Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Did Dusty Baker Commit Pitcher Abuse?

Gene Wojciechowski from ESPN.com has written an interesting article about Mark Prior. Woj talks about the year Prior had in 2003 and his long, painful fall to a near-permanent spot on the DL. He also talks about all of the questions people had about Prior’s heart.

Probably the most interesting part about the article is when Woj talks about the role Dusty Baker played in over using Prior and ultimately damaging his arm. In the past, I’ve heard people condemn Baker for the way he used Prior and I’ve heard other people claim that there is no such thing as pitcher abuse. Woj does a good job of explaining how Baker used Prior in 2003 and what impact that might have had on Prior’s shoulder.

The ESPN.com article can be found here.

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The Cardinals announced that their ace, Chris Carpenter will have to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow and will miss at least three more months. The defending World Series Champions are already finding the going difficult this year and losing Carpenter for any amount of time doesn’t help their chances.

The Cardinals entered the season with a rather suspect starting rotation to begin with. Carpenter was their only “sure thing.” With him out, the team will have to rely on a pitching staff that doesn’t have one pitcher that has even one year of experience starting. Looks like it’s going to be a long year for the Cards.

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Roger Clemens will not be returning to Houston. That’s big news for the Cubs because the feeling has been that if the Astros can just stay in the race, Clemens could put them over the top. Now that’s not going to happen and the Cubs won't have to face Clemens.

Clemens announced his return to the NY Yankees yesterday. He will receive a pro-rated one year contract worth $28 million. Clemens says it’s not about the money. Maybe that’s true, although he’s getting a lot of it.

For Clemens, I think it is the stage. Clemens loves the spotlight and there is no bigger stage in baseball than Yankee Stadium.

Clemens also understands the importance of run support. In Houston, Clemens had to win games on his own. He received very little support from the offense. In New York, Clemens will get great run support. The Yankees are leading the majors in runs scored, despite the fact that they are one game below .500 and are trailing the Red Sox in the AL East by 5.5 games

Why didn’t Clemens join the Red Sox? They would have paid the money, they put up lots of runs, and they are winning. In my opinion, the main reason is that Clemens would have had to share the stage with Dice-K, Curt Schilling, and the rest of Boston’s excellent pitching staff. Boston is a big stage, there’s no doubt about that. Red Sox baseball is a quasi-religion in Boston. But no matter how big the stage, Clemens would still have had to share it. Why be one of the actors on the stage when you can go to New York and be the star.

Which explains the final reason Clemens signed with the Yankees: he’s needed. The Yankees are scoring plenty of runs, but their pitching has been horrible. Injuries and slow starts have sabotaged the team’s efforts so far this year. Clemens will do his part. If things don’t turn around for New York, it won’t be The Rocket’s fault. The Yankees were already losing when he got there. But if the Yankees do start to win and make it to the post season, Roger will be a savior.

For Clemens, signing with the Yankees is a no lose proposition. He makes a lot of money, he’s needed, he’s the leading man on a big stage, and he has the chance to be a savior. Not a bad gig.

For another perspective on Clemens leaving Houston, read Richard Justice’s views on the subject here.


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