Leyland abuses Verlander’s arm for no good reason

Jim Leyland before the game:

Zumaya’s right shoulder remains a point of concern. Leyland said Zumaya reported “normal soreness” and indicated that he was able to pitch, but Leyland said that description was “not defined enough for me.”

“I’m not going to have it on my plate that I got Joel Zumaya hurt, getting greedy,” Leyland said. “I’m not going to do it.”

Justin Verlander last night:

  • 7.2 innings
  • 6 hits
  • 5 runs
  • 3 walks
  • 8 strike outs
  • 130 pitches

This is categorically stupid. From an in game management sense, the team was only down two runs and still very much in it. You starter has done his job and worked into the 8th inning. After the Dye double, even if he is still throwing in the high 90’s, get him out of there and bring in a fresh arm. Try and keep the game close. Instead he throws 11 more pitches taking a lofty pitch count to insane. That Lopez finally came in and allowed a single is immaterial.

From a pitching management standpoint it is inexcusable. With last night’s start, Justin Verlander now leads all of baseball in pitcher abuse points. He’s thrown more pitches than any other pitcher in baseball this year. And for what? A 5-1 loss in a season that is already decided? The Tigers just wanted to make sure that all their young pitchers end up on the DL?

It seems that this type of move happens when the manager is on his way out of town.


  1. Ryan P

    August 7, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Jimmuh’s just trying to get ’09 off to a &#$^ty start, too. It’s working, Jim. You win.

  2. Dave BW

    August 7, 2008 at 8:59 am

    BP warned us this might happen in their 06 issue.

  3. Kyle J

    August 7, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Just when you thought there was nothing that could make this season any more frustrating . . .

  4. mj

    August 7, 2008 at 9:37 am

    i had to look up pitcher abuse points to see if it was a real stat (it is!) and i came across this great article:


    interestingly, it mentions jim leyland’s handling of his pitchers in the 97 world series:

    “Jim Leyland let Kevin Brown – and more significantly, rookie Livan Hernandez – rack up enormous pitch counts, sometimes in games that were already in the bag. ”

    maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.

  5. Kathy

    August 7, 2008 at 9:42 am

    My son just called me to rant about Favre and then said he wouldn’t be surprised if Leyland resigned if the Tigers lose tonight. Don’t we wish! I thought Jim probably should have taken him just a tad bit earlier.

  6. Kathy

    August 7, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Taken JV out of the game is what I meant to write.

  7. scotsw

    August 7, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I didn’t mind Leyland bringing Verlander into the 8th, but after the double, it was time to sit down. Using a guy with 120 pitches on his arm to intentionally pass a batter is also stupid, stupid, stupid… The sad truth is, if you have the reliever put that guy on first, he’s a whole lot more careful about that runner. And it’s just wrong to do that to JV — after pitching a game like that, making that his runner was a jerk move. Sorry, Jim. I think you lost me.

  8. Brian

    August 7, 2008 at 10:00 am

    scotsw said pretty much exactly what I was going to say – stretching it a bit with him, like having him start the 8th, was understandable considering the tired (not to mention horrible) bullpen. But when he’s running high on the pitch count entering the 8th to start with, you have to have a quick hook at the first sign of trouble or if it starts taking him too many pitches.

  9. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I get the sense that Jim Leyland is getting a bit less popular here. Just a vibe.

  10. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Let me offer somewhat of a contrary point of view. I think the bigger issue is what happens after this start. JV has clean mechanics (no inverted W) and virutally no injury history (this isn’t Kerry Wood we’re talking about). If Leyland continues to leave JV for 110+ pitches over his next 3-4 starts, I think the odds of an injury increase dramatically. If he backs him off to under 100 pitches for a few starts, I think the odds of injury go way down.

    JV was still throwing 95 deep into the 8th inning, although the command was gone which is a pretty clear indication he was tired. Jimmuh didn’t necessarily risk injury by letting a guy who was tired continue to throw that hard; from what I’ve seen injuries don’t occur because of one start. It’s generally a sequence of events (i.e. high pitch counts) over many starts that stress the shoulder/elbow and cause injury. Think Mark Prior down the stretch for the Cubs in 2003 where he averaged 126 pitches per start in September and 120 in the postseason. That, I believe, when coupled with Prior’s below-average mechanics, caused his injury.

    Also, in reference to the article, Livan Hernandez has made 30+ starts every year since his rookie year with no injury problems. So high pitch counts were meaningless to him.

  11. Ryan P

    August 7, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Hopefully DD mandates that JV skip a start or two before the end of the year. Losing JV to injury prone status would be crippling.

  12. Angus

    August 7, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I am officially on it. The FIRE JIM LEYLAND bandwagon. High pitch counts, playing Reckaria and Sheff everyday. Leaving Curtis out of the lineup last night. Telling DD that we need to pickup Reckaria’s contract for next year $ 11 million. Keeping Sheff around next year. And most important of all, his exquisite use of the relief corp. Time to go find a place that has all the cigarettes you can smoke (all-inclusive). Let’s rebuild this team for 2009 and beyond.

  13. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Verlander wanted to go eight, he was screaming “F***!” [my interpretation — and I’ve studied several languages] into his mitt after his last walk because he didn’t want to go.

    He was pitching well, striking out Swisher, playing cat-and-mouse with Dye’s little flippy-wrist attempts to right, throwing Konerko a nice FB on the outblack and a beautiful curve on the inblack but didn’t get the call on either. He didn’t have to expend energy on Dye at second because he wasn’t going anywhere. If it was a speedster who reached, I’d have pulled him; but I think Verlander and Leyland were on the same page.

    This was an important game and Leyland was trying to win it with his best pitcher. I think Leyland behaved responsibly toward Verlander and toward his team.

    The last two losses have had silver linings: both Rodney and Verlander corrected into excellence. I think Chuckie has started to work it, maybe blasting through resistance in the various personalities on the staff with the realization that his job is on the line.

  14. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Ryan P.

    I agree. I am a big advocate of the skipped start, adding-in more for younger pitchers or pitchers returning from injury. These are little mini-vacations for the tendons and ligaments that take such a beating during pitching.

    That’s why a guy like Minor is so valuable. He could probably get 25 starts minimum just filling-in for skipped-start pitchers. To my knowledge, no manager implements regularly scheduled skipped-starts. I think they’d have fewer injuries and better 2nd halves if they did.

  15. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Re Pitcher Abuse Points:

    One point that is not factored in with the PAP is the mechanics of the pitcher. Prior’s mechanics lead to his injury, Lincecum’s mechanics (most pitches in N.L., I believe) will keep him from injury.

    Bad mechanics with increasing load =
    arm/shoulder joint pain with increasing injury factor
    Good mechanics with increasing load =
    arm durability with slightly increasing injury factor

    Verlander has a smooth in-line fully-cushioned delivery with a light [non-existent?] injury history. I don’t think he’s in danger.

  16. Christie

    August 7, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Leyland had his “best” pitcher in the game, we needed the win. Look at the bullpen, who else are we going to put in? Why not blame good ole’ Chuck Hernandez? He has done nothing with the pitchers and in turn, this is what Leyland has to work with. First it was Tood Jones (I bet everyone misses him now, look at his numbers compared to the other closers) and now its Leyland? Come on, I don’t buy into the blame game.

    If you trust any other relievers to come in and not blow the game completely (even more than Verlander did) then so be it. However, the numbers have shown that we do not have relief. Leyland worked with what he had.

  17. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Mark in Chicago:

    I didn’t mean to repeat what you said. I just saw your post. I agree, again, regarding Verlander’s abuse status. Next time, I’ll just say “what he said.”

  18. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Not a problem, Palm. You articulated the point well. It’s funny we both mentioned Prior.

  19. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I’m mixed on ‘pitcher abuse points’, really. In theory it seems to make sense that you don’t want your pitchers (particularly the crown jewel of your staff) being overworked and all. And then you look at Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees absolutely babied him. Their kid gloves were wearing kid gloves. One strained rotator cuff later, you wonder if this pitch count stuff is just a bunch of bullsh*t. Either your arm is going to blow, or it isn’t. It’s genetics.

  20. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Prior’s mechanics lead to his injury, Lincecum’s mechanics (most pitches in N.L., I believe) will keep him from injury.

    Funny thing about that. When Prior was drafted, his mechanics were said by scouts to be absolutely flawless and invulnerable to injury. On the other hand, Lincecum slipped down a few spots in the draft because teams were scared of his wacko mechanics and slight frame. See my above post. Either your arm is going to explode or it isn’t….

  21. Andre in Chi

    August 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

    While every pitcher is a different combination of body-type, mechanics and work ethic, I can’t help but think that pitch-counts are over-rated.

    Look at Nolan Ryan. I know he’s in his own category, but as somewhat of a bridge between the “iron-men” 300-350 innings and contemporary pitchers its interesting to reflect on what he’s done.

    He pitched for 27 years, including:

    (12) 200+ inning seasons [3 of these coming as at 40+ years old]
    (2) 300+ inning seasons

  22. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Just thought I’d throw this out there from Peter Gammons today. Note the last sentence…

    “One NL team’s defensive statistics, scouting and ratings have John McDonald of the Blue Jays as the best defensive shortstop in the majors. No surprise. They have Boston’s Jed Lowrie at No. 5 among the 62 ranked shortstops, even if his sample is small. Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes, who is still working out mechanical start issues, are in the 40s, among the 62 shortstops. Edgar Renteria and Jeff Keppinger are among the bottom 5. “

  23. Ryan P

    August 7, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Well there’s a huge surprise. I totally didn’t expect Renteria to be in the bottom 10% in shortstop defense.

  24. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Chris in D,

    I think you make a great point. Some guys can take it, some guys can’t. Nolan Ryan would routinely throw 160 pitches in a game, and is thought to have once thrown 260 in a 12-inning game. Think about that for a second. And Ryan didn’t have severe injury problems.

    I remember the talk about Prior’s mechanics, everyone was focused on how compact he was and the drive he got with his lower body. It was never talked about how his elbow was cocked way over his shoulder plane in order to generate velocity. Relievers can get away with but starters usually cannot for very long.

    It becomes a mechanical issue and a genetic issue, IMO. Pitching is a violent, stressful, unnatural motion. There are things you can do to limit the stress, but if your shoulder/elbow can’t take it, you’re basically SOL.

  25. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Chris in D.

    I, too, remember the Tom House spawn that was Mark Prior: the little stick diagrams showing what great mechanics he had — according to House. He did have a stiff finish, I thought, but I have no idea what injured him.

    Lincecum was infuriating to me. An obviously great pitcher passed over again and again primarily because of his size. Not to get personal, but I have a kid who received the same treatment, still got a full scholarship but was thought too short by many schools despite great results against top competition, a mix of 4 plus pitches, and excellent velocity. [end brag]

    And Lincecum’s mechanics should have sold scouts, not disuaded them. Idiots. In this day and age, with video and bio-mechanic PHD’s walking around, decision-makers really have no clue about what is a healthy delivery and what is not.

    The person who knows more than any of them is Lincecum’s Dad. I like what he said about icing the arm: “Why would you ice your arm after pitching? It’s just blood rushing to it. Would you ice your penis after using it?”

  26. jason

    August 7, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Just for the sake of argument, why do people complain when the manager pulls a pitcher “too early” and puts in the bullpen (who usually blows the game), then they also complain when the manager leaves the starting pitcher in there when it is still a 2 run game?

  27. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Justin Verlander up to and including his June 11 start:

    3.88 pitches per batter faced, 6.5 innings per start
    55 K (K/9=5.4), 35 BB, 1.37 WHIP, .676 OPS

    Justin Verlander since then:

    4.12 pitches per batter faced, 6.3 innings per start
    66 K (K/9=9.4), 26 BB, 1.29 WHIP, .666 OPS

  28. Kathy

    August 7, 2008 at 11:09 am

    We all complain when things don’t go the way we think they should. I’m also from the old school where I think pitch count is a bunch of malarky. When the pitcher can’t find the strike zone any more take him out. Leland just never seems to know when.

  29. jason

    August 7, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I would love to know who you thought Jim should have brought in the game that was going to “keep the game close”? I think nearly all of our relievers have proven what they are worth at this point… not much.

    As much as I want Leyland out of here, I can’t really jump on him for this one.

  30. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Palmcroft – You mean you’re not supposed to? And here I’ve been, suspecting faulty mechanics.

  31. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Sean C.

    I think if you make a show of it, it could only enhance your reputation.

  32. jim-mt

    August 7, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. It is easy to look back and be right.

    It is still not over. A pitch here, a hit there, or a catch is all the difference in these really close games lately and the Tigers would be in first or close. It is not like they are being totally outplayed–I know we expected them to be dominant like the 84 Tigers who stuffed everybody, but that is not the usual way for any team.

  33. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Palmcroft – No show for me. Despite great results against top competition, a mix of 4 plus pitches, and excellent velocity, I think I’d end up being treated as Lincecum and your son were.

  34. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 11:26 am

    For the record, I wouldn’t go so far as to say pitch counts are malarkey, but I do think it’s a bit overplayed as far as the effect on a pitcher’s health goes. Generally speaking, I’m more concerned with what it says about pitching efficiency – why work harder than you have to? I don’t know if Verlander is really any more inefficient thqn the average strikeout pitcher, though.

  35. Dave BW

    August 7, 2008 at 11:28 am

    jason: often, it is two different groups of people complaining about those two different situations. Also, every scenario is distinct, meaning that the two arguments are not mutually exclusive — Leyland can leave a pitcher in too long one night and not long enough on another.

  36. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Sean C.

    Don’t worry, like Lincecum, you will have the last laugh. Remember, like Woody said, eighty percent of success is just showing up.

  37. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Sean: Would you really classify Verlander as a ‘strikeout’ pitcher? He can be when he wants to, but 7 K/9 is kinda pedestrian. Well, not pedestrian but kinda Segway. Anyway, his biggest problem is his freaking walks this year.

  38. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 11:41 am


    Your words comfort me in this time of anxiety and insecurity. Thank you.

