I’m going to point back to your column on BP today.
It’s really the first time that my subjective view of a pitcher has so greatly swayed my objective view.
This is true, I think. Garcia hasn’t been erratic-crappy Freddy every single time out since last summer. In the four starts leading up to his pounding against the Yankees, he’d gone 26 1/3 innings with a 2.42 ERA. His season ERA going into the debacle last week was 3.83. On September 11 of last year, during his second collapse, he pitched 7 innings in Texas, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 1, and striking out 12.
If Garcia had gone in the tank since a certain date and stayed there, I’d be more inclined to agree with you. But we’ve seen flashes of the old Freddy this year and we saw flashes of him during the second half of last year. We just get Truly Terrible Freddy a lot more than we used to.
Garcia’s currently an underachiever, and no one likes an underachiever. I think this may be a situation where our emotional response is overriding the objective analysis too much. If Freddy can pitch well for four consecutive starts with even a minor injury and dominate a pretty good Texas line-up in the middle of a pennant race, than he’s a rather impressive human being.
I think the biggest point in favor of the injury theory is that Garcia went from good-decent Freddy to erratic-crappy Freddy without any kind of warning, really, it was as if the wheels just came off completely. And a torn labrum/elbow doesn’t have to be that major — he could be pitching with a minor tear in the ligament or rotator cuff, aggravating it, resting, aggravating it… I still have some research to do on this, but it’s something to think about.
I’m not dismissing the possibility that Garcia is hurt completely, but I find it unlikely. When Abbott came up lame, he visibly changed his delivery to compensate for the pain in his shoulder. Meche lost 10 MPH on his fastball during his “dead arm” period. Usually, when someone’s pitching through an injury, you’ll be able to notice it somewhere in the mechanics.
I’ve seen three of Garcia’s starts this year, and I haven’t noticed much of a change at all. His release point is still inconsistent, but it always has been, and he’s succeeded in spite of it. His velocity has been in the 92-94 range pretty consistently. He’s still getting the break on his curveball. His command has just been lousy, but I’m not sure you can pinponit that to an injury.
He might be hurt, I guess, but I really doubt its a labrum or a torn ligament. I don’t see him being able to sustain his mechanics (as mediocre as they are, anyways) with that serious of an arm injury. From what I’ve observed, he’s just making bad pitches.
My column at Baseball Prospectus today talks about Freddy’s troubles since last year and a new theory: that he got hurt in late June/early July of last year and has been nursing it, Abbott-like, ever since. We don’t have the kind of clear, Cameron-spotted release point issues, but there’s some good anecdotal evidence that supports the theory. The Mariners have never been good at spotting injuries, but by this point don’t they think it’s worth taking a look to see if he’s torn up his elbow or shoulder?
Name the best hitter in the American League. Alex Rodriguez? Carlos Delgado? Alfonso Soriano?
Edgar Martinez. As of May 13th, Edgar Martinez is 4th in the AL in batting average, 2nd in on base percentage, 4th in slugging percentage, and 3rd in OPS. He’s done this while playing half his games in Safeco Field. His competition on the leaderboard is dominated by Rangers and Yankees, neither of whom view their home park as a disadvantage to offense.
At home, Edgar is hitting .315/.435/.519 with 5 extra base hits in 54 at-bats. When he leaves Safeco Field, he’s putting up a .375/.500/.708 line which includes 8 extra base hits in 48 at-bats. Just to put that in perspective, Babe Ruth’s career line was .342/.474/.690. When Ruth was 40, he hit .181/.359/.431.
There simply isn’t a better hitter in the American League than Edgar Martinez right now. What Edgar Martinez is doing at the age of 40 is historic. Remarkably, no one is noticing, because we’ve all learned to take him for granted.
Minor League Highlights for Monday, May 13
Tacoma 4, Oklahoma 2. RHP Aaron Taylor, who blew a save on Sunday, was thrown right back out there on Monday night and picked up his 7th save of the season (1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K). Such is life for a closer; you can’t dwell too long on past successes or failures, because your next shot might be the very next game. Taylor secured the win for RHP Brian Falkenborg (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), now 2-1 on the year with a sparkling 2.29 ERA. The Rainiers scored their four runs on just four hits, as two Oklahoma errors led to three unearned runs. 1B Andy Barkett his his 6th homer of the year for Tacoma.
San Antonio 5, Midland 1. LHP Travis Blackley (6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) found his control and had a good outing, picking up his 4th win of the season and lowering his ERA to 2.72. Eight different Missions had a hit, all singles save a homer for 3B Justin Leone who drove in three of the team’s five runs. C Jim Horner drove in the other two, and his hitting a ridiculous .448/.500/.603 in 15 games with San Antonio. Leone hasn’t been too shabby either, with a .315/.426/.550 line that includes 22 walks in 111 at-bats and nearly 55% of his hits going for extra bases. CF Michael Curry stole his 19th base of the year in 21 attempts (a 90% success rate), and is now wanted for grand theft in at least six states.
Inland Empire 14, Lake Elsinore 8 (11 innings). As reported here last night, the 66ers sent LHP Matt Thornton to the hill for his first appearance of 2003. Thornton (4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) had been out since the middle of last season after Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow, so those five strikeouts against just one walk are a particularly good sign. The real hero, however, was RHP Mike Steele. Normally the team’s closer, Steele stretched out his arm and saved a weary pitching staff by working the final four innings of the game (4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). He was rewarded with his first win of the year, as the 66ers scored six runs in the top of the 11th. The offensive star was 2B Ismael Castro, who just may have turned things around after a slow start. Castro went 4-7 in the game including his first two homers of the year, a double and three runs scored. One of his homers hit the light tower and came complete with an explosion, a la Roy Hobbs in The Natural.
Battle Creek 4, Wisconsin 1 (DH Game #1). This one started well enough, as for the second straight contest DH Dustin Delucchi led off the game with a homer. However, the Timber Rattlers managed just one hit after that — a harmless single by LF Carlos Arroyo — and a total of only two baserunners. RHP Tanner Watson’s struggled continued (5 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), as he dropped to 0-2 on the year and saw his ERA pushed to 6.64. LHP Oscar Delgado pitched well in relief (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K), but by then it was too late.
Battle Creek 4, Wisconsin 2 (DH Game #2). The Timber Rattlers fell behind 4-0 in the first inning before even getting to bat, as a costly error by SS Michael Garciaparra led to three of the four runs being unearned. LHP Cesar Jimenez (4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) settled down after that to keep the game within reach, but once again Wisconsin was unable to get anything going offensively. They did manage nine hits in the game, but eight were singles. 3B Matt Hagen hit his 6th homer of the year, and Garciaparra, perhaps trying to atone for his 1st inning error, went 2-3 with an RBI.