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It’s Good to Be the King

Our man Cliff takes a look at the Felix Hernandez extension over at SI.com:

Save for brief a bit of elbow tightness in mid-2007 and fluky sprained ankle in 2008, Hernandez has shown no signs of fragility in his first five major league seasons, but any long-term pitching contract carries a significant injury risk, no matter what the pitcher’s previous medical history might be. Pitching is an extremely unnatural act that places enormous stress and strain on two major joints filled with delicate ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues. Even the healthiest pitcher’s arm can go pop at any time. Hernandez has proven to be durable thus far, but that has resulted in a lot of innings pitched at a very young age. Because young men’s bodies are still completing the growing and maturing process in their early twenties, any pitcher under 25 is automatically an elevated injury risk. That’s why an increasing number of teams have come to enforce pitch and innings limits on their young starters.

Hernandez was so good so young that he made his major league debut at 19 and has already thrown 905 major league innings at age 23, 820 2/3 of them over the last four seasons. The M’s did well to keep Hernandez below 200 innings pitched in his first two full major league seasons, and he topped out at 200 2/3 innings in his third season, but his breakout 2009 season saw him throw 238 2/3 innings, which is a ton for a 23 year old. The M’s have also been smart about Hernandez’s pitch counts, as he’s thrown 120 or more pitches in a major league game just once, that coming in his penultimate start of 2009, though, again, his pitches per start have increased annually over the last three seasons, reaching 107 in 2009.

Meanwhile, it appears as if the Mets have traded for Gary Mathews, Jr.  Okay…

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1 RagingTartabull   ~  Jan 22, 2010 1:32 pm

how ya doin' Marie??

2 ms october   ~  Jan 22, 2010 1:46 pm

good work cliff.
i think the statement you relayed in the article about what distinguishes the true greats is durability and too often downplayed. durability is a skill.

alex you are making me laugh today - i can feel the sarcastic derision dripping off your statement about the trade - and it sounds like both the mets and angels are enjoying ass soup with this trade - i think this is one of those lose-lose situations.

3 ms october   ~  Jan 22, 2010 1:49 pm

[2] jeez, excuse my inability to write a complete, coherent sentence in multiple posts today.

4 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 22, 2010 1:59 pm

Have the Yankees signed Johnny Damon yet?

5 ms october   ~  Jan 22, 2010 2:04 pm

[4] the angels are probably in the of market now

6 OldYanksFan   ~  Jan 22, 2010 4:06 pm

I am no fan of his, but GMJr at 2 years for $2m seems like a fine deal. That's Cashman budget money.

7 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 22, 2010 10:58 pm

[2] and it sounds like both the mets and angels are enjoying ass soup with this trade ...

Is that anything like chitlins with cabbage?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver