Bradley’s Buzz: Danger, Jair Jurrjens! Danger!

Sometimes you eat innings; sometimes innings eat you

He’s 2-0, but Jair Jurrjens is in trouble. So writes Tom Verducci of SI.com, who places the 23-year-old Braves ninth on a list of 10 young pitchers at risk. The Verducci Theory: A pitcher under 25 whose workload has increased by 30 or more innings is in immediate peril.

Yes, there’s evidence to support his case. On the other hand, what exactly is a club to do? Jurrjens went from working 143 innings in 2007 to 188 in 2008. That happened for two reasons: First, he was really good in 2008, and second, he was the only member of the Braves’ rotation not to get hurt.

Writing for ESPN.com, Buster Olney examines the innings-equal-arm-trouble dynamic as it applies to Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, who has indeed developed soreness in the ol’ soupbone. But Olney makes the same salient point: Philly was trying to win a championship in 2008; would it have made sense to shut down its best pitcher in October — indeed, Hamels would be MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series — for the sake of sparing the wear and tear?

We can all agree the Cubs mishandled Kerry Wood, who worked 166 innings — and amassed some frightening pitch counts — at the age of 21. But most teams are smart enough to know what Verducci knows, and the Braves are among them. They didn’t rush Charlie Morton to the majors, and they’re not rushing Tommy Hanson. And they’re being careful with Jurrjens.

But, just to err on the side of caution, I propose this: Let Jurrjens work no more than four innings in any start. That will save his arm and shouldn’t have a deleterious effect on the team. As we know, the Braves’ middle relievers are utterly incapable of blowing, say, a seven-run lead.

(And here, from Eric Seidman of FanGraphs, is another take on the Verducci Effect. Kudos, as we say on Facebook, to Matt T for sending the link.)

Kenshin wins a game! Read all about it!

As has been noted, the Japanese media has been all over Kenshin Kawakami since Day 1 of spring training. As you’re aware, Kawakami won his first start Saturday night. Me, I got to wondering how a Japanese newspaper’s account of the event might look. Here, from the Sankei Shimbun, is the answer.

And I can’t swear to it, but I believe somewhere in the article Bobby Cox is quoted as saying: “He threw good, for me.”

Is it just me, or is there a draft in here?

It wouldn’t be a Buzz without a mock draft from Don Banks of SI.com, and here’s Version 5.0. Notice that he now has Matthew Stafford going 10th overall, as opposed to fourth. Notice that he has Knowshon Moreno going 21st, as opposed to nowhere in Round 1. Notice that he has the Falcons taking Brian Cushing, a linebacker from Southern Cal, with the 24th pick, as opposed to tight end Brandon Pettigrew of Oklahoma State.

And, having scanned enough draft boards these past few months to last me a lifetime, I can report that nothing much shocks me anymore. But this, from Yahoo! Sports, did: A big board that ranks Moreno as a better all-around prospect than Stafford.

Speaking of Stafford: Gil Brandt of NFL.com says the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the draft’s 10th pick, will have him in for a follow-up interview. You’ll recall Niners coach Mike Singletary made the bizarre claim that San Fran wanted no part of Stafford because he didn’t care to speak about his parents’ divorce. (Thanks to faithful correspondent Ted Striker for relaying this item.) Perhaps this time the questions will be more along the lines of, “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?”

Back to the Falcons: Sporting News Today analyzes their draft needs and decides, wonder of wonders, that they’ll be seeking defensive help. Knock me over with a sledgehammer!

In January, I guessed the Falcons would draft a cornerback with their first pick. I’m herewith announcing a change of mind: I now think they’ll take a defensive tackle. (If Banks gets five mock drafts, shouldn’t I be able to flip-flop one measly time?) Don’t know if it’ll be Evander (Ziggy) Hood, but I wouldn’t gripe if it is.

G-Day: The aftermath

I recommend turning to AJC.com for all your Georgia Bulldog coverage needs. But if you’ve done that and you’re still thirsting for more, I also endorse the journalistic stylings of David Paschall in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Despite the obvious handicap of having gone to Auburn, David knows college football as well as I know … well, I don’t know anything about anything, so maybe I’m not the greatest comparison.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

But I digress. Here’s Paschall’s typically astute gamer from G-Day — lots of dropped passes, he writes — and here’s a notebook that leads with frosh quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.

Givin’ it to Flip

Remember how upset I was that Josh Childress left for Greece? Well, I still wish he hadn’t. But I’d be lying if I didn’t credit general manager Rick Sund for signing Flip Murray and Mo Evans. Indeed, Ian Thomsen of SI.com lists Flip as the NBA’s third-best sixth man in his survey of NBA executives. (Actually, Thomsen’s poll has Murray tied for third with Nate Robinson of the Knicks.)

And who’s the league’s best sixth man? According to Thomsen’s polling, it’s Jason Terry of Dallas — another former Hawk. Rick Sund had nothing to do with that one, though. And me, I was never sorry to see Terry go.

96 comments Add your comment

Mac

April 13th, 2009
8:01 am

According to a couple of draft “experts,” I’ve read lately, there’s not one cornerback worth taking in the first round.

Yeah, for a War Tiger, Paschall turned out to be a darn fine sportswriter.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
8:31 am

Yes, sir, Mr. Mac. That’s the trouble with making a draft prediction on Jan. 5, which is what I did. Which is why I’m changing. (Usually I don’t like changing a prediction for a mathematical reason: I’d rather be wrong once than twice.)

matt_T

April 13th, 2009
8:51 am

Hey Mark,
Check out this story on the Verducci Theory: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-verducci-issue/

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
9:03 am

Thanks much, Matt. I liked it so much I’ve included it above. (And given kudos to you.)

WJGordon

April 13th, 2009
9:51 am

I hope that you are being sarcastic in regards to Jurrjen’s four inning limit. I am all for saving JJ’s arm by limiting pitch counts and innings, but why would you stop at four innings? That would mean that he would never register a “quality start” or be in line to win a game. I believe in our bullpen, but do you really want to give them five innings every time JJ gets the ball?

NC Braves Fan

April 13th, 2009
10:00 am

I don’t think the Verducci thing is legit. After all, just about every young pitcher scales up his IP at one point or another. I’d be willing to bet that mechanics and overall pitch counts are more accurate gauges of who will break down at some point.

Trouble is, those parameters are tougher to quantify.

If Jair and Hamels end up on the DL soon, please forget I ever said this. ;)

Greg

April 13th, 2009
10:02 am

Mark, thanks for the link to Don Banks’ mock. Always interesting. But I can’t see the Falcons going LB in the 1st, with Tyson Jackson sitting there. It surely seems we have defensive line needs that transcend linebacker needs. I like Evander Hood, but think Jackson offers more bang—and he will immediately press Jamaal Anderson for his job and/or spot an aging/injury-prone John Abraham. I think Hood will go in the second round).

Rufio

April 13th, 2009
10:08 am

I wish that a year or two after a draft you could go in and see how teams had their draft boards set up and where they valued who… would kinda give some more credence to the so called “experts” and their mock drafts when you could compare them along side the people actually making the picks. This doesn’t actually exist somewhere and I’ve just never seen it does it?

the real Old Gold

April 13th, 2009
10:18 am

Story 1) I really don’t think he’s in trouble. Not on this Braves staff anyway. The bullpen couldn’t get three outs against the Cartersville Hurricanes second string. The starting staff, save Lowe, seems to be shaky as well.

Story 2) Who cares? PI$$ ON EM….

uga_b

April 13th, 2009
10:29 am

It is hard to take a mock draft seriously that advocates taking a TE in the first round when it is a deep position in the Draft. Falcons will take defensive help based on how the teams ahead of them draft (groundbreaking I know). Knowshon to me is the can’t miss tailback based on productivity and lack of injuries. QBs are always a 50/50 at best proposition. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons take a defensive end.

David

April 13th, 2009
10:31 am

I agree WJGordon. 4 innings? What happens this summer when we need him to go over 80 pitches because Bobby can’t turn the game over to the pin in a 1-7 run game(LOL)I think the coaching staff is keeping a close eye on him.

cricket

April 13th, 2009
10:35 am

Mark,
Both the links about Kawakami are pointing to the same URL. May be one of the links is wrong.

brewdawg

April 13th, 2009
10:39 am

Ah, nothing like those classy Tech fans. I’ve always marveled at how Techsters constantly turn their noses up at Dawg fans and call them “classless, dumb, rednecks” etc, when one of their favorite phrases to use is “Pi$$ on a Dawg”. Just the embodiment of taste and class. Some will say, “Now Brewdawg, why aren’t you so harsh on Florida fans? They never stop giving the Bulldogs grief!” To which I reply, “Because UF owns us, and has for nearly 20 years. They get to say whatever they want. Tech wins one game out of 8, and all of a sudden they think they are on the path to greatness, and will own the Dawgs for the next 100 years.” (Similar, I humbly point out, to UGA fans reaction to the win over UF in 07.)

Leland

April 13th, 2009
10:50 am

Mr. MB–pah, pah on Verducci! Your pal, Leland

Baltimore Bullet

April 13th, 2009
11:05 am

Here’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. You have 12 pitchers on a team. Every pitcher goes one inning. Period. Thus you pitch one inning 3 out of every 4 days. How hard could that be? And you have 3 pitchers waiting in case of extra innings or injuries. An added bonus is that your pitchers never have to bat. I believe it would work. But call me crazy if you want to.

Ramblin Wrecker

April 13th, 2009
11:07 am

I think that perhaps the Braves are aware of the danger that Jurrjens is in. In both his starts Bobby Cox got him out at the first sign of trouble after the 5th inning of each game. And he had given up 0 runs and had a 4-0 lead in that game against the Phillies when Bobby came to get him The same scenario had played out the game before that with Derek Lowe, a 4-0 lead, and he was allowed to go 8 innings. Also by contrast, Javier Vasquez got to pitch a full 6 innings in his first start, despite not pitching great and allowing 3 runs and lots of baserunners in his first start. So I believe they will spend the beginning of this season managing Jurrjens’ innings and then later in the year if/when there is a pennant race, they’ll let his performance dictate how long he stays in games.

bogeyman

April 13th, 2009
11:16 am

No offense to you MB but we just had one of the best Masters in years and this story on JJ is the lead story on the mobile sports page??!! What’s up with that??!!!

AndyC

April 13th, 2009
11:32 am

I can’t see the Falcons using their first round pick on a TE when they have so many needs on defense. I also can’t see Sanchez being taken ahead of Stafford in the draft. Doesn’t make sense to me. This in addition to Stafford going to Frisco after thier public slam of Stafford makes me question this entire mock draft.

chc4

April 13th, 2009
11:36 am

Jurrjens threw close to 100 pitches in both starts so IPs isn’t a good judge of workload. Looking at his stat line you see JJ has only gone 10 2/3 IPs in 2 starts. But the reality is he’s thrown alot of pitches. If he’d quit walking guys he’d be reaching the 7th inning but that goes for the entire staff minus Lowe.

Old Blue

April 13th, 2009
11:36 am

I thought Verducci died a few years ago in Miami after his clothing empire had made him millions. Did he ever make baseball uniforms for the flamboyant?

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
11:56 am

Thanks, Cricket. I’ll fix it.

Thanks, Leland. Always a pleasure.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
12:12 pm

Link’s now fixed. Thanks again to Cricket.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
12:27 pm

Bogeyman, the Masters was the lead on AJC.com’s sports front after the final round and well into the morning. Don’t believe anything much has happened since about 7 p.m. Sunday. And our Digital folks work really hard at keeping the online content fresh.

angry banker

April 13th, 2009
12:34 pm

so the braves bullpen can’t blow a 7 run lead? Um, dude… did you watch the 3rd game against the phillies?! We gave up 8 runs – 3 (or was it 4) diffrent guys from the bullpen.

I don’t see # of innings pitches as an issue. If you’re scared of it, bring up hanson and lets go to a 5 man rotation giving everyone 6 and 7 days rest.

Jason in ATL

April 13th, 2009
12:34 pm

I think that Verducci’s throry is a bit of a stretch. To me, it’s more about the players history before the majors. Did they pitch for 4 years in college and then go to the minors, or did they make the jump from high school? Did they throw a curve ball in 10th grade or wait until the minors to develop one?

I can find tons of examples where pitchers had large innings jumps in year 2 and showed no ill effect. Greg Maddux threw 155 innings for the Cubs in his first full year, and then 249 the next. Admittedly, he’s the best pitcher of the last quarter century, but you get my point.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
12:43 pm

I’m aware of the Philly game, Angry Banker. I was making a little joke.

And Jason, it’s my feeling that a guy’s throwing motion has more to do with his susceptibility to injury than the number of innings. There’s a reason Tom Glavine wasn’t on the disabled list until he turned 41. And Jurrjens has a fairly nice and easy motion.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
12:52 pm

To WJGordon: I was indeed being sarcastic. I’d rather have Jair Jurrjens throwing lefthanded than some of these middle relievers working at full health.

Justin

April 13th, 2009
12:58 pm

I dont think Jair is that much danger especially the way Bobby used him at the end of the year last year. If anything they can let him have a month off in july and Let Glavine/Hanson (whichever isnt in the rotation)in the rotation for a month and then let JJ back and put Hanson in the bullpen ala Joba C. as another setup man then we get huddy back either in the rotation or bullpen. Another thing they could do is go with a 6 man rotation the last 2 months or so the releive some arms they have alot of ways to go here and this isnt Bobby’s first rodeo he knows what he’s doing. Those over-paid writers will come up with anything to keep idiots reading.

panda

April 13th, 2009
12:59 pm

The Phillies were playing for a ring. The Braves were playing to avoid 90 losses. The Phillies use of Hamels was justified. The Braves use of Jurjjens was not. The Braves should have shut him down in September.

Bagel Chops

April 13th, 2009
1:01 pm

Atlanta is not Athens.

Ted Striker

April 13th, 2009
1:04 pm

I don’t know about the Verducci theory but I’ll bet Leo Mazzone would have an opinion. Just don’t ask him to read too many charts.

Don Banks (S.I.) projects Jason Smith to go #1. Mel Kiper (ESPN) projects Stafford. Both prospects share matching agents. I’d be sweeping the company conference room for bugs…

Percy Harvin is dynamic, but given his injury-prone history and recent controversy over a drug test (at the combine!?!) I just don’t know how high he’ll go. Who smokes weed before the combine? It’s one thing to get caught speeding because you were careless, it’s another to get caught because you passed a police car.

This is a non-sports related, but darned if it doesn’t give me déjà vu…

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/passenger_lands_plane

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
1:07 pm

On a different subject, I notice Zach Mettenberger has garnered one vote in our poll above. Wonder who that was from?

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
1:09 pm

If you keep it up with the links, Ted, you’re going to be running this page before long. You and Leland.

Ted Striker

April 13th, 2009
1:20 pm

You and Leland are the stuff of legends. I’m just an observer, or in case of war, I’m Switzerland.

Mettenberger’s vote was from his mom.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
1:27 pm

Watched “The Third Man” the other night for the 20th time. I always laugh when Orson Welles tells Joseph Cotten that all Switzerland has to show for 500 years of peace is the cuckoo clock.

And Leland is indeed a legend. Leland Legend, a la Larry Legend.

dobearsbare

April 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

What, no links to the Japanese papers?

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
1:38 pm

I believe there’s one to the Sankei Shimbun. Click where it says, “the answer.”

DawginLex

April 13th, 2009
1:41 pm

G-day was a glorified scrimmage with 30 players not there that will be available come August. Joe Cox will be fine.

