First “Hurry Back!” of 2009…

Before we get to the two interesting stories of the day…  Let’s delve once more into the latest Mark McGwire fall out, and that’s the stance and role of Tony LaRussa, who has benefited as much as any manager (save, perhaps, Joe Torre or the mid 2000s Boston Red Sox) from looking the other way as regards steroids.

Kevin Hench (not to be confused with the occasional outfielder, Kevin Mench) wrote perhaps the most interesting article discussing how Tony LaRussa has blindly (or, rather, not so blindly) allowed things like Mark McGwire’s use of PEDs to happen on his watch.  [FoxSports]

On to better things…

The Detroit Tigers, occasionally mentioned as a suitor for Jose Valverde, may have a cheaper option for the ninth inning, having signed Joel Zumaya to a one-year, $915K deal.  Zumaya has struggled with injuries the last two seasons, but he still throws hard and he might actually be healthy now.  If so, and he can close, the Tigers will have saved perhaps $5 million on relief duties.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about looking backwards at relief pitching; how you can review a pitcher’s ERA to see how legit it is by running his hits allowed data through the same tools as a batter and determine his estimated runs allowed based using Runs Created formulas the way we do for hitters.  I did this for Zumaya.

2009 Season:

3 – 3 4.94 – 31 innings, 34 hits, 30 strikeouts, 22 walks – 18 runs allowed, one was unearned.

Looking backwards:

34 hits included four doubles, a triple, and five homers (ouch) – plus two stolen bases without a caught stealing.  Estimated runs created – about 21.5.

So – looking at this – one would conclude that his ERA was actually low for the combination of hits and walks allowed.  That’s not a good thing.  The lack of consistent health is not a good thing.  So, the only thing Zumaya has going for him is (a) the memory of 2006, when he was a surprise stud, and (b) he’s cheap.

Still, at less than $1 million, it’s one of those chances you’d want to take.

Hurry Back!

Carlos Beltran surprised the Mets by announcing that his knee is not healed – that arthritis is so bad he required surgery – and will not be able to start his spring training until after the season starts, with hopes he could play in May.  My gut feel for this is that we have seen the last good and full season for Beltran, and his problem has gone beyond just basic ligament damage and now will be a problem forever.  This is very sad for me, as I remember rooting for him as a rookie in Kansas City (I had season tickets back in the day) and thought with a young core of Beltran, Damon, Dye, and Sweeney (among others) the Royals just needed a few dependable arms to vault to the front of the division.  All four turned into solid professionals, but the Royals never got the arms and eventually gave up all four of these guys (though Sweeney played for about a decade in Kansas City).

I still root for you, Carlos – but you are the new Tony Oliva.  God speed, sir.

Happy Birthday!

Those celebrating with cards, cake, or remembrances include:  Jack Taylor (1974), Billy Meyer (1893), Smead Jolley (1902), Sonny Siebert (1937), Dave Campbell (1942), Derrell Thomas (1951), Wayne Gross (1952), Roderick Myers (1973) – a Royals prospect who never panned out but I loved to watch play, and Mike Pelfrey (1984) – who says that he’s going to bounce back in 2010.

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