Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow (23) walks off the field after being relieved fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

What Brandon Morrow’s Health Means To Blue Jays

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos met with the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Wednesday and addressed a number of issues related to the current ongoing’s of his baseball team. He talked about the Doug Fister trade and the Jays’ situation at second base among other things but what I found most interesting was his update regarding the condition of Jays’ RHP Brandon Morrow.

According to Gregor Chisholm at, when AA was asked about Morrow he responded with the following:

“There’s definitely strong confidence that Brandon is totally over his issues. The fact that he has thrown multiple bullpen [sessions], thrown a sim game, got up and down. When you do a sim game, you’re throwing three or four innings. He’s completely healthy and completely healed.

I wish Brandon was coming off a year where he had a 2.96 [ERA], 120 innings and he ended the season really well, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he’s in the same place going into Spring Training that he was last year.”

I must admit, my gut reaction was to be cynical. It’s not exactly as though the Blue Jays have the best track record of accurately describing injuries. But in the spirit of optimism (and to partially make up for my lack of enthusiasm over the Dioner Navarro acquisition) I will choose to take Alex’s word on this one.

Why? Because in order to have any hope that 2014 will be successful for the Toronto Blue Jays there’s no other option but to believe that Morrow will return to a strong campaign.

As much talk as there is about all the “new money” in baseball, one thing remains true. Budgets are real. That being said, we have no idea what the Blue Jays true working number will be for next season (and going forward). Many have speculated that number is $150 million, which may be true but I like to believe there is at least a little wiggle room to go higher (or hopefully not) lower if the right deal is put on the table.

However I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume there will be another huge jump in payroll this winter, a la 2012-2013. The Jays already have a hefty amount invested just to maintain the current salaries and with R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle the only two reliable pitchers in next year’s rotation the Jays have serious holes but only so much money to spend on the increasingly ridiculous free agent pitching market.

Trades seemingly come at a cheaper price (at least when you are dealing with teams that you only see in either Interleague or the World Series), which to tangent even further from my point makes me think hope that the Jays could possibly pry Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs for slightly less than what it would take for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who aren’t in the same division but are least in the same league as the Cubbies. MLB Trade Rumors has been keeping an updated post on Samardzija and the Jays, DBacks and Baltimore Orioles appear to be front-runners. David Kaplan at CSN Chicago wrote that according to a source “I don’t see him throwing another pitch in a Cubs uniform. I think it’s 99 percent that he gets moved.” Kaplan also shared insight from a scout who said “I like the guy a lot but the price is really high and I think in the AL he is a No. 3 starter. He doesn’t show me the consistency that I need in a top end guy and to acquire him, Theo and Jed are asking for a top end price. However, pitching is so hard to find that teams will give up a lot betting that his best days are ahead of him.” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted the Cubs were planning to do some “serious listening” when it came to the Shark and Kaplan also mentioned that “as many as eight teams have shown considerable interest” so who knows if Anthopoulos holds the “right mix of players” to obtain Samardzija’s services (or any others starting pitchers that may yet be considered openly available).

So I actually suprisingly found a way to segue back to AA and what this post was supposed to be about, which was an update regarding the health of Morrow. My point is that even if the Blue Jays are able to add very good (or great?) starting pitcher this off-season, and maybe even have enough left-over for a mid-tier or more likely bounce-back candidate, the need for Morrow to regain his former ability remains. If the Blue Jays have serious thoughts of contending in 2014 you would have to think that a rotation of Dickey, Buehrle, an off-season addition and a fully capable Morrow to lead to the starting four, with a plethora of depth to handle to fifth man’s role, spot starts and who knows maybe even some bullpen relief, which could lead to the Blue Jays pushing hard to trade other out-of-option relievers even more at the upcoming Winter Meetings.

This also may also be posturing by Anthopoulos to lessen the blow to the fan base if he only does end up with one starting pitcher (or gasp, none!) this off-season because he probably is quite aware of the need for Morrow to have a bounce-back season himself in 2014 after he struggled to miss bats last year. Kyle Matte already explained here at Jays Journal why we shouldn’t be too quick to tag Morrow with the injury-prone label so I’m hopeful that with a full bill of health he’ll be able to return to at some of his sparkling 2012 form. Just looking quickly at his player page at FanGraphs it’s fairly safe to assume that his HR/FB, HR/9 and LOB% were at unsustainable levels and should regress back to the norm.

Like I said, optimism!

