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Happy Birthday Brandon Morrow

And Kevin Barker and Joaquin Benoit

Toronto Blue Jays v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Brandon Morrow turns 38 today.

We picked up Brandon Morrow in trade from Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez in December of 2009, two days before Christmas. I wonder home many Brandon for Brandon trades there have been in the major leagues?

Hugo wrote the post on the trade and pretty much got it right. He was happy we were trading a reliever for a prospect (with the caveat that we didn’t know who the prospect going with League would be).

Morrow, the 5th overall draft pick in the 2006 draft, was rushed to the majors, as per Seattle’s organizational philosophy and made the team’s opening day roster in 2007 as a reliever. He has made a few starts since then, but things have kept pushing him back into the bullpen - from the acquisition of Erik Bedard to various arm problems to his own erraticness. His pitching for the past three seasons has been marked by respectable overall numbers other than sky-high walk rates, which have really hurt him. There’s no doubt that there is significant upside in Morrow - the walks are a huge problem but at 25, there’s still a chance Morrow can put it behind him. Morrow is eligible for arbitration. It’s hard not to like someone with a career 9.3 K/9 at 25, but there’s also a significant history of arm problems. I really hope the Jays make him a starter this season and just leave him there - if the Jays trade League and one of their top prospects for a reliever I won’t be happy with the deal.

I included that mainly for the word erraticness, but that described Morrow to a T.

Chavez never made it to the majors. However, League had an up and career after the trade. He had 37 saves in 2011. He finished his career with three seasons with the Dodgers, finishing his MLB career pitching in the NLCS. League had been a favourite of mine, but trading a reliever for a starter is generally a good move.

Morrow, well, his erraticness was a problem. He made 26 starts, throwing 146.1 innings in 2010, and had 66 walks. But pitching coach Bruce Walton worked with him. We had an interview with Walton, and this was my favourite part:

What does Brandon Morrow have to do to be more consistent?

Brandon, it’s my second year with Brandon. His first year we went through some walk issues, base on balls, command issues. We pretty much ironed it out. We got to the point where now we left a lot of balls in the middle of the plate. So we went from one extreme to the other extreme and we gave up a lot of home runs last year. He’s a fly ball pitcher at times, he doesn’t get a whole lot of ground balls, so when the ball sits in the middle of the plate belt high, and they get a piece of it, it goes. So now it is just staying down in the zone consistently. I think for Brandon to be consistent, his pitches have to be down consistent. We have to plan the effort level to pitch at consistently. Consistency is what we have to work on in every aspect. Keeping the ball down, keeping our emotions in check. Keeping our work effort at a certain level, consistently. All those will come. This is the year for that to come. There’s steps to becoming a major league starting pitcher. The first step was that we needed to throw strikes. We accomplished that. It took us a year and a half. Our next step is to manage the game a little bit better and manage our emotions a little bit better and manage our season a little bit better and become more consistent. That’s where we are at.

The start we all remember is his one-hitter in 2010. Aaron Hill did everything he could to get to the ball, to give the official scorer the option to call it an error.

And we remember the injuries. Morrow made 26, 30, 21, 10, and 6 starts in his five seasons with the Jays. He had pretty much every type of arm injury a pitcher could get.

But, as a Jay, he was 34-31, with a 4.40 ERA. In 538 innings, he had 561 strikeouts and 212 walks for a 5.4 bWAR.

Morrow would play for the Padres, Dodgers, and Cubs, continuing to have injuries. You likely remember that he pitched in all seven of the Dodgers’ World Series games in their loss to the dirty, cheating Astros in 2017.

He had a 51-43 record for his career, with 40 saves and a 3.96 ERA in 334 games, and 113 starts.

Happy Birthday, Brandon. I hope it is a good one.

It is also Kevin Barker’s 47th birthday.

He played 12 games with the Jays in 2006, in the middle of a 5-season MLB career playing 126 games, with a .249/.328/.354 batting line as a backup catcher.

He’s a baseball-talking head now. Early in his career, he seemed always to be yelling. He seems to have toned that down some.

And Joaquin Beniot turns 45 today.

Joaquin came to us at the trade deadline in 2016. We sent Drew Storen to the Mariners for him.

He did a great job for us down the stretch, getting into 25 games, allowing just 1 earned run on 17 hits, 9 walks and 24 strikeouts.

Beniot pitched for 16 seasons in the MLB, for eight different teams, with a 3.83 ERA in 764 games, 55 starts. He had 53 saves.

Happy birthday Kevin and Joaquin.