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Tommy John Surgery Newsbeat

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bill James Mailbag - 3/24/15 - 3/26/15

I need to see Bill’s high school stat line.

Hey Bill, on the Tommy John surgery boom, a couple of questions: 1) I’m pretty sure you’ve answered this in detail before, but is the proliferation mostly the result of Little League and high school kids throwing curveballs long before they should? And/or: 2) Were there a larger number of early-career burnouts before Tommy John? When I was in Little League (early ‘60s), our best pitcher threw a nasty curve. We dominated the league when he pitched, which was pretty much all the time because we only played a couple times a week. But I remember him asking the coach to take him out of a close game toward the end of the season because his arm was so sore. This may not have anything to do with TJ surgery, but I bring it up just because the curve has been a holy grail for pitchers for a long time.

Well, I’m not any kind of athlete, but I was on a high school baseball team that played for the state championship; I didn’t really play, but anybody who wanted to be was on the team in theory, and the other guys were pretty good. When we played in the state championship, the coach allowed our best pitcher to pitch a 7-inning complete game on Saturday and another on Sunday. Some of the questions you are asking don’t really have answers. In my view the increase in the number of surgeries is driven mostly by the lack of fear of the surgery. People aren’t really afraid of that surgery any more; we figure that almost everybody comes back from it, so if there are indications that there is going to be a problem, we’d rather get it taken care of at the start of a young player’s career, rather than when he is ready to move to the major leagues. There are probably other factors driving the frequency of the surgery as well, but exactly what they are is poorly understood, I think.

... in thinking about Brooks [Robinson] at 3B—or, say, Mariano Rivera at “closer—do you find yourself thinking “was this historically great player played out of position?” Should Brooks, really, have been playing shortstop? And would that have further boosted Brooks’ potential value in an overall historical perspective?...

Regarding Mariano as a starter. . ..one year the Red Sox beat up Mariano pretty badly toward end of the year, and I suggested to Terry Francona that maybe the Yankees had over-exposed him to us, let us see him too many times. Part of what made Mariano magic was that he pitched so few innings every year that he only faced each opposing hitter two to three times per year, on average, if the opponent was a regular. One year he pitched about 10 times against us, and we started to hit him really hard. I suggested to Terry that maybe we just saw him too much, but Terry didn’t buy it at all; he said, “No, we just happened to catch him two or three times when he didn’t have his best stuff.” I was never sure whether that was a “true” reaction or a politically correct-this-is-what-us-professionals-say-about-that type of reaction. . . .Regarding Brooks as a shortstop, Brooks didn’t have quick enough feet to be a shortstop. What made him wondrous was that, like John McDonald, he had that wondrous ability to put his glove in front of the ball in exactly the right position at exactly the right moment; of course, he had other skills that McDonald didn’t have. But his feet weren’t quick enough to have been a shortstop, I don’t think. But your point is a good one; there probably are Hall of Fame players who were sort of miscast. I always though Fisk probably should have played third, and might have been Mike Schmidt if he had.

Topical question: as a fan, it sort of bothers me when a young super-talent is indisputably one of a team’s 25 best for Opening Day, but gets sent down for three weeks to retain an extra year of club control. Is this an ethical issue, in your judgment, or perhaps the rules should be re-written to avoid this annual controversy?...

If the player uses the rules negotiated between the union and MLB to maximize his income, is that unethical? Of course it is not. Why, then, would it be unethical for the team to use those rules so as to maximize their return? It would raise an ethical issue if the young player was being exploited in some way, not given value for his contribution. But a player who has a STARTING salary of $500,000 a year cannot reasonably be seen to be exploited.

Reading about Darrel Evans made me wonder, have any players ever thanked you for what you wrote about them in the old abstracts? I remember for some of them, it seemed like you were the only guy who realised how good someone like Brian Downing, Ken Phelps or Ron Roenicke was, or could be. IF they got a chance.

Yes. . . .actually, a good many times. I have heard from Darrell Evans, not thanking me exactly, but I think he’s aware of what I have written about him; seemed to be. But we definitely hear from athletes who appreciate things that are said about them. . .not only me, but those I work with. One of the players who received a Fielding Bible Award, a lesser-known player, wrote to Baseball Info Solutions in February to thank them for the award.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Tommy John Surgery Success Rates in the Majors – The Hardball Times

When we think about pitchers who have recovered from Tommy John surgery, our minds tend to lock onto the successful ones. Tommy John himself. A.J. Burnett. Adam Wainwright. Jordan Zimmermann. What is critical to understand is that one out of every five major pitchers who undergoes the operation never throws another pitch at that level. These are less familiar names, given their career-ending injuries. Ambiorix Burgos. Anthony Reyes. Macay McBride. Bill Simas. The most recent data suggest that one out of two major league pitchers who has Tommy John surgery will throw fewer than 100 innings the rest of his big league career. Bill Bray. B.J. Ryan. Taylor Buchholz. Victor Zambrano. Let this study be yet another combatant against the way of thinking shared by an incredible number of amateur players, parents and coaches who believe elective Tommy John surgeries are a good idea to improve performance and throw harder<. This injury is no joke, and successful recovery from this surgery is no guarantee.
Jim Furtado Posted: March 23, 2015 at 09:37 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: tommy john surgery

