April 27, 2003

Okay, now I'm pissed

In the very first entry in the history of this blog, all the way back on August 1st, I said the following:

"Burnett has been great this year and he looks like he will be a stud for years to come. But the way he is being treated makes me think he is in line for some arm troubles. I hope I am wrong."

Just a couple weeks after I said that, A.J. Burnett went on the disabled list with elbow problems and missed significant time, before returning to pitch at the very end of last season. Then this spring Burnett was once again on the DL, but was scheduled to come off it after missing only one start and then be healthy for the entire season.

I made my season predictions before the season started, back in March, and among them was the following:

"A.J. Burnett will suffer a serious injury at some point and Jeff Torborg will have no idea why."

Then, on April 15th, after Torborg allowed Burnett to throw 113 pitches in his second start since coming off the DL, I said the following:

"A.J. Burnett has pitched well this year (so far) and he has tremendous stuff and unlimited potential, but if he pitches more than 100 innings this season I'll be shocked and I wouldn't bet on his career lasting very long."

Okay, I think you get the point. I have some other examples, but I will spare you.

Anyway, A.J. Burnett went back on the disabled list over the weekend and is likely facing major elbow surgery and is probably out for the season - at least.

According to the ESPN.com story:

"MIAMI -- Florida Marlins ace A.J. Burnett is headed back to the disabled list -- and he could be there a while.

Burnett had pain, inflammation and a lack of flexibility in his right elbow following Friday night's start against the St. Louis Cardinals, the third time in eight months he has had similar problems with his throwing arm."

Then I saw this quote, from Marlins' General Manager (and #2 idiot behind Torborg) Larry Beinfest:

"To me, there is no indicator that the amount of pitches could have caused this. You're talking about a good, strong athlete here. Unfortunately he had the injury, but I can't put anything on pitch counts."

That quote may be dumb, but it's got nothing on the gem that came out of Jeff Torborg's mouth back when Burnett went on the DL the first time:

"We would never do anything to hurt him. With the future this guy's got, no way."

Okay enough with the quotes, I'm ready to vent...

What the Florida Marlins have done to the right arm of A.J. Burnett is criminal.

Let's start from the top...

As a 25 year old starting pitcher, A.J. Burnett was asked to be the "workhorse" of the team. He pitched extremely well last season and was basically allowed to throw as many innings and pitches as possible during his starts. Here are some of his pitch-counts during last season:

132

128

128

128

127

125

125

124

123

121

117

117

116

116

115

112

110

106

105

103

That is all before he went on the disabled list. In 27 pre-DL starts last year:

100+ pitches - 20 times (74.0% of his starts)

110+ pitches - 17 times (63.0%)

120+ pitches - 10 times (37.0%)

125+ pitches - 7 times (25.9%)

The Marlins and Jeff Torborg abused the living daylights out of this young pitcher's arm, letting him throwing 100+ pitches in three-fourths of his starts. They let him throw 125+ pitches, which is usually the amount that makes someone go "wow, that's a lot of pitches," in more than 25% of his starts.

So, predictably (and seriously predictably, not just "predictably" like I say most times), Burnett went on the DL after a 123-pitch outing. At the time, the Marlins said they would "never do anything to hurt him" and expressed shock that such a "young, strong, workhorse" would get injured.

After a month of the DL, the team that would never hurt him, rushed him back off the DL and allowed him to go back on the mound and started his post-injury career by allowing him and his injured elbow to throw 35 pitches twice in the span of a few days (out of the bullpen). Then they were so careful with him that they put him back into the rotation so he could throw even more pitches for a team that was 20+ games back in the standings by that point.

Then, during this past spring training, Burnett again complained of elbow soreness and was put back on the DL to start the year. The Marlins once again got him off the DL and back onto the mound as soon as possible and, after limiting his pitch-count in his first start, allowed him to throw 113, 108 and 112 pitches in what may be his final 3 appearances for a very long time.

This entire time, while Burnett was complaining of elbow soreness and consistently throwing 125 pitches per outing, the Marlins were confused about how someone like Burnett could be injured and just couldn't understand what could have caused such problems.

They also seemed to have convinced the local Florida media, who recently wrote:

"Even before spring training, Torborg said the team planned to monitor Burnett's pitch counts as a precaution because of his health history. He has averaged 103 in the four starts after averaging 111.4 per start last season through Aug. 18."

Now, either the person who wrote that is brainwashed by Torborg and company or he is just a moron. Yes, he averaged "only" 103 pitches per outing this year, which is less than the 111.4 he averaged last year. But what the hell does his average pitch-count have to do with anything?

If Torborg lets him throw 200 pitches in one game and Burnett blows out his arm after 2 pitches in the following game, his "average" pitch-count is only 101, which is way less than last year! That 2003 average is skewed because the Marlins were actually careful with him during his first start off the DL and let him throw only 80 pitches. If you take that one start out, he has the following pitch-counts:

113

108

112

Guess what that average is? 111.0 pitches per game, or 0.4 fewer than he averaged last season.

To recap:

The Marlins abused to hell out of A.J. Burnett's arm. Then when he came up injured they couldn't figure out why. Then after he came off the DL, they threw him back on the mound ASAP and let him throw with only a couple days between appearances and then let him throw nearly 100 pitches in his final start of the year.

Then his elbow started hurting again in spring training, so they put him back on the DL. As soon as humanly possible, they took him off the DL and put him back on the mound. After watching his pitch-count for exactly one day, they let him throw just as many pitches as he had been throwing the previous season, which brings us back to Burnett needing to go on the DL and back to the confusion from the Marlins organization as to how it could happen.

It's really a never-ending cycle of idiocy, with Jeff Torborg right in the middle. Actually, I take that back. It would be a never-ending cycle, except A.J. Burnett's right elbow is probably going to put an end to it at some point, and maybe already has.

A.J. Burnett was (and yes, I know I said was) one of the brighest young pitching talents in all of baseball. Yet, because the Marlins felt it necessary for their team to shred the hell out of their best pitcher's arm for the sake of a below-.500 team, Burnett's career is now in serious jeopardy and he is going to miss significant time for the second time in less than a year.

So what is going to happen in the Florida organization now? Are they going to change the way they deal with pitchers because of this? Is it a wake-up call for them? Are they going to be careful with Josh Beckett, the other young phenom on their staff? Well, no.

The Marlins are just as shocked and confused about this A.J. Burnett trip to the DL as they were the first one. And they are likely going to be just as abusive with the right arm of Josh Beckett. So far this season they have already allowed Beckett to throw 100+ pitches 3 times in his first 6 starts, including 107 and 115 in his last two outings. And Beckett is only 22, so he's way younger than even Burnett was when he first started to rack up those huge pitch-counts.

Just wait until Beckett starts pitching really well and he official becomes their "workhorse" like Burnett was. I can see the 130-pitch outings as I type this.

Get out Josh. Save yourself and that wonderful right arm. Run, hide, ask for a trade, refuse to pitch until they get a manager that answers "no" to the question "would you let a 25 year old pitcher throw 125+ pitches in 25% of his starts?"

To Jeff Torborg and the rest of the Marlins' organization, you should be ashamed of yourselves. What you have done to A.J. Burnett is despicable and the fact that you are too stupid to realize what you've done is no excuse.

To A.J. Burnett, I am sorry man. You don't realize it now, but someday, when you are sitting in a rocking chair thinking about how early your career ended and "what could have been," you are going to realize that Jeff Torborg ruined your arm. And for what? A 4th place finish in the NL East.

Go talk to Dr. James Andrews, do whatever he says you should do and please, please, PLEASE do not rush back and, whatever you do, do not listen to the advice of anyone in that entire organization.

"The sooner I get back the better."


-- A.J. Burnett, after being told he may need surgery

Today's picks:

Only two games on the schedule today and neither of the matchups jump out at me, so no picks for today.

Total to date: + $995

W/L record: 49-47 (After going 3-10 in the middle of last week, I finally bounced back and went 4-1 on Friday's games)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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