  39. stephen

    August 7, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Yeah, i’m not getting on Leyland for this one. This was the last game Verlander will pitch this year with pennant race implications. You want to put him on a 100 pitch count for the rest of the year now that the games don’t matter, that’s fine. Believe me, there would be a 1000% more stress on his young arm if we were in an actual pennant race and/or he pitched into October. Basically, Verlander is going to be pitching a full month less than we hoped in March, so I can’t get too steamed about Leyland going to the whip in a desperate situation after a 14 inning bullpen killer the night before.

  40. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Well, Chris, JV is “supposed” to be a strikeout pitcher, from what I’ve heard. Is 7 K/9 his career or 2008?

    Early in the year there was talk from him and about him (Tigers coaching/management) indicating a change was in store for this season, a different approach. I do know he’s always been a high pitch/BF guy – that hasn’t changed this year.

    EDIT: Speaking of walks, look at the stats I posted. Thought it was interesting how his pitch count went up as his walks went down and his K/BB got much better.

  41. Chief Monday

    August 7, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I didn’t mind seeing Verlander pitch a little extra after all the bullpen blow-ups in past few weeks. We needed just one game where it wasn’t the bullpens fault again. This time it wasn’t. Blame the game on Leyland or Verlander, it doesn’t really matter because the pen pretty much got the day off.

  42. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Sean: 7 K/9 is actually both his career and ’08 number. You have now entered the Twilight Zone.

  43. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Don’t worry guys, the bullpen will get plenty of opportunities to crap the bed.

  44. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    “7 K/9 is actually both his career and ‘08 number”

    My next question would be: What makes a strikeout pitcher? Is it a matter of stats or approach? If stats, what K/9 does a guy have to put up to be considered a strikeout guy?

    Reminds me, pretty wild about Rogers’s last start, where he struck out 8 in what, 3 innings? I thought there was a mistake in the box score at first.

    Speaking of which, it’s taken me until now to figure out how Aquilino Lopez managed to record both an out and a hit while facing one batter. I read the box score, then the play by play, and didn’t make the connection until later.

  45. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    “Don’t worry guys, the bullpen will get plenty of opportunities to crap the bed.”

    One of the advantages of starting Miner is that he can be brought in in relief of himself.

  46. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I’d consider a ‘strikeout’ pitcher a guy who notches 180+ strikeouts for every 200 IP for a starter. For a reliever I’d say more than a K per IP. That’s just my opinion. You guys can feel free to disagree.

  47. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t feel free to disagree with you, Chris.

  48. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    He’s too busy ostentatiously icing, he’ll disagree with you later.

  49. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve never iced ostentatiously. That’s way too fancy for a plain Midwestern fella.

  50. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    This site accounts for 83% of all internet content pertaining to nocturnal defecation. We should be proud.

  51. Palmcroft

    August 7, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    “Nocturnal Defecation – Any night game started by Nate, finished by Farnsworth, and featuring Gratitude and Sheffield in the lineup”

  52. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    It’s not always nocturnal. Think of it as Generalized Horizontal Incontinence.

  53. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    “This site accounts for 83% of all internet content”

    I was willing to buy that as a complete sentence when I first saw it in Recent Posts.

  54. Joel in Seattle

    August 7, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Chris, I think you underestimate the fetishists out on the interwebs…

  55. Eric Cioe

    August 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    My God, what a bunch of whiners. Sabathia and Halladay have thrown a ton of pitches this year, too. Lincecum is right behind them. Verlander’s not a rook anymore. He’s got 2 full seasons of 200+IP (counting the postseason). He’s a horse, and Leyland is using him like one.

  56. Christie in Michigan

    August 7, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    for all those blaming leyland, who should replace him? who will make better calls than leyland? if the tigers do release jim, what will happen when we have another losing season? blame the new manager? i can’t think of any manager out there i would stand behind more than jim.

    its not leyland folks. verlander needs to work with someone other than chuck, someone who will help him with his mechanics. zumaya, rodney, miner, rogers, robertson, and every other pitcher needs a pitching coach.

    leyland “abusing” verlanders’ arm is a joke. probably the silliest thing i’ve read all day. watch the games, who did jim have to turn to?

  57. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Palmcroft: “Why would you ice your arm after pitching? It’s just blood rushing to it. Would you ice your penis after using it?”

    I wouldn’t, but then again I get 4 days rest in between

  58. Ryan P

    August 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Therein lies part of the problem with Jimmuh – he needs new coaches…particularly pitching and possibly hitting. And I don’t think that’s going to happen without him leaving.

    And Coleman…lol, nice.

  59. ron

    August 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I’m with Kathy. It’s malarky as opposed to the more acceptable piece of nocturnal defecation which I’ve often found quite pleasant under the moonlight, a gentle breeze blowing the sweet aroma of Trumpet Flowers up your nose on a warm summer night after the ballgame.

  60. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Well, Christie, I don’t disagree with you on the Verlander abuse thing, but Leyland has done plenty this year to turn fans against him. I don’t have a suggestion for a replacement, but I do hope he’s not back for 2009.

  61. Joel in Seattle

    August 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Sabbathia and Halladay have been pitching in pro baseball for 10 years, it’s pretty clear at this point what they can and can’t handle. Verlander was just drafted 4 years ago. It’s far from clear how durable he’ll be and how he’ll handle having a heavier workload this year than either of those pitchers Eric mentioned. And everyone thought Prior was just fine throwing all of those pitches (what with his “perfect mechanics” and all) right until his arm blew up.

    Even if Leyland had no one else to go to (a joke – if Verlander can throw 140 pitches in one night, someone in the bullpen can throw 12 pitches on one day’s rest), Verlander is part of this team’s future. This season is, barring a miracle, in the crapper. If the Tigers have any chance at recovery this year and beyond, it has to include JV. Prudence is warranted.

  62. ron

    August 7, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I wouldn’t stand behind him if I were you Christie. Especially at night games.

  63. ron

    August 7, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, Jimmy has abused us all.

  64. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Pitchers’ arms are a bit like racehorse’s legs; pitchers generate arm speed that the body is not equipped to stop. Pitching mechanics can make the stress lesser or greater, but not eliminate it. The ability of the arm to withstand the stress (or the accumulative effects of repeated stress) is unrelated to the ability of the arm to generate the momentum that causes the stress. I think the 1st half of the equation is getting pretty well known; the 2nd–not so well; I think it’s still trial-and-error at this point. You’ll know whose body can’t handle the stress when they become injured.

    (My analogy: racehorses can actually generate more speed than their legs can carry, often with tragic results. Thankfully we don’t have to shoot pitchers. I mean the ones we don’t want to. Trainers are great at measuring horse speed, understanding the mechanics of running and training them to run faster, even predicting which horses will be fast when they are barely old enough to stand. But which horses’ legs will snap? They can’t predict until it happens…)

  65. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Palmcroft: “according to House. He did have a stiff finish, I thought, but I have no idea what injured him”

    I would guess the finish is where he was being injured; that’s when most of the stress on the arm happens (less so if you throw sidearm, and your arm can decelerate as it sweeps around the body, and you see less of the arm snap at the end of the pitch)

  66. Sam

    August 7, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Verlander does not have much of an injury history, but he DOES have a history of suffering from arm fatigue, which is certainly a warning and a prelude to tendonitis if nothing else. He needs to build up arm strength to combat this, but throwing nothing but 100+ pitch outings every time he goes out there is not the way to do it.

