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Was it bad luck to schedule the second installment of long-lasting pens with another Josh Towers' start? It sure looked that way early on, when Big Papi homered as the Sox scored 3 in the first. Towers gutted his way into the 6th inning, and the Jays' bats came to life, making a game out of what had the feel of a rout early on. This time, though, the Mighty Troy was unable to come through.

Earlier, Gregg Zaun had provided the at-bats to remember, first stroking a 3 run homer and later working the count nicely with the bases loaded before giving Matt Clement a nervous moment or two as he watched a potential grand slam flash before his eyes.

The middle innings of yesterday's game had some interesting strategic elements. In the top of the 5th, after walks to Ramirez and Nixon with one out and the Sox up 4-3, Jason Varitek laid down a sacrifice bunt off Towers. What followed was not really surprising, an intentional walk to Mike Lowell and Willie Harris making the 3rd out. Whether Varitek was bunting on his own or Francona called for it, the timing was inauspicious both because Towers was struggling and because of the lineup to follow. In the bottom of the 5th, Catalanotto singled and Vernon Wells was hit by a pitch. After Troy Glaus struck out, Lyle Overbay took 3 pitches high and wide from Matt Clement. Overbay took the 3-0 pitch, and eventually walked. I wondered whether he was given the 3-0 green light and took on his own.

In the top of the 6th with 2 out and Alex Gonzalez on first, Scott Schoeneweis came on for Towers to face David Ortiz. On the first pitch, Ortiz laid down a bunt in front of Troy Glaus for a single. Then, with the count 2-0 on Manny Ramirez and runners on first and second, the Jays decided to intentionally walk Ramirez for Schoeneweis to face Trot Nixon. Nixon cannot hit lefties, and the Sox did not wish to bring in Wily Mo Pena, a poor defender, in the situation.

Later on, we had the bullpen moment. Vinnie Chulk came on in the top of the 8th and promptly walked a batter (Alex Gonzalez) and then gave up hits to Youkilis and Loretta to score a run. The Jays trailed 5-3, and there were runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out and Ortiz up. Gibby called on B.J. Ryan who retired Ortiz, Ramirez and Nixon without incident. The curious thing to me about the decision to bring on Ryan was not that he was brought on in the eighth inning with his team trailing, but that he was brought in down 2 runs, rather than 1 at the beginning of the inning. In any event, it is good to see Ryan coming into the game in the 8th inning, and hopefully next time, it will be a higher leverage situation, even if it means facing a couple of right-handed hitters. He is the closer, but he is also The Man.

In the first installment of this series, we identified the 7 bullpens which had sustained success over a 3 year period during the last 30 years. Let's take a closer look at the first 3 teams.

Cincinnati Reds 1975-77

In 1975, the Reds had a fine pen with Rawly Eastwick and Will McEnaney, a fine left-right combination, taking most of the 9th innings, and workhorse Pedro Borbon and veteran Clay Carroll handling the rest. In 1976, 20 year old Manny Sarmiento joined the pen after Carroll was traded to the White Sox for Rich Hinton in the off-season. Sarmiento performed well in his debut season, and went on to a fine, if short, career. After their second straight World Series victory in 1976, the Reds shipped McEnaney and Tony Perez to the Expos for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. Murray was a serviceable 4th man out of the pen in 1977.

So, here are the Big Red Machine bullpen statistics:

IP H ER HR W K H/9(Lg.) W/9(Lg.) HR/9(Lg.) K/9(Lg.) ERA (Lg.)
Total 1059 1092 365 60 283 483 - - - - -
Annual Avg. 353 364 122 20 94 161 9.3(8.8) 2.4 (3.3) 0.50 (0.70) 4.1(5.1) 3.11(3.67)

Keep the ball in the strike zone, and in the park, and let Concepcion, Morgan, Geronimo and Bench do the rest. That seems like a good plan.

New York Yankees 76-83

This run really includes 2 distinct groups, with a year overlap. In 76-77, it was Sparky Lyle with Dick Tidrow providing most of the late-inning support. After the 1977 season, the Yanks signed Goose Gossage as a free agent, and he was the closer in 1978, with Lyle providing support. In mid-78, the Yanks acquired Ron Davis for Ken Holtzman. When Lyle was sent to Texas after 1978 in the Righetti deal, Davis took over the support role for Gossage and was in fact, the first set-up man with a very defined 7th and 8th inning role. This worked well from 1979-81. During 1982-1983, the bullpen comprised Gossage and journeymen relievers George Frazier, Dave LaRoche, sometimes Rudy May and (thank you!) Dale Murray. For those too young to remember, the Yanks acquired Murray from the Jays for Dave Collins and a minor leaguer. Fellow by the name of McGriff.

Here's what the Bronx Zoo pen looked like statisically:

IP H ER HR W K H/9(Lg.) W/9(Lg.) HR/9(Lg.) K/9(Lg.) ERA (Lg.)
Total 2410 2267 818 167 792 1578 - - - - -
Annual Avg. 301 283 102 21 99 197 8.5(9.1) 3.0 (3.2) 0.60 (0.80) 5.9(4.7) 3.05(3.92)

A classic power pen, anchored by Goose Gossage.

St. Louis Cardinals 1984-87

The Cardinals had Bruce Sutter in 1984 and Todd Worrell beginning in late 1985, but the remainder of the bullpen were your classic middle relievers- Neil Allen, Dave Von Ohlen, Ken Dayley, Jeff Lahti, Pat Perry, Ricky Horton...These were the Cards of Ozzie, Tommy Herr, Willie McGee and Andy Van Slyke, and the entire staff (including the bullpen) was built to take advantage of their defensive prowess. The Cards pen's statistical line reflected this

IP H ER HR W K H/9(Lg.) W/9(Lg.) HR/9(Lg.) K/9(Lg.) ERA (Lg.)
Total 1514 1364 505 109 540 962 - - - - -
Annual Avg. 379 341 126 27 135 241 8.1(8.7) 3.2 (3.3) 0.60 (0.80) 5.7(5.8) 3.11(3.67)

The Cards' pen seems to have had similar characteristics as the Reds' pen, albeit that it was not quite as extreme. A common feature of all three pens is their ability to avoid the home run. Part, but not all, of this was due to the parks in which these teams played.

We will check back on the other four pens in May, and see if any patterns emerge in the annual lines.

Long-lasting pens Part 2 | 57 comments | Create New Account
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Leigh - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 12:10 PM EDT (#145697) #
In the sixth inning of yesterday's game, after Ortiz' bunt single, Gibbons elected to have Schoeneweis walk Ramirez with third base open, as Mike describes above.  Gibbons clearly wanted to have his SS Loogy for the upcoming Nixon and Varitek at bats.

I had another idea, but since it is never done (I have read about it having happened in one particular game in the 1980's, but I read that a long time ago and do not remember the book or the game) I assume that there is something fundamentally flawed about it that I cannot see.  Here it goes:

I lieu of walking Ramirez, remove Overbay from the game and slide Schoeneweis over to first.  Overbay is replaced by Chulk, who pitches to Manny and is then replaced by Hillenbrand, who moves over to first base thus shifting Schoeneweis back to the mound.

There are problems, of course, not the least of which would be one plate appearance where Schoeneweis is playing first base (which, presumably, he has not done much of).  Another problem is the drop-off from Overbay to Hillenbrand at the plate later in the game.  Yet another problem is that there were two outs, so if Chulk gets Ramirez and Overbay's spot comes up in the order in the bottom of the inning, you would have to pinch hit for Schoeneweis and lose his desired matchup against Nixon/Varitek.  Probably, this move was not advisable in the exact situation of yesterday's game.

But, suppose that there were none out, Hillenbrand had started at first with Overbay on the bench, and Schoeneweis had (in anticipation of such a situation) been taking some grounders at first.  Would it be a good move then?  Is it a good idea for the team's lone Loogy to take a few grounders and throws at first in practice so that this could become a bona fide option in Gibbons' managerial arsenal?  What does everybody think?

I think that such a move has its - admittedly infrequent - place.
Mike Green - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 12:27 PM EDT (#145698) #
Didn't the Cardinals do something like this in the 70s, involving a pitcher in right-field?  Babe Ruth would have made a helluva LOOGY...
andrewkw - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#145699) #

Leigh, I think that’s an excellent idea.  The only problem with pulling it off now is that Schoeneweis has no experience at first base.  However if this was practiced for a few weeks I think it could really work.  Pitchers do know how to find the bag covering first.  With Ortiz on 1st he wouldn’t need to be held on.  Assuming SS was okay with playing 1st this would be a great move to pull off maybe 2 or 3 times a year.  If it worked Gibbons or however has the guts to do it would be considered a genius, however if the pitcher made an error at 1st it would be considered a dumb move and probably not tried again. 

I'd really like to see this tried.  I'm very curious about the results and reaction.
Blue in SK - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#145702) #

A couple of quick comments -

(1) The home plate ump seemed to have a very inconsistent zone yesterday, especially low, and away up and in. And being a Jays fan, it seemed we were not being the benefit of the doubt as much as the Sox. For a pitcher like Towers, he needs that benefit of the doubt since he makes a living on nibbling the corners of the plate.

 (2) Blair has a really interesting article up in his Blog, basically stating that Burnett's issues are in his head rather than in his elbow and that the exam with Dr. Andrews will bring things to a head. It'll be interesting to see how this drama plays out.

Wildrose - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#145703) #
In  Tango's and MGL's ,  " The Book"  the authors actually advocate such a move as being percentage wise  a sound manouver.  As Mike points out Whitey Herzog used to do this with the Cards, instead of moving the pitcher to first,  you move him to rightfield.

If these guys think its a sound strategy I'm all for it. Unfortunately you'd need a pretty strong risk adverse type manager to try this, because if it back fires you'd never  hear the end of it.

John Northey - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#145704) #
I recall it happening in the 80's with the Mets (Orosco and McDowell iirc) against the Reds I think.  Pete Rose went ballistic and couldn't believe it was within the rules. 

Checked Retrosheet and found it....

Mookie Wilson moved from LF to RF depending on the hitter, while Orosco or McDowell played the other.  To add insult to injury Orosco scored in the 14th inning after walking.

js_magloire - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#145706) #
 (2) Blair has a really interesting article up in his Blog, basically stating that Burnett's issues are in his head rather than in his elbow and that the exam with Dr. Andrews will bring things to a head. It'll be interesting to see how this drama plays out.

This type of thinking could be the beginning of some very dangerous decision making. It's all about long-term cost-benefit analysis. There is something definitely physically wrong with Burnett's elbow, but some journalists, such as Blair and Buster Olney on ESPN, suggest that since the actual ligament itself is not damaged, the logical thing to do is have Burnett learn to pitch through the pain, because after all, it's just some minor inflammation or soreness and it's Burnett's nervousness that is really keeping him back. That could be a big mistake. I think what would happen is Burnett's elbow would simply become too painful for him to pitch, or it may delay his absolute long-term recovery from the scar tissue, or he will just become an ineffective pitcher both now and later on......But I can see why Blair would suggest this: because the clock on the season is ticking, and while its nice to think of the potential pitcher Burnett could be, such thoughts are worthless if he never actually pitches. So my question to you battersbox people is: at what point do you draw the line to allow Burnett to recover before putting him in the game. 1 month? 2-3 months? or most of the year and have him return full form next year...
Wildrose - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 01:47 PM EDT (#145707) #
I'd advocate patience with Burnett. The team really has no choice, they have so much money tied up in this fellow long term cooler heads have to prevail.

Still it's frustrating, and you can tell its extremely frustrating to the Jays brass as Blair generally reflects what the front office really thinks.
Pistol - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 01:48 PM EDT (#145708) #

Wildrose (and anyone else that wants to put in the links without pasting the long address) -

Type in your post the way you want to.  Then to add a link, highlite the word(s) that you want linked.  From there, if you look in the editor above the text box you'll see all sorts of icons.  The fifth one from the left is the linking button (those are supposed to be three chain links put together).  Press that button and a box will pop up and you can enter the web address.  Hit ok, and there it is in blue and underlined.

Pistol - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 02:04 PM EDT (#145709) #

at what point do you draw the line to allow Burnett to recover before putting him in the game?

That's why you have Doctors - we really don't have any idea on exactly what's going on.

Here's the article that Wildrose mentioned about Burnett that Blair has today.

A long time ago I hurt my knee and eventually had a scope to remove scar tissue that formed in there.  I did the same thing to my other knee a year later, but not as bad.  There's some scar tissue in that knee, but it doesn't prevent me from doing anything.  But when I full extend my leg I can get it to make a clicking noise (like cracking knuckles, albeit not that loud).  Obviously Burnett's case could be totally different, but from my experience sometimes you'll have scar tissue and it'll give you problems and other times you'll have it and it won't impact you at all.

Mike Green - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 02:25 PM EDT (#145711) #

I found the tone in Blair's blog offensive.  Burnett has had serious arm surgery, from which many pitchers do not recover.  He is performing an activity which is extremely stressful on the arm.  To suggest that the pain is in his head, or that it was in his head when the scar tissue broke loose, is completely ignorant. The most that a doctor can honestly say in these kinds of situations is that they see nothing which explains the degree of pain that he is suffering, but that does not mean that the pain is not real.  I hope that Blair is not reflecting the view of management in this. 

I felt that the Burnett signing this off-season was unwise, but that does not mean that I do not respect a pitcher who returns after TJ surgery.  If he says that he is in pain, and that this pain interferes with his ability to pitch, that is enough for me.


timpinder - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#145712) #


If the discomfort Burnett is feeling is just scar tissue breaking off, why not let him pitch through it if there's absolutely nothing structurally wrong with his elbow?  There can only be so much scar tissue to be dislodged.  Eventually, maybe after three or four slightly painful starts, the process will have worked itself out.  On the other hand, if he continues this cycle of pitching half a game then going on the DL, this process will be dragged out for an entire season.

I don't know anything about TJ surgery, ligaments or scar tissue, but the Doctors with PHDs who are examining Burnett's arm do, and they're saying that there's nothing wrong.  Let him pitch through it. 

R Billie - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 02:55 PM EDT (#145714) #

If someone is experiencing pain and discomfort they are experiencing it for a reason.  Just because the Jays decided they were going to risk $55 million by signing a power pitcher to a 5 year deal a year and a half after TJ surgery doesn't mean that pitcher becomes an indestructable robot.

He has pain and if there is pain localized to the elbow it is most likely a PHYSICAL problem.  Whether they've examined the elbow beyond the ligament for other ailments is hard to say.  But he's missed time with elbow inflammation twice since coming back from surgery so it's hardly surprising if he's experiencing it again.

And sometimes doctors are plain wrong or make best guesses when they aren't sure what the problem is.  I.E. if they can't figure out the problem they assign it to some vague condition or even say it's mental when in fact there is really an underlying condition which they could not identify.

The certainty is pitching with pain is dangerous.  It makes you hold back, it makes you come out of your regular mechanics, and it can make you suffer in on-field performance.  Is it better to hold back when you know something may not be right or is it better to tough it out as Chris Carpenter did once upon a time and then lose a season or two of your career?

Wildrose - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#145715) #
I re-read the pertinent section in " The Book" relating to keeping your reliever in the field. Basically they argue that the platoon advantage gained outweighs the defensive ability lost in certain situations.

Last year Blue-Jay  right-fielders had 328 putouts over the 162 games, less than 2 chances per game. By pitching Chulk to Ramirez you'd be gambling he wouldn't hit a ball out to right, and even if he did, pitchers routinely shag flies in B.P. for exercise, so maybe  Schoeneweiss  makes the catch if its a lolly pop flyball. If its a screaming line drive not caught does big Papi rumble around and score? Do you have enough outfielders to play R.F.?

You have to love this game with all its variables.

VBF - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 05:31 PM EDT (#145724) #

No Structural Damage

DR. ANDREWS has confirmed the BLUE JAYS starting pitcher has suffered a reoccurrence of his Spring Training injury -- a mild sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament and a slight straining of scar tissue in the elbow

Chuck - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#145733) #
Glaus has punched out 21 times in only 64 AB's.

Glaus definitely has the TTO (Three True Outcome) gene, with 38 in 75 plate appearances. But he's got nothing on Johnny Gomes, who has 50 in 79 PA's (16 BB, 25 K, 9 HR). When Gomes doesn't strike out, he's batting .500 (19 for 38).
Spookie Wookie - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:16 PM EDT (#145734) #

"Would such a switch performed in the AL cause a loss of the DH position in the lineup?  I'm assuming it wouldn't because the DH player has not been involved in the switch."

Yep, you would lose the DH.  The DH can only take the pitcher's place in a lineup, so once a pitcher becomes a non-pitcher, the DH can't hit for them


Matthew E - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:23 PM EDT (#145735) #
Are WWJP still going on? I tried to find out 2 weeks ago but I discovered MLB even blocks out postgame shows over the web.

Yes, they are. There was one last Tuesday. And you should be able to hear it on
Dave Till - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 06:39 PM EDT (#145736) #
Everybody has an opinion, so here's mine. It's just an opinion.

Burnett has enough experience to be able to distinguish between the ordinary pain starting pitchers deal with and pain that is the sign of injury. The man has thrown over 200 innings twice in his career, once after his latest surgery. This latest problem is obviously something new and intermittent, it's bad, and he doesn't know what's causing it. A pitcher's arm is all he has - if it's damaged, he's worthless.

I think the Jays owe it to Burnett and themselves to check him out carefully. It's not all in his head - there appears to be some ligament damage. If the best medical experts the Jays can find conclude that Burnett cannot damage his arm by pitching, only then do you tell him not to worry about the pain.

Trying to work through pain is normally a bad, bad idea. I speak from personal experience in this.

Magpie - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:04 PM EDT (#145738) #
Pedro Borbon Sr. and Ken Griffey Sr. from the Big Red Machine both produced major league progeny.  How many teams can say that?

The 1973-74 Yankees, obviously. Their offspring included teammates on the 1992-93 Toronto champions: Todd (son of Mel)  Stottlemyre and Roberto (son of Sandy) Alomar. Unusual for the children of teammates to end up as teammates as well.

Those Yankees also included Gregg Zaun's uncle, of course.

My memory insists that someone pulled that pitcher-to first switch with Tony Fossas. My memory plays me false - it wasn't Fossas (if  has both of Ron Guidry's OF appearances, I'm sure they'd have Fossas at 1B too.).

But there was an NL LOOGY who switched to 1b for a batter and then went back to the mound...
MD2B - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 07:15 PM EDT (#145739) #

Let me preface this comment by saying that I am not yet a physician.  I will be in 2 years (currently a second year student at the Schulich School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario).  If there are any practicing physiatrists/ortho surgeons who frequent this board, I'd appreciate your input, though it would obviously be limited given we are not looking at the imaging results ourselves.  The last report I have heard (FAN 590) is that it was not simply "scar tissue breaking", neither this time, nor eariler in spring training.  Rather, it was a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.  This of course, is the ligament normally replaced during Tommy John surgery using the palmaris longus tendon (which, as is usually reported, contains higher density collagen and is therefore stronger than the original ligament).

If this is in fact the case, and provided that the ligament is not actually grossly torn (which would make it almost impossible to generate any velocity), relative rest and physio would be the best management strategies.  As far as scar tissue, I found that diagnosis hard to believe the first time around.  I mean, given the fact that he has thrown, with the same repetetive motion, over 300 innings since the surgery and initial rehab, it would seem odd that the scar tissue would cause him discomfort now.  Most issues with scar tissue would have reared their head during the initial rehab anyway - so I am wondering if Blue Jays management was being deceptive to reduce panic.  I mean, stating that the reconstructed ligament had been injured may have sent bluejay nation into panic.  That being said, I would really appreciate an official statement so we truly knew what we were dealing with.


John Northey - Monday, April 24 2006 @ 10:55 PM EDT (#145754) #
All the people saying the pain is in AJ's head are probably the same ones who complained about Kelly Gruber's injuries back when he was active.  Years afterwards it was found out that the pain he was experiencing was real and correctable, but it was too late for his career at that point (he tried a brief comeback with Baltimore but didn't make it back to the majors).

I like the idea of just letting AJ heal at his own pace.  Once he says he is fine, then use him.  He'll be here for 4 more years.  If we lose him for 1/2 of this one so be it, I'd rather have that than losing him for the next 4.

Long-lasting pens Part 2 | 57 comments | Create New Account
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