take a look at his cap next time you see him) only makes me love him more.

So what is it? Are you with me on #TeamMarcum or is Romero more your type? Maybe Cecil’s potential is too much for you to resist? How about Morrow’s complete domination of late?

Take a vote in the poll below and, if you’d like to say a little something about your choice, sound off in the comment section.

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Lose one to win two

“His velocity was down, he’s a guy normally up at 95, 96 m.p.h., but tonight he was down at 91 and 92. I think next time you’ll see him back up there.”

Gaston agreed Morrow might have been affected by the layoff. But he wasn’t about to deviate from an organizational plan to protect its young pitchers from overwork.

“Sure, pitchers are like milk cows, you gotta milk them,” Gaston said, laughing. “But this kid is going to be a big part of our future, and we’re looking out for him. You might lose one tonight but you’ll win a lot more down the line.”

That’s what Cito Gaston had to say after the Oakland Athletics beat Brandon Morrow back on August 17. That, of course, was Morrow’s first start after his spectacular one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The fact that Morrow had such a sub-par outing against the Oaklands and the fact that his velocity was down had a number of Jays fans worried that Cito had ruined Morrow by leaving him out to throw 137 pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter against the Rays.

This tidbit didn’t help calm the worry warts either:

That long layoff was welcomed by Morrow. He revealed in the days after the one hitter that he had trouble sleeping that night, and that he felt drained physically.

I’m no biology expert, but I do know a little about psychology. When you go through an exciting and nerve-racking experience — like I can only imagine being the verge of a no-hitter can be — you’re going to feel drained physically and likely have some trouble sleeping. Think about how you feel after, say, a job interview or some other stressful situation and multiply it by whatever factor performing in front of a huge audience adds. That’s a bit of stress there, so there’s a chance he had trouble sleeping because of the mental toll just as much, or maybe more than, the physical toll.

Anyway, back to Cito. I doubt a lot of the moves Gaston makes — jerking around Travis Snider being chief among the doubts — but Cito’s really proving that, if he likes you, he really knows how to treat you right.

Leaving Morrow out to finish the game against Tampa — for his first career complete game, I might add — even though he wasn’t gunning for a no-no anymore and his pitch count was well over 100? That’s got to do wonders for the confidence of a guy who’d been screwed around so much by his previous team that he never really had a chance to develop.

Standing behind Morrow after he pitches horribly in the next start and not even showing any doubt at all that the pitcher would be back to his regular self next time out? Again, the right thing to do.

Did it work? You betcha. Morrow dominated the Yankees on Monday night. Not only did he dominate, but he threw even harder than he did against Tampa.

All of Morrow’s pitches averaged one m.p.h. faster against the Yanks than they did against the Rays, except for the curveball, which was just over one m.p.h. slower. And Morrow racked up 12 Ks in 6 IP that night.

I’m not saying that Cito is totally responsible for Morrow pitching so well, but he’s doing something right. Morrow’s always been known as a guy with a ton of talent who’s had trouble harnessing it. Maybe the confidence Cito is showing in him is what’s helping him get over the hump.

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Good Morrow

What can you say? The Jays are awesome.

If you’re the kind of person who sees something great and then thinks “it’s all down hill from here,” then this is the team for you. Let’s just take a look at the last week:

• Toronto strolls into Yankee Stadium and takes 2 of 3 from the Yankees. Can’t get much better than that, right?

• Toronto comes home to play host to the Tampa Bay Rays and that bad, bad man Brett Cecil dominates in the opener.

• Saturday afternoon, Game 2: We all know what happened in that game.

• This afternoon, series finale. Surely there’s got to be a letdown in the cards for Jays fans, right? Brandon Morrow disagrees.

Morrow’s was probably the best game ever pitched by a Blue Jay — and I mean that without hyperbole. Complete game, shutout, 8-2/3 of no-hitter, 17 strikeouts. Simply astounding work from the No. 3 starter.

I know this Jays team is built for the future, but it sure is fun watching them now. With the flashes of brilliance we’re treated to on a regular basis, it’s hard not to imagine the Jays making a post-season run in the very short-term.

P.S. Like most Jays bloggers, I don’t see eye-to-eye with Cito (probably because he’s such a huge man. TWO WORLD SERIES!) but I gotta say I was happy to see him let Morrow finish the game. It would have been  easy to pull him after he gave up that one hit in the ninth — I probably would have done just that — but leaving him in to finish it out was class. Dangerous class, to be sure, but Morrow didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those rare moments where The Manager’s insanity actually brings a little smile to my face.

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