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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Concern about Felix’s elbow could affect contract extension

A concern about Felix Hernandez’s elbow might affect talks with the Mariners about his contract extension,’s Jon Heyman has confirmed. ESPN’s Buster Olney first reported the news. A few days ago we learned the two sides were discussing a seven-year deal worth $175 million, which would be the largest pitching contract in baseball history.

Heyman confirmed Felix did take a physical recently, which is when the elbow concerns arose. The two sides are working through various issues, the elbow among them. There is still hope the contract will be completed, but Heyman hears it is “not imminent.” Pre-signing physicals, especially for contracts of this magnitude, are standard.

Hernandez, 26, missed close to a month with a flexor strain in his right elbow in 2007. An ankle sprain sent him to the DL briefly in 2008, but otherwise he’s been healthy in recent years. Hernandez has thrown at least 232 elite innings in each of the last four seasons, so if his elbow has been barking, he’s done a good job of hiding it.

Thanks to Doug.

Repoz Posted: February 10, 2013 at 06:00 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 10, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4366753)
Hernandez has thrown at least 232 elite innings

Oh, I'm sure a few of them weren't exactly elite innings. :-)

Interesting in that he's already under contract for the next two years. Recovery from TJS (if it's that bad) is usually pretty good so (in theory!) this shouldn't affect the extension -- i.e. they're paying him for the next two years either way, the decision they're making is the 5 after that. Of course in the real world, elbow problems now make you skittier about those 5 extra but I think the evidence suggests you shouldn't be too concerned.
   2. Esoteric Posted: February 10, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4366763)
Well this is ominous.
   3. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 10, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4366765)
Just posturing by the club. He probably will get hurt at some point, most do. The elbow is hardly the worst thing that could happen.
   4. puck Posted: February 10, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4366784)
Of course in the real world, elbow problems now make you skittier about those 5 extra but I think the evidence suggests you shouldn't be too concerned.

It does? What's the recovery rate from TJ? Anecdotally, the last two Rockies pitchers haven't do too well. (Buchholz and De la Rosa. DLR is just coming back but it was much delayed--maybe 15 months--and his velocity was down when he returned.)
   5. Tiboreau Posted: February 10, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4366801)
Dave Cameron assumes over at U.S.S. Mariner that the hold up is due to the M's desire to include language in the contract similar to the deal CC Sabathia has with the Yankees. I prefer to believe this over any alternative involving greater risk to King Felix's arm above & beyond the expected threat due to repeated stress of the unnatural motion a baseball pitcher. . . .
   6. shoewizard Posted: February 10, 2013 at 08:58 PM (#4366819)
I agree with 4

While there are plenty of success stories with TJ surgery of guys who have come back and continued their career, there is a serious disruption and time lost, and the time to regain effectiveness once back can take another half season or season on top of that. And while the relative recovery rate is high compared to shoulder injuries, or pre TJ surgery days, it's still by no means a slam dunk the pitcher gets back close to pre surgery dominance.

I think it's a bit of a cavalier attitude to just make the assumption that post TJ surgery Felix would be anything near the pre TJ version....especially with this many dollars on the line.

If the M's can't get guarantee language, they are better off not extending him at all. They can either take their chances with him the next two years if they think they can contend, (unlikely), or hope for a great first half and then trade him mid season with 1.5 years of control left so they can actually get something good in return still.
   7. ptodd Posted: February 10, 2013 at 10:16 PM (#4366842)
Just give him a Lackey clause and makes sure he gets TJ Surgery promptly and not have him pitch a whole year with a bad elbow like the Red Sox did with Lackey.

The key is if King Felix has been symptomatic or not. The fact that he was willing to leave money on the table with an extension suggests me wonder if he may have had symptoms, which may explain his velocity drop the past couple of year.

If he has not had symptoms and this is just a diagnosis based on an MRI, Dr Andrews would be upset.

One study I read suggested over 50% of pitchers will show abnormal results on an MRI despite the lack of symptoms.
   8. ptodd Posted: February 10, 2013 at 10:18 PM (#4366844)
What's the recovery rate from TJ?

As low as 85% based on my memory.

Daisuke and Rich Hill did not fare too well for the Red Sox, but they were rushed back. Tazawa did very well in a normal recovery period, and Lackey appears to be doing well also. More familiar with the Red Sox so those are my examples

I suspect the patients who do not recover well are either rushed or they did not rehab as diligently as they should have. There may be other reasons though.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:36 PM (#4366861)
My point is that, if he is genuinely hurt, then the M's are already stuck with the lost time and rehab because that happens now when they've already got him under contract. They're absorbing those losses whether they extend him or not so that lost value doesn't even enter into the equation of whether you want to sign him for 2015 and beyond.

The recovery rate from TJS is going to have a lot to do with the pitcher's delivery and mechanics. As far as I know, Felix has no known issues in that area. Therefore the elbow issue here is standard wear and tear and so the repair and rehab should not pose a major issue.

But true, still assuming he is genuinely hurt, there's no reason to sign him to that extension now. You might as well go through that lost and rehab time before committing to anything -- nobody else will be rushing to trade for and extend him, he's not going to be upset you didn't extend him, etc.

If it's just negotiating posture then it's just negotiating posture.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM (#4366871)
The fact that he was willing to leave money on the table with an extension suggests me wonder if he may have had symptoms

He doesn't seem to be leaving money on the table to me. Largest total contract for any pitcher. 3rd highest per year average, tied with Ryan Howard and behind the two ARod deals. $1M more per year average than Cliff Lee's record for a pitcher, but 2 years longer.

Inflation and all, but I think he is cashing basically max value at the right time.
   11. Austin Posted: February 11, 2013 at 12:22 AM (#4366875)
#1 - That's a very interesting point, one that's counterintuitive enough that I never would have thought of it. One thing I want to add: People often seem to focus simply on pre- versus post-TJS, but unlike with most injuries, the recovery period is so long that you really have to compare against the actual alternative: 1-1.5 years of aging and injury risk. That's easily enough time for many pitchers to simply start sucking "naturally," or to get some injury other than a torn UCL that has lasting effects on their effectiveness. I would still expect TJS to reduce post-recovery expectations, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the magnitude of the difference were small enough to be insignificant given the error bars inherent in a small-ish and potentially biased sample of pitchers.

Of course, TJS is still a bad thing - you lose at least a season. But if we're just talking about what happens when they return: even if they have reduced effectiveness after their recovery period, well, so do a lot of other pitchers over that same length of time.
   12. drdr Posted: February 11, 2013 at 02:08 AM (#4366885)
The fact that he was willing to leave money on the table with an extension suggests me wonder if he may have had symptoms

He didn't have to sign extension with M's last time. He would have gotten at least CC's contract. He seems to like Seattle. I'm not sure, but I think M's weren't the highest bidder when they signed him, but they had constant contact and they sold their organization and approach the best.
   13. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: February 11, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4366951)
but they had constant contact and they sold their organization and approach the best.

Clearly Felix hasn't learned from his mistake in judgement, then.
   14. Bitter Mouse, Space Tyrant Posted: February 11, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4366972)
Clearly Felix hasn't learned from his mistake in judgement, then.

Six is his favorite number, and there is nothing wrong with that.
   15. PepTech Posted: February 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4367107)
I can't be the only one cynical enough to believe the M's leaked the big contract knowing they'd take it back on health concerns. They get to look like heroes for offering the big bucks but don't actually have to pay up.

   16. Shoeless Swedish Chef Posted: February 12, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4368273)
The deal is apparently done, 7/175.

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