A couple of days ago I received a fantastic opportunity at the behest of the San Diego Padres: Come watch baseball with a bunch of your buddies and talk to new Padres CEO, Mike Dee.
Accepting the invitation was easy but I wanted to be sure that I also challenged the new guy when I met him so I began brain-storming. And as the tempest resided Andrew Cashner appeared.
My excitement during the 2013 season can be described as a tale of two halves.
During the first half of the season I derived my excitement from the play of Everth Cabrera. Cabby went from an effective tool on the base-paths in 2012 to a disruptive force in all facets of the game in 2013. He became consistent in the field, as well as from both sides of the plate, and visions of what could be began to emerge. As the excitement surrounding Everth Cabrera reached a fever pitch it was all washed away when the Biogenesis suspensions were doled out across MLB.
As the season nears its conclusion the void left by Everth Cabrera has been filled by starting pitcher, Andrew Cashner. That felt good to say. Andrew Cashner, starting pitcher. A real fear had always existed that Andrew Cashner might never be anything more than a fire-balling Texan with an awesome beard out of the bullpen. Have our fears been allayed? It appears so . . .
|1st Half (2013)||99.1 (GS=14)||67||28||3.81||.261||.316||.385|
|2nd Half (2013)||80.2 (GS=12)||66||21||2.23||.207||.262||.313|
Andrew Cashner got stronger as the season moved along. He became more efficient and as he learned how to pitch, rather than throw, he became a more dominant player.
While the numbers are fun to look at there’s no bigger takeaway than this: Andrew Cashner stayed healthy. After nearly cutting off his thumb while dressing a deer during the off-season I wondered if this guy would ever keep it together. But Cashner has proven me wrong.
Sadly, there are no guarantees when it comes to injuries for major league hurlers. We know the names of Oramas, Luebke, Weiland, and Kelley and how fragile the existence of a pitcher will forever be. Which brings me to . . .
My Plea to Mike Dee
When Andrew Cashner is not pitching he should be encased in Saran Wrap and shackled to the Bullpen bench, far, far, away from any of the action in a game. Do not ever let him pinch run.
When pitchers are taking their round in the batting cage prior to first pitch don’t let Andrew Cashner hit. His obliques should be respected and handled with the care of a Ming era vase. Place him behind the screen in short center and let him gently place batting practice baseballs into white buckets.
When Andrew Cashner travels to and from games he should do so in the protective custody of a specialized vehicle.
When Andrew Cashner lays down to sleep each night it should be in a hyperbaric chamber that has been rolled into a bank vault. Or a . . . Padres vault? The Padres have to have a vault of some sort in the Park – don’t ever let Andrew Cashner leave the park. Ever. Hyperbaric chamber . . . in a vault.
When Andrew Cashner goes hunting he should be left to kill. Andrew Cashner needs to hunt.
I said all of these things to Mike Dee the other night.
OK, that’s not true. I thought these things while I simply asked, “What do you think of Andrew Cashner being used as a pinch runner . . .”
Mike Dee got a big smile on his face and cut me off. Mike Dee is enthusiastic and before he shares an idea with you a smile almost always precedes it.
Dee said, “You mean like when he slides headfirst into home plate?!”
Mike Dee wasn’t excited about the head first slide but he acknowledged that, well, that’s Cash. Cash plays the game like a kid and he loves any opportunity to get out on the field and play the game. Josh Byrnes said as much as well when I proposed the same question* to him earlier in the evening. It’s just how Cash plays.
*My first question to Josh Byrnes was about the iced coffee that he never drank with Dick Enberg. Josh Byrnes is part Jedi because he felt it coming and preempted the conclusion of my question with, “Well it’s a funny story actually.” He went on to explain that he received directions from the producer to go order the coffee, yada-yada-yada, sit down, say hello to Dick, and then take a drink. As Byrnes drank the coffee the lid popped off and voila – the Padres GM was soiled in an Orange Mocha Frappuccino. I might be embellishing the drink of choice.
One of the things I love about Andrew Cashner is his unbridled enthusiasm and to temper such a joy for the game could be met with disastrous effect. But sometimes players must be saved from themselves. There’s no denying that pitchers, who all too often succumb to catastrophic arm injuries, also get sidelined by hamstring, groin, or oblique strains. Andrew Cashner is far too valuable to the Padres starting rotation to allow him to miss time because he also happens to be a decent base runner.
In closing, Mr. Dee: Popemobile