Mark Prior’s retirement reminds us that young pitchers will break your heart

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Every year we get a report that Mark Prior is working out, hoping to make a major league comeback after years of injuries. No more. Andrew Simon of MLB.com reports that the former Cubs phenom is calling it quits:

After a series of injuries and several comeback attempts, it appears Mark Prior is ready to call it a career.

The right-hander, now 33, was in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Monday for the Winter Meetings, where he told reporters he was retiring. Prior also indicated he could take a job in the Padres’ front office, although the club has not confirmed it.

Prior is Exhibit A for the proposition that young, talented pitchers exist to break your heart. The second overall pick in the 2001 draft, Prior was a fixture in the Cubs’ rotation by 2003, when he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 211 innings at age 22. The sky was, seemingly, the limit. The conversation wasn’t about whether or not he could keep it up, but just how great would he end up being.

And then the injuries came. He made only 21 starts in 2004. He made 27 starts in 2005. In 2006 he started nine games, was totally ineffective and then had reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. It would not be until 2010 that he would pitch in a minor league game. He never pitched in the big leagues again.

At the time his career was disintegrating due to injury, many pointed a finger at Prior’s manager with the Cubs, Dusty Baker, for allowing him to pitch too many innings and throw too many pitches in too many outings. And maybe Baker did work Prior too hard. But I don’t feel anyone to this day knows enough about ideal pitcher usage and preservation to say anything with any amount of certainty about that. Some pitchers break, some pitchers don’t, and despite his reputation as an abuser of pitchers, Baker’s pitchers have been pretty darn durable since Prior and his teammate Kerry Wood went down.

Prior just broke. Even guys who look like they’re going to collect multiple awards and hundreds of wins some day break. And with them break the hearts of any baseball fan who put too much faith in young promising starting pitching.

Hyun-Jin Ryu likely to accept the Dodgers’ qualifying offer

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that, while there is no official word yet, Hyun-Jin Ryu will “most likely” accept the Dodgers’ one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer.

Ryu posted a 1.97 ERA in to 82.1 regular-season innings, with his season shortened due to recovery from injury. He was pretty darn good in the postseason too, though his ERA was inflated somewhat thanks to Ryan Madson allowing his inherited runners to score like it was his job or something. Either way: given his durability issues over the past few seasons, it’s not at all clear that there was a massive multi-year deal in the offing for the soon-to-be-32-year-old pitcher, so accepting the qualifying offer is probably a pretty good move for him.

All players who received a qualifying offer have until 5PM today to make a decision on them. Others, besides Ryu, who got them: Yasmani Grandal, Patrick Corbin, Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, and A.J. Pollock.