Here are several links from the past week that will make your spring-training Monday a bit more bearable:
- Surgeon Frank Jobe, 88, died last Thursday. His revolutionary ligament-replacement procedure in 1974 prolonged Tommy John’s career and those of close to 500 pitchers since. Valerie J. Nelson of the Los Angeles Times describes the procedure in detail:
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe made what many consider the most extraordinary medical advance in baseball history that September when he invented a transplant procedure that resurrected the pitcher’s arm.
Jobe borrowed the idea of transferring a tendon from one body part to another, which had been used in hand surgery and to reinforce the joints of polio patients but never to repair a joint that endures so much stress — the elbow of a major league pitcher.
He snipped a 6-inch tendon from the pitcher’s good arm and wove it like a figure eight through holes drilled in the elbow of the injured left arm to replace the ligament destroyed by overuse. It worked so well that Pete Rose, then a player with the Cincinnati Reds, quipped: “I know they had to give Tommy John a new arm. But did they have to give him [Sandy] Koufax’s?”
- If there was a hole in Stephen Strasburg’s game, according to David Schoenfield of ESPN Sweet Spot, it might have been his inability to get left-handed hitters to swing and miss at many pitches, particularly the fastball. In response, Strasburg has unveiled a slider this spring, in “the hope that it resembles his fastball.”
- Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny wants his pitchers to become better hitters, even though a little research shows that collectively they were middle of the pack among National League clubs. Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan explores what it might take to make Matheny happy.
- The Orioles slugged the most solo home runs (125) last season. Bill Chuck of Gammons Daily has the stats of each team and offers up the individual leaders as well.
- Dan Farnsworth of the Hardball Times sees no reason why a southpaw can’t crouch behind the plate for a big-league club.
- Meanwhile, John Autin of High Heat Stats demands to know where are all the left-handed (batting) shortstops.
- Autin’s colleague Adam Darowski walks readers through Baseball-Reference’s oWAR and dWAR stats. Here’s his summary of the latter:
dWAR does actually isolate just the defensive portions of WAR. But you need to remember that it includes the positional adjustment. The fact that Ed McKean has a positive dWAR and Jeff Bagwell has a negative dWAR does not mean that Bagwell was a bad fielder and McKean was good. In their cases, Bagwell was phenomenal at a low value position and McKean was among the worst at the highest value position. In the WAR framework, McKean was still more “valuable” to his team because he filled that very difficult shortstop position.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com notes the meteoric rise in defensive shifts — the numbers on balls in play jumped 245 percent from 2011 to 2013 — and labels the practice the “new norm.”
- According to the Associated Press’ Ben Walker, the expanded replay system will not be used for the Diamondbacks–Dodgers games in Sydney that will inaugurate the regular season.
- Brandon Phillips won’t talk to the Cincinnati media, accusing the writers of overlooking last season’s injury when discussing his longer-term decline. Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated and Aaron Gleeman of NBC Hardball Talk have the details, but neither one is particularly sympathetic to BP’s plight.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!