Chicago Cubs: Can we be optimistic about Brandon Morrow yet?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Brandon Morrow is making progress in his recovery. But is it too early to be optimistic about his return?

Brandon Morrow’s tenure with the Chicago Cubs has been, well, a bit of a disappointment so far. And the announcement that he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day was really the first in a line of nagging injuries to the Cubs’ bullpen this Spring Training.

Morrow took an important step on the Cubs’ off-day Monday, throwing his first bullpen of Spring Training. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune from Mark Gonzales, all went well in the bullpen, and Morrow is still on the right track.

Since he became a reliever, Morrow has not been dominant—when he’s been healthy. But injuries have plagued him for a long time. So far does he need to get down the recovery trail before we can actually be optimistic he’ll be a force for the Cubs throughout the season? And how much would he have to do this season to be worth his contract?

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Should our hopes be up yet?

It’s probably difficult for Morrow to get his hopes up after being injured so often, last season. There were many times last season when Morrow was expected to return to the Cubs toward the end of the season and contribute in the postseason. But it never happened, and he still has yet to contribute since.

If all goes as planned, Morrow will be back in game action in early May. But after last season, how can we expect things to go as planned? It might be tough to believe he can come back until he’s again out there on the mound closing out games.

For many of the Cubs’ recent bullpen acquisitions, the question is, will they be good enough to make the big league club? Morrow’s dominance has never really been a question. So if he can make it back to the mound and stay healthy, it’s hard to believe he won’t be a viable option at closer.

Living up to expectations

Morrow is sure to miss at least the first month of the regular season. So that’s even less time for him to contribute to the Cubs and live up to his two-year, $21 million contract. He was a significant contributor for the Cubs early last season. That’s right, remember when he was touching triple digits and collecting 22 saves? Seems like a lifetime ago.

In a Cubs bullpen that has depth but is large but lacking in experienced contributors, Morrow could still prove to be significant, even if he does join the pack a little late. If he can be there to close out games in September and, assuming the Cubs get there, October, it’s safe to say fans will be satisfied with his contributions to the Cubs.

But if things go awry and he’s not around for another postseason, the critics could come out strong, berating him for dealing with constant injuries and never being around when it matters most.

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Morrow still has a chance to salvage his Cubs reputation. Throwing a successful bullpen is a good start. But it’s going to take more than that for fans to trust he’s really on his way back to closing games on the North Side.