October workload can take a toll on arms
Unless you were paying close attention, you probably missed that parade in Detroit this month.
|The Orioles' original 1-2 plan last week was to hire Joe Girardi as manager, then get to work on trading away Miguel Tejada before the trading deadline. Oops. So what's Plan B? Well, with Girardi out of the picture, the Orioles' managerial search is suddenly in slow motion -- and may not even resume until more options abound in the offseason. And with Tejada out until August, he won't be the centerpiece to any pre-deadline deals, either. But that doesn't necessarily mean he won't be back in Rumor Central until December. Tejada would have $30 million left on his contract (through 2009) as of Aug. 1. So he's the kind of player who would figure to make it through waivers. Meaning you can merely put your rumor engines in idle until then. Then again, who knows what kind of trade value Tejada has anymore. "I saw him play a few weeks ago," said one AL executive. "And I was so disappointed with his effort, I absolutely think he'd get through waivers. But you'd have to look at him as a third baseman because he's not a shortstop anymore. He carries a lot of coin with him. And now he's got this injury. So I don't know. I loved him once. But he's not that guy anymore." One reason the Orioles haven't relaunched their managerial hunt is that it's clear now that Girardi wasn't just their first choice. He was their only choice. But the other reason is that interim manager Dave Trembley was able to right their ship almost immediately. Scouts who followed the Orioles last week were stunned by (A) how much harder they seemed to play, (B) the sight of them actually taking infield before games, (C) their much more aggressive emphasis on running the bases and putting runners in motion and (D) the focused effort to actually get relievers into a game if they warmed up. One of deposed manager Sam Perlozzo's biggest issues with his bullpen was all the wasted warm-ups, heaped on top of all the appearances his relievers were piling up. With Tejada down, which Oriole is most likely to get traded? We'd bet on Steve Trachsel, who actually has as many quality starts (seven) as Daniel Cabrera and Scott Kazmir, and has held opposing hitters to a lower slugging percentage (.407) than Mark Buehrle or Gil Meche.|
Those White Sox were about as powerful an argument for the existence of World Series burnout as we've found. But we went further. We studied this phenomenon ourselves, with the help of the ever-inquisitive folks from Baseball Prospectus. Here's what we discovered:
• From 1996 to 2005, there were 47 different times when a pitcher threw at least 200 regular-season innings, then pitched in all three rounds of the postseason because his team reached the World Series. The ERA of those pitchers jumped an average of 41 points the next season. And the innings pitched by those pitchers dropped from an average of 221 to 198.
• Of those 47 instances, more than 40 percent (19 of 47) saw the pitcher's ERA inflate by half a run or more the next season. And 21 percent (10 of 47) saw the pitcher's ERA rise by at least a run.
• Just eight times out of the 47, on the other hand, were pitchers able to lower their ERAs by half a run or more. And the pitchers for all of those eight occasions -- Greg Maddux ( twice), Andy Pettitte (twice), Tom Glavine (2000), Roger Clemens (2004), Livan Hernandez (2003) and Matt Morris (2005) -- were pitchers who had been through October before.
