Jul
28

Are CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett being overworked?

By

AJ BurnettLast night, Joe Girardi sent AJ Burnett back out to the mound for the seventh inning even though his pitch count was already over 100 pitches (104 to be exact), and it wasn’t the first time we’ve seen him extend his starting pitcher beyond a point we’re not used to seeing. We’re conditioned to accept that 100 pitches is the point where a pitcher loses effectiveness and is at greater risk for injury, and anytime we see one of the Yankees starters go beyond this point we all cringe a little.

As crazy as it sounds and as unexpected as it may be, Burnett has been an absolute horse for the Yanks this year. He’s failed to pitch into the sixth inning just twice in twenty starts this year, and has gone into the seventh twelve times, including six of his last seven starts. CC Sabathia has been even more of a workhorse, pitching into the sixth in 19 of his 21 starts and into the seventh a staggering 17 times. He’s failed to record at least 21 outs in a start just four times since the end of April.

As you would expect, both Sabathia and Burnett are up there in innings this year, checking in at 142.1 and 127.1 IP, respectively. While we’re conditioned to look at innings as a measure of workload, we should be paying attention to the number of pitches thrown. Both guys rank in the top ten in the league in pitches thrown, as CC checks in at 2,210 pitches (4th most) and AJ at 2,115 (10th). Sabathia has thrown at least 105 pitches in 15 starts this year, Burnett 11 times.

The crew at Baseball Prospectus developed a stat called Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP), which is intended to measure … well … pitcher abuse. You can read a ton more about PAP here, but it’s calculated by cubing each pitch a guy throws past 100 in a start, and just summing up the “points.” So if Sabathia throws 105 pitches in a start, his PAP is 125 (five pitches cubed, or 5 x 5 x 5). Justin Verlander is the far and away the most abused pitcher in the game this season, checking in at 85,763 PAP. CC ranks 8th with 45,585 PAP, while AJ’s 31,387 PAP is good for 17th. Here’s the full PAP leaderboard for your viewing pleasure.

Throwing lots and lots of pitches is generally understood to be a bad thing, which it is. You want your pitchers to throw as few pitches as possible to limit the wear and tear on their shoulders. However, some pitches are worse than others, specifically pitches in stressful situations. If Burnett throws 30 pitches in an inning because he’s allowed a couple of baserunners and the hitters have worked deep counts, it’s far more taxing on his arm than if he threw those same 30 pitches spread over two quick and uneventful innings.

On the season, Sabathia has averaged 15.5 pitches per inning and Burnett 16.6. American League starters are averaging 16.4 pitches per inning this year, so CC’s well short of that while AJ’s just a bit over. In 21 starts, Sabathia has averaged more than 16.4 P/IP just eight times. It’s not a coincidence that those are basically his eight worst and most stressful outings of the year, as he averaged 102.6 pitches thrown and just 5.5 innings in those starts.

As for Burnett, he also experienced eight games this year when he averaged more than 16.4 P/IP, but he’s made one fewer start than Sabathia, In those starts he averaged the same 5.5 innings thrown as CC, but he threw about three more pitches per game (105.38). Again, these were pretty much Burnett’s eight worst outings of the year, and they were his most stressful because he was stretched beyond his normal comfort zone in terms of pitches need to record three outs at a time.

So in both cases, Sabathia and Burnett were truly “abused” eight times each this season. It’s not a perfect analysis, but it shows how many times each pitcher was left in to throw a lot of pitches while not recording many outs, which is the kind of thing you want your starters to avoid. Thankfully, both guys have seen the number of pitches they’ve averaged per inning trend downward (slightly) this season, which you can see in this graph. Hopefully the Yanks don’t pay the price for price for all the work early in the season at an inopportune time later.

Update (1:38pm): Of course Tim Kurkjian posts this today.