  67. ron

    August 7, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Yeh, but what about a horses pen…uh ass.

  68. Eric Cioe

    August 7, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Billfer: “From a pitching management standpoint it is inexcusable. With last night’s start, Justin Verlander now leads all of baseball in pitcher abuse points.”

    Show me the statistical correlation between pitcher abuse points and pitching related arm injuries. Actually, outside of Prior and Wood, can you even show me any examples? Prior had awful arm mechanics (go look it up) and Wood was just out of high school when Baker asked him to throw 120 a game. Verlander’s got 2 full pro years and 3 years of college. Sabathia and Halladay have been at it longer, sure, but if Verlander shows he can handle the workload (get through this season without an arm injury), then I see no problem with letting him average 110 a game.

    Billfer, you’re making the stupid assumption that all pitchers should be treated the same. Just because Nate Robertson can’t throw 105 pitches per start doesn’t mean that Cole Hamels can’t. There’s no good reason to limit the number of innings (or pitches) that your staff ace gives you based on how many pitches your #4 starter is effective for. It’s silly and without basis.

  69. Eric Cioe

    August 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Sam – regarding Verlander’s “history” of arm fatigue – it was his first season and he was throwing a lot more innings than he ever had. He’s thrown 200 for each of his 2 MLB seasons now if you count the postseason. He didn’t slow down at the end of last year. I saw his last start and he was good.

  70. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Chris in Dallas:

    “One NL team’s defensive statistics, scouting and ratings have John McDonald of the Blue Jays as the best defensive shortstop in the majors”

    Didn’t notice this at first since this thread is full of Verlander stuff for some reason…

    Hmm, we sure could use a glove like that in our infield. Of course he’s only a career .230 hitter (.185 this year, yikes), but our defense is killing us.

    Hey wait, I just thought of a guy just like that, and we already have him! Seriously, if we wanted good defense, put Inge at short and I’d be willing to put money on it, by his 2nd season he’d be showing up at the top of these lists.

    I was going to say we’re wasting one of Inge’s valuable skills–his range–squatting him behind the plate. But then I just remembered some of the recent pitching performances, and perhaps a catcher with range should be a high priority thing…

  71. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    ron: “Yeh, but what about a horses pen…uh ass.”

    Sadly, the horse has neither ice-making knowledge nor the hands with which to apply it; they rely entirely upon the kindness of their human caretakers in that respect…

  72. Joel in Seattle

    August 7, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    “if Verlander shows he can handle the workload (get through this season without an arm injury), then I see no problem with letting him average 110 a game.”

    He hasn’t shown that yet. If there was an exigent circumstance (say an actual pennant race), there might be a point in risking it. There’s not, so there isn’t. Lay off and let those counts build gradually.

  73. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    ron: “Yeh, but what about a horses pen…uh ass.”

    Also: I had refrained from what I was going to say regarding Prior’s “stiff finish”, and then I see your comment! Jeepers.

    (Now if it had been Wood, and not Prior…well one has only so much self-control…)

  74. Sam

    August 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Eric, by this time last year Verlander had thrown 2,297 pitches. By this time in ’06 he’d thrown 2,065 pitches. Right now, this year, he’s thrown 2,619 pitches, in a losing effort of a season. The equivalent of basically 3-5 extra games, even by his usual standards… that’s asking for arm fatigue.

  75. Kurt

    August 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Baseball Prospectus has a few articles on pitcher abuse points. They really did study the matter quite a bit, rather than just making up a stat for giggle, as some seem to imply. Though I supect you need a subscription for the whole thing, they’re both quite lengthy. Here’s part 1:

    “Managers who allow pitchers to throw too many pitches in a start may not be only jeopardizing that pitcher’s future, but hurting his current team’s chances at success as well. For the benefit of another half inning of work from a tired starter, a manager may be gambling with that pitcher’s next 4 or 5 starts at the very least. The evidence shown here shows that a season-long strategy to maximize the effectiveness of a pitching staff through managed workloads makes sense, even under an urgent “we need to win now, the future will take care of itself” philosophy.”

  76. Kurt

    August 7, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    And part 2:


    To note, and hopefully I’ve not quoted too much:

    “31% of all injured pitchers had above average career PAP totals for their career pitch counts.
    * 9% of all healthy pitchers had above average career PAP totals for their career pitch counts.

    This suggests that high PAP pitchers are more than three times as likely to be injured as low PAP pitchers of who’ve thrown similar numbers of pitches. We have our first piece of evidence that PAP provides predictive information beyond what pitch counts alone can tell us.”


    “Long pitch count outings noticeably decrease expected short-term performance, and high stress workloads over time increase the chances for serious injury. Any strategic analysis of pitcher usage will have to consider the tradeoff between winning the current game and the long-term cost.”

  77. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Does anyone know of an article examining whether or not MLB starting pitchers have enjoyed longer and more productive careers since the game changed from pitch till you die to baby those arms? Don’t let the informal language fool you – this is a serious question.

    Regarding the paragraph Kurt quoted, a couple questions: Why aren’t we seeing 6-man rotations? Why won’t the fascination with “wins” (for pitchers) and complete games die? What is the ideal managed workload, and if we’re not seeing it now, what’s the holdup on progression to a more intelligent system? Tradition?

  78. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Kurt: “Baseball Prospectus has a few articles on pitcher abuse points”

    Thanks for posting this, it looks interesting.

    I think referring to it as an article on pitcher abuse points, which make sense because it ties it into the discussion here, also will predispose some to discount the article, because the term “abuse” is so loaded and implies a certain intent or malicious neglect.

    Whereas their title “The immediate impact of high pitch counts” avoids prejudging if these high pitch counts are “wrong.”

    I’m sure there are managers who have had the who cares what happens to his arm attitude. But I would guess the majority rely on something like “gut feeling,” which in a large part I suppose means their own past experience. I’m sure it makes a difference if a manager has coached a bunch of iron horse Jack Morris types and no serious ruined-career guys, or vice-versa.

  79. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Sean C: “what’s the holdup on progression to a more intelligent system? Tradition?”

    Tradition is a powerful thing when it is aligned dollars. You could write papers till the moon turns blue, but until fans start buying tickets or jerseys of the guy with the totally huge range factor! then that guy’s fielding will be worth far less at contract time than the number of home runs he has hit, which effects how the players think as well as the fans, and who gets picked for all star games, etc etc. and eventually who gets into the Hall of Fame. (Which is why baseball’s version of “tweeners” is screwed, the guys who finished their careers after the really really live ball era started. They become the “yeah but look at his stats, he hardly has any home runs” guys.)

    If you instituted a 6-man rotation, your free agents are gone–they will get less starts, fewer wins, fewer strikeouts, and it will cost them literally millions of dollars. Sure, they might have healthier longer careers, which is why no baseball player would ever mess with steroids…see what I’m saying?

