Sure enough, he’s hurt: Jonathan Broxton shut down with elbow pain

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UPDATE: Just as we suspected, the Dodgers announced that Broxton has been shut down with elbow pain. Not that an elbow injury qualifies as good news, but at least it potentially explains his struggles beyond “Broxton just stinks now.”

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Jonathan Broxton’s latest ugly outing last night has Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts wondering if the closer is pitching through an injury.

Broxton was used in a non-save situation, coming into a 1-1 game in the ninth inning, but followed an Aramis Ramirez pop out with back-to-back walks and was quickly yanked.

Weisman notes that Broxton’s fastball topped out at 93 miles per hour and averaged just 91 mph, which is well off from his usual overpowering velocity. Here’s more:

That’s just not the Broxton of 12 months ago, and I’m not convinced it’s even the Broxton of 12 weeks ago. People have been strangely fascinated with Broxton’s facial expressions and posture, but here’s a suggestion: Someone needs to look at his arm. Even if they’ve looked at it before, look at it again. …

Though I’ve always suspected Broxton’s been off physically since his serious struggles began in late June, this was possibly the first time I watched him and said to myself, “There’s a guy that’s headed straight for the disabled list.” Of course, what I observe from my seat far from the pitcher’s mound has no real relevance, but I just offer it as an impression.

It is, I will say, a little peculiar to me that it doesn’t occur to the people who are calling for Broxton’s head and questioning his mental makeup that Broxton is possibly pitching hurt, and maybe has been for some time. If he has been concealing an injury, I sure hope he comes clean.

Whenever a formerly dominant pitcher has a sudden, sustained drop in performance the initial reaction should definitely skew more toward “maybe he’s hurt” than “maybe he’s a bum now.” Yet as Weisman said above, for some reason that rarely happens.

Broxton was an elite, dominating reliever for four-and-a-half seasons, but he’s been a mess since a four-run appearance on June 27 of last year. He actually took a 0.83 ERA into that game, but since then Broxton has thrown 42 innings with a 7.02 ERA and 35/32 K/BB ratio.

Phillies to induct Bobby Abreu to Wall of Fame

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The Phillies announced on Wednesday that former outfielder Bobby Abreu will be inducted into the team’s Wall of Fame this summer. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 3 as part of the club’s alumni weekend festivities.

Abreu, 45, went to the Phillies in a November 18, 1997 trade with the then-Devil Rays that sent shortstop Kevin Stocker to Tampa. Abreu somehow only made two All-Star teams while in Philly. Overall, he hit .303/.416/.513 with 195 homers, 814 RBI, 891 runs scored, and 254 stolen bases in 1,353 games with the Phillies. Abreu ranks sixth all-time among Phillies in career Wins Above Replacement (47.2), fourth in on-base percentage (.416), seventh in slugging percentage (.513), second in OPS (.928), 10th in runs scored (891), fourth in doubles (348), second in walks (947), and seventh in stolen bases.

Perhaps Abreu’s most noteworthy accomplishment as a Phillie was winning the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park in Detroit. Abreu hit 24 home runs in the first round and finished with 41 total, both records at the time. That is his most noteworthy accomplishment as, through no fault of his own, the Phillies never made playoffs during his tenure from 1998-06.

Abreu’s tenure came to an end on July 30, 2006, when the club packaged him with pitcher Cory Lidle and sent them to the Yankees in exchange for Matt Smith, Carlos Monasterios, C.J. Henry, and Jesús Sánchez. Obviously, not a trade that worked out well for the Phillies. Abreu played through his age-40 season, spending time with the Angels, Dodgers, and Mets along with the Yankees. He retired with 60 career WAR, per baseball Reference, as well as a .291/.395/.475 batting line, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBI, 1,453 runs scored, and 400 stolen bases.

Phillies fans have always criminally underrated Abreu. He was viewed as lazy and uncaring, in part due to racism and in part due to a perceived aversion to outfield walls. Abreu’s induction into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame is a long time coming, but it will also likely spur a lot of debate on sports talk radio in the months leading up to it.