August 14, 2011
Was it because of diminishing returns at the plate?
Because of sharp criticisms of the team's superstar shortstop, or the organization at large?
A willingness to say darn near anything on Twitter?
Because he missed a meet-and-greet with season ticket holders?
Whatever the Marlins reasoning, they have sent Morrison to their Class AAA affiliate in New Orleans, a shocking move for a team with no better immediate options to fill out their lineup.
If his quotes in an MLB.com post are an indication, the results of a meeting Saturday night with manager Jack McKeon and others certainly shocked Morrison:
"I'm heartbroken. Disappointed," Morrison said.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, along with general manager Michael Hill, director of baseball operations Michael Wickham and McKeon delivered the news to Morrison after the game, and the young outfielder did not take it well.
Two names not mentioned there, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson, probably are the ones responsible for Morrison's demotion. Both have been upset at Morrison for things he's said on Twitter and in the media. Marlins management particularly hated that Morrison slammed the firing of hitting coach John Mallee earlier this season.
"They didn't give me anything," Morrison said. "I asked for an explanation and the one I got was, 'What are you hitting, .240?' "
After a hot start during April and May, Morrison's production dimmed over the next two months, though he hit for power in July and was off to a good start in August, despite playing through injuries at times.
Overall, he was batting .249/.327/.464 with 17 homers and 21 doubles in 95 games. He had the third-best OPS on the team, and was a fixture in the middle of the lineup.
It's true the team sent down former NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan(notes) earlier this season because of poor performance at the plate. So there's a precedent. But Morrison wasn't doing that badly. So what gives?
Those in charge hate that the 23-year-old Morrison has any personality at all, be it acting silly on Twitter or having the gumption to give non-cliched answers to reporters' questions. Management also seems ungrateful that Morrison has tried to lead by criticizing teammate Hanley Ramirez(notes) for showing up late here, or being unable to stay in the lineup there.
And they couldn't have liked that Morrison missed a function with season-ticket holders Saturday. But as his myriad conversations on Twitter indicate, positive interaction with fans hasn't been Morrison's problem.
Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post has more information about the event Morrison missed, along with the possible reasons behind it, and a full transcript of his comments about being demoted.
Morrison said he doesn't think the demotion has to do with Twitter, and perhaps it wasn't the final straw. But Samson warned Morrison to think before he tweets and, by extension, speaks. And that's an issue, of course; Morrison actually uses his brain and isn't afraid to say what's on his mind. That makes him difficult to control.
Take note of Morrison's Twitter avatar — a cartoon version of himself with "censored" plastered over his mouth. Being sent to the minors is not only humbling but it also marginalizes anything that might come across your lips or fingertips.
In a lost season, this move was done to hush and humiliate an employee who was, in management's view, chronically speaking out of turn. It's a way of reminding Morrison who works for whom.
Whether he returns in three weeks when the minor league season ends or next spring, Morrison can consider himself warned: Say and do whatever you want while you work for the Florida Marlins: Just be ready to accept the consequences when the boss doesn't like it.
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