    My solution would be to create a statistic on something like # pitches per win, give the Cy Young to whoever has the best number, add huge contract incentive bonuses based on achieving under a certain number, and before you know it ESPN/FOX will have a running pitch count number box on the screen, teams will start adding it to their stadium scoreboards, etc. Or something like that.

  80. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Interesting stuff, Kurt, but correlation is not causastion. Did you know that every year millions of families eat turkey in late November, and then a few weeks later, it snows in the northeast part of the country?

    This suggests that high PAP pitchers are more than three times as likely to be injured as low PAP pitchers of who’ve thrown similar numbers of pitches. We have our first piece of evidence that PAP provides predictive information beyond what pitch counts alone can tell us.”

    No, you don’t. You are not comparing the same pitcher, same mechanics, same workload. It’s an impossible experiment to do. (I know you’re just quoting the BP article, Kurt. I simply don’t buy this argument.) Furthermore, I submit that this study is incomplete. No PAP are awarded to relievers, as they don’t reach the magical 100-pitch point. Yet relievers are hurt all the time.

    I think repeated outings of high pitch counts (and what constitutes a “high pitch count” varies based on the pitcher) put people at higher risk of injury. This is intuitive. It’s generally not one outing that does it, it’s a multiple outings of throwing while fatigued. The severity, nature and timeframe of the injury are dependent to a large extent on the mechanics of the pitcher and genetics, neither of which do we have a very good understanding of nor can we predict with any degree of accuracy.

    In the future it’s likely science will lend more on how to “measure” mechanics and what constitutes the lowest-stress motion for a pitcher. As such, it will become more and more about the genetics. Until then, it’s probably safe to rely on history as a guide and compare the observable traits of pitchers who managed to avoid arm troubles.

  81. T Smith

    August 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Well there’s a huge surprise. I totally didn’t expect Renteria to be in the bottom 10% in shortstop defense.

    No surprise here whatsoever. I’ve been saying this since, ohh, about 27 innings into the season.

  82. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Managing a pitcher’s workload is an inexact science at best, a crapshoot at worst. (side note: has anyone ever actually shot crap? I hear this will be an Olympic event in 2016.) BP does a good job of providing a statistical-type analasyis, but even that is somewhat imperfect. “31% of all injured pitchers” doesn’t specify the nature and severity of the injury. If a pitcher pulls a hamstring covering a play at first base, can you attribute that to high pitch counts/abuse? Or if a guy misses 2 starts because of a blister, was he being abused? You see what I’m getting at. I’m sure there’s somewhat of a correlation between high pitch counts and injuries, but with everyone’s physiological makeup being different it’s hard to know what that correlation is. Also, we’re not taking into account bullpen sessions prior to the game and warmup tosses in between innings. Though obviously pitchers aren’t going at it 100% in those situations, they’re still going through the unnatural act of throwing a baseball.

  83. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 3:56 pm


    As a corrollary to your idea regarding the Cy Young, I have often thought it might make sense to base contracts simply on contribution to the team. Everything could be done on a per inning basis or per at-bat basis, so as to mitigate the effects of the number of games players are involved in. Everyone would get a modest base salary (base it on tenure if you want) and players earn additional dollars with positive contributions to the team. Hit a ball to the right side and advance the runner to third? Pay the guy. Inherit runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out and get out of the jam? Pay the guy. Hit a home run? Strike a guy out? Get paid.

    Of course, this is just socialism, but anybody who thinks baseball is a free market or “capitalism” is kidding themselves anyway.

  84. Ken in Las Vegas

    August 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Jim Leyland needs to go. And I would have to argue that he should be replaced by……………..drumroll………………me.

    Just hear me out on this. Read me out rather. In the most accurate baseball simulation video game ever made (MLB: The Show for PS3) I have led the Tigers to a 59-40 record while playing on the hardest difficulty available. I’m an excellent clubhouse manager, as there have been no outbursts or friction whatsoever. In fact I don’t even let them speak. They are trained to just go about their business in a professional and mute manner. I keep all my pitchers to under 110 pitches and as a result I have had no injuries to the pitching staff whatsoever. Arms are iced regularly, as are their penises. I smoke twice as much as Leyland while I play but cough half as much. I added a hottub in right field and replaced the lame merry-go-round with a strip club.

    Here’s where my credibility and the integrity of the game lose some luster. Gary Sheffield is hitting .368 with 26 homers in July and Nate Robertson is second in the Cy Young voting with 11 wins and a no-hitter. Todd Jones is lights out. I can turn water into gravy in this game. Hire me DD. I will work for a ham sandwich.

  85. Joel in Seattle

    August 7, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    But Chris, you’d expect high PAP and low PAP pitchers to suffer non-fatigue injuries at roughly the same rate, so that’s not the confounding variable you’d think it might be.

    Man, between PAP and nocturnal defecation, I’d hate to see some of the Google searches this post might come up on…

  86. Joel in Seattle

    August 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Another plus for Ken: living in Vegas, I bet he has actually “shot crap.”

  87. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Joel: Even still, I’d like to see a study that broke down severe vs. non-severe injuries in relation to PAP, as well as throwing vs. non-throwing related injuries (e.g. Chris Young getting smoked in the face by a line drive = non throwing) . Additionally, I also proposee that severe injuries should be known as PAP smears.

  88. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Couldn’t resist, could you Chris?

    haha, too funny.

  89. Teno

    August 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    If Jimmy is so worried about Zumaya, why does he keep using him for TWO innings every time out? And usually, it’s his second inning when he gets shelled.

    Zoom is coming back from TWO serious injuries, resulting in missing most of two seasons. He needs to be brought along slowly, or he’ll be complaining about arm trouble again real soon (oh, he already has?), and be right back on the DL.

    Even if his first inning is an easy one, to loosen up, throw the inning, then go back to the bench to sit and tighten back up for ten minutes before going back out to throw with a tighter arm, is risking serious damage. Zumaya is the LAST guy on the staff who should pitch a second inning.

    Notice how many other pitchers have been misused. Grilli had an ERA of under 3.00 on the road, but over 10.00 at home. The logical thing would have been to use him mostly on the road and in non-vital situations at home to build his confidence. But Jimmy kept bringing him out in nail-biters at home, the situation he most often FAILED at.

    Todd Jones is an old-school reliever who pitches better under pressure with the adrenalin flowing. He routinely got
    rocked when pitching in non-save situations. Yet often Jimmy had him out there protecting 5-1 leads, which accounted for about 3.50 of his 5.00 ERA. If you check the stats, he was near-perfect in saving 1 and 2 run leads compared to larger margins.

    Leyland and his pitching coach need to go before they ruin our entire pitching staff.

  90. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Chris in Dallas: “a crapshoot at worst. (side note: has anyone ever actually shot crap?”

    I doubt, because if anywhere, it would have been done in Texas.

    But it is these sort of phrases that are such a difficulty to me to learn the English. The crapshoot, it is a gamble correct? And the crap, it is a friendly name for the sh-t, no? So why my friends are laughing at me when I say I don’t gamble, and them after inviting me to shoot the sh-t?

    There is many troubles in this English…

  91. Kurt

    August 7, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I think some of you guys would have a clearer picture on why the conclusions arose if you read the entire paper. But we can’t be pasting atricles behind $ services. So I only quoted a couple of results. For instance, Chris, when he explains his methods, he states that he only included pitchers who missed at least 30 days with arm injuries tagged as fatigue, elbow and shoulder.

