Brandon Morrow switching roles … again

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I’ve been impressed with the Mariners’ new regime, as first-year
general manager Jack Zduriencik and company have made some nice moves
at the margins of the roster–focusing primarily on low-cost free
agents and improving the defense–without overhauling things
completely.

The team is 28-30 after losing 101 games last season, but one of my
few criticisms of the Zduriencik front office so far was the decision
to convert Brandon Morrow into a full-time reliever at the age of 24.
However, it sounds like those plans have now been scrapped.

After struggling in the closer role and eventually giving way to David
Aardsma in the ninth inning, Morrow reportedly approached the Mariners
recently about becoming a starter again and the new plan is for the
former University of California ace to build up arm strength back at
Triple-A.

Morrow has started just 15 total games between the majors and minors
since the Mariners made him the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft,
so he figures to be at Triple-A for a while. However, ultimately giving
a young pitcher with outstanding raw stuff the opportunity to sink or
swim in a 200-inning role before moving him to a 70-inning role is
almost always the right call (see: Chamberlain, Joba).

Through his first 121 appearances, 116 of which have come out of the
bullpen, Morrow has a 4.06 ERA, 161/98 K/BB ratio, and .216 opponents’
batting average in 146 innings. It remains to be seen whether his shaky
control will be any less of a problem working every fifth day for
80-100 pitches rather than every 2-3 days for 15-30 pitches, but it
certainly makes sense to find out.

Assuming that he doesn’t change his mind again next week, of course.

Astros release Jon Singleton

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The Astros have released first baseman Jon Singleton, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Singleton, 26, was suspended for 100 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse for a third time. He has had issues with marijuana in the post and admitted to being a drug addict several years ago. He said, “At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict. I don’t openly tell everyone that, but it’s pretty apparent to myself. I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”

Singleton played parts of two seasons in the majors in 2014-15 with the Astros, batting a combined .171/.290/.331 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in — appropriately — 420 plate appearances. He spent 2016 with Triple-A Fresno and 2017 with Double-A Corpus Christi, putting up middling numbers.

If he can convince teams he’s still actively working to overcome his addiction, Singleton may be able to find an opportunity elsewhere. But his road back to the majors remains long. He was once a top prospect in the Phillies’ system, then was traded to the Astros in the Hunter Pence deal back in July 2011.