Sean Burroughs returns to majors with Diamondbacks

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Completing a comeback already far more successful than anyone would have anticipated, Sean Burroughs was called up by the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, putting him back in the majors for the first time in five years.

Burroughs, the former Little League World Series hero turned top prospect in the Padres system, showed next to nothing with the bat in a brief look with the Diamondbacks this spring, but he hit .386/.434/.571 in 27 games for Triple-A Reno after taking the field in mid-April.  He was batting .426 with eight extra-base hits in 14 games this month.

Burroughs, a first-round pick in 1998, reached the majors in 2002 at age 21 and was a very solid regular in his first full season with San Diego, hitting .286/.352/.402 in 518 at-bats in 2003. 

Unfortunately, that proved to be his high point.  While he hit .298 in 2004, he had only 27 extra-base hits and 31 walks in 523 at-bats, leaving him with a subpar .713 OPS.  He battled injuries throughout that year and in 2005, when he hit just .250/.318/.299 and spent a month in the minors.   The Padres gave up on him after the season, trading him to the Rays for another famous bust, Dewon Brazelton.

Burroughs went on to play in just eight games for Tampa Bay in 2006, going 4-for-21.  He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners the next winter, hurt his shoulder prior to the start of spring training, got released in June and then fell completely off the map for 3 1/2 years.

Now he’s back, though it remains to be seen if it will last.  Burroughs was never a great defender at third, and he’s pretty much a singles hitter at the plate.  Since he’s not a legitimate utilityman, he could have a difficult time sticking.  Still, he’s always been able to put the bat on the ball.  It wouldn’t be the most shocking thing if he ends up having a second career as a pinch-hitter.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.