    And Mark, I think applying the Thanksgiving analogy to the study is way oversimplification. Can you offer some other possibilities for why pitchers with high pitch counts are more frequently injured than pitchers with lower pitch counts? Say, December always follows Thanksgiving , and it typically snows in December, so it typical snows after Thanksgiving. Do pitchers with poor mechanics typically have higher pitch counts? Obviously, the two don’t have to be related. But the results had very high statistical significancy.

    But before we get too far, another BP article cautions, well, not to take it too far.


    He writes a safe rule is “25 and 120.” A 25 year old who has been pitching typical workloads (as we can say JV has) should be able to pitch up to 120 pitches without worry with occassional forways past 120 for important starts. Obviously, Jim Leyland and the Tigers viewed last night’s game as a must-win situation and he put what he thought was his best pitcher on the mound in the 8th going for it. (Why he had JV do the intentional walk…and how (if?) that should be accountd for in PAP are interesting quetions of their own…) 130 is still not territory I’d like to see JV get to, but maybe in this one case, it’s not as big a deal.

    (Your answer might depend on if you considered the Tigers in the hunt last night or not, as well. For those who consider the Tigers out of it win or lose last night, then it is unacceptable to go up to 130 for a meaningless game, I’d assume).

    So, two sides to the coin, I guess. But certainly worth thinking about.

  92. Mark

    August 7, 2008 at 4:28 pm


    not concerned, it was one outing, subtract the 4 pitches from the iBB, the old guys threw way more on an every 4 day basis.

    One high pitch count outing late in the year with maximum arm strength buil up. Not a big deal.

    Nolan Ryam used tho throw 170 all the time. So did Lolich. Morris threw 135 20X a year.

  93. Chris in Dallas

    August 7, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Kurt: Thanks for the clarification. I actually subscribe to BP, but was too lazy to read the whole study. There’s only so much time in the day. Anyhoo, JV seems like a pretty durable pitcher (I know you can’t see this on the internets, but I’m actually knocking on wood as I type), so I don’t think 130 is negligent. Maybe not too bright, but not an atrocity either. Time will tell.

  94. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    “I will work for a ham sandwich.”

    Too much, Ken. Good work. Go have yourself a ham sandwich. On me. Well, not literally.

  95. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Chris in Dallas: (I know you can’t see this on the internets, but I’m actually knocking on wood as I type)

    Actually we can, now that I finally figured out that webcam remote activation hack

  96. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm


    Yeah, my point about the turkeys was oversimplifying things, but it does illustrate that causation is not correlation. Sorry if I came off a little snarky.

    Looking carefully at the statements in the BP article, one could argue that it’s simply 3x more likely that a pitcher has some combination of bad mechanics and/or a weak genetic makeup to endure that many pitches.

    * 31% of all injured pitchers had above average career PAP totals for their career pitch counts.
    * 9% of all healthy pitchers had above average career PAP totals for their career pitch counts.

    So this is comparing different pitchers (or groups of pitchers) that threw about the same number of pitches. It’s impossible to conduct this experiment because there’s no control group. We have no way to go back in time and see what would have happened with someone if we had pulled them after 100 pitches instead of running them up to 125. You can’t compare Ben Sheets or Kerry Wood (both with long injury histories) to someone like Sabathia or Halladay. They’re just not the same.

  97. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 7, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    “a crapshoot at worst.”

    The nocturnal crapshoot is most common, though in the KILV broadcast area, it goes on 24 hours a day.

    Please to understand, Coleman:

    “Tradition is a powerful thing when it is aligned dollars.”

    Yes, I do understand many of the forces aligned against change. Still, it makes an interesting discussion, and not a useless one. Sooner or later, things do change, even in baseball. Let’s be visionaries.

    “base contracts simply on contribution to the team”

    Mark, that’s not really socialism. Socialism would simply pay everyone the same for just being on the team.

    A couple thoughts I might get around to fleshing out by and by: I think long-term contracts in baseball are a mistake. And I think incentives play too small a role and apparently involve a lot of subjective stuff related to All Star status and awards.

  98. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 5:23 pm


    Let me add that I do not completely disregard the study or it’s predictive nature, I just think it’s misleading to look at pitchers as group. You can’t treat them all the same because they aren’t. And frankly, one aspect I didn’t see addressed is the effects of performance enhancing drugs on injuries. Typically they can help athletes heal quicker, but they may also make players more “brittle” and susceptible to injury in the first place. This might explain why guys back in the 50’s and 60’s didn’t have the injury frequency they do today. Or maybe they pitched through it. But 300 innings year after year?

  99. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 5:28 pm


    Agree that incentives pay too small a role and it’s poorly thought out to tie them to things like All-Star games, etc. You make a good point it’s probably not socialism, but it has a central-planning feel to it, which smacks of socialism. At least in my mind.

  100. Kurt

    August 7, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Myself, I’m more in favor of paying a player according to value. If someone puts butts in the seats, then pay them for doing that even if they’re a .250 hitter.

  101. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Mark: “Agree that incentives pay too small a role and it’s poorly thought out to tie them to things like All-Star games, ”

    I don’t think it’s necessarily poorly thought-out…some of these things have nothing to do with actual value in regards to creating a winning baseball team, but they do contribute to making players more popular, selling more jerseys etc, bringing more fans in–all stuff that makes the owners money.

    See Kurt’s comment below yours…

  102. Mark in Chicago

    August 7, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Good point, Kurt and Coleman. It’s a little harder to quantify, but I suppose it could be done. If a guy put butts in the seats – pay that man his money (picture that said in a John Malkovich as Kenny “KGB” in Rounders voice).

  103. T Smith

    August 7, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    I’m unaware of studies that compare those eras to the era of today as to the rate of arm injuries and length of a pitchers career and whatnot.

    That’s because no study has ever found a correlation between innings pitched/pitches per game and injury. Call me cynical, but I think limiting pitchers to the modern-day work load is more an idea concocted by agents/self-serving pitchers who can stretch out careers and garner fatter, bigger, and longer contracts by pampering their arms and limiting the work load. In other words, it’s just a numbers game.

    Hence the five-man rotation and limiting pitches per game. I’m not saying that trotting every pitcher out there 300 innings a year, or 150 – 170 pitches a game is necessarily a good game plan — but I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to do so in certain situations, either, if the pitcher was conditioned to do so. In my view, it’s more a matter of increasing the odds of injury rather than causing injury.

  104. Coleman

    August 7, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    My take on the subject (ooh, take, very sportsfanradio, good choice) is influenced by an experience at a dinner party when the talk turned to baseball for some miraculous reason (why miraculous? Have you ever been through a dinner that was 3 hours and yet no ham sandwich? And the 1st hour spent discussing–by discussing I mean ridiculing in a plausibly deniable way–hair styles and clothing, with emphasis on accessorizing, or perhaps accessorising, if you get my drift? I swear your ears would swallow the very whisper upon the Renteria/Jurrgens trade like the desert swallows a drop of rain…at any point it occurred to me that fans care far more about Baseball (vs baseball) than players or owners,
    ; and one of the tallest smart people I ever met, after pausing , and I imagine, mentally calculating the probability that I was being sarcastic, looked down at me (in more a pitying than condescending way) and said “that’s from lack of self-interest.”

