Selective hindsight is a given when it comes to sports, allowing us to be prescient about the relative success or failure of players and teams after the fact.
Very few people had the foresight to realize that, say, Ben Roethlisberger would be a two-time Super Bowl winner coming out of Miami of Ohio, or that Adam Morrison would be a humongous flameout.
Brandon Morrow, however, is a different story.
The pick felt wrong on draft day, and it still feels wrong heading into the 2009 campaign.
The Mariners made a mistake in drafting Morrow, no matter how stubborn they are in not admitting it.
Morrow's recent self-demotion of sorts to the Mariners bullpen is the latest chapter in the disappointing story of the pitcher, who, on the surface, seemed like a sure thing but has struggled to live up to expectations and the very lanky shadow of the player Seattle should have selected in the 2006 draft.
And that's not to say that Morrow may become an effective closer for the Mariners if he can shake some of the injuries that have slowed his progress. But the rule is that you don't draft closers, you find them. You especially don't draft them with the No. 5 pick.
It's even harder to reconcile the selection of Morrow when, just three picks later, the San Francisco Giants took University of Washington product Tim Lincecum—a pitcher the Mariners had to know tons about given that he was plying his trade in their backyard. I'm sure the Mariners' scouts had their issues with Lincecum's unorthodox style, but the results were hard to ignore then, and his performance as a pro bears that out.
While Lincecum spent the 2008 season lighting up the NL, Morrow bounced between the bullpen, Triple-A Tacoma, and the rotation, where he made a memorable debut against the Yankees (nearly tossing a no-hitter) that seemed to indicate that perhaps he too was on his way to becoming an ace.
But something—whether his arm troubles or his diabetes—has kept him from making the leap, and part of it feels like he took the easy road out by joining the bullpen, saying that's where he "feels at home."
"It was a tough decision," Morrow said. "I went in with a lot of pros and cons and why I would do one over the other. I think everybody agreed that I would be best suited as a reliever and that would help the team the most. It just came down to [me thinking] I'd be better out of the bullpen."
Really? A stud pitcher with starter stuff thinks he should be in the pen? I guess I just don't get that mentality. And I don't understand why the Mariners would be willing to let someone in whom they invested top dollars become an (unproven) situational pitcher. The M's bullpen is a disaster, though, and I guess having someone with a live arm certainly helps.
Long-term, things may work out and Morrow might become a serviceable pro, perhaps even the starter the M's need. Short-term, and without much hindsight needed, the Morrow pick looks like a huge gaffe on the part of the M's—a multimillion-dollar mistake.