Bradley’s Buzz: Did the Verducci Effect claim Jair Jurrjens?

Jair Jurrjens delivers, putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jair Jurrjens delivers, thereby putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Was it just happenstance that Dave O’Brien’s report of Jair Jurrjens’ impending MRI coincided, more or less, with Tom Verducci’s annual look at young pitchers at risk? Because, as the SI.com writer notes, Jurrjens was one of those who appeared to have defied the so-called Verducci Effect.

Ten months ago Verducci identified Jurrjens as one of 10 pitchers under 25 who’d increased his workload by more than 30 innings. You can question the methodology — Eric Seidman of FanGraphs did here — but there’s enough data to make the V-Effect worth noting. Writes Verducci:

“In the previous four years, I have identified 34 at-risk pitchers. Only four of them made it through that year without injury and with a lower ERA: [Ubaldo] Jimenez and three studs who did it last year — Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens. (Jurrjens may not have escaped the effect after all. He reported to camp this week with a sore shoulder and will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the problem.)”

It could be that the MRI comes up clean. (Famous — and perhaps apocryphal — baseball headline: “X-rays of [Dizzy] Dean’s head show nothing.”) But it’s also worth noting that Tommy Hanson, whom Verducci didn’t earmark this spring, worked 194 innings (counting 66 at Gwinnett) in 2009 after logging 138 in the minors in 2008. Hanson is 23.

I say again: Handling a good young pitcher is the toughest trick in baseball. If he’s really good and your team has a chance to win something, how do you not deploy him? At the same time, the six most frightening words in the sport should be these:

Chicago Cubs. Kerry Wood. Mark Prior.

124 comments Add your comment

shadetree

February 16th, 2010
2:12 pm

first by golly

CL33

February 16th, 2010
2:12 pm

We should have waited to trade Javier V. till we needed to.

C. John

February 16th, 2010
2:14 pm

Asheville Dawg

February 16th, 2010
2:15 pm

shadetree

February 16th, 2010
2:15 pm

That’s why it was okay to have 6 starters. That would allow you spell a starter every now and then. We can still do that with Medlin but it would have been alot better with Javier Vasquez. Come july you could rest your starter every 4th start and keep them fresh. The only ones you could really send out there every start are Lowe and Huddy. They pitch better tired anyway. Oh lordy, Cox will burn’em out.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:17 pm

Shadetree shades CL33, as it were, for first. Kudos.

Rodney Derrick

February 16th, 2010
2:20 pm

I hope JJ is ok; if not, I would like to see Braves give Kris Medlen a shot first

Reid in EAV

February 16th, 2010
2:21 pm

A quibble, but rather than a headline, that was actually a quote from Ol’ Diz’s own Biden-esque mouth (or, if you prefer, “W-esque mouth”): “They X-rayed my head and found nothing.”

SimpleDawg

February 16th, 2010
2:21 pm

The Vasquez trade was bad when Frankie made it, and it’s going to get worse every day from now on……

Asheville Dawg

February 16th, 2010
2:22 pm

Of course, the Braves traded their “extra starting pitcher” for a fourth outfielder. How many times have the Braves made it through the season without an injury to a starting pitcher? My guess, not since Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz days. You know, so last century…………….

26.2

February 16th, 2010
2:22 pm

CL33 is exact. We’ll regret not having Javier this year.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:22 pm

You may be right, Reid. I’ll add the word “apocryphal” to the post.

Del

February 16th, 2010
2:27 pm

Whoop-de-do!! 2nd,3rd,4th??

Reid in EAV

February 16th, 2010
2:28 pm

Actually, looks like we both may be right… or at least, there’s enough mythology to back up both your version and mine. I was using this as my source (fourth from bottom in the quotes) but further down there’s the newspaper hed as well:

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/quotes/quodean.shtml

And if you’ve got five minutes, that’s the best collection of baseball quotes shy of Yogi Berra. Funny stuff.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:29 pm

Actually 13th, Del. But you’re in the Sweet 16.

Reid in EAV

February 16th, 2010
2:33 pm

Oh brother, I’m killing a productive afternoon here, but hey, NY Times to the rescue:

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/05/books/baseball-they-x-rayed-my-head-and-found-nothing.html?pagewanted=1

So apparently that’s what Diz told reporters after getting beaned in a 1934 World Series game, so it’s probably both a quote and a hed too.

And with that, in Diz’s words, I’ve slud into home and will end this tangent. ;-)

Herschel Talker

February 16th, 2010
2:34 pm

FIRE BOOBY COX! WE COULD HAVE JAIR JURRGENS TIMES FIVE AND IT WOULDN’T MATTER. COX WILL MANAGE TO SCREW IT UP. YOU CAN BOOK IT.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:35 pm

I’m old enough to have heard Dizzy sing “Wabash Cannonball” on the Game of the Week, Reid. With Pee Wee Reese as his sidekick.

Wren Hater

February 16th, 2010
2:37 pm

I hear John Smoltz is still available.

Maybe the Yankees will let us have a “do-over” on that trade.

It was not lost on this Braves season ticket holder that Wren pulled the trigger on the Vazquez on the very first business day AFTER season ticket renewal payments were do.

If Frank Wren’s mother wasn’t willing to END HIM with a coat hanger all those years ago, Cal Ripken should have used that buffoon’s head for T-Ball practice.

CGB

February 16th, 2010
2:37 pm

Two other words you left out at the end: Dusty Baker! If I were a stud pitcher, I’d be scared to death to EVER pitch under him (see Edinson Volquez, too).

Paul Hewitt's Wife

February 16th, 2010
2:38 pm

make sure you sign the contract Jurrjens, its the only thing saving my hubby

Wren Hater

February 16th, 2010
2:39 pm

Oops!

CORRECTION:

“It was not lost on this Braves season ticket holder that Wren pulled the trigger on the Vazquez TRADE on the very first business day AFTER season ticket renewal payments were DUE.”

See, unlike Frank “Wrong Again” Wren, some of us can admit when we make very, very, very stupid mistakes.

stamper

February 16th, 2010
2:39 pm

Which Brave has his named misspelled the most?

A: Jurrjens. “Jurrgens”
-or-
B: Schafer. “Schaefer”

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:41 pm

I can only speak for myself, stamper. I’ve missed on “Jurrjens” a dozen times. I don’t think I’ve missed on “Schafer.”

Shane

February 16th, 2010
2:43 pm

Jair will be fine. Sounds like they are just taking precautions. Heck Wren stole JJ anyway in the Renteria trade. Karma maybe?

Reid in EAV

February 16th, 2010
2:44 pm

Great story. Remember when baseball announcers were allowed to be colorful, larger-than-life characters? Sigh.

Benjamin

February 16th, 2010
2:45 pm

Bradley, you popped up in my SPORTS ILLUSTRATED collection yesterday, of all places. I was at home in the mountains, reading through some vintage old SIs, when I came across one from the early 1990s.

Elmore Spencer ring a bell? :)

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:45 pm

Announcers were allowed to be characters because they all started on radio and were storytellers. That’s not the case today. Sometimes I think I’m the only one who likes listening to games more than watching them. (Thank goodness for Sirius XM.)

ITP Brave

February 16th, 2010
2:46 pm

There’s a huge difference between letting young pitchers pitch and the sheer injustice that Dusty Baker did to Wood and Prior.

Here’s hoping JJ’s MRI is negative. It will be a long, long season before it starts if he’s not able to pitch.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:46 pm

Oh, yes, Benjamin. One of my most memorable interviews ever.

chasjons

February 16th, 2010
2:47 pm

Interesting observation, but is 215 innings really that many relative to what other pitchers are throwing? Greg Maddux in his prime threw 268 innings and didn’t have injury problems. Granted Maddux had different mechanics than Jurrjens. According to baseball reference.com Jair increased his workload slightly less than 30 innings. The bump from 188 to 215 doesn’t seem to be significant but who knows. What is the average number of innings a starter throws these days anyway?

Benjamin

February 16th, 2010
2:48 pm

I saw your quotes on him in there. He certainly was an interesting fellow.

