Brandon Morrow. Tim Lincecum.
Those two players will always be put together in the same sentence, whether they like it or not. Maybe not outside the Pacific Northwest, but in the region where the Mariners are the only major league team in town, they can not be separated.
Tim Lincecum was born and raised just outside of Seattle. Morrow in Santa Rosa, CA. Both stayed in state for college and pitched for Pac-10 schools. Lincecum pitched for the University of Washington and Morrow pitched for University of California in Berkley. Then the 2006 draft came along and both pitchers swapped lives.
Brandon Morrow was selected fifth in the draft by the Seattle Mariners where local fans were outraged that the Mariners did not pick up the local product, Tim Lincecum who was still on the board. Six picks later, Lincecum was drafted by the San Francisco Giants.
One player has gone one direction, the other has gone the opposite.
Tim Lincecum, entering this season already had a winning percentage of .714 and a Cy Young attached to his name. Brandon Morrow has only started five games his whole career and this offseason was quoted to saying he wanted to be in the bullpen as that's where he's more comfortable.
Comfortable? Is that another word for scared? Brandon Morrow has been getting ripped by the fans here in Seattle for his decision. And that's including the knowledge that Morrow has diabetes.
But also getting the blame has been former management regime including former general manager Bill Bavasi who from the start never gave Morrow the proper grooming period to become a starter.
Right away he was thrust into the bullpen and once former Seattle closer JJ Putz went down with an injury last season, Morrow found a new role and ran with it. But that's not was the Seattle fans, want. You don't spend the fifth overall pick in the draft on the future closer.
And what's more ridiculous is that in this most recent baseball draft, the Mariners selected Josh Fields out of the University of Georgia to be a closer with the 20th pick in the first round.
The San Francisco Giants have no idea how much thanks they owe to the Mariners for making the mistake that seemed unmakable.
Now this isn't a rip on Brandon Morrow. He could turn out to be a great closer or relief pitcher. But as long as he wears the Seattle uniform, it'll never be enough unless he wins a Cy Young award. And if Lincecum wins another or a couple more, Brandon Morrow must duplicate.
The only way Morrow can achieve success is with another team. Any team. The ghost of Tim Lincecum will haunt Brandon Morrow throughout his days in Seattle.
Just tonight in the second game of the season, the Mariners had a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins. New manager Don Wakamatsu called for Morrow to seal the deal.
After what looked like the game was in the bag with Morrow getting the first two batters out including striking out Joe Crede, the meltdown ensued. Walk, walk, walk. Walked the bases loaded and Wakamatsu didn't even give his young right-hander the chance to finish the job.
The Mariners ended up losing the game 6-5 and the postgame show on the local radio station was flooded with calls about Morrow.
And it didn't take more than the one caller before Tim Lincecum's name was mentioned. The fans will never forget the 2006 draft and what could've been. Brandon Morrow can do anything and everything but he'll never fill the shoes of the local kid who got away.