One day after we learned that Bryan Morris had a fourth option year, the Pittsburgh Pirates optioned Morris to Triple-A. It’s coincidental in the way that it played out. Baseball America reported the players with additional option years yesterday. The Pirates and Morris had known for a few months.
I’ve been saying for the better part of the last year that Bryan Morris should be pitching in the majors. When I thought he was out of options I felt he should have been a lock to make the team. And now? I don’t think it’s a bad idea to send him to the minors at the start of the year.
I do think Morris needs to be in the majors this year. I thought he should have been in the majors last year, instead of adding guys like Chad Qualls and Hisanori Takahashi. Morris should have been given his chance to prove himself, and lock down a spot for the 2013 season. That didn’t happen, and now we’re in a situation where Morris has just 26 days of service time. I’m not saying that the Pirates sent Morris down only because of service time, but the silver lining from all of this is that if the Pirates keep Morris down until May 8th, they’ll get an extra year of control.
I don’t think Morris has much to prove in the minors. I also think he could eventually be a good late inning reliever, and potentially even a closer. So it would be a great trade to exchange a month of service time in 2013 when Morris is trying to get established, all in exchange for an extra year down the line when he’s hopefully realizing his potential as a late inning option.
I talked with Ray Searage today after the Pirates’ 6-4 win against the Rays. Searage talked about some of the things Morris still has to work on:
“His stuff plays, Searage said. “But what he needs to do is make sure he can get his breaking ball and get ahead in the count and get better command of his fastball at certain given times. You can’t rely on the cutter the whole time. You’ve got to be able to throw your fastball for a strike. You’ve got to be able to throw your breaking balls for strikes when you’re behind in the count. You’ve got to keep hitters off-balance, and right now he needs more development in those areas, and that would be the best thing for him to go down in Triple-A and get those sharpened up. And then we’re going to be seeing him, because his stuff will play in the major leagues.”
Morris wasn’t at his best this spring. His command was a little off. It could be that I’m wrong about Morris, and he’s not ready for the majors yet. It could be that he just wasn’t ready for this season and had a bad Spring, but is ready for the majors. I still don’t think he has much to prove in Triple-A. What I do know is that the Pirates will eventually have to bring him up and see what he can do in the majors, because he didn’t look to be having any issues with Indianapolis last year. It was a bad move to not bring Morris up last year, but that leads to a situation where the good move is to leave him down in the minors a little longer to start the 2013 season and get an extra year of control.
If Morris continues to dominate into May, and the Pirates continue keeping him down, then the move won’t look as good. But like I said before, I see no problem with keeping him down in a year where he’s going to be adjusting to the majors, especially if the exchange is going to be one extra year of control when he’s established and at his peak.
Links and Notes