Sports Outside the Beltway

Arizona Diamondbacks fire Manager Bob Melvin

He is the first to get fired in 2009. From AP-

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on Thursday, hoping a new manager will be able to get the most out of their talented core of young players.

The Diamondbacks will make A.J. Hinch, their vice president for player development, Melvin’s replacement on Friday, according to a person familiar with the move who requested anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

The 34-year-old Hinch is a former major league catcher with no professional managerial experience. His promotion was first reported by radio station KTAR.

[+] EnlargeBob Melvin
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireBob Melvin has been fired by the Diamondbacks.

The 47-year-old Melvin’s firing comes after a disappointing start by the Diamondbacks, who entered Thursday 8½ games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. Melvin, who went 337-340 in four-plus seasons, had one year left on a contract he received after being the 2007 NL Manager of the Year.


“This is a difficult decision, but I feel that our organization needs to move forward with a new voice,” general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement.

Hitting coach Rick Schu also was fired, and pitching coach Bryan Price resigned.

Melvin’s stock rose when he guided a youthful but talented group to the NL West title two years ago. He was dismissed because many of the same players have failed to live up to expectations based on that season, when the Diamondbacks posted an NL-best 90-72 record despite being outscored by 20 runs across the season.


This is the second time in their 12-year history that the Diamondbacks have changed managers in midseason. In 2004, the Diamondbacks fired Bob Brenly after a 29-50 start and replaced him with Al Pedrique on their way to a franchise-worst 51-111 record.

That disaster paved the way to Melvin’s return to Arizona, where he had served as Brenly’s bench coach on the 2001 World Series champions.

Melvin’s hiring as the Diamondbacks’ manager came under bizarre circumstances. The club had selected Wally Backman as manager, but Backman was dismissed four days later following revelations he had been arrested twice and struggled with financial problems.

Arizona then turned to Melvin, who was out after two seasons in Seattle, where he went 156-168.

Melvin made an immediate impact in the desert. He led the 2005 Diamondbacks to a 77-85 record, a 26-win improvement.

Two years later, the Diamondbacks made a surprise run to the NL West title despite scoring 20 fewer runs than they allowed — a fact that led many to praise Melvin’s ability to squeeze the most out of his lineup.

Melvin was honored as the 2007 NL Manager of the Year, and soon after the club extended his contract through 2010.

How much of Arizona’s slow start if Melvin and his coaching staff’s fault is debatable. The team hasn’t been hitting, but on the other hand the Dodgers started great this year and Diamondback staff ace Brandon Webb is on the disabled list. To me the blame for the 12-17(I had to look it up. Associated Press didn’t report it in the above article) start Arizona had this year is more complicated than whether the team had or hadn’t good direction from their manager and coaches. As usual in sports the manager or head coach is the fall guy deservingly or not. Melvin, who was a journeyman catcher and coach before becoming a big league manager, won’t be unemployed for long.

Do note that Arizona hasn’t named Melvin’s replacement yet. Will they name for his coaching staff to the job or look elsewhere? I am betting the former.


Miguel Tejada pleads guilty to charge of lying

Based on Mark McGwire’s luck with the Baseball Writers of America, I think it is safe to say Tejada won’t ever make the Baseball Hall of Fame now. From AP-

All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball.

Tejada was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2002 while playing for Oakland. He now plays for the Houston Astros.

The misdemeanor charge of making misrepresentations to Congress can lead to as much as a year in jail. But federal guidelines call for a lighter sentence.

The case stems from Tejada’s statements to House investigators in 2005 when he denied knowing anyone in baseball who used performance-enhancing drugs.

Tejada got himself in this spot with his own words and actions. The first thing a person who has committed a crime should do when questioned by the police, is ask for an attorney. Of course if they were smart enough to know that, then they may not have broken the law in the first place.

I bet $5 Tejada doesn’t spend a day in jail. As for MLB, I don’t expect the shortstop to get anything more than a slap on the wrist.


Edgar Allan Tex?

The Baltimore Sun reported last week:

The Orioles have apparently made it to the final four of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, though it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to offer enough money to lure the free-agent slugging first baseman back home.

However, the club has made a strong bid, offering a seven-year contract for between $140 million and $150 million, one industry source said.

