May 1, 2003

Aww shucks, here I go again

Typically during the day I cruise around to different baseball websites looking for interesting stuff to discuss in the next day's blog entry. I usually go to Baseball Primer,, Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, and then I take a stroll through all the different links on the side of this page. When I see something that catches my eye, I "bookmark" it. Some days I have zero things bookmarked and I have to improvise, other days I have quite a few things and I have to limit myself. Today would be one of the "limit myself" days, as I have about a million things bookmarked.

Let's jump right in...

In what is simply too coincidental to not be a jinx, Mark Redman, whom I wrote about just two days ago, broke his thumb on a bunt attempt during his last start and is expected to be out for a month.

As you may have heard, the Marlins recently lost their best pitcher, A.J. Burnett, to a season ending injury. Normally, when a team loses its best pitcher for the year and then another starting pitcher for a month, I have a little sympathy for them. In this case? Not so much.

Speaking of Burnett...

I know I said I wouldn't talk about this for a while, but a new article came out in the "Florida Sun-Sentinel" that simply has too many great quotes to ignore.

First of all, the author of the story is Mike Berardino, who also writes for Baseball America, and whom I really like quite a bit. Berardino gets right to the issue I have been harping on for days now:

As the Marlins tried to cope with the loss of pitching ace A.J. Burnett for the rest of this and possibly next season, they found themselves fending off national criticism.

In particular, manager Jeff Torborg and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg have been ripped for allowing Burnett to cross the 120-pitch threshold 10 times last season. Their detractors believe that workload inevitably led to the complete ligament tear that forced Burnett to undergo reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala.

While not exactly controversial or even opinionated, those are the kind of words that are rarely found in mainstream media outlets, and Berardino should be proud of himself for writing them. What happens next in the article is even better. Berardino quotes Baseball Prospectus injury guru (yes Will, you are a guru) Will Carroll:

Will Carroll of the respected Internet site Baseball called for Torborg and Arnsberg to be dismissed.

"[B]oth Torborg and Arnsberg knew that one of their players was injured, but rode [Burnett] hard nonetheless," Carroll wrote. "This is absolutely inexcusable, and both men are -- flat out -- to blame for the loss of A.J. Burnett. ...

"If anyone in that front office has the remotest of clues, that person needs to fire both men. Do it now, before Josh Beckett or Brad Penny gets badly hurt."

Seriously, how many baseball writers for newspapers across the country would a) read Baseball Prospectus and b) be willing to put what they read there in their article? The article goes on to quote something that Peter Gammons brought up on Baseball Tonight:

Gammons cited the Oakland A's and their healthy trio of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder as a model for pitcher treatment.

"Why do you think Oakland hasn't had the injuries with those three guys?" Gammons said. "They call it `prehab.'"

Hmmm...sounds sort of like some of the stuff I have been discussing here this week (Peter, are you reading this?)...

Anyway, after laying out what the detractors have said, the article opens up the floodgates and lets us hear what Jeff Torborg has to say about the situation:

"This kid had never had a tweak," Torborg said. "I've never quite been around a kid like him, that could throw nine innings, then throw from 150-160 feet in the outfield the next day and never have iced [his arm]."

This is just simply idiotic "logic." It is like saying "I've never been around someone like him, that could go to a bar and drink until he was drunk, then get in his car and drive himself home. He never even got into an accident before."

But wait, it gets better...

Torborg insists he, Arnsberg and everybody else with the Marlins handled Burnett properly.

"We were trying to protect the kid from the first day we came into the organization," he said. "The kid was so healthy. Some guys just have the good mechanics and the God-given skeletal structure. [The injury] shocked all of us."

The idea that Jeff Torborg and Arnsberg (the Marlins' pitching coach) "were trying to project the kid from the first day [they] came into the organization" is one of the most absurd and blatantly false things I have ever heard in my 20 years on this earth.

Torborg has only been in the Marlins organization for a little over a year, but what he has done to put A.J. Burnett's arm at risk over that short time span in incredible.

Burnett was asked to throw massive amounts of pitches. He was frequently hurt and allowed to pitch "through it." He was also injured several times and then, upon coming off the disabled list, was asked to almost immediately pick up right where he left off: throwing tons of pitches. Recently, it was acknowledged that he was having trouble getting loose before and during some games, yet the Marlins continued to allow him to throw tons of pitches. Heck, even Burnett's between-start habits are being called into question by people like Bobby Valentine.