I have to admit, I never thought I’d land on an SI reference to the one, the only, Mark Bradley. It was pretty cool…

Skeezix

February 16th, 2010
2:50 pm

J.J.’s sore shoulder just makes the Vasquez trade look dumber than it did to begin with.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:51 pm

If you read Verducci’s latest story, ITP Brave, you’ll note his mention of Homer Bailey. On June 8, 2007, He was allowed to throw 114 pitches in his major-league debut against Cleveland just so he could finish five innings and get a victory. He has won 11 games since.

Tiger's Wood

February 16th, 2010
2:51 pm

greatly increasing your workload in a short period of time can definitely lead to muscle soreness

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:52 pm

I’ve made SI a few times, Benjamin. (Yes, I keep track of such things.)

Terrance Moore

February 16th, 2010
2:52 pm

I HATE Y’ALL!!

Shane

February 16th, 2010
2:53 pm

Granted Maddux had different mechanics than Jurrjens.

JJ is not a max effort kind of guy either. A guy like Mike Gonzalez is and that kind of pitcher will always have arm problems. Im much more concerned with Hanson and his unusual arm action causing problems than JJ.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
2:55 pm

Shane, you’re right about Jurrjens. He has a nice delivery. I worry a bit about Hanson’s, however.

Wren Hater

February 16th, 2010
2:56 pm

Mr. Bradley.

MLB on XM is THE BEST! With hearing Vin Scully calling Dodgers games to Bob Uecker narrating the Brewers contest, nothing beats turning off the tube for an evening and allowing those gentlemen to “paint the picture of the ballpark” in your mind.

My XM subscription is worth every penny just for the baseball alone. However, with the Braves games now on the weak, unlistenable-after-dark 680 The Fan locally, I will need XM just to be able to hear the Braves home broadcasts while stuck on the downtown connnector on my way to the games.

Back on the topic of this blog’s title, I wish a sinkhole would CLAIM Frank Wren.

JabboRockefeller

February 16th, 2010
2:57 pm

Even if JJ is fine, trading JV was a HUGE blunder.

Shane

February 16th, 2010
2:58 pm

What is a topic of a blog title?

alan

February 16th, 2010
3:00 pm

Sign Smoltz.

Shane

February 16th, 2010
3:01 pm

Even if JJ is fine, trading JV was a HUGE blunder.

Time will tell. If Arodys Vizcaino, an uber prospect, turns into a great pitcher then advantage Atlanta.

oldfart

February 16th, 2010
3:04 pm

I don’t think there is a manager in the game that has been more kind to his starting pitching than Bobby Cox. Keeps them on pitch counts early in the season, has always used the 5 man rotation, etc. Now if he had used a four man rotation when he only had four true big league starters or something of that nature you guys could talk but that hasn’t been the case here. Arm troubles are just part of pitching unless you are a knuckleballer, guaranteed if you are a screwballer. Hampton and Hudson arrived as damaged goods, blame that on the GM. Let the man go out with the dignity he deserves.

JabboRockefeller

February 16th, 2010
3:06 pm

Couldn’t we trade Wren for an “idiot to be named later?” As long as the other guy is a certified idiot, we could do no worse than break-even. And, chances are, the dude would be MUCH less an idiot than Wren…

Larry

February 16th, 2010
3:09 pm

Jurrjens is really something. If we had given the kid some run support, he could have won 20 games last year.Most underrated pitcher in the game. I hope he’s ok.

Mark Bradley

February 16th, 2010
3:11 pm

Cox protects the starters. He overtaxes his relievers.

RetiredSoldier

February 16th, 2010
3:11 pm

Those were the days Mark, Dizzy and PeeWee. It didn’t get any better.

ITP Brave

February 16th, 2010
3:12 pm

Mark, I read Verducci’s article last year and vividly remembered it while watching Cole Hamels crash and burn at the end of the season. (If memory serves, he was at the top of Verducci’s warning list.)

Like I said before, though, there is a difference between letting a young pitcher pitch and what Dusty Baker did. In 2003, Mark Prior averaged about 110 pitches per start, until September, when he averaged almost 125 pitches per start. This continued throughout the playoffs, when he regularly hit 120 pitches every start.

Prior was THE “can’t miss” pitching prospect and was unbelievable in 2003. But, the injuries began after that season, and he is now an afterthought for pitching prospects. It goes to show that there is a difference between pitching a young pitcher and killing their career.