    So you can see where I’m coming from. Or not, in which case you get bonus points.

  105. T Smith

    August 7, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Have you ever been through a dinner that was 3 hours and yet no ham sandwich?

    Coleman, you obvioulsy are attending the wrong kind of dinner party. I don’t believe I have ever attended a dinner party that didn’t serve some variation of the ham sandwich.

    Foie gras and brioche? translation: ham sandwich

    Proscuitto and crostini? — translation: ham sandwich

    You get the drift.

    I make it a point to specifically direct the conversation at such functions to baseball. Even dullards who obsess on assessorizing can appreciate the merits of upgrading the team at trade deadline, if you present such discussion in the right context.

    I like Sean’s idea of payment by production. Just think: Ramon Santiago would be the richest player on the team.

    Seriously, though. I like it. I really, really like it.

  106. Scott

    August 8, 2008 at 8:48 am


    I usually agree with you on most things, but not this time. First off, I don’t think Leyland is on his way out of town … unless that’s what he wants. DD isn’t going to fire him. To suggest that Leyland cares about Zumaya’s arm but not Verlander’s is ridiculous.

    The fact is that Verlander has only thrown 150 innings and is on track for about 200-210 … hardly a killer workload for someone that’s supposed to be your horse. At age 25, Jack Morris pitched 250 innings and went on to pitch 14 more years in the big leagues.

    Yes, 130 pitches is a bit high and I thought he should have pulled him after the seventh inning. If I’m not mistaken, the last time Verlander had a really high pitch-count game, Leyland yanked him at 90-100 pitches the next time out. I’ll bet he does the same thing for JV’s next start.

    Nobody is happy with how this season has gone and I don’t think JL has done a great job managing – not by a long shot. But let’s not get carried away!

  107. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 9:48 am

    “fans care far more about Baseball (vs baseball) than players or owners,”

    Coleman, I’m not exactly sure where you’re coming from (though I’m pretty sure you come from where we all came from, essentially), and in my entire endless life I have not attended a single dinner party, but here’s my take:

    To an owner, baseball is a business. To a player, baseball is a job. To fans like us, baseball is a beautiful abstraction, full of all kinds of symbolism, a story, a traveling feast of numbers. We may or may not care more, but we certainly care differently.

  108. Ryan P

    August 8, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Some players care about baseball just as much as fans do. Some seem like they’re having a good time, some seem like they just come to get their work done. When Cabrera is on the field it seems like there’s nothing he would rather do than be standing there talking to whatever hitter just got on base (although this may just be out of boredom, I’m not sure yet. But one time I saw him walk to second to take the hitter’s shinguard and stuff back to the 1st base coach. I think he just likes to talk). Granderson in particular seems to have a passion for the game when he is interviewed, and just the way he carries himself.

    It’s hard to get a good read on the Latin players. Guillen doesn’t ever show much emotion, neither does Polanco. But then again, Polanco was skipping jumping around the bases like a little kid after Magglio’s home run to clinch the pennant.

    I think there are probably two different kinds of owners too. The kind that are just in it for the business, maybe for money or maybe to prove their business skills on some national stage. There are others that just have so much money they don’t know what else to do with it, and are huge fans of the sport, so hey, let’s just buy a team.

  109. scotsw

    August 8, 2008 at 10:11 am

    You all are overthinking this. Billfer, as per usual, is right.

    Verlander has had some long starts recently, and once he had given up the double, making a guy intentionally pass the next batter with 120+ pitches on his arm is just a jerk move. Lopez was warmed up, the Tigers were already behind, and there was no way Verlander could pitch well enough to get the Tigers to score 3 runs. For a chance to win, they still needed their bats to come through.

    Certainly, those of you who think Verlander can throw 130 with no problems must agree that, in a pinch, bullpen arms can throw back-to-back days after 20-30 pitches?

    Verlander looked good — very, very good — for 120 pitches. What more can you ask? It’s a crime that he gets tagged for 5 runs in the stats, including a dude he intentionally passed on manager’s orders with over 120 pitches on his arm.

    So it’s not just a question of injury — there is the next start to think about… and the next… Rather have JV ready to go.

    What did Verlander mutter into his glove? Probably, “Why did you leave me in to walk that guy, jackhole?”

  110. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 10:41 am

    While we’re on the subject of “things that will never happen, but still could,” here’s some food for thought.

    Baseball could ditch the idea that teams own players and use what’s already true as a starting point for a different approach. Actually, MLB owns the right to play organized baseball at the highest pro level in North America and the right to own, operate, and field such teams. MLB has a monopoly that doesn’t especially trouble me. Baseball as we know it is fundamentally at odds with laissez-faire capitalism, so don’t be troubled by ideas that reek of central planning and socialism, becuase they’re already at work in MLB. (How would you like it if the Tigers had moved 17 times in the past 20 years? How would you like the New York Tigers, one of 7 New York teams in the new ProAmerica League? How would you like Magglio if he was also playing for 13 other teams this year?)

    Baseball could be organized so that players were seen as employees of MLB, and owners would be – in a much truer sense – franchisees. Instead of trades, there would be transfers. Moving to another team could be like signing up for a different assignment at “real” jobs. Seniority-based preference. A player’s basic compensation could be a realistic, significant, and equal cut of the action in terms of TV money and the gate. Beyond that, pay would be based on a combination of merit (objective, stat-based measure) and seniority. Players would be free to strike their own deals with teams for a cut of the merchandise bearing their name, and of course, players would be free to make their own endorsement deals (aside from team jerseys and such) outside of MLB.

    Sound reasonable? Stupid? Nice but impossible? The business of baseball is already full of contradiction, some of it quite unjust. I say cut the crap. Either go “regulated economy” or turn it loose to an unbridled free market approach (don’t worry – it’ll stabilize in 50 years or so. But what about our stats, our history, our precious stats and history! Oh, the asterisks will abound!).

  111. Chris in Dallas

    August 8, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Sean: I told you many times – stop smoking crack!

  112. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 11:18 am

    “Sean: I told you many times – stop smoking crack!”

    Chris: I did, and I’m enjoying the meth you (and Coleman) suggested as an alternative. Besides, what were you thinking, posting that link to a crack site earlier? Oh wait, that was cracked. It’s so hard to concentrate.

    So… you no like my ideas? I guess my campaign to become Commisioner of Baseball is off to a slow start, then, but I’ll persevere.

    In my favor, my full name does have the majestic ring of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and yet I’m totally down with the brothers. I think I’ve got a pretty good shot at it.

  113. Chris in Dallas

    August 8, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I have my sights set higher than Commisioner of Baseball. I’m campaigning to become the Commisioner of Sports. That’s right – all of them.

  114. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I look forward to working under your strong, visionary leadership and guidance, Mr. in Dallas.

    (Figured I might as well start sucking up now. Could help my own campaign.)

  115. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Chris – If elected, what are your plans for improving the sad state of professional curling, currently in disarray?

