I reported that he had the same exam that many of the pitchers had in January and that there was no cause for concern at that point. The Cardinals knew of the partial tear in his elbow, and that it hadn't been an issue and it didn't look like it was an issue at that point. What happened between then and this past week?
He threw a baseball.
The act of throwing a baseball can cause trauma within a player's elbow, and that can lead to an event injury. Adam Wainwright pitched for more than a decade with a partial tear in his elbow. He was doing fine. Won a World Series. Nearly won a Cy Young Award. And then one day in spring training he did the one thing that he had to -- throw a baseball -- and his ligament popped. Jason Motte reached across his body to grab an iPad or a phone or something on a team bus and -- snap -- his ligament went. There are many many many ways for a pitcher to injury his ligament and the reason why that is because the only way for a pitcher to be certain he won't have ligament trouble is to never throw a pitch at max effort. And then he's not a pitcher. He's something else. Maybe a computer programmer.
I thought you kept an All-Star player when he was in the peak because you want that production to be for your team. Trading at the peak is for rebuilding, is for rethinking teams. I can see that clearly.
Gomber is set for Class AA or Class AAA. He's a step away. I've asked around about that. Weaver, Gonzales, and then Mayers. These are the pitchers who are going to get a look if they get down the road past Wacha and Rosenthal and want to see what other internal options are available.
First, they see what they have. Second, they decide if they like one of them. Third, if they don't they pursue a free agent option that is still out there (Coco Crisp would be one possibility) or trade.
I'm no Commish. But he'll have a role in the chats this year, to be sure. The people have spoken.
It can be. Pitch at its peak potential and it will be. Has to be the pitching that gets them there.
Not Mr. Hummel, but I'm fielding this one. And yes, split-squad games are fading as a presence in spring training. Teams don't really like them. They prefer the B-games when they need pitching. They don't like to scatter when they can stay at one facility. With the five teams here in this 45-minute range you're going to see less of them I would imagine because the teams can just play each other so often.
That was definitely his point. And it's a point that has been echoed by established players, notably Matt Carpenter, who you will recall built his early reputation on being there at dawn to get in the work and to be the last to leave. There is a movement within the clubhouse to loosen up. Gyorko is a part of that. Wong's comfort is definitely part of that. It's Wong who totes the speaker out to the field every day, and it's Fowler that urged him to do so. That's no small thing for Wong -- considering the eggshells he's walked in the past. So, yes, Fowler is as happy and outgoing and contagious and infectious as he appears. Just today he was stirring up conversation about the NBA -- with some of the minor-leaguers. That's a gap in the clubhouse that is important to bridge. He did it without evening realizing it. He was just being himself.
I did. I spoke at length with the author of the book over the past year -- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports is one of my favorite guys and reads and has been since we were covering the NBA together -- and recorded a podcast today that will be posted this week that is an interview with Ankiel about that time, about covering him, and about what this book forced him to revisit and unveil.
It is probably time for my annual soap box about surgeries: You avoid them at all costs. We are too cavalier and too dismissive about what a surgery means. First, there is never ever never elective elbow surgery. Second, there is no such thing as a certain surgery. This is why pitchers do everything they can to avoid surgery until they absolutely positively have to have it. So, no, there wouldn't be anything gained from going in and sewing, as you suggest, the partial tear. You know why? There's a name for that surgery. It's called pretty much called Tommy John surgery, and he would have missed a lot of time coming back from it, and it wasn't necessary because his elbow worked, it didn't hurt, and he was able to take the strain of 100-mph fastballs without causing ongoing damage -- until the moment it gave way. The surgery you suggest would not have protected him against future damage, so he would be having two surgeries, each with a 80-percent change of recovery. He would be compounding his chances of not coming back instead of taking the chance that he would never need surgery to begin with.
We can discuss the numbers again for folks new to the chat or haven't had be go off on this before. Say a pitcher -- let's call him Finch -- has an issue in his elbow. The doctor says he does not need TJ now, but he could eventually need it. Now, he needs rest and rehab and that gives him a 50/50 shot of returning to the rotation without needing surgery.
