Pitcher who took $7 million for nothing decries “welfare leeches”

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UPDATE: Braden has contacted me on Twitter, taking issue. He says that he does not believe all welfare recipients are “leeches.” Rather, only those who use drugs and receive public assistance are “leeches.”  He has not explained to me how that squares with his desire to “test the welfare leeches” for drugs. Because, if they’re only leeches once they use, why are we testing them? We already know they use!

Braden is a pitcher, not a writer, so it’s possible that he merely mistyped and demanded that something else be done with “leeches” besides testing them. And that the testing not be for “leeches” but for the good people who have fallen on hard time. So that we can determine if, in fact, they are leeches.

9:14 AM: One can believe that the welfare state as currently constructed is not the best way to help those in need and/or is not the best use of resources. That’s just a matter of philosophy and politics and values and stuff and reasonable people can disagree without being rude and insensitive.

Unemployed pitcher Dallas Braden, however, is not interested in philosophical debates:

Pretty big talk for a guy who took nearly $7 million from the Athletics for a grand total of three starts between 2011 and 2012.

Oh, wait: you mean there were extenuating circumstances there? His inability to pitch those years was because of injury and not because he was some lazy leech sucking off the teet of some rich benefactor without doing anything in return? That he actually would have preferred to work for his money but simply was unable to due to the hand he was dealt? But that’s impossible! I am told by people like Braden himself that everyone who is paid without having to work is an awful bum.

In other news: there are some people from the 209 who live on government assistance. I wonder what they think of their crusading superhero and lord protector.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.