The Rundown: Cubs Wa(i)ve Goodbye to Morrow, Kimbrel Seeks Third Pitch, Schwarber Embraces DH Role
Brandon Morrow…we hardly knew ye.
I really want to say something poetic about the organization’s ex-closer, but my best memory of Morrow occurred on August 8, 2010 when he was a member of the Blue Jays. Back then, the right-hander was a 26-year-old starter oozing with upside and he one-hit the Rays with 17 strikeouts in an effort that nearly rivaled the 20K masterpiece by Kerry Wood against the Astros in 1998.
Though not nearly as electric as Kid K, the Jays starter looked to be on his way to pitching a no-hitter before giving up a single with two outs in the 9th.
Morrow needed 137 pitches to complete the game, and with an FIP of nearly 5.00 even after that performance, I sold high and traded him in my AL fantasy baseball league. The return was Tyler Chatwood, then a minor league pitcher in the Angels system. I also received the fourth overall minor league pick in our 2013 draft, which netted me A’s first rounder Addison Russell, only because Carlos Correa — who I really wanted — had been chosen one pick ahead of me.
That Russell, Chatwood, and Morrow would all end up playing for the Cubs probably seemed impossible at the time, and though each have had some truly outstanding moments with Chicago, only Chatwood still has a chance to prove that he was worth his acquisition. Morrow, who was initially dominant with the Cubs, just couldn’t stay healthy. Joe Maddon rode him hard in 2018, like he does with most relievers, and Morrow hasn’t pitched since earning a save against the Giants on July 15 of that summer.
The oft-injured reliever said he intends to pitch in 2021.
Cubs News & Notes
- Closer Craig Kimbrel has been tinkering with a changeup during the early part of Summer Camp.
- Kimbrel says the club may incorporate foot taps instead of high fives as a way to celebrate big moments.
- Reliever Kyle Ryan is expected in Chicago today and will will undergo his intake testing for coronavirus.
- Kyle Schwarber is expected to be the team’s primary DH this season, which I suppose opens up left field for Steven Souza Jr. and others. The slugger said he is going to be “aiming for the rooftops” when he’s at the plate.
- Schwarber has no qualms with being a hitter only.
- The Cubs are exercising caution with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is currently sidelined by lower back stiffness.
- Veteran lefty Jon Lester threw live BP for the first time yesterday. Lester, 36, is on a different schedule than the rest of the presumed starting rotation.
- The Cubs announced that infielder Hernán Pérez has been added to the team’s 60-man roster.
- If you want to catch some live baseball this summer, seats at Wrigley rooftops are going for up to $350.
- I’m not the fan of the cardboard cutouts that most others are, but the Cubs could be missing out on a marketing opportunity that other teams have employed to dress up empty stadiums.
Odds & Sods
Bill Clinton is a Cubs fan? Who knew? Hillary is from Park Ridge, so maybe he had no choice. Still, the ex-POTUS offered a nice tip of the cap to Ernie Banks. I’d salute Oscar Charleston, and If you do not know who he is, start here and let the byways of the internet lead you on your travels.
I am proud to join the #TipYourCap2020 campaign in honor of the centennial of the Negro Leagues and the talented men and women who played in them from 1920 through 1960. The Negro Leagues made baseball better and America better. pic.twitter.com/ToG1xOOLRr
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) June 29, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
Remember when we thought Theo Epstein fleeced the A’s when he acquired Russell, Dan Straily, and Billy McKinney for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija? Too bad the young shortstop couldn’t stop his personal demons from getting the best of him.
Summer Camp News & Notes
The initial MLB intake report yielded 66 positive coronavirus results against 3,740 administered tests.
Despite being a bit overweight and a high risk candidate to suffer the worst effects of COVID-19 were he to catch it, umpire Joe West intends to return to work this summer (subscription to The Athletic required).
The A’s recently tried to re-sign catcher Bruce Maxwell, who was the first MLB player to take a knee during the National Anthem. Maxwell, who is living in Mexico and playing for the Monclova Acereros, declined the offer.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney said he is comfortable with the league’s role in testing players.
Dodgers hitters are having difficulties adjusting to the new center field backdrop at Chavez Ravine.
Buster Posey indicated that catchers are more at risk than other players because they are unable to properly distance themselves from hitters.
Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts believes many writers are underestimating the Red Sox.
It would be amazing if the Nashville group pulls off this gargantuan effort and is awarded a franchise.
The team will be named in honor of the Nashville Stars of the Negro Leagues, it will be majority Black-owned, and it has some serious clout, in hopes of being in next wave of #MLB expansion or relocation. https://t.co/LmceccHhlV
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 8, 2020
Sliding Into Home
I get a tad angry when people assume the title of a song tells its entire story. The greatest examples are “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen and “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, both of which are protest anthems rather than the nod to patriotism that many believe. Lately, I have been seeing the songs “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police and “Stay Clean” by Motörhead used to promote social distancing. If I may speak from the heart here: A thousand times no, please and thank you.
The Police song is a creepy ode to a teacher trying to resist his sexual urges for a student and the Motörhead single, which features arguably the filthiest bass ever, is about searching one’s soul for truth. Perhaps a better choice would be “Shelter in the Storm” by Bob Dylan, which at least speaks to kindness and humanity. Rant over.
One last thing…the album Blood on the Tracks by Dylan will get you through any difficult time, no matter how much you’re suffering.
They Said It
- “I feel pretty good about yesterday. I was just trying to throw it over the plate. It was the first time I’ve had guys in the box taking swings off me in three months. To be able to get out there, throw the ball over the plate and get some pretty good feedback, it was a good day.” – Craig Kimbrel
- “If this game hasn’t gotten me by now, no virus is going to get me. I’ve weathered a bunch of storms in my life. I’ll weather another one. I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. Those statistics aren’t accurate, I don’t care who’s counting them. When [country music singer] Joe Diffie died, they said he died of the coronavirus. He had Stage 4 lung cancer. The coronavirus may have accelerated his death, but let’s be realistic.” – Joe West
Thursday Walk Up Song
Do it Again (Live) by Steely Dan – Lately I have been digging on the old Midnight Special videos. When I was a pre-teen, and my Aunt Shirley would babysit my siblings and me on Friday nights, this show and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert became the foundations of my love for classic rock.
That guy playing bongos for Steely Dan in this video is renowned session guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter by the way, and his career arc is a fascinating read.