Brenden Kennedy at the Toronto Star provides an excellent recap of the BBWAA Meeting so if you haven’t already more updates on Anthopoulos’ discussion can be found there.

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Tags: Brandon Morrow Jeff Samardzija Toronto Blue Jays

  • RyanMueller

    Man you got off track. When I read the title of this article I thought it would be more about Morrow then about trade rumors. You make good points about inter-division trades carrying a heafty price tag. I also agree that Shark is not the answer. I still think that there are guys in the organization would be able to ill the need for a reliable 4-5 guy in the rotation.

  • Jensan

    Better to be off track than off the rails. Guys you are fixated on the Shark, look at Cahill or Sale as a # 3 Pitcher, both have pitched in the American League and have contracts that stretch out to between 2017 to 2019.
    If this article is correct pick one of the two and rationalize the prospect being given up, for a MLB player who will have between 4 to 6 more years of service with you at a predetermined salary.

    • Andrew van Laar

      I agree 100% about the Shark. I am leary of the haul of prospects it might take to land him. Plus, doing a quick look at his traditional stats (no time for the others at work), he just doesn’t have what I would want AA to give up in a big trade.

      I would give up a huge package for Sale. He’s you, very affordable and under control for what seems like eternity. I would be willing to include one of or even both of Sanchez and Stroman to land him. For Cahill, I wouldn’t go so far as I see him as an average starter. But Sale… what I would do to land a true staff ace!

  • Bob Loblaw

    What does it mean? Everything.

    I don’t think we can afford to bring in another bounce back candidate. Morrow is enough risk, the rest of our rotation needs to be reliable, low injury-risk, with as many groundballs as possible. Anderson may be cheap in terms of prospects, but there’s no way you can guarentee his performance.

    I think a reasonable compromise/alternative, in terms of prospect haul vs risk, would be Kyle Lohse. Maybe could bring him in with Nolin and Sierra/Gose. Although, the prospects they want will likely be determined by when their next wave comes up.

    • Michael Wray

      Interesting suggestion in Lohse. No idea if he would be available but he’s put up some nice numbers the past 3 years (ERA+ of 109, 133, 117 and 9.8 rWAR). He’s not exactly a ground ball pitcher though and posted the 17th highest FB% among qualifiers in 2013.

      • Bob Loblaw

        He’s all command, which is the point really, and can induce enough GB’s to make it work. I think he would have to learn to pitch in the Dome the same way Dickey and Buehrle did, and having them around would probably help a whole lot. Since we can’t go into this season with a wall of power pitching like the Tigers, I think command, experience and pitching smarts is the way to go.

  • brad

    Not to be cynical, but I’ve seen this movie before.

    Morrow being a healthy and effective starter would be the best thing that could happen to the Jays rotation next year….. just like it would have been last year…. or the year before…

    I think between Hutchison, Drabek, Morrow, Happ(yuck), rogers(yuck), Nolin etc. the Jays have the 4-5 spots mostly covered(though another cheap bounce back guy *cough* Halladay *cough* would go a long way here). There is a ton of uncertainty there though so a “sure thing” in the 3 spot would be ideal and if it’s Morrow being counted on to be that guy, we’re in trouble. If there was ever a time to overpay for a free agent SP I think this is it. The farm isn’t strong enough to deal from this winter and the payroll says its time to win. What’s 12 million more when you’re already at 130?

    Actually, come to think of it, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about Garza or Santana offers which is usually the case for players the Jays are involved with….. though now that I said it, it won’t happen

    ps: Navarro :)

  • Quincy-Sam

    Personally I think Morrow will have a good year. It was nerve damage not a blown out shoulder. There is also several guys coming back from injury and if two can find their previous ability we have 5 decent starters and still have Rogers and Happ in reserve. No real ace, but still a solid group with upside and guys in reserve who by mid year might have found their stuff on the farm. I don’t see us going through what we did the last two years, using Wang and others that were never expected to be in the rotation.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing AA pick up a potential ace or even Price. But hope he stays away from the FAs available. He doesn’t need to pick up a 4/5 type starter. He has too many ready to fight for those spots now.

    If Morrow winds up being a #3 type starter and not an ace many hope for, I can live with that. If we have a healthy defense and a catcher that can help all our pitchers, some of the staff will look better than what we have seen the last couple of years. As much as I enjoy watching the off season rumors etc, I am also curious if the guys coming back from injury are going to be better than most expect. And that includes Morrow.