Photo Credit: Flcikr user a200eric

Categories : Pitching

146 Comments»

  1. Dela G says:

    hey CC has 45585 PA points, not 105K points

    just wanted to point that out to you

  2. Charlie says:

    i think they have been abused a bit, but thats the way it is. Either your starters get worked a lot or your bullpen does. There’s been a few times girardi has sent them out (especially CC) with their pitch counts too high, but I’m not too worried.

  3. Monkeypants says:

    “We’re conditioned to accept that 100 pitches is the point where a pitcher loses effectiveness and is at greater risk for injury…”

    Yes we have, yet this figure has been magically chosen, with no real evidence (as far as I know) to back it up. It’s a nice round figure, but it is not at all proven that the magic cut off is not 90 or 105 or 110 or 83, or that the figure does not vary from starter to starter to starter.

    The average number of pitches thrown has not changed all that much since the olde tyme days (using pitch estimate formulas for the old days, it looks to me like the number of pitches per game has increased by about 10 or 15 since 1920 to today, when the average is about 145 total pitches for one team), and pitchers habitually completed games in the old days. This leads me to conclude that in the olde tyme days pitches probably threw about 120 pitches not irregularly. And yet there is little evidence to suggest that there were significantly more injuries in those bad old days (though modern sports medicine makes successful recovery from injury more likely).

    The problem is not that AJ started an inning with 100 pitches, but that we reflexively cringe whenever we hear that magic number.

    • Chris says:

      There is no magic cutoff. The more pitches thrown the more the risk of injury increases. So 110 is worse than 100 is worse than 90. The question is how do you weight the risk of future injury vs the current production.

      The point where this balance tips will be different for every pitcher. The problem is that you can’t know where that tipping point is until you push a pitcher past it.

    • Evan NYC says:

      But it’s also interesting at the closing of the Kurkjian article where he says:

      Finally, Flanagan decided to count every pitch the pitcher threw that day, including every warm-up pitch in the bullpen before the game and every pitch between innings.

      After six innings, the pitcher came of the field and asked Flanagan, “What am I at?”

      Flanagan said, “250 pitches.”

      The pitcher never asked again.

      Maybe today’s pitchers are throwing too many pitches before the game, during the per-inning warm ups. It may say 100 during the game on the pitch counter, but it’s probably double that due to throwing pitches that don’t actually count.

  4. Andy says:

    I, for one, think pitch counts are overrated. I always hated it when predictable Joe T went to his seventh inning man, then eight inning man, then closer every damn time, never letting his starters finish games. I understand the injury concern with young guys, but CC has proved year in and year out he can handle innings. It’s not like he’s throwing 200 pitches. Why is 100 some magic number?

    I’d really like to see some statistical proof that lowering pitch counts prevents injuries. With the numerous pitcher injuries today, I find it hard to believe it was worse when guys pitched more innings, especially when you consider that back in the day a lot of arm injuries would end your career, whereas today guys get $4.5 million in signing bonuses knowing they need TJ surgery.

    Look at Texas, Nolan Ryan instilled a old school philosophy there, and they are having their best year in forever…

    • Monkeypants says:

      Agreed. Here is a recent article/interview with Bill James on the topic–

      http://tinyurl.com/nqtcvp

    • Chris says:

      Look at Texas, Nolan Ryan instilled a old school philosophy there, and they are having their best year in forever…

      Let’s see what happens to their pitching prospects in the next few years. The injury risk isn’t something that you would necessarily see in half a season. It’s related to the build up of innings on an arm, which can take years to develop.

      • CountryClub says:

        That’s why I’m not worried about AJ and CC as much as I would be Hughes and Joba. AJ and CC have been “trained” to pitch this way. What they’re doing this year is nothing new.

        A young pitcher suddenly throwing 125 pitches when they’ve never been over 105 would worry me.

        Hopefully, the Yanks have the luxury of resting their staff near the end of the year. Let them throw 5 innings to stay sharp and then get them out.

  5. Starks in Tampa says:

    oh goodness, here is how you know things are going great for the Yankees, bloggers and sometimes legit media start complaining about non-issues such as, “are AJ and CC being overworked”…guys relax a little, these are grown professionals that get paid handsomely to PITCH, not worry about pitch counts. Holy moly.

    • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

      Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, among many, many others (too many of whom pitched for Dusty Baker or the Blue Jays), say “Hi.”

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Umm, they (RAB) were just discussing the topic, not complaining, (that’s Steve Lombardi’s job)

    • pat says:

      Hey elbow ligament I’m a grown man making 20 million this year, DON’T TEAR! Yo, Rotator Cuff, first year of a multi-year contract NO FRAYING!! kthanksbi

  6. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    I don’t think that it is much of an issue. With Burnett, he throws a lot of curveballs, so I’m guessing that contributes to his higher pitch counts, because there would be an increased chance of throwing balls rather than strikes. (What do I know, I’m no scientist.)

    Would it be possible to look at the past few years for each of them and see how many pitches they averaged per start, and such?

  7. Charlie says:

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....-sell.html

    Pry Brandon Morrow away from them? If thats true, the yanks better be all over that. Mark Lowe would be good, too.

    • Reggie C. says:

      As much as I’d like to engage that topic, please respect Mr. Axisa’s post and comment on the topic at hand.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Much appreciated.

      • Charlie says:

        you’re right, its pretty off topic. maybe there should just be a permanent open thread somewhere on the site. or just a rumor thread for the next few days.

        • Salty Buggah says:

          I’m most of us of that come here read MLBTR and so probably are up to date with the latest rumors (unless it’s blocked from their work or something) so you could probably wait til the Game thread to discuss it.

  8. Pablo says:

    yea i agree. The 100 pitch mark in baseball seems to be the excepted norm, with no evidence to back it up. It would be different if i saw evidence that showed pitchers getting injured after throwing x about of pitches, but i have yet to see any such data. Also, last year, CC was completely overworked in milwaukee yet he pitched some of the best baseball of his career. He was pitched on 3 days rest down the stretch and pitched like a Cy Young winner. So i don’t think we have to worry about CC. AJ might be another story?

  9. Starks in Tampa says:

    I think we over react with the bullpen amrs, to me our bullpen is set with Aceves/Coke and Hughes in the 8th, Mariano in the 9th. You tell me what team in baseball has a bullpen stronger then that, that are as deadly as Hughes and Rivera have been? We will get another bullpen arm, his name is Marte.

  10. Jack West Jr. says:

    The “PAP” thing doesn’t seem to have any logical basis. It seems to be just someone who wanted to invent a stat that isn’t quantifiable. Just cubing pitches past 100 doesn’t really tell you anything.

    • 27 this year says:

      I was thinking the same thing. What makes cubing it accurate vs squaring or raising it to the fourth?

    • Well, it’s all explained inside the link, but let’s make sure we’re barking up the right tree here.

      Mike’s blurb of “… it’s calculated by cubing each pitch a guy throws past 100 in a start, and just summing up the “points.” So if Sabathia throws 105 pitches in a start, his PAP is 125 (five pitches cubed, or 5 x 5 x 5).” is not accurate, according to the provided link. It says:

      That said, we still need a universal measure to compare pitchers to each other. Average pitch count per start is a useful tool, but it has a major limitation – a pitcher who throws 130 pitches one start, then gets bombed in his next start and throws 70 pitches, is indistinguishable from the pitcher that throws 100 pitches in each start. It’s not the number of pitches thrown – it’s the number of pitches thrown tired – when mechanics fall off, muscles are sore, and the body is unable to handle the stress of each pitch as well. And so we need a way to measure, on start-by-start basis, how much abuse a pitcher is subject to.