|World Series staffs: 1996-2006|
|Only one pitcher in baseball is working on a streak of three straight 200-inning seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA in all three. Can you name him? (Answer later.)|
There sure were a lot of confused people all over baseball Wednesday when word spread that the White Sox had reversed course and were trying to sign Mark Buehrle. Right up until Tuesday afternoon, Kenny Williams was still in sell mode, asking for the kind of package we haven't seen in any deadline deal since Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano (2004). Or possibly even Carlos Guillen, Freddy Garcia and John Halama for Randy Johnson (1997). "Judging by what he asked from us, he's been asking for every team's two best prospects -- or at least two out of their best three," an official of one interested club grumbled Wednesday. So if we use that logic, that means Williams asked the Mets for Mike Pelfrey and Carlos Gomez, asked the Braves for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and/or Yunel Escobar/Brent Lillibridge, asked the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus and Jaime Garcia, and asked the Red Sox for Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. So over and over, we heard the same message: "He may get that kind of price from somebody. But it won't be from us." So you should be wary of all reports that suggest none of the potential Buehrle deals broke down over the cost in players. Every team was balking. And another thing: Red Sox officials have told every club they've spoken to that they were never close to any deal for Buehrle and actually didn't do a whole lot more than inquire about what it would take. One more complication the White Sox were running into was their lack of interest in granting teams a 72-hour window to get Buehrle signed. Some clubs (Boston and Seattle, for instance) didn't mind dealing for him as a rental. But the Cardinals, Mets and Braves head the list of teams that clearly would have wanted a window. One team said chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was adamant about not granting any negotiating time. But an official of another club says the White Sox would have had no choice but to relent. "If it meant he was going to get the kind of player he was looking for, and the club getting him was going to have to give away that kind of prospect plus pay market dollars, they can say whatever they want. How could they not give the window?" And consider the potential downside of trading for Buehrle and not signing him. "Don't get me wrong," said an official of one team in the Buehrle hunt. "He's a very attractive guy. But if you trade for him and can't sign him, you're talking about a three-month rental and you're looking at draft picks that might not be as good as they look. If you make the assumption he'd then go out and sign with the [sub-.500] Cardinals, you're not even going to get a first-round pick. You're getting a sandwich pick. So say you're getting the 38th pick and a second-rounder. I mean, how good are those picks?" With or without Buehrle on the shelves, the White Sox clearance sale is still definitely in progress. But teams have been wary of Jermaine Dye's health and Tadahito Iguchi's lackadaisical play. And Jose Contreras and Javier Vazquez haven't been as enticing as the White Sox thought they'd be, either, given that they're signed through 2009 and 2010, respectively. "I'd have a hard time hanging my hat on those guys," said an official of one team shopping for pitching. "I don't know what's happened to Javy Vazquez. He's just not the same pitcher we all loved a couple of years back. And I don't know a lot of people who are sold on Contreras' reliability, either."
• Clubs that have asked the Marlins recently about Dontrelle Willis have been told the Fish will determine whether they're sellers in the next two or three weeks. Here's one scout's read on Willis' struggles: "He's always pitched across his body, but it looks like he's drifting way out away from the batter's box and almost toward the first-base line. And he can't get straightened out. A lot of his problems have just been command. He's throwing more pitches in five or six innings than he used to throw in those complete games." • Teams that have talked to the Mets say they're not pursuing more offense unless they get word that Moises Alou's injury is more serious than they now believe. • The Yankees continue to tell clubs not to bother asking for their four best young arms -- Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy and Alan Horne. • Scouts who have seen Reds phenom Homer Bailey since his call-up have been shocked by the lack of life on his fastball. "I saw him in the Florida State League last year, and he was throwing 98 [mph]," said one scout. "Then I saw him in the big leagues this year, and he averaged 91-92. At 97-98, he can get by with not commanding his [off-speed] stuff. But at 91-92, when his other stuff isn't there, he's just an ordinary guy." STILL MORE RUMBLINGS
• As the Giants spin in circles, they've put a very interesting name on the market -- Matt Morris. "He's pitched real well. He's got a lot of experience. He's a great guy. And he's a tremendous competitor," said an executive of one team. "I bet they get a lot of hits on him." • An official of one AL team differed with our note last week quoting an NL executive as saying no team would ever trade for Barry Bonds. "I'd take him," the official said. "I bet, if you bring him into a good environment at this stage of his career, he'd be less apt to screw it up. And in our league, I think the guy could still be a difference maker. I'd take him as a DH, so you'd just have to get him healthy enough to bat four times a game." Of course, Bonds won't be going anywhere until after No. 756, so it could be awhile before this becomes anything more than fodder for debate.
Finally, David Letterman reported that it was so hot in New York this week, "'The View' replaced Rosie with Ted Williams." Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His new book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," has been published by Triumph Books and is now available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy.