Monday, February 11, 2008

Why Not To Sign Pitchers Long-Term Contracts

After "pass[ing] all physical exams and testing, as well as the MRI the club required [him] to take" [link] in the course of the negotiations, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling now has been diagnosed by one doctor as having a shoulder tendon made of pasta. No, really:
Dr. Craig Morgan said yesterday [that] "Instead of being a single tendon, it's like three pieces of spaghetti or linguine, and when that happens it's end-stage disease in the tendon."
Leave aside the bite this injury takes out of Boston's starting pitching depth this year, and focus on what it means for the blood pressure levels of major league general managers like Theo Epstein. The Red Sox had multiple doctors examine Schilling before signing him to his most recent one-year contract. Yet the shoulders of pitchers are complicated to the point where those doctors all missed a frayed tendon that apparently resembled a plate of bucatini al'amatriciana. And this was an injury that was at least theoretically detectable at the time of the exam--most pitching injuries aren't.

This is all by way of a reminder that building a major-league pitching staff is an inherently fluky process. Even X-rays and MRIs can't give GM's the information they need to make informed decisions about pitchers, and its starting to look like the only technological advancement that would really make the nut is a time machine. As a result, I'm sure the Yankees have Dr. Emmett Brown sequestered away in a fallout shelter under the Bronx County Courthouse. But until he hits pay dirt, the randomness factor of pitcher injuries is going to throw some real- and fantasy-league teams into chaos every year.
I suppose that's part of the fun. But it sure as hell makes it harder to fill out a keeper list.

1 comment:

El Angelo said...

As a Met fan, you haven't really helped my confidence. I would be remiss if I didn't post the following link, since you brought up amatriciana sauce: