Sunday, July 23, 2006

Kicking Bronson Arroyo to the curb

Alan Schwarz of the New York Times:

“[Starting pitchers are] the hardest thing to evaluate talent-wise,” said Schmidt, who has been traded in midseason twice, by Atlanta to Pittsburgh as a rookie in 1996, then to San Francisco in 2001. “A lot of us are late bloomers. A lot of us don’t have success until we’re in the right environment. A lot of times it takes getting released or traded to wake up and think about what’s in front of us. I found that extra gear that I didn’t know I had.”

Arroyo added: “Each individual situation is different. I got waived as a young, healthy pitcher who they probably didn’t think was going to pitch as well as they wanted him to. I think most other guys have something to do with injuries — guys can’t stay healthy. And every now and then you get a guy like Turnbow, who throws 100 miles an hour and very wild, and maybe he needs a certain pitching coach or a certain comfort zone.”

No pitcher frustrated more teams than Schilling — a self-described head case as a youngster — who was traded three times (by Boston, Baltimore and Houston) before he turned 26 and rounded into shape with the Phillies in the mid-1990’s.

Littlefield is often condemned for releasing Bronson Arroyo, but that was something that did not strike me, at the time, as completely crazy or foolish. He was not a good pitcher for us. Arroyo had 29 starts in three years as a Pirate. He had a 113:85 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he gave up 217 hits in 187 innings. With the 85 walks, that puts his WHIP at what, above 1.60 as a Pirate.

Sometimes a player will only go so far in an organization. I read a study once about revenge as a motivating factor, I forget what or where it was, but it opened with the author's somewhat scary realization that a good portion of the population spend most of their lives directing their energy into a pursuit, a career, whatever, mainly to revenge themselves upon some doubter or jackass or other kind of hated person.

Lately DL has shown what I've regarded as maybe too much patience with some guys. Job security may be a better influence on some young starters than others. You'd hate to be cruel to players just in hopes of spurring them to better play, but it might be wise to look for new ways to motivate underperforming people.

Here's to hoping that the recent demotion helps Oliver Perez return to some useful shape or form.

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