No mention of the great Jaybo shaw? Want to know why he excelled at the Tech scrimmage? He was playing against the Tech defense.

Paddy

April 13th, 2009
1:47 pm

Baltimore Bullet…That is about the wierdest solution to pitching I have ever seen. You want a revolution in your clubhouse, try bringing up that off the wall theory. Then get out of the way in a hurry before someone hurts you.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
1:49 pm

Me, I kinda liked Baltimore’s idea. But I was also a big man of the Chicago Cubs’ rotating college of coaches. (Remember that one, kids?)

Aaron

April 13th, 2009
1:56 pm

I totally disagree with Verducci. I personally think the problem is that pitchers are too pampered and don’t pitch enough while they’re being developed. Then when the make it to the bigs they’re pampered even more. Look back in history at the pitch counts and innings pitched of some the HOF greats. They weren’t babied back then and weren’t on the DL all the time.

Ted Striker

April 13th, 2009
2:04 pm

Great lines in that movie…

“Next time we’ll have a foolproof coffin.”

“That sounds like a cheap novelette.”
“Well, I write cheap novelettes.”

“Now you’re wanted for murder”
“Put down drunk and disorderly too.”

“We do a little show each week. Last week we had ‘Hamlet.’ The week before we had…something”
(interjection:)“The striptease, sir.”

“We can’t go against the protocol.”
“I don’t even know what protocol means.”
“Neither do I, Miss.”

lewie

April 13th, 2009
2:06 pm

ATL should take a DT in the first and then the TE from south carolina later….named jared cook i believe

dobearsbare

April 13th, 2009
2:21 pm

I promise, this isn’t the first time I’ve been on the internet. Boy, a picture must be worth a 1,000 words in Japanese, too

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
2:31 pm

I agree, BearsBare, that the story seemed awfully short to me, too. Then again, I don’t know what a Japanese story looks like.

Kyle

April 13th, 2009
2:38 pm

Yeah, DawginLex thats why Jaybo excelled….cant wait to see what GT does to that Willie M defense in 2009. Idiot…. You must have a small wee-wee with an inferioty complex like that

TommyP

April 13th, 2009
2:45 pm

Some people need to recognize sarcasm when it’s in print…to be read over and over. C’mon, people.

On the Verducci front, I think there IS something to what he says. (and Olney) The radical solutions posted on here probably aren’t the answer.

The answer lies somewhere in between one or two DL stints for Jurrjens when he reaches the “dead arm” period to save the wear and tear AND perhaps making Jurrjens our 5th starter to hold down the innings. You know, skip his spot when an off day doesn’t necessitate the 5-man rotation.

We are pretty deep in starting talent right now.

oldmike

April 13th, 2009
2:48 pm

Take a look at the innings the pitchers in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s used to throw. It was reasonable for them to reach a yearly average of 280+ innings for 5-10 years. (see Seaver, Carlton, Drysdale,etc.) They also completed games. Sometimes 20 a year.
Maybe if today’s pitchers threw a lot of inning their arms would be ready for the work load. I think the age of the specialist has diminished the ability of pithcers to handle large workloads. And we see over worked bull pens and closers. I’d rather see the starting pitcher complete their starts. They are paid major coin to win. Not a big fan of the quality start stat. Mark B. ideas?

Cameron

April 13th, 2009
2:55 pm

I think Jurrjens will be fine. Injuries have more to do with mechanics than anything else. Jurrjens has a nice and easy delivery. He throws hard without maximum effort. He doesn’t throw a lot of curveballs either. He should be fine, but we should defnitely limit him a little more compared to the other guys on our staff.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2009
3:04 pm

I agree in theory, OldMike. I’m 53, and I remember when there was no such thing as a closer, let alone a set-up man. (Quick now, name a reliever on the 1968 Detroit Tigers, who won the World Series? Can’t do it, can you? Because Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich completed all their starts.)

But the game has changed, and use of the bullpen is now a key component of baseball. And I’m afraid there’s no going back.