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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox

Dig this nice appreciation of Mark Buehrle by Rany Jazayerli over at Grantland:

Everyone makes mistakes. One of mine is that it took me a long time to appreciate Buehrle, and not just because every time he pitched for the White Sox, I had to listen to Hawk Harrelson sing his praises. I mean, Buehrle was drafted in the 38th round out of some college no one had heard of,2 he almost never hit 90 on the radar gun, and he didn’t strike anyone out. Sure, he reached the major leagues just 14 months after he signed as a draft-and-follow in 1999, but he was never a top prospect. He wasn’t much of a prospect, period. During his first full season in the majors, I fixated on his mere 126 strikeouts in 221 innings far more than on his 16-8 record, 3.29 ERA, or AL-leading 1.066 WHIP. He was a junk-tossing left-hander, and those guys always get figured out eventually.

Only, Buehrle hasn’t gotten figured out, and he’s currently helping fuel the Toronto Blue Jays’ playoff hopes. Despite pitching in arguably the AL’s best home run park for hitters for most of his career, he’s produced only one bad season: 2006, the sole year when his ERA+ dropped below 100 and, conveniently if less meaningfully, the only year when he finished with a losing record. He’s been consistently above average without ever being elite. He’s earned a single Cy Young vote just once, in 2005, and the category in which he’s most often led the league is hits allowed, four times.

He’s led the league in hits allowed four times because he throws a lot of innings, and because he gives up a lot of contact. And he gives up a lot of contact because the one thing he does not do is miss bats. After getting called up midseason in 2000, Buehrle struck out 37 batters in 51.1 innings, a ratio a tick higher than the league average at the time. He’s posted a below-average strikeout rate every season since, and has struck out 150 batters just once in his career.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]


1 boslaw   ~  Jul 17, 2014 10:11 am

next year's rotation?


2 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 17, 2014 10:21 am

You want to sign Lester for 6 or 7 years?

3 Chyll Will   ~  Jul 17, 2014 10:51 am

Not sure I see Kuroda coming back either.

4 boslaw   ~  Jul 17, 2014 11:56 am

What other realistic options are there? Check out his comps. Would you re-sign Andy Pettitte at age 29 to a 6 or 7 year deal? Same for Hamels. I'm not a fan, but he's probably a solid and reliable 4/5 for the next 4-5 years.Reliability seems to be our biggest problem these days.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 17, 2014 12:31 pm

I wouldn't sign any pitcher for 7 years. But, you've got a point, the options are slim.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 17, 2014 12:31 pm

3) Yeah, this has got to be it for Hiroki, no?

7 RIYank   ~  Jul 17, 2014 1:04 pm

I would not take Lester for six years, and I wouldn't give up much for Hamels either. For one thing, you wouldn't be getting Andy Pettitte at 29. They'll both be 31 at the start of next season.

I'm okay with Pineda, Nova, Sabathia, Tanaka, and maybe Betances (I know, I know).
James Shields is a free agent too.
Much as it would irritate Red Sox Nation (and even though he's my favorite Red Sock), I'm against giving Lester a long contract.

8 monkeypants   ~  Jul 17, 2014 2:49 pm

[7] I would be OK with Pineda and Sabathia as well, inasmuch as this assumes they are not toast. But Sabathia seems almost certainly finished, and we are waiting now two-plus years for Pineda to prove he's not a younger, harder throwing Britt Burns.

9 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jul 17, 2014 7:40 pm

[8] Britt Burns..damn...one day after reading the horrific article about Mel Hall, that's some dark Yankee years for sure.

10 monkeypants   ~  Jul 17, 2014 8:34 pm

[9] Dark indeed. It reminded me of an article about Dave Meggett and his serial sexual criminal behavior. Something in the water in locker rooms of NY sports in the early 1990s?

11 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jul 17, 2014 10:37 pm

[10] Ouch, I read that one too, and the Chad Curtis piece. When my kids are old enough I'm going to be so vigilant about checking out who their athletic coaches are..still to over react but parenthood is often irrational..

12 Boatzilla   ~  Jul 17, 2014 11:20 pm

[11} It's near impossible to tell, dude It's usually not the lech who is eying little girls with bad intents and making off color jokes all the time. It's usually the perfect caring teacher/boss etc.

The guy will look like Mr. Rodgers on the street and during all the PTA meetings.

How you gonna suss that out? You can't

The only way to do it is to make your kids are clear on what's appropriate and what's not and to encourage them always challenge authority. That's why I teach Sachi to cross the road when it's safe, not when some robot light tells her to.

All those kids were getting the green light from their teachers/caregivers. But something deep inside them must have been saying "red."

13 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jul 18, 2014 1:06 am

[12] Right on. It's so awful to have to explain this $hit to kids but we got no choice. Agree about the robot rule following for sure. Teacher here told my boy's class not to drink from their water bottles on the way home as 'it could be dangerous while walking'. Meanwhile it's 90% humidity and 30+ degrees! We told him to drink whenever he wants and ignore her on this point :)

14 Chyll Will   ~  Jul 18, 2014 7:24 am

[13] but-but, if something happens like the water tastes odd and he wrinkles his face momentarily, preventing him from seeing the reckless driver zooming onto the curb because he was distracted from the "greatness" that is Iggy Azalea on terrestrial radio and misses the boy by mere inches, yet causing him to fling the water into a passerby's eyes, and she screams and runs into the middle of traffic causing more cars to swerve like an 8th Avenue burlesque show and cause all manner of chaos and mayhem? What about that?

I mean, that's what they're afraid of with these vague blanket condemnation of common sense, right?

15 RIYank   ~  Jul 18, 2014 9:04 am

[14] Sigh.
Another water-related tragedy.

Please, if you must drink, don't walk.

16 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 18, 2014 9:30 am

The Meggett, Hall and Curtis stories were written by the same writer, Greg Hanlon. A good dude and fine reporter.

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