There is just no way a reasonable person can look at how A.J. Burnett has been handled over the past 12-15 months and come to a conclusion that in any way suggests the Florida Marlins "were trying to protect the kid from the first day."

Not only is Jeff Torborg an idiot that abuses his pitchers and then is confused when they come up injured, he is an idiot that then lies about it in such a way that is nothing if not blatant. I am in complete agreement with Will Carroll that Jeff Torborg should be fired. And the next time I hear someone refer to Torborg as an "old baseball man" or some other such crap, I think I might throw up on the spot.

This whole thing is a mess and it has been a mess since the day Jeff Torborg became involved. He abused A.J. Burnett, he continued to abuse him after numerous injuries and, when Burnett's arm had finally had enough, Torborg denied all responsibilty and "played dumb" - which is obviously not much of a stretch for him.

The article in the Sun-Sentinel made me want to rehash all the stuff I wrote about the Burnett-situation earlier this week, but I don't want to bore those of you that have already read everything I wrote. For those of you that haven't, I would really love it if you would click on the links below and read the stuff I wrote about Burnett, the Marlins and Jeff Torborg earlier this week. A lot of people have complimented me on what I had to say and I really want to get the points I made across, so please take a look at:

Monday ("Okay, now I'm pissed")

Tuesday ("The day after")

The other day I got my mind off this whole A.J. Burnett mess by talking a little bit about Alfonso Soriano, so I thought I would do so again today...

If I am ever struggling to find a topic for a blog entry, Joe Morgan's articles are always a good place to look and they almost never let me down. The most recent one is no exception.

Here's a little of what Joe has to say:

I believe that Alfonso Soriano will become the first second baseman in 44 years to win the American League MVP. Soriano has been head and shoulders above every AL player offensively. He's so consistent.

Just look at his stats: He leads the majors in total bases (80), with a guy named A-Rod in second place at 69. Soriano is second in the majors in RBI (25) and third in the majors in batting (.375). He's tied for first in the AL in home runs (9) and leads the AL in runs scored (26).

Now, this is a pretty harmless article in general. I mean, Joe is basically talking about how great Alfonso Soriano has been this season, which is something I even discussed the other day. However, the one thing that bothers me is that Joe seems to have decided, 15% of the way through the season, that Alfonso Soriano is the MVP of the American League.

Normally this wouldn't be a big deal. There is a ton of time left in the season and someone saying a player will win the MVP is not news. However, Alex Rodriguez has been shafted at least a couple of times in his career already when it comes to MVP awards, including last season, and Joe Morgan is one of the main media members that led the non-ARod charge.

Here's a little something I said a few days ago that seems rather relevant right now:

"My only question is which player is going rip [Alex Rodriguez] off and win an undeserving AL MVP Award this season? It probably won't be last year's guy, because he is hitting .157/.229/.287..."

"Last year's guy" is, of course, Miguel Tejada. And it appears as though the front-runner for this year's "Best Player on a Good Team that Rips Off Alex Rodriguez for the MVP" is Alfonso Soriano.

Sure, Soriano is an incredible player off to an amazing start. He is hitting .378/.444/.677 through 28 games. Those are staggering numbers.

But guess what? They are barely better than Alex Rodriguez's numbers. ARod is hitting .342/.430/.649 through 28 games.

It is amusing to me that Joe Morgan would all of a sudden start using statistics to make a case for someone as the MVP. Last year ARod dominated Miguel Tejada in pretty much every category, offensively and defensively, yet I don't think I heard Little Joe making much noise about the stats back then.

I am scared that the media are getting to the point that Alex Rodriguez is not only being denied MVP awards that he deserves, but that they are openly searching for non-ARod players to win the award from the very start of a season. It is almost as if everyone recognizes and admits that ARod is the best player in the league, but they don't want to give him the MVP, so they search for someone else to promote instead.

It would be like if ARod worked as a salesman at a company and was the top seller every month, but the company decided that the "Top Salesman Award" didn't need to go to the guy that actually sold the most stuff and they started awarding it to guys that finished in the top 5 and wore really nice suits.

I don't want to get back into the whole MVP discussion again (at least not yet), but my general feeling on the issue can be summed up as follows: The "value" of an individual player should have absolutely nothing to do with his teammates. The award shouldn't only be given to players on good teams, it should be given to the player in each league that had the best season, because that player is the one that provided the most value to his team.

Last year Miguel Tejada won the award that Alex Rodriguez deserved because the A's won a lot of games and Miguel Tejada had a very good season. This year it strikes me as very likely that Alfonso Soriano is going to steal ARod's award because the Yankees are going to win a lot of games and Soriano is going to have a very good season.

Is Alfonso Soriano any more valuable because he has Bernie Williams, Mike Mussina and about 50 other all-stars on his team? Is Miguel Tejada more valuable because the A's have 3 of the best starting pitchers in the baseball? Is Alex Rodriguez any less valuable because his teams' pitching staff is always horrible?

No, no and no. Of course, it is getting increasingly obvious that the majority of "baseball people" like Joe Morgan, the same type of guys that vote for the MVP award, do not see it the same way I do. And that bothers me quite a bit.

As my mom would say, "Tough s--- Gleeman."

On a few lighter notes...

In case you haven't heard, there is a little bit of controversy surrounding the comments Todd Jones made recently regarding the possibility of a baseball player admitting he was gay. This led to the local Minnesota papers interviewing Twins players about their opinions on the subject, which is similar to what happened to teams throughout MLB, I'm sure.

I don't want to get into a serious discussion about this issue (as usual), but I do want to point out what I think is a funny quote (also as usual):

Some Twins players were reluctant to say much on the matter.

"I can't really answer that," center fielder Torii Hunter said, "except a man's supposed to be a man, and a woman's supposed to be a woman."

I don't know why, but that quote just struck me as funny coming from a "man" named "Torii."

Detroit pitcher Mike Maroth dropped to 0-7 yesterday. Maroth actually had a no-hitter going in the 8th inning, but lost it and then gave up 4 runs before being yanked.

Maroth has not pitched particularly well this season (he has a 5.66 ERA), but he has been fairly good in a lot of games, while getting almost zero run-support. On March 31st he pitched 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs. On April 10th he again pitched 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs. On April 20th he pitched 8 innings and gave up only 3 runs. And yesterday he pitched 7 2/3 and gave up 4 runs. Yet, he is 0-7 and the Tigers have scored a grand-total of 14 runs in his 7 games.

I know this comes up every year or so and ends up being a false-alarm, but I really do think Mike Maroth has a good chance to be the first guy to lose 20 games in a season since Brian Kingman back in 1980.

I think there are 4 basic things required for a real shot at 20 losses:

1) A horrible offensive team.

2) A pitcher that is "okay" and durable, but not quite good.

3) A pitching staff without a lot of other options.

4) A lot of bad luck.

Mike Maroth fits all 4. The Tigers are looking like one of the worst offensive teams in baseball history. He is a reasonably good pitcher (4.48 ERA last year and some good starts so far this year) and appears to be pretty durable, but is obviously nothing special. The Tigers currently have a 20 year old with no experience above Single-A and an ERA of 6.58 in their rotation now, so I am just gonna take a wild guess that they don't have any aces waiting in the wings at the moment. And I already discussed his bad luck (also known as lack of run-support).

Can he do it? Well, he's off to a damn good (or bad) start. He's 0-7 after 7 starts. So, assuming he gets 33 starts this year, he would need to get a loss in 13 of his next 26 starts. Is there anyone reading this right now that doesn't think Mike Maroth has a good shot at getting an "L" in half of his remaining starts?

I read the following note on

"Sir Eugene Kingsale rejoined the Tigers on Wednesday after being knighted in his native Aruba."

You know how some stuff just makes you laugh really hard for no apparent reason? I saw that note, laughed out loud, shook my head, looked at it again, and laughed out loud again.

How was Sir Kingsale greeted upon returning to the team? Well, Andres Torres took his job as the Tigers' everyday centerfielder while he was gone, that's how. You'd think the Tigers would have a little more respect for royalty.


A girl in one of my classes said the following to me yesterday:

"Aaron, I'm in love with you."

I'm not sure, but I think that's the first time in my life someone has said that to me. Of course, if I revealed to you the context in which it was said it would ruin the whole thing. So, I won't...

Today's picks:

Colorado (Chacon) -105 over Chicago (Estes)

Montreal (Ohka) +105 over St. Louis (Simontachi)

Philadelphia (Millwood) -165 over San Diego (Condrey)

Boston (Burkett) -150 over Minnesota (Lohse)

Tampa Bay (Kennedy) -110 over Detroit (Knotts)

Chicago (Loaiza) -135 over Seattle (Franklin)

Total to date: + $1,235

W/L record: 56-52 (3-2 yesterday)

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

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