      For this, I have created a system designed to award pitchers points – Pitcher Abuse Points, or “PAP’s” for short – based on the number of pitches they throw in each start. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

      Pitcher Abuse Points
      Situation – PAP/Pitch
      Pitches 1-100: 0
      Pitches 101-110: 1
      Pitches 111-120: 2
      Pitches 121-130: 3
      Pitches 131-140: 4
      Pitches 141-150: 5
      Pitches 151+: 6

      These points are cumulative: a 115-pitch outing gets you 20 PAP’s – 1 for each pitch from 101-110 (10 total), and 2 for each pitch from 111-115 (10 total). A 120-pitch outing is worth 30 PAP’s, while a 140-pitch outing is worth 100 PAP’s – more than 3 times as much. This seems fair; a pitcher doesn’t get tired all at once, but fatigue sets on gradually, and with each pitch the danger of continuing to pitch grows.

      Please note that this an arbitrary system, and probably not relevant for every pitcher. Steve Ontiveros can’t go more than 50 pitches without having to watch his arm come off and sail halfway to the plate, while knuckleballers like Tim Wakefield could throw 140 pitches, pop a couple of Advils, and be fine. But there’s no firm way to tell how susceptible a pitcher is to injury. Rail-thin pitchers like Ramon Martinez can be abused by Tommy Lasorda and survive (although that is in question as I write this), while hefty lefty Sid Fernandez had reservations each year for his spot on the DL.

    • thebusiness says:

      Has nothing to do with the actual number they come up with, it just creates a scale for comparison.

  11. Mike C. says:

    Actually I was wondering how hard AJ and CC have been worked over the course of this season and it was not as bad as I expect. Both of them are averaging close 105-107 pitches a game which is acutally not the most pitches per game that either of them have thrown in a season. Once a pitcher reaches a point where they are expected to be the best pitcher they need to be expect to average 5 or 10 more pitches a game to get those extra outs.

  12. Pablo says:

    whoever invented the PAP stat needs to find something better to do with his time. the stat has absolutely no merit and should not be used to evaluate pitchers. waste of time.

    • Yes, we probably need a better metric, but no, the metric is not a waste of time. It’s a start. It will eventually be replaced by a better and more effective metric, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t help us measure things.

      Some information is better than no information.

      • Pablo says:

        that it true, but this stat has shown no merit from what i can see. some of the best pitchers in the game have a high PAP. What i’m saying is taht it shows no negative effects

        • Most of those pitchers with high PAP’s for a few years in a row then subsequently break down. The correlation rate between high PAP’s over consecutive years and injuries is significant.

          That’s the value.

          • K.B.D. says:

            All it takes is one outing that’s too long to mess a guy up (see: Marte, Damaso). While I think PAP is somewhat useful at the extremes, not every shoulder is the same. Wouldn’t a guy with notoriously bad mechanics also be receiving more abuse on every pitch in general?

            I understand this number in no way professes to be perfect, but it’s got a long way to go before I think it’s even all that useful outside of going “Wow, thats a lot of abuse points…”

        • Mike Axisa says:

          Dice-K was #1 in 2007 and he broke down this year.

          • Rich James says:

            Correct me if i’m wrong (and i might be) But Dice-K never had issues in japan.

            Dice-K came to this country and the red sox told him “you need to stop throwing so much”…”you need to stop running so much”…and thats not what he was used to and now we see it is hurting him.

            i say…if Dice-K or any starter wants to throw 500 pitches on his side day..and it works for him..LET HIM DO IT!

            • jsbrendog says:

              letting players throw 500 pitches? you have got to be joking me???? this can’t be a serious idea!

              My old pitching coach would roll over in his grave if he saw this!

              that is a complete joke.

              /rich james’d

              http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-498930

            • Yeah, but you’re assuming that if he continued with his old routines, he definitely wouldn’t have run into trouble this year, and we have no idea (and no way to find out) if that’s true.

              We always hear about how much work pitchers do in Japan, but do they actually last any longer than American pitchers?* Because if they don’t, then it doesn’t matter how much work they do. I also note that even if they do last longer under larger workloads in Japan, that doesn’t mean those same pitchers would last as long here since they’d be under more physical and emotional stress due to the higher level of competition, more travel, longer seasons, and a number of other variables.