  116. Scott

    August 8, 2008 at 11:59 am


    I like your ideas as far as player salaries. But I’m a bit lost on the idea of all players being employees of MLB … it almost sounds like you want to go to a fantasy baseball-style format where franchises would be drafting rosters each year.

    I don’t think capitalism works well in baseball. I would like to see all revenues generated go into one big pot and then equally distributed to each team. Each team would be given the same budget each year for player salaries and would be required to spend within a certain percentage of that number .. say 90 or 95 percent. Extra funds manditorialy going into player development/scouting. In such a system, franchises that made the best baseball decisions (drafting, development, trades.. etc…) would be rewarded.

    Under the current system (and I know the so-called revenue sharing has helped some), I still don’t believe small market teams can be competitive year in and year out. They end up being farm systems for big market teams (ie. Kansas City, Pittsburgh… and Montreal back in the day).

  117. Chris in Dallas

    August 8, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I still don’t believe small market teams can be competitive year in and year out. They end up being farm systems for big market teams (ie. Kansas City, Pittsburgh… and Montreal back in the day).

    see Twins, Minnesota.

    Really, if you run your organization well enough you can be competitive consistently. Pointing out KC and the ‘Burgh are kind of bad examples because both organizations are run with their heads firmly planted in their asses. It’s all about investing your modest resources in the right places (i.e. scouting, player development, the draft).

  118. Chris in Dallas

    August 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Sean: My first plans for curling are to outlaw maple brooms and implement mandatory drug testing. The maple brooms are just too dangerous for all involved. My drug testing platform may backfire, though. I’m pretty sure that to participate in that sport, you need to be on copious amounts of peyote.

  119. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 12:38 pm


    Well, you see where I’m coming from, which is good. It’s not as though I’ve thought this through completely – I just gathered a few kernels of ideas together to get thoughts and opinions from others.

    I don’t, however, see rosters changing season to season any more under my “system” than they do right now. If anything, it would be less. When good compensation is more closely tied to improving/maintaining your actual performance level rather than chasing the free agent bucks over to New York, Boston, or California, a kind of sensible stability becomes more possible, I think. A good franchise in any market, rather than a rich franchise, would be more attractive. Good management would attract talent, which would attract still more talent, and yet it still couldn’t get unbalanced to the point where big money + big market = essentially endless dynasty (Yankees). It’s rather self-limited, I think, more so than things are currently. More parity and better, more competitive baseball would be by-products rather than something you’d have to induce artificially.

  120. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 8, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    While I’m still on crack. meth, and using copious amounts of peyote (league curling tonight down at the curling alley – whoopee!), let me run this by my fellow brainstormers.

    I simply love the European system of levels and divisions. Hardcore soccer (football!) and hockey fans already know what I mean. For those that don’t, it’s like this:

    Imagine an array of teams all over the place, big market, small market, huge market, tiny market. Naturally, the big markets are going to attract the big talent. So, if you considered every level of pro baseball as part of one gigantic league, you would start out with you New Yorks and Los Angeleses as elite franchises, in “Division I,” perhaps. Top level.

    Here’s the beauty part. You have to play to stay. Let’s say Division I is the current 30-team MLB. What’s the incentive now to not run a franchise into the ground? Well, here’s one more. Let’s say if you finish last in your division, you drop. That’s right – next year, you’re playing in Division II. And for the teams in the lower divisons, finshing on top of your division earns you a trip upstairs to the next level. So a team from Buffalo or Erie or Kalamazoo could end up in the bigs, if they were the top-flight operation that belongs there.

    No need to tell me why that doesn’t work for a sport more business than sport. But you have to admit, it’s a hell of a way to go if you’re into quaint notions like the pride of acheivement and such.

  121. rings

    August 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you, Bilfer, for an excellent topic that Leyland defenders need to be aware of.
    After three seasons of watching him daily, I just don’t get the “genius” of his pitching staff management. I’d argue that nearly EVERYONE on the staff has REGRESSED overall since 2006.

  122. Ryan P

    August 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    The europeon style of divisioning is pretty sweet. Not sure if it would really work for baseball though – can’t have that and your farm teams at the same time.

  123. Scott

    August 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Sean C:

    Some of the high school mega leagues are set up that way here in Michigan. It does even out the playing field, but would that mean you only play teams from that Division? I could see how that might work. You’d probably have three divisions in baseball: Large, medium and small markets. How would the playoff system work? Top two teams in each Division play their own World Series?

  124. Cap'n Tuesday

    August 9, 2008 at 12:58 am


  125. Sean C. in Illinois

    August 9, 2008 at 1:01 am


    It’s an interesting point you raise about the farm system. If all current minor league teams were under the same umbrella – that is, if all North american pro baseball was simply different levels of “MLB” – and MLB was organized as I “proposed” in an earlier post, I could see the idea of a farm system being made obsolete.

    Players would still make their way up the ladder without being “owned” by this or that organization. Teams in Division I would not concern themselves with drafts; instead, they’d probably be eyeing players in Divisions II and III. It would be teams at the low levels who would be signing the high school, college, and “amateur free agent” guys.


    I didn’t know what you related about the high school leagues in Michigan. That’s pretty cool.

    The divisions (my theoretical ones) might start out in market size groupings, but that would break down over time. It might seem ridiculous to see teams like (say) Columbus and Wichita playing in Division I, and Pittsburgh and Kansas City playing in Division IV with Lakeland, until you realize what a boon to the game it would be to richly reward good baseball and good management and severely penalize the opposite.

    Playoffs? At the top level, there would still be the playoffs and World Series as we know it. In the lower divisions, there really wouldn’t be any point to that. The big deal there – and it would be huge – would be finishing in a position to make the leap to the higher division the next year. Not only for the pride of acheivement, but because the money would naturally get better and better all the way up to “the bigs,” Division I. Earn that promotion, and the whole darn team gets a big raise!

    It’s a pipe dream, sure, but an interesting one.

    Damn, I’m out of crack again. Taxi!

  126. Coleman

    August 9, 2008 at 3:56 am

    Sean C: I am catching up, since I cleverly missed a flight and you would not believe the quantity of blog that can be read until the next one..

    I saw you mentioned “Kenesaw Mountain Landis” which reminded me I’ve always thought that name had a trickiness to it, it would be a good name to have on your name tag and would go well with the ham sandwich, and you would never have a need for the pickle or chip.

    But the “Land” part of the last name makes the name rhyme with the “Mountain” part (with a little “i” following so that is more tricky and less heavy), and somehow the “Mountain Landis” echoes back faintly so that somehow the first name, whatever it means, brings to mind the trees of the forest, does it not? Maybe the “saw?”

  127. Coleman

    August 9, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Sean C: “Chris: I did, and I’m enjoying the meth you (and Coleman) suggested as an alternative. Besides, what were you thinking, posting that link to a crack site earlier? Oh wait, that was cracked” I think you must be mistaking some comment I made; I have been enjoying daily a dish I call Mess-Ham-Feta-mine, which is entirely organic and has no unnatural effects on the brain, unless you are enjoying the saltiness of it an entire afternoon without so much as a sip of water and the spiders begin to appear everywhere.

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