  • Jensan

    My belief is that for Sale the jays would give up Sanchez + Nolan +Goes

    • Gary Kimbrel

      In order to trade for someone, that team has to be willing to trade them.

    • Justin Jay

      The belief should be, there is no way Chicago gets rid of Sale lol

  • Jensan

    If not Cahill , than Lance Lynn of the Cardinals

    • Bob Loblaw

      Good targets, but the game we’re playing is how to build a solid rotation without destroying whats left of the farm. From what I hear, the future is actually going to happen. Just a theory though.

      The Cards didn’t trade a pitcher to fill their SS need because of the high price they asked, on top of whatever SS’s were offered (like Aybar with LAA and Hardy with BAL). The A’s are going to hold teams over a barrel in the same way, for anyone other than Anderson, because of his cost and injury risk. They specifically want to trade Anderson, who I feel has too much risk to pin our hopes to. That’s why I suggested Lohse, because he will command lesser prospects, doesn’t have much risk, and because I think our strategy should be command based, experienced, smart pitching. If we do make it to the playoffs, that kind of experience would pay dividends, while still allowing us to upgrade 2nd base. I also wanted Feldman at the Vargas rate for the low risk and ground balls, because it would have freed up depth to trade LAA a package of pitchers for Kendrick but aaanyway.

      If it’s possible, we’d like to keep Sanchez and Stroman, if for no other reason than a mid-season trade. Someone will get hurt, there will be a need.

  • Justin Jay

    Blue Jays NEEEEED Morrow to be more 2012 minus injuries… and less 2013 with injuries. They NEED it to happen. Doesn’t make me feel good hearing he’s where he was going into Spring Training last year… because that wasn’t pretty.

    • Andrew van Laar

      There is no way he repeats 2012 again. That was a fluke year. He’s either going to get injured again, or be the same ‘tease us with his brilliance but then suck monkey bum the next game’ pitcher he has always been. I wish it as much as you Justin, but my expectation level for all things Jays related has definitely been downgraded after the last few years.

      • Justin Jay

        As it should be… If moves don’t happen in the next 2 months, nobody’s going to like my 2014 Prediction for Toronto

        • Andrew van Laar

          Haha I am all over with my feelings next year. one part of me thinks “these are the Jays and a Toronto sports franchise… very well could lose 100 games” the other is all “OMG they are the realz dealz!!! WS or bust!!!”. JK about the 100 loss season but I am often very pessimistic these days.

  • Jensan

    I think everyone is available on the white sox except for Paul Konerko. Jays can offer prospects to help rebuild White Sox. Even Sanchez+Hutchison+ Goes or Dj Davis + Stilson would be an offer that Williams would listen to.

    • Justin Jay

      Sale is not available lol Nice thought

      • Jensan


        Asked GM about Sale this morning. Said, “Think teams are pushing Chicago to consider.” @jonmorosi said #WhiteSox will listen.

        Well Mr Know it all, Look what Kenny Ken says

        • Justin Jay

          Not a huge fan of the bowtie. Never cared for his stuff on the Sporting News and I let him know it. Jon Morosi is more credible, but I think it’s show.

          Chicago may think it has a lot of needs but it really doesn’t. It’s rotation needs to be addressed, which is why I say the Sale talk is all show. He’s the Ace of their staff, signed to a very team friendly contract, and despite the owner stating today that Sale is not untouchable, Chicago would be dumb to do so. That would be their version of trading Bautista, but worse. He would certainly never come here. Chicago would never get a guy potentially like him in return, especially not from Toronto.

  • Jensan

    When it happens,tell me what crow tastes like.

  • Swan Drennan

    Personally I think AA should pick up the phone and find out if Padres SP Cory Luebke is available. This guy was on the fast track to superstardom a few years ago before having TJ surgery in 2012. He was out all of last season rehabbing and by all accounts should be ready to go in 2014. With the Johnson signing the Padres’ rotation is pretty much set (JJ, Cashner, Kennedy, Stults, Ross). Obviously he would be a reclamation projuect but the potential upside could be well worth the gamble. I doubt the Padres would ask for the moon for him either because of his recent surgery. He’s stil young, he’s left handed, he’s under contract until 2015, and he’s a “swing and miss” guy which is only a good thing against AL East competition. I think you can get him without having to deal either Sanchez or Stroman. Luebke is a potential future front of the rotation guy who could be worth taking a risk on.