              *I don’t care enough to even attempt to answer this question and do any searching or research on this topic. If someone else happens to have some relevant knowledge or wants to look this stuff up, cool beans.

              • jsbrendog says:

                there have been very few japanese starters who have maintained consistency or success. Nomo is prob the only one who i can really think of. maybe all the work they do over there finally catches up to themm over here…

            • Chris says:

              You’re wrong. He threw 240 innings in 2001 and then spent most of 2002 on the DL. The only other year he topped 200 IP in Japan was 2005.

              This phenomenon of overworked pitchers is not confined to America.

      • I’ll never cease to be amazed by people’s hesitance to consider metrics that are created to help us better understand baseball, whether those metrics are perfect or not.

        “Some information is better than no information.” Truer words were never spoken.

      • Esteban says:

        I disagree, knowledge != power

  13. Reggie C. says:

    Front-of-the-line pitchers like CC and Aj are likely to always break the 100 pitch mark b/c these guys are likely to get deeper into games.

    Honestly, its the 75 pitch, 3.1 inning starts that scare the shit out of me. Nearly all those pitches are likely to have been thrown from the stretch and thus the pitcher is stressed the entire outing.

  14. Evan NYC says:

    Look at Tampa Bay this year. Their pitching staff was lights out last year, and now this year it seems that they are feeling the effects of them being stretched out so much. They are not even close to the starting staff they were last year…

    • Reggie C. says:

      Matt Garza is high up on that list and actually just below Jon Lester. Its possible that Garza and Lester are going to get ridden harder down the stretch as the ‘pen starts putting in overtime.

      PAP ranking on Garza and Lester are sure to rise by the end of the season; it’d be cool to revisit then.

      • Evan NYC says:

        But unless there is a direct correlation to injury this season like he tears a rotator cuff or something due to over working, the results of all of these innings are not going to show up until June of next season. Only time will tell.

  15. Update (1:38pm): Of course Tim Kurkjian posts this today.

    I like Hersheiser’s insights the best:

    “Since 1968, I believe the intensity of every pitch has gotten harder and harder in the big leagues,” said Orel Hershiser, the National League Cy Young Award winner in 1988. “In 1968, guys threw over the top, the ball went downhill and became a moving fastball. When they lowered the mound in 1969, they took away the pitcher’s leverage. They took away the plane of the baseball, and a straight pitch became more on the plane of the bat. At that point, pitchers had to move the ball so it was not on the plane of the bat, and to do that, they had to increase the intensity on every pitch…

    Hershiser made his major league debut in 1983. “I could rest at certain times during the game: two outs, no one on, seventh hitter up in the National League,” he said. “I didn’t want to show all my bullets at that time, so I’d throw a BP sinker away and get a ground out. If the guy got a hit, no big deal; you had the eighth and ninth hitters up. But you can’t do that today with these lineups. You can’t throw only 80 percent of what you have. You can’t get by with a get-me-over curveball. What used to not be a big deal is now a huge deal.”

    High-intensity pitches are often high-stress pitches. Teams all across the major leagues don’t just count pitches; they count the number of pitches a pitcher makes under duress…

    • Evan NYC says:

      So maybe they should raise the mounds again.

    • I enjoyed this:

      “Flanagan decided to count every pitch the pitcher threw that day, including every warm-up pitch in the bullpen before the game and every pitch between innings.
      After six innings, the pitcher came of the field and asked Flanagan, “What am I at?”
      Flanagan said, “250 pitches.”
      The pitcher never asked again.”

      I just think we may have taken the 100 pitch count thing a little too far. I understand it with younger (<25) pitchers, but it has almost become a general rule.

    • I know that Hershiser didn’t work well during his stint as pitching coach of the Rangers, but I really feel among the media he is by far the most knowledgable on pitching and how the arm works.

      His presentation might not be the most entertaining or personable (part of the reason he may have gotten axed in Texas, just speculating) but the insight and intelligence is awesome. I always enjoy hearing his comments on young arms and pitching mechanics.