Now, if he has TJ he has a 80/20 chance of returning to his former health.
A pitcher is going to take the 50/50 because there is the 50/50 chance he WON'T NEED SURGERY AT ALL. And there's a 50/50 chance he will need surgery. That is way better than the 80/20 because the 80/20 is 80 percent he comes back and 20 percent HE NEVER PITCHES IN THE MAJORS AGAIN. Are you starting to see why surgery is something to avoid until it's needed?
I really think as baseball writers and baseball fans we need to stop glossing over surgeries -- especially Tommy John surgeries -- as if they are standard operating procedure. Finger snaps. It's leading to a problematic misrepresentation of player health, recovery, and undercoverage of the surgeries that don't restore a pitcher to greatness.
Schafer has intrigue on his side. Gant has a role he can win, but has to leapfrog over others who must falter to give him that chance. Gonzales won't be ready for opening day.
Something drastic like Trevor Rosenthal dominates March?
We'll know more when games start because fastball command and feel are so important to his game. He threw a live BP today, and to the untrained eye it looked like he was still searching for that extension that is necessary for his game. He got it toward the end of the session and the results followed. After throwing so much of the past few years without that extension he's got to break the muscle memory holding him back.
Any of the four certain to be starters. Lose one, the Cardinals' edge vanishes.
Something rotten in the algorithm. Cardinals have had some outliers in recent years and a snapback of all of them would lead the projections to be over-correct. There also does not appear to be a buy-in when it comes to the Cardinals improved defense. I'm not sure why that is, except for maybe how PECOTA is projecting the infield will be populated. That's possible. I'm not suggesting that the Cardinals would see a skyrocketing spike in their PECOTA projections with this, but a nudge up seems likely if there was an update.
That's sort of the idea going in. Here's where the trickle down will happen. The Cardinals had about 32 starts and, say, 240 innings that they wanted to get from a committee or a tandem, and ideally they had Wacha and Reyes set to handle those. Wacha early, when he's been at his most effective, and then increasingly Reyes until late in the season he's the guy, unquestioned, and storming toward a ROY win. That's a monster starter there in that tandem. Now the Cardinals are looking at that same 32-240 and wondering ... well, how much is Wacha going to have to shoulder now, and then what's the dropoff for the remaining 12 starts, the other 90 innings, is it Reyes to Weaver, is it Reyes to a hodgepodge that includes Weaver, Mayers, and others. That's where the trickle down can get them.
And Cubs fans. And Cubs fans. Not sure why they are getting to skate on this.
Adam Wainwright is primed for a season like 2015 could have been, pre-injury. That's the guy you'll see -- the pitcher at the peak of his understanding of pitching, wily, inventive, and stronger than he's been in years. As much as Matt Adams is getting attention for the weight he lost, Wainwright should be for the weight he loaded on. He's a brawnier Wainwright with big plans.
It's an interesting question because they haven't right? They got to a World Series, in 2013, but they didn't win, and that team had Holliday and Molina. I do think those lists tend to dismiss too often what an elite catcher with a complementary cast can do for a team. How many Royals make that list? And yet look at what they did with an elite catcher (Perez), an elite bullpen group (group!), and a complementary cast that included a style of play that fit their personnel.. Who was the star there? There is a moment coming on the horizon -- and soon -- that the Cardinals need a star player to emerge. A signature player to join Carpenter and Molina and Wainwright. Could be Carlos Martinez. Probably will be Carlos Martinez. But who else? Dexter Fowler has the contract. Stephen Piscotty has the bat and ability. Randal Grichuk has the marketable power. Aledmys Diaz? Could be. It also could be someone they have to acquire from outside. The Pujols Era has been followed by The Molina Era, and the Cardinals are getting close to needing to know who the next era will be named for ... and remembered for.
I don't. He usually swings by. Haven't heard yet. Also, haven't checked. I just assume he'll show up.