Bobby Cox, who had some idea of how to handle pitchers, used to say of pitching: “When you think you’ve got enough, go get some more.”
If any team looked to have too much pitching, the Braves were it. Their rotation should have produced two All-Stars — still can’t get over Tommy Hanson not making it — and most teams would kill to have Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Brandon Beachy as their Nos. 3, 4 and 5 starters. And this isn’t to mention Kris Medlen, who’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, or the bountiful farm system that counts Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado as gold-plated prospects.
So deep was the Braves’ well of arms that even someone who hates the idea of trading young pitching – i.e., me — was ready to part with Minor for a deadline bat. But Frank Wren held the line and wound up getting Michael Bourn anyway, and now we see the wisdom in the GM’s no-arms-for-rentals stance.
Jair Jurrjens is on the disabled list with a sore knee. Hanson could skip a turn. (Hanson won’t say if his shoulder is hurting, which you’d have to think is an indication it is.) Before he beat the Marlins last night, Lowe had gone a calendar month without authoring a quality start. And the ERA of the Braves’ starters, which was second in the majors to Philadelphia’s not long ago, is now only eighth-best in baseball, fourth-best in the National League.
We say again: Pitchers are fragile creatures. They hurt their arms, and sometimes their knees. They get tired. Their “mechanics” get messed up. The reason baseball men say you can never have too much pitching is that, pitching being 75 or 90 percent (estimates vary) of the game, you really can’t.
Having gone temporarily insane, I was ready to trade Minor, but he was needed for an essential start in Jurrjens’ stead Sunday. Minor didn’t win, but he worked into the sixth inning — and his team won, which is the main thing. And now, should Hanson require time off, Teheran will be needed, too.
Two weeks ago, we were all ripping Wren for not making a bigger move sooner — in the case of Carlos Beltran, I was guilty, too — but Wren has been around a while. He knows what every one of us should know but, being human, we sometimes forget. Pitching is the most precious commodity in any team sport. If you have it, you’re blessed. If you have it, you keep it.
By Mark Bradley