  16. Chris says:

    From the article describing PAP:

    And, of course, I can’t write this article without mentioning Kerry Wood. At 21, he’s the youngest name on this list, and he’s in the middle of the pack as far as abuse goes. He hasn’t thrown more than 128 pitches in a game this year, but he has a number of outings in the 120+ range. I don’t think he’s in grave danger of injury – he’s a big guy with good mechanics, relies on his fastball, and doesn’t throw a splitter. But I do think that Jim Riggleman should take a little more care of the most prized arm of the decade.

    This article was written in 1998. Maybe the data was telling us something that our own eyes weren’t seeing.

  17. 27 this year says:

    I am extremely sorry about this off topic post but it is an amazing thign I just saw on fangraphs.

    The top 5 hitters in WAR are Pujols, Utley, Zobrist, HanRam, and JETER. I know Jeter was hitting well, but he is on a roll this season.

  18. A.D. says:

    I’m really not worried with guys like Burnett & CC, these are more veteran pitchers, both that had well over 1000 career innings under their belt coming into this season. I’m not saying they should be run out there for 160, but I would say stretching them out to the ~120s every once in awhile isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    • Evan NYC says:

      I think not throwing a guy into the 110-120 pitch range maybe once every 5/6 starts does possibly two things:

      1. He loses the mental confidence to hit those marks. Once he hits that 100 pitch mark, he knows in his mind that he is done or close to it.
      2. He may physically not be able to hit those marks since his arm is so used to stopping after 100.

      I think stretching the guy out every now and then is a good thing.

      • CountryClub says:

        I agree with both these posts. I think the worst thing the Yanks did to Hughes was keep him on a strict 6 inning limit in the minors. If the body gets used to doing only one thing, it will injure itself when it needs to adapt.

  19. Tank Foster says:

    It is time for some rule changes that take stress off pitchers. If 1968 was the nadir of offense in post-WW2 baseball, we are just coming off the crest of the peak. We are seeing a bit of ebbing of offense, but this is likely due to PEDs. Otherwise, the deck is still stacked against the pitcher, and it’s time to fix it. Some of it we can’t fix, like the new, hitter-friendly ballparks. But there are other things that can be done.

      • Tank Foster says:

        Some day, one of the spreadsheet-calculating, data-collecting GMs that Kurkjian talks about is going to do a cost benefit study, and realize that his team can save 20 million dollars per year of the rules are changed such that pitchers’ effectiveness increases and fewer pitchers are needed to staff a team.

        Perhaps that’s when the owners will go along with a change.

      • It’s worth exploring… to us. But probably not to MLB, since they want more offense. Different interests/goals.

        • Tank Foster says:

          You presume there is no way to take stress off pitchers without decreasing offense. I think it’s possible to keep the game exciting and offensive, yet still make it easier for pitchers to go longer into games.

          • Eh… I see where you’re going with this, but I disagree. The whole point of taking stress off of pitchers is to help them stay healthy and effective and help them pitch more. If you do that, you will get more effective pitchers pitching a higher percentage of the game, thus you’ll likely see a decrease in offense. The decrease in offense is a product of the decreased stress on pitchers.

            How would we decrease stress on pitchers, helping more effective pitchers log more innings, without decreasing offense?

            • Tank Foster says:

              “How would we decrease stress on pitchers, helping more effective pitchers log more innings, without decreasing offense?”

              Don’t want to say, because I’m working on an article on this, and I don’t want to blow my wad here. For sure, you can’t help pitchers without hurting batters. But the key is avoiding a trend back to ’60s era deadball baseball, and encouraging a different type of offense, which, while less potent, would or could be more exciting. Finally, you have to phase changes in very slowly, so as not to alarm anyone.

  20. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Nolan Ryan’s arm is rolling over in its grave.

  21. Tank Foster says:

    Oh…that was my comment about the Kurkjian article, which I enjoyed.

    As for the question about CC and AJ…I am worried about both of them. They both had heavy workloads last season, and are laboring alot this year. The loss of Wang hurts CC and AJ, because without an effective Wang, his starts are used up by inferior pitchers, which means more use of the bullpen. With a generally tired bullpen, there will be more pressure on Girardi to leave AJ and CC in the games longer.

    The AL East is a bitch. The Yankees appear to be the class of the division, but there still isn’t really any breathing room for them to rest players and skate for a while. If Boston trades for Adrian Gonzalez, it will mean even more pressure on the Yankees’ aces.

    • They’re not gonna trade for Gonzalez. It’s a pipedream. Towers would ask for Buchholz, Bard, Anderson, and extras.

      • Tank Foster says:

        I sure as hell hope you’re right. Boston has an offense problem. They’re not as bad as they are playing right now, maybe, but right now is closer to their real offense than what they had in April, I know that. If Boston doesn’t do something to beef up their offense before Friday, they will be chasing the Yankees the rest of the season, all other things being equal.

        • And, if Theo’s choice is:

          A) trade for AGonz or Martinez because this current team isn’t good enough to beat the Yankees this year, or
          B) keep Buchholz, Bard, and Anderson and be patient and wait for them to mature and join the big club, even if that means unofficially writing off 2009 as a lost year

          He’ll choose B. Not going all-in on Santana was a good move for us in the long run, even if it caused us to miss the playoffs in 2008. The Red Sox will make a similar calculation.

          • Evan NYC says:

            I disagree. I don’t think they are going to sell the farm for the 2009 season, no. But they are going to acquire a big bat some way or another, guaranteed.

            • Those two things are mutually exclusive.

              They can’t acquire a big bat without mortgaging the farm, because nobody will trade them a big bat without demanding the farm.

              They’re not getting anyone of substance without giving up Buchholz and Anderson. No Martinez, no Gonzalez.

              Now, if you want to tell me that they’re going to trade for Nick Johnson or Russ Branyan, sure, they can get those guys without giving up multiple elite prospects. But they’re not getting the heart of the order difference maker that they really need without giving up the blue chippers.

              The only moves that put them over the top are the ones they can’t afford to make.

              • Salty Buggah says:

                Theo is a genius though. So he’ll trade an org. filler for a under-the-radar player. Then that player will play really well in one of his 1st 4 weeks, proving Theo is a genius in the eyes of the MSM. Afterwards, the player will fall of the cliff yet no one will notice. Theo is the smartest guy to live.

            • So it’s a guarantee that they’ll acquire a big bat without giving up top-prospects? What kind of deal are we talking about here? Targets/players Sox will give up?

            • Chris says:

              The question is how big a bat. Gonzalez and Victor Martinez are the two premium bats out there, and the Sox may not be willing to get them, but there are other options.

              One easy pickup would be Russell Branyan (assuming the Mariners are really sellers). His contract is done at the end of the year, and he’s not likely to be a type-A or B free agent.

        • Evan NYC says:

          With the way the division is currently going and the trade deadline approaching quickly, one would think the Red Sox have to make some sort of major move to acquire a big bat, no? I think the fan base has become somewhat similar to the general Yankees fan base in the fact that they would be furious if the front office just rolled over and stayed pat with the team they currently have or made some half effort signing. Texas is nipping at the heels of the WC right now. IMHO of course…

        • JGS says:

          I think they are finally realizing that Jason Bay is not Manny Ramirez.

          Also, Kevin Youkilis is Mr. April/May

    • Evan NYC says:

      I think the next 2 games against the Rays will be very telling on how that are going to go about the rest of 2009.