But maybe there’s something more going on:

Free agent first baseman and Severna Park native Mark Teixeira will be a guest of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos at today’s Ravens-Steelers game, according to ESPN.

Orioles fans have been desperate for any sign of hope with the organization, and it seems like they have been looking to land Teixeira for several seasons now. The O’s have been mentioned as one of four teams that are in the Teixeira sweepstakes, although most sports news outlets have been reporting that the contest is down to the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox.

According to one of the contributors to the Baltimore Orioles e-mail list, the Orioles Hangout is reporting that the Orioles are now raising their offer to 9 or 10 years for $200 million.

Peter Schmuck is skeptical.

UPDATE: Bury the rumor. Bummer. Someone from the Orioles mailing list suggested that it’s a Boras ploy to start rumors and drive up his players’ prices.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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No boos for Moose

Early in Mike Mussina’s career, a co-worker asked me why it was that the Orioles fans booed him. It took me a moment, but then I realized that they weren’t booing him. They were calling “M-o-o-o-s-e.”

From 1991 – 2000, Mussina was a fan favorite and when he bolted to New York, many fans and broadcasters wouldn’t forgive him. But it wasn’t his fault he left Baltimore.

Here’s what still irks me.

While ace pitcher Mike Mussina begins weighing offers from other teams, starting with the New York Yankees’ opening bid on Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles continue holding on to hope that they can keep him, pointing to Mussina’s promise to give them the last bid.

Instead of bidding seriously to re-sign Mussina they fell back on “… well he promised!”

Of course the Yankees would have none of that. They were serious about signing Mussina while the Orioles were passive. The Yankees offered Mussina a generous deal on the condition that he not shop it around and that he respond in short order. What should Mussina have done? Gone to the Orioles and lost the Yankees offer? Would anyone have done that?

Ken Rosenthal has more on the Orioles passivity in the face of their star’s possible departure in a withering column in which he describes the Orioles (mis-)management of that era.

Under owner Peter Angelos, the Orioles have lost one of the game’s top broadcasters (Jon Miller), one of the best managers (Davey Johnson) and the man who almost single-handedly transformed the franchise (Frank Robinson).

They’ve lost many of the game’s brightest executives, from Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt to Padres president Larry Lucchino, Mariners general manager Pat Gillick to Rangers G.M. Doug Melvin.

And now they’ve lost Mike Mussina, their latter-day Jim Palmer.

When will it end? By now, the answer should be obvious: When Angelos, 71, no longer is owner.

His team is a laughingstock. His tenure is a flop. But he isn’t likely to sell, not when the team’s value is uncertain because of the threat of a competitor moving to northern Virginia–and not when his sons, John and Louis, are in position to assume control.

The Orioles under new GM Andy MacPhail might finally have started turning things around, but they still haven’t had a winning season since 1997. We’ll see how long Angelos will stick with MacPhail if the Orioles don’t improve fast.

Regardless the villain of Mussina’s departure wasn’t Mussina, but Angelos (and the wreck of a front office the team had back then.) So I wish Moose the best. I wouldn’t boo him. And I hope in five years or so he will be elected to the Hall of Fame. I’d love it if he wore and Orioles hat for that occasion, but if he doesn’t, I certainly understand.

Baseball Crank makes the HOF case for Mussina. And Rob Neyer (via Baseball Musings) notes that Mussina is in select company: one of only 5 Major League pitchers to win 20 games in his final season. One is Sandy Koufax, you probably haven’t heard of the other three.

For me there will be no boos for Moose.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.


MLB Pitcher Mike Mussina retires

He finished with 270 career wins. From Espn-

New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina announced his retirement Thursday, becoming the first pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1967 to win 20 games or more in the final season of his career.

Mussina, who turns 40 next month, spent the last eight seasons with the Yankees after pitching for the Baltimore Orioles for the first 10 years of his career.

His 270 wins rank second among all active right-handers, behind only Greg Maddux.

In the final start of his career, he pitched six shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox to finish off the first 20-win season of his career.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s just the fifth pitcher since 1900 to win 20 games or more in the final season of his career — and the first since Koufax. He’s the only pitcher in that group to win his 20th game in his final start.