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Zack Wheeler’s agent: Pitcher wasn’t mishandled by New York Mets - ESPN New York

Despite the external criticism, Abbott clearly stated he has no qualms with the Mets’ handling of Wheeler. He told the Record later Wednesday that Wheeler had been diagnosed with a bone spur, but there was no indication from medical professionals that the UCL would be impacted by continuing to pitch.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 19, 2015 at 06:46 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, tommy john surgery, zack wheeler

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No Pitcher Has Thrown As Many Pitches Over as Few Innings as Zack Wheeler This Millenium

I found only 8 pitcher-seasons where a pitcher in his 20’s has thrown more than 3,200 pitches in less than 190 innings ... No pitcher has gotten less from more pitches than Zack Wheeler in the last decade. No pitcher, not one, has been pushed to throw as many pitches over as few innings as Zack Wheeler over the last decade (expanding the sample to 2005 includes Gil Meche, who retired early, Scott Kazmir, who fell apart and lost velocity, and Brad Penny). Here’s the decade-long list:

thetailor Posted: March 18, 2015 at 11:46 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: tommy john surgery, zack wheeler

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Say hey, baseball: These Tommy John surgeries aren’t going away - SBNation.com

Sadly, I agree.

MLB is buying used cars, and paying for them and driving them like they’re new. They don’t have much choice, either, as there just aren’t that many pristine models released each year—as Keri and Dr. Fleisig suggest, MLB teams need to find that natural talent from Vermont who doesn’t play year round and hasn’t developed the same kind of injuries if they want to beat the system. Guess how many of those there are each summer? MLB has tried to slow this trend, but that’s mostly a PR campaign, not something they can actually influence unless they stop drafting the kids who decided to become baseball lifers at age 10. That’s not going to happen, at least not to the degree required for change to occur. Especially not when teams need more pitchers to protect themselves against all those pitchers they drafted.

So, for now, this is reality. Sorry to ruin your morning like that.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 17, 2015 at 09:00 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: tommy john surgery

Monday, March 16, 2015

Brewers among best in MLB at avoiding Tommy John surgery

Maybe because Tommy John never played for the Brewers?

In September of 2014, there had been 53 Tommy John surgeries since 2012. This includes great or potentially great pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Matt Moore, Martin Perez and Tyler Skaggs. Sometimes players come back from Tommy John surgery and are as strong as ever. Some players never recover fully. Some have the surgery multiple times in their career. Some don’t even make it back.

Tommy John was always a concern, but it seems to have blown up in the last few years. Somehow, though, the Brewers have been one of a handful of teams to escape the wrath of the surgery fairly well. Using Jon Roegele’s amazing spreadsheet of organizational Tommy John surgeries over time, the Brewers have seen the second-fewest number of Tommy John surgeries from pitchers over the last 10 years…

Only the Giants have had fewer pitchers undergo Tommy John surgery in the last 10 years within their organization. Not a single team has had fewer Major League pitchers need the procedure.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 16, 2015 at 12:27 PM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, giants, tommy john surgery

Mets get terrible Zack Wheeler news: Tommy John likely | New York Post

Another young pitcher looks to be going under the knife.

The Mets’ worst fears regarding Zack Wheeler came true.

The right-hander received a preliminary diagnosis of a torn UCL in his right elbow after the results of his MRI exam were reviewed Monday at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Wheeler is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery. He also could opt for rest and rehab — a la the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka — depending on the severity of the tear. Surgery would mean Wheeler would miss the entire 2015 season, a significant blow to the Mets’ postseason hopes.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 16, 2015 at 10:37 AM | 44 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, tommy john surgery, zack wheeler

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Monday, March 09, 2015


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Notes: Arroyo’s Rehab, Clark & the MLBPA, Doc Gooden, AFL Arms, ChiSox, more

David Lauria’s Sunday column.

ESPN’s Mark Simon saved me some effort a few days ago. I’d been thinking of looking up which of this year’s pitchers had the highest swing-and-miss rate on pitches in the strike zone, and lo and behold, there it was on Twitter. (If you don’t follow Mark and read his work, you’re missing out on some great stuff.)

Here is the top half of the list:

Chris Sale 23.2%
Max Scherzer 21.8%
Marco Estrada 21.7%
R.A. Dickey 21.1%
Yusmeiro Petit 20.5%
Jacob deGrom 20.3%
Collin McHugh 20.0%
Michael Wacha 19.8%
Cole Hamels 19.7%
Clayton Kershaw 19.7%

Jim Furtado Posted: November 23, 2014 at 08:21 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: bronson arroyo, tommy john surgery

 

 

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