  22. Of the 86 pitchers w/at least 102 IP, Joba is 78th in PAP.

  23. V says:

    BP ran a pitch count story today, also, heh:

    http://www.baseballprospectus......cleid=9305

    • Chris says:

      Highest pitch count games from the last 5 years:

      Pitcher, Team Date Pitches
      Livan Hernandez, Nationals 6/03/05 150
      Livan Hernandez, Nationals 7/31/05 145
      Livan Hernandez, Nationals 6/15/06 138
      Tim Lincecum, Giants 9/13/08 138
      Carlos Zambrano, Cubs 5/05/08 136
      Livan Hernandez, Nationals 7/15/05 136
      Aaron Harang, Reds 7/08/06 135
      Carl Pavano, Yankees 5/17/05 133

      So it’s not really Pavano’s fault. It’s all because of his high pitch count game.

      • jsbrendog says:

        wow. livan is a beast.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

          Yeah. 150 average pitches.

          • jsbrendog says:

            in the nl he is still and has continually been a solid 4 or 5 starter who you know will give you innings and put you in a position to win more often than not. grantedhis al experiment with the twins didnt go so well, but he is like the mets most consistent pitcher this year, which is scary.

      • A.D. says:

        Livan has been abused before, such as June 98 when he threw between 125 – 153 pitches every start that month…as a 23* year old.

        *Who knows the age of Cuban players.

    • 27 this year says:

      ha, Carl Pavano with a 133 pitch start in 05 for the Yanks. That is why he broke down :)

  24. Mister Delaware says:

    Would be interesting to see a version of PAP that does pitches > X by inning. Take it one step deeper since it seems to be accepted now that 5 IP @ 90 pitches is worse than 7 IP @ 100 pitches. No idea where to get that data from.

  25. wtf says:

    apparently the sox offered bucholz, bowden and westmoreland for halladay. does that get it done?

  26. MikeD says:

    So according to one of those links, the 12 move-abused pitchers when the article was written (about eleven years ago) were:

    12 Most Abused Pitchers
    Johnson, Randy 34
    Clemens, Roger 35
    Colon, Bartolo 23
    Schilling, Curt 31
    Hernandez, Livan 23
    Martinez, Pedro 26
    Candiotti, Tom 40
    Leiter, Al 32
    Moyer, Jamie 35
    Sanchez, Jesus 23
    Pettitte, Andy 26
    Finley, Chuck 35

    SIX of the pitchers are still active, with a few others only just retiring, and most of the others retired because of age. The one name that doesn’t fit this list is Jesus Sanchez, because unlike most the others, he did not exhibit much ability to pitch.

    I would suggest these names do not support the idea behind PAP, at least for older pitchers. There is some belief that if a pitcher is going to have arm problems, it will pop up when he is younger, in essence the weaker pitchers get weeded out. That also means, perhaps, that reducing innings pitches/pitch counts will not prevent injuries, just delay them.

  27. Scialabba says:

    Key to Yanks is to get every starter to be able to skip a start. If the Yanks can get a lead in the race a six man rotation for two weeks would do wonders come end of August and then get the arms ready for Sept. going into Oct.
    One extra pitcher could give everyone a day off.

  28. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    a rule that would help pitchers (while offering batters an attempt at maintaining their status) would be to alter the IBB rules as such:

    there is NO SUCH THING as a 4BB IBB anymore. any batter would have the option of waiting for another 2 BB and then the batter can walk directly to second base, and can use as many words as he’d like to denigrate the pitcher’s mother, but only while walking on the dirt portion of the mound (if your stadium has a dirt path between home and the mound, i see many fights erupting…fix that quick).

    the way pitchers could balance that is to simply throw one pitch from the chest down into the batter, allowing the hit batter to only take first (or count that as one ball, again, in the age of yes we can choice, he gets to choose). a strike at the high chest or above reverts the HBP rule to the 6 BB rule.

    peter gammons likes it, so we’re sending it to the commish next week.

  29. Jamie G. says:

    With guys like CC and AJ I expect at least 110-120 pitches everytime out unless they are getting shelled(doesnt happen very often). They are in their prime and used to it.

  30. [...] idea of overworking Burnett came up in the middle of the 2009 season. He was a bit above league average in terms of pitches per [...]

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