Will Mussina get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame one day? He falls into a gray area, pitchers with similar win totals- Ferguson Jenkins, Robin Roberts, Red Ruffing, Burleigh Grimes are in the Hall. Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven, Tommy John, are not.I am betting Mussina won’t make it. He did however go out on a high note. How many HOF pitchers have held on far past their glory days? Quite a few. Here is one example.


I don’t like Sundays

The Orioles have an awful record on Sundays.

With Sunday’s come from ahead loss, the O’s have now dropped 12 straight Sunday games.

I don’t know if it will work, but the team is instituting a “We win, you win” promotion. If the Orioles win this coming Sunday against Texas, fans will be offered limited free tickets to a future game:

Here’s the deal: If the Orioles win, all fans who attend the game get a complimentary ticket in the same seating category to any future non-prime game (there would be 33 of those during the rest of the schedule). The offer is good for paid tickets only to the July 6 game. If the O’s win, the ticket office will stay open after the game so that fans can get their free tickets. Redemption can be made through Aug. 31.

A contributing factor to the Orioles woeful Sunday performance this year, is their performance during day games. When the sun is shining the O’s have the second worst offense with a .681 OPS, scoring 100 runs in 26 games. That’s less than 4 runs per game. (Only Cleveland is worse with a .650 OPS and 79 runs scored in 24 games.)

The culprits are (regulars with sub .700 OPS) Jay Payton .637, Kevin Millar .479, Adam Jones .554, Ramon Hernandez .495, Melvin Mora .474 plus assorted shortstops.

The pitching overall is fine with a 4.02 ERA in the daytime so far. The one exception is George Sherrill who is carrying a worrisome 9.39 ERA and has a WHIP of over 2 during the day.

What’s going on? Could it be that these players need some sort of vision correction?

(The Orioles offensive output in games in a domed stadium isn’t much better. In 11 games they’ve got a .696 OPS indoors and are scoring a little more than 3 runs a game. That would argue that the problem isn’t the sun.)

Maybe the Orioles haven’t solved their daytime problem, but they did come up with a good promotion out of it.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.

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O-pening day

The beginning of the baseball season is a time for optimism for all teams. Even the Orioles this year. After all, all teams start off 0 – 0.

Hope springs eternal!

And then you read that Angelos is getting ready to sell the team at the end of the season and that the Orioles have just traded Brain Roberts for a serious package of prospects – including Felix Pie – from the Cubs.

Then you realize it’s #$@&* April 1.

Still with something like 160 games left for the season here are some nice previews.

The Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix runs through MLB with previews built on the beat witers for each team.

Baseball Prospectus has its projected standings. And if you wish to get involved in a group project it also has Predictaron 2008 that you can participate in.

Check out the Power Rankings at Fox Sports.

Baseball Crank has his six divisional Win Share projections up.

And of course, check out the predictions at Baseball Musings.

UPDATE: Last week, former major leaguer, Doug Glanville inaugurated a column in the NYT, The Boys of Spring. I very much like the first effort:

Everyone who makes it to big league camp was a baseball legend at some point in his life. It was big fish from big and small ponds thrust into the biggest pond of their lives, most of us just trying to find some plankton of an opportunity in the last slot of a 25-man team.

I had sparkling college All-America and first-round draft pick credentials, but I found out pretty quickly that I didn’t have any idea how to approach a major league curve ball.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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Bedard to Seattle!?

Following the Orioles mailing list last night there was this:

Adam Jones has left his Venezuelan Winter League team and flies to Baltimore tomorrow morning to take a physical so he can be dealt to the Orioles in exchange for pitcher Erik Berdard. No word yet on how many players going Baltimore’s way.

Jones did not mince words when he spoke to a reporter from Diario Panorama in Venezuela today. We have a relationship with the reporter and paper and they have graciously supplied us with quotes from the interview with Jones.

In short Jones was unhappy about missing the rest of the series, but non unhappy about the trade itself. Read the whole article.

Then there was this:

Andy MacPhail denied tonight that the Orioles have agreed to a deal that would send ace pitcher Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners for a package headed by young center fielder Adam Jones.

“We do not have an agreement with the Mariners,” said MacPhail, Orioles president of baseball operations.

This didn’t seem like a complete denial that anything was in the works. However Baseball Musings speculated:

Either Jones is playing with a reporter, or MacPhail is sticking to a strict line that they don’t have a deal until the physical is passed.

Back to the Mariners’ blog.

Many of you have started wringing your hands over this item in the Baltimore Sun, written after our blog post, saying that an Erik Bedard-Adam Jones deal had not been finalized. Well, yes, we know that. If it was finalized, then Jones would not be flying back to the United States to take a physical.

Sorry, I’m not trying to sound flippant here. But when you’ve got the Orioles and Mariners, two of the most media-shy teams in baseball, trying to make a trade, any leak is bound to be greeted as an event of earthquake proportions. Let’s all settle down and just look at the facts as calmly as we can, please.

As to the possibility that Angelos would scuttle the deal because Jones spoke out of turn, Baker writes:

Things to watch out for? Only one. Orioles owner Peter Angelos is notorious for scuttling even the best laid of plans at the last minute. I’m sure he can’t be thrilled that Jones told the world he’s about to be traded for Bedard. Would Angelos be upset enough over that to pull the plug on a deal? Some people actually think it’s possible. I say that’s crazy. You either like a deal, or you don’t. If you’re going to conduct business like that, using borderline rational behavior to guide you, then your team might as well forget about ever contending again. We’ve been told that after 10 years of watching the O’s slide into irrelevance, the franchise is now changing its ways and that Angelos will allow his baseball people to do their jobs. We’ll see.

“Borderline rational behavior?” Yes that’s something like what we’ve become accustomed to here in Baltimore over the past decade. Though I’m not convinced that there’s an “ir” missing from that phrase.

So right now it sounds good. Not that I’m anxious for Bedard to leave. I’m anxious for the Orioles to be good. If trading Bedard (and Tejada and Roberts) is the cost, the price is high, but it’s worth it.

I think that Baseball Musings is correct that if Seattle makes Bedard a good offer, he’d stay.

UPDATE: Well, unfortunately it appears, even with MacPhail on board, the new boss is the same as the old boss. The deal with Seattle is either delayed until Angelos can evaluate it or it has possibly been nixed by the Orioles. This leads Baseball Musings to observe:

It’s a good thing Adam Jones has a big mouth, otherwise we wouldn’t be having so much fun today!

Fun, if you enjoy following intrigue. But if you’re an Oriole fan who hoped that years rudderless drifting were over, this is not fun at all.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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An O-Turn?

The hiring of Andy MacPhail last year brought hope to Orioles’ fans that the end of the team’s 10 year drought may soon be over. Of course any turnaround effected by MacPhail will be complicated by the fact that the Orioles play in the same division as two of the best run and richest franchises.

Making matters worse is that any turnaround will almost certainly necessitate the Orioles getting worse (relative to the competition) before they get better as the Rays seem ready to improve.

Matters were complicated by the fact that even as the Rays were gradually moving in the right direction the Orioles were moving in the wrong one.

Since then we’ve run through some real crackerjack front office types, from the absurd Syd Thrift to the nice-but-overmatched Mike Flanagan, who has been paired up with Jim Beattie and Jim Duquette. Too many cooks, maybe. Or maybe it was that all the cooks weren’t any good to begin with. I mean, we hired the guy that traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, you know? Then we wound up with Zambrano on our team this year.

But I’m getting sidetracked now by silly Jim Duquette decisions. MacPhail has said all the right things so far, and done a few of them, too. Like getting rid of Victor freakin’ Zambrano, and recognizing that Tejada had to be dealt, and at least paying lip service to offers for Bedard and Roberts.

(And the Orioles made matters worse by taking some of the sting out of the Kazmir deal for the Mets by repeating the error and trading the Mets John Maine for Kris Benson!)

Now certain things seem to be getting better though. For one thing, John Sickels believes

This system is underrated. While some of the more-heralded guys like Brandon Snyder look overrated to me by other analysts, there is some growing depth here, and several of the Grade C+/C guys have the potential to move beyond those grades.

The Orioles still have work to do getting their farm system to the level of the Yankees, Red Sox, or Devil Rays. But they are making progress.

And it appears that now the Mariners are showing increased interest in Erik Bedard according to Ken Rosenthal.

The Mariners are continuing their aggressive pursuit of Bedard, major-league sources say, and there are growing indications that the teams could be moving closer to a deal.

The Reds also remain interested in Bedard, but the Mariners are willing to trade their top outfield prospect, Adam Jones, while the Reds will not part with their best minor-league outfielder, Jay Bruce.

Maybe waiting to deal wasn’t so much a matter of indecision but carefully biding time.

The A’s strong returns for right-hander Dan Haren and outfielder Nick Swisher in recent trades seemingly has increased the Orioles’ leverage. The addition of Bedard, meanwhile, would give the Mariners a potentially dynamic rotation to compete with the Angels in the American League West.

Getting off of the O’s for the end, this is a fascinating observation. We usually read about how the earlier free agent signings “set the market” for later players of similar ability. It never occurred to me that the same market principle could work for teams making trades.

This is reflective of two trends in baseball. The first (more basic) trend is the greater attention being paid to talent and its worth to a team. (This is likely bad news for the kinds of players that the Orioles have acquired recently who were valued more for their “veteran leadership” than their on field talent.) And the other related trend is the increased visibility of the GM. Since judging, acquiring and developing talent is becoming more important, the GM’s role (and the organization he puts together) has become more important too.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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Hot Stove Update: Twelve Shopping Days ’til Christmas Edition

Baseball’s hot stove season keeps crackling along with a firesale beginning in Baltimore, a strange signing in San Francisco and the effective release of a phenomenal talent with an arm that was abused.

Dead Team, Dead Team Swapping

Let’s start with the Orioles.

Andy MacPhail is the new head honcho in Baltimore and his primary job is turning around a moribund franchise. It is about time. The Orioles recently woes have resulted in poor showings, fan protests and the dreadful overreach that typifies teams just beyond terrible, but nowhere near good.

Move number one in the now ongoing firesale:

Orioles Give Astros Give
  • SS Miguel Tejada
  • OF Luke Scott
  • P Matt Albers
  • P Troy Patton
  • P Dennis Sarfate
  • 3B Michael Costanzo

It’s an okay haul. Scott compares rather favorably with Trot Nixon at the same ages, giving the Orioles a competent outfielder, who will inexpensively complement and Nick Markakis. Costanzo may end up in the big leagues. He is on his third team this offseason, and is blocked by Melvin Mora. However if Mora is shopped, the Orioles could do worse than the 24 year old with good pop in his bat. Albers and Patton were the top pitchers in Houston’s farm system entering 2007. Neither pitched well with Houston, and both have iffy K rates. But both get groundballs and with a good infield defense have the potential to be respectable at the back of the rotation.

Houston meanwhile adds a slugging shortstop whose defense is declining and who, as an added bonus, has been linked to steroid allegations. For Baltimore, moving him prior to this afternoon’s release of the Mitchell report was an obvious priority. Even if not named, Tejada is tainted by association, possibly unfair.

Other Orioles likely to get moved before the end of this offseason: P Erik Bedard, 3B Melvin Mora, 2B Brian Roberts, OF Jay Payton, and Ramon Hernandez.

Currently, the Orioles need help at shortstop, centerfield and on the mound. Making more moves will yield more potential solutions, while opening more holes. This is the beginning of an about to be gutted franchise.

The Old and the Rested

The San Francisco Giants don’t seem too interested in younger talent. Their starting position players wheezed in with an average age of 36.25 last year. They will be around 34 years old on average next season, unless Giants GM Brian Sabean can find some geezer to play at either the hot or cool corner and thus spare fans the disgrace of having a 26 year old regular (Kevin Frandse) in the starting lineup.

To that mix, the Giants made a big splash yesterday inking centerfielder Aaron Rowand to a five year, $60 Million contract. Rowand will be thirty next year, which makes him the young whippersnapper of the Giant lineup. He also has the job of replacing Barry Bonds in the lineup. But Rowand is not a slugging outfielder like Bonds. Nor is he a prolific on base machine. Aaron Rowand is an outfielder who enjoyed an outstanding season in his walk year.

Let’s go to the numbers

Aaron Rowand ’07 612 .309 .374 .515 .348
Aaron Rowand car 2664 .286 .343 .462 .323

Not familiar with BABIP? Some folks aren’t. It is a very useful statistic to get a gauge on luck. The statistic measures Batting Average on Balls in Play. As a formula:

BABIP = Hits – Home Runs /At Bats – (Homeruns + Strikeouts)

Your league-wide BABIP is typically around .300. Rowand’s career is an exercise in better than average BABIP. It’s less than 10% over league average, but when he is closer to lerague average, as he was in 2005 with the ChiSox and 2006 with the Phillies, almost all of his offensive value vanishes.

Aaron Rowand ’05 578 .270 .329 .407 .318
Aaron Rowand ’06 405 .262 .321 .425 .297

See what I mean? Further, Rowand has always benefited from playing in Homerun helping Parks. Moving to San Francisco may cause his power surge to vanish, as well. But hey, it’s only five years and $12 Million per year. That’s nothing. Which unfortunately for Giants fans will describe what the Giants have for the better part of the next decade. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are nice young pitchers. Noah Lowry is a healthier version of better than league average Aaron Cook, and Barry Zito, is an overrated league average innings muncher. They will have the pitching, but they still will struggle to win seventy games likely for the next five or six years.

Prior Descent

Mark Prior will be 27 next season. He put up remarkable numbers as a 22 year old in 2003. His 18-6 record in 211.1 innings pitched was worthy of acclaim, and we now know a dead canary in a coal mine.

Indians Executive Keith Woolner in his previous line of work at Baseball Prospectus developed a metric for measuring the abuse a starting pitcher takes from being overpitched. This was an expansion of the original Pitcher Abuse Points system introduced by Rany Jazayerli in 1998. Keith’s expansion focused more on egregious abuse of pitchers, instead of the minor tweaking of a young arm by exceeding 100 pitches.

For perspective, Daisuke Matsuzaka led the majors in PAP^3 last season with 116,740 followed by Carlos Zambrano (114,011) and AJ Burnett (97,899).

Mark Prior’s PAP^3 scores
2002 89,046 Age 21 Including a 54,872 PAP^3 138 pitch outing
2003 230,844 Age 22  
2004 36,847 Age 23 Started the season on the DL and did not pitch until June.
2005 102,159 Age 24 with a 25 day stint on the DL mid season
2006 1,000 Age 25  

But PAP^3 is not the only measure of risk to a young arm. The rule of thirty is a way of measuring the damage done to a young arm year by year rather than start by start.

Beginning with his Age 19 season at USC Prior pitched the following innings.
2000 129
2001 138
2002 167.2
2003 211.1
2004 118.2
2005 172.2
2006 62.2

Prior’s buildup with the Cubs went from a reasonable 140 or so college innings to an equally reasonable 170 professional innings from one season to the next. At the young age of 21, that is a little excessive, but, it was also consistent with advancing by 30 innings or less from year to year. The Cubs exceeded that rule of thirty by 15 or so innings in 2003, the year where as a 22 year old, he took almost twice as much abuse as any pitcher in 2007 did. In 2003, however, he
was fourth on in the majors behind Javier Vasquez, teammate Kerry Wood and Livan Hernandez. Another Cub starter (Carlos Zambrano) checked in at 11 on that list. The manager of that team got a new job recently to manage the Cincinnati Reds. Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, consider yourselves warned!

I am of the mindset that pitcher abuse disproportionately impacts arms outside of the 26-34 age range. Keeping young arms on a strict pitch and inning count is an investment in the future, by giving a young arm time to develop properly. As pitcher’s age, they are less reliable because they push themselves to the extremes that their bodies no longer are capable of achieving. The job of a good manager is to recognize when his older pitchers need a month’s vacation and sending
them off to rest and keep their arm fresh for the stretch drive. This essentially is what the Red Sox did with Curt Schilling this past season.

In addition to maximizing the effectiveness of an older arm, it also creates an opportunity for game level mentoring of young arms, removed from the stretch drive. Would giving a younger pitcher with some upside a showcase against major league teams, again strictly monitoring his pitch and inning counts, both groom him for an eventual job and give him the exposure that could potentially lead to a trade for a spare part? Certainly. It also provides an opportunity for
reclamation projects to get a full speed test int he fires of major league competition.

Speaking of salvage jobs, all this is prologue for the question out there, how many clubs will be pursuing Prior? The answer is all fo them. Prior represents the wonderful confluence of high upside and minimal risk. It’s a long shot, on par with the reclamation project called Kerry Wood but with longer odds and more upside. But it is worth investigating, offering and developing a program to ensure the soundness of his arm and the realization of his tremendous potential.

Now the more fact based (will it work) question has no answer. Probably not is the most I will venture. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.


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