Although there's over a month of the season to go, clubs are already releasing players.
Essex have told Alex Tudor he is free to find another team, Warwickshire have released several, including once highly rated batsman Michael Powell and Notts have apparently allowed Gareth Clough to leave.
If this was a football blog there'd be people suggesting we make him Derby County manager with a name like that. There was a time that he'd have been considered a possible target for Derbyshire, but I think we have moved on and this is a sign of the progress we are making.
There is always conjecture at this stage of the season about who may be released at different clubs and we are no different. Like pretty much everyone else, I don't know the contractual situation of the Derbyshire players but assuming they were in the last year of their contracts I would think that we have several waiting anxiously for news.
Ian Hunter, Kevin Dean, Steve Stubbings, Dan Birch, Wayne White and Fred Klokker must be vulnerable. Anyone else I would deem a surprise although John Sadler will be glad he has a 2-year deal, as must Dom Telo. Both have much to prove next season but are capable of doing so.
The two I see as most likely to go are Hunter and White. The former has had bad luck with injuries but suffers from inconsistency, while the latter seems a long way from the finished article and is behind a fairly strong pace line up. If Morris has another bowler in his sights, they could lose out.
Fred Klokker is not technically on the staff but I can't see him being taken on with Tom Poynton a young talent. Fred is a 100% player but not quite good enough as either batsman or wicket keeper and his chances are slim with James Pipe being such a good player. If Tom New does well in the next month it may be interesting to see if he is considered as he seems to be going nowhere at Leicester despite a good record as opening batsman. Poynton is one for the future without doubt, but his batting has to come on to match his excellent glovework as keepers really need to be all-rounders these days.
The other three I have mixed views on. Steve Stubbings is a top bloke and a great club man but he has a top score of 57 this year, albeit with the distractions of a benefit. He averages 29 while Dan Birch is around 32, neither of which are enough for specialist batsmen. Birch also suffers from being only an average fielder and has dropped some crucial (and relatively simple) catches this year. He has improved from last year though, which may be enough to see him offered one more year to see if he can kick on.
Kevin Dean is another thoroughly nice guy who has been a terrific professional. When conditions favour him he can still take wickets, but he has less nip these days and apart from a good spell against Bangladesh he has struggled to make an impact. In days of old he would have been worth another year and again it depends how confident Morris is of securing replacements.
On that subject, he has reputedly asked permission to speak to several players. Logic suggests that they will primarily be from the Midlands or North as few southern-based players venture up here - apart from Clarke and Doshi of course.
We now that Stephen Moore is one, but I suspect he'll stay with Worcester. I'd like to think one might be Jim Allenby of Leicestershire, a player I rate highly as batsman and bowler. Gidman was another I'd have liked but he's signed on with Gloucester now that Bracewell is returning. David Sales is another I'd love to see at Derby, but I'd realistically expect him to go to somewhere like Warwickshire - although some stories say he's re-signed with Northants.
We now know that a certain Mr D Cork will leave Lancashire this eason and has been approached by two counties - neither of which are (at this stage?) Derbyshire. I don't expect it to happen, but is he better than Hunter or White?
John Morris has proved himself a persuasive man in his signings last winter. Not all of them have come off, but we seem to be no longer a team that signs the cast-offs of other counties.
Now THAT is progress and we'll all be watching the comings and goings very closely in the weeks ahead.