Tag: Brandon Webb

Brandon Webb House

Wanna buy Brandon Webb’s house?


This one is sad because it reminds us that Brandon Webb was great and then he hurt his shoulder and then he disappeared and that’s a total bummer.  But at least he pitched well enough and long enough to afford a pretty sweet house (if you’re into the Scottsdale-style architecture anyway):

Webb’s property is your standard desert dwelling, Tuscan style with a beige color palette and stone façade. Built in 2004, the energy-efficient house offers a total of six bedrooms, six bathrooms and nearly 6,500 square feet. Interior highlights include custom hardwood cabinetry, granite countertops and a palatial master with a jetted spa. It also sports a finished basement with guest quarters, a climate-controlled wine cellar and wet bar, and a movie theater. Outside, Webb’s backyard rounds out with a pool and spa setup that has both a waterfall and a water slide.

Go through the pics and check out the baby’s room. Baseball stitching wallpaper that I’m totally getting for the den in my fortified compound.

The Long Sad History of Injured Pitchers

Matt Harvey

There seems to be an impression out there that pitchers get hurt today more than they ever did before. It seems that every time a high profile pitcher gets hurt — the latest of these being Mets phenom Matt Harvey — that we get a rash of stories like this one from my friend Terry Moore, recommending some solution for this “epidemic of starters and relievers” who pitch well, then feel pain, then go the DL, then go under the knife. Terry’s recommendation is pitchers throw more, something I’ve heard from a lot of veteran baseball people (“Operation Long Toss”) and it’s a perfectly reasonable concept. I’m personally all for it.

But let’s be clear about something: I don’t believe for one minute that there’s some new epidemic of starters and relievers getting hurt. I think this is a story as old as baseball. I think that as long as pitchers throw baseballs as hard as they can, often mixing in various twists and turns and grips, elbow ligaments will burst and shoulders will pop and rotator cuffs will tear. And while there might be ways to protect pitcher’s arms, to limit the damage, to give pitchers their best chance to survive — long toss, limited innings, ice treatments, heat treatments, five man rotations, progressive inning increases, occasional skipped starts — the worldwide reality will not go away. Pitchers get hurt. A lot.

I think maybe we think of the old days different because when pitchers got hurt then, they were simply discarded and never heard from again. The code phrase for this was “He had arm fatigue” or “”he stopped being effective.” It’s actually pretty comical, if you think about it. You see those phrases, or something similar, scattered throughout baseball history.

Take Russ Ford. Have you ever heard of Russ Ford? In 1910, Ford at age 27 came to play for the New York Yankees and he went 26-6 with a 1.65 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 299 2/3 innings. He gave up just 194 hits, meaning the league hit roughly .188 against him, and he gave up four home runs all year. Yes, it was the Deadball Era, but this was a spectacular debut. Truth is, Russ Ford had invented something new — a pitch that would be called the “Emery Ball.” He had learned that if you scuff up a baseball you could make it move in unpredictable ways. Others would take the trick all the way to the Hall of Fame.

But the point is — Russ Ford soon suffered from, yep, “arm fatigue.” What’s that? His arm hurt. He had a good second year, but by his third he led the league in losses. They Yankees dumped him after the next year. He picked up with Buffalo in the Frontier League and had a good year, then a lousy one, then was out of baseball where he nursed a sore arm for pretty much the rest of his life.

You know the story of Mark Fidrych. Amazing in 1976 at age 21. The talk of baseball. One of the biggest sports personalities of my entire childhood. He went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and a ridiculous 24 complete games. The next year he blew out his rotator cuff. He pitched in the Majors again, but he never made it back. Arm fatigue. And he stopped being effective.

Tommy Thomas at age 27 won 19 games with a 2.98 ERA for the Chicago White Sox. He led all pitchers in WAR. Three years later, he blew out his elbow, suffered from ptomaine poisoning (pitchers had it seriously rough in those days) and spent the next eight years just struggling to hang on in the big leagues as the pain shot up and down his arm.

How about Bill James — the pitcher. In 1914 he went 26-7 with a 1.90 ERA. He was called Seattle Bill and he completely turned around the fortune of the Boston Braves, who went from 69-82 to World Series champions. The Miracle Braves, they were called, and Bill James was that miracle. The next year he came to camp with that dreaded “arm fatigue.” He won five games. He tried shoulder surgery after shoulder surgery. He never pitched another Major League game.

Remember Justin Thompson? He was 6-foot-4, left-handed, an exciting young pitcher. In 1997, age 24, he went 15-11 with a 152 ERA+ and a 151-66 strikeout-to-walk. He made the All-Star Team. Injuries ended his effectiveness.

Do we need to talk about Mark Prior? As a 22-year-old — 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 245 strikeouts in 211 innings. Injuries. Never made it all the way back.

Herb Score? The common perception is that Score’s brilliant young career — as I’ve written before, he was Koufax before Koufax — was detailed by a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald. That was the lead sentence of his obituary in the New York Times (which you might not be able to read right now because of the cyber attack), and it is partially true, though the full truth from many people around him seems to be that it was actually ARM troubles in his comeback that cost him what seemed sure to be a Hall of Fame career.

Ernie Broglio? Remembered for being on the wrong side of the Lou Brock trade, but Broglio at 24 went 21-9 with a 2.74 ERA, 188 strikeouts, and he led the league in WAR. What happened? “(The Cardinals) got a heckuva player; they gave up damaged goods,” Broglio told ESPN in 2011. “I think that they knew I had a bad arm.”

Cy Blanton led the National League in ERA in 1935 as a 26-year-old. He pitched reasonably well for pretty good Pirates teams the next three years before basically disappearing. Blanton was an alcoholic, and he died at age 37, and many blamed his ineffectiveness on alcohol. But, his fall as a pitcher traces directly to a serious arm injury he suffered in spring training 1939.

Gary Nolan was a phenom, only the second pitcher in baseball history to strike out 200 batters in a season before he turned 20 (the first was Bob Feller — Dwight Gooden became the third in 1984). He had so many arm issues that, at some point, the Reds sent him to a DENTIST and told him they had solved the problem (they thought it was all in his head).

Sparky Anderson predicted Don Gullett would be in the Hall of Fame the year Gullett turned 22 years old. Everybody thought so. He had 100 wins before his 27th birthday. He finished with 109 after blowing out his rotator cuff at 27.

How about Brandon Webb? Cy Young winner at 27, a 22-game winner at age 29, out of baseball at 30 after shoulder surgery.

Jon Matlack. Rookie of the Year. Three-time All-Star. Elbow Surgery at 29. One full season after that.

Dizzy Dean. Led league in strikeouts four straight seasons, won 30 and 28 games back to back. At age 27 he was hit in the toe with a line drive. This, legend has it, caused him to change his pitching motion, which led to him badly hurting his arm. It also could have been the 1,531 innings he had thrown the five previous years. It also could have been that pitching hurts arms. He tried to hang around on his name with junk pitches, but he did not win a game after age 30.

Schoolboy Rowe won 24 games as a 24-year-old and charmed everyone with his superstitions — they say he would carry around luck charms galore and would always wear his lucky tie. In 1937 and 1938 he suffered that all-encompassing arm fatigue and disappeared. He spent the next 10 years bouncing up and down, pitching well for stretches and then having completely lost seasons. He won 158 career games, so this made him one of the lucky ones with arm fatigue.

The late Dick Radatz was such an overpowering reliever from 1962-1964 that Mickey Mantle was known to call him “The Monster” which led to him being known as, yes, the Monster. Through his first four seasons, he went 49-32 with a 2.57 ERA and 608 strikeouts in 538 innings pitched. Then he had what was called a “puzzling drop in velocity.” That’s another code phrase. “Puzzling drop in velocity.” LIke it’s really puzzling. He was traded to Cleveland and won three games the rest of his career.

Craig McMurtry finished second to Darryl Strawberry in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 1983 and was seventh in the Cy Young voting. Then: Elbow problems.

You can go like for much, much longer — though I sense we’ve gone on too long already. If you go down the list of pitchers who had early success in the big leagues, you come upon injury after injury after injury. And for many — Wilcy Moore, Buck O’Brien, Herman Pillette, Whitey Glazner, on and on — there’s no clear injury to talk about because pitchers just ascended and descended so quickly that nobody really bothered to keep track. And don’t even get started on the hundred, no, thousands of promising minor league pitchers through the years who have had their dreams crushed by injuries.

This, of course, is not to say that teams should stop trying to prevent injuries. They should absolutely keep trying, keep studying the arm, keep studying the mechanics of the windup, maybe get pitchers to throw more like Terry suggests. It’s more important now than ever with all the money and interest in the game.

But let’s not kid anybody. Pitchers get hurt, and there’s no solution for that. The Matt Harvey story is a tale as old as time. The thing that has changed, the miracle here, is that, with treatment and possibly surgery, Harvey will have the opportunity to come back and, we all hope, be as good or better than ever. That’s new. If he pitched 50 or 70 or 90 years ago, Matt Harvey might have a two paragraph Wikipedia item talking about how he was an exciting young pitcher until, inexplicably, arm fatigue caused him to have a puzzling drop in velocity. And he stopped being effective.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Allen Craig

Cardinals 10, Brewers 1: The four-game sweep of the Brewers. Four RBI for Allen Craig. That’s six straight wins for the Cards, who are in their customary first place position in rather quiet fashion. The six first place teams right now: Boston, Detroit, Texas, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Francisco. Not many surprises there. I guess Boston would be the biggest one, and it’s not like they’re some Cinderella story. Viva Big Team Hegemony.

Braves 9, Mets 4:  A double, a homer and three RBI for Freddie Freeman. Reed Johnson drove in three two. Meanwhile Brian McCann is likely coming back today, and will take at bats away from Evan Gattis. Reed Johnson will continue to come off the bench. B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla, however, will continue to play every single day to no apparently effective purpose.

Twins 4, Indians 2: Mike Pelfrey: stopper. Or something. He pitched well and the Indians’ six-game winning streak comes to an end. Brutal stretch here for the Twins as the came off Detroit to play the hot Indians and now on to Boston. Had to win one in there somewhere lest this become the road trip from Hell which effectively ends the competitive portion of Minnesota’s season.

Nationals 6, Pirates 2: Clint Hurdle intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to get to Tyler Moore. Moore then hit a three run homer. Didn’t watch the game but I’n guessing there was a nice iso camera shot on Hurdle right after that. And that Hurdle knew it and just chewed his gum and stared straight ahead for a few seconds. Man’s a pro. He knows how to handle those situations. Oh, and Bryce Harper’s day ended early because of an Ump Show.

Athletics 5, Yankees 4: Not a great day for Andy Pettitte, giving up a couple of homers and walking four. The Yankees clawed back, however, only to see Josh Donaldson take Boone Logan into the upper deck in the eighth inning. Grant Balfour got into trouble late but held on.

Blue Jays 10, Mariners 2: I guess Toronto is going to win some games. And winning one in a blowout will help that embarrassingly poor run differential get better faster. Mark DeRosa hit a three-run homer. Melky hit a solo shot. Brandon Morrow was on point for eight innings.

Reds 7, Cubs 4: Was at a restaurant last night. In the bar there was some greatest highlights of the year kind of show. They showed Ben Revere’s amazing catch in center at Great American Ballpark against the Reds from earlier this year. I didn’t recognize the show as a past highlights show at first because I wasn’t really paying attention. Thought it was SportsCenter or something. My brain: “wait, the Phillies aren’t in Cincy, whaaaaa ….?”  It took me far longer to reconcile all of that than it should have. In other news, the restaurant I was in last night makes great, great martinis. Maybe that should be “in related news …”

Royals 6, White Sox 5: Late heroics in Kansas City. Billy Butler with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth to tie it on a pitch which, had he missed it, would have ended the game. Alex Gordon hit a bases-loaded single in the 10th to win it. The Royals have come from behind in 11 of their 17 wins this season. Also: the Royals have 17 wins this season. And a lot of people laughed when I picked them to finish ahead of the White Sox back in March.

Marlins 14, Phillies 2: Is this the end for Roy Halladay? Adeiny Hechavarria hit a grand slam and a bases-loaded triple off of him, and now he’s heading to the DL. This is the stuff of long absences and, in some cases, the end of a pitcher’s career. Let’s hope this isn’t a Brandon Webb or Johan Santana situation.

Rangers 4, Red Sox 3: I watched this one until it was 3-0 Red Sox and thought “well, Darvish has some good stuff, but he’s leaving things up, so this probably won’t end well.” It ended well, as the Davids Ortiz and Ross homers were all the damage the Sox would do, while Darvish struck out 14. He’s doing a lot of that striking out hitters thing lately.

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 1: Back to back homers by Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable and a solid outing from Edinson Volquez, as the camo-clad Padres win. The once-struggling Padres have won eight of eleven. Arizona is on a mini-skid.

Orioles 8, Angels 4: I feel like the O’s have been on the west coast for three years. OK, just checked: it was 11 games. And they won seven of them. Not too shabby. The Angels, meanwhile, continue their worst start in franchise history and have dropped seven of nine. Not that Seven of Nine is a bad thing at all.

Tigers 9, Astros 0: This was more of a snuff film than a baseball series. I kept wanting to throw a towel into the ring. The Tigers outscored the Astros 39-8 in the four-game series.

Rays 8, Rockies 3: If you give up three runs in Coors Field you can win as long as there aren’t runners on base. That’s what Alex Cobb did anyway. [Craig randomly looks at the box score, notices James Loney is hitting .398/.444/.532, spits coffee out all over the screen].

Giants 4, Dodgers 3: I have a houseguest from Los Angeles at the moment. We got home and watched some of the Dodgers game last night. It’s a month into the season and this Dodgers fan already has a feeling of inevitable blah, predicting the bad things like first-pitch-swing outs for Juan Uribe and stuff. The Dodgers have a new feel about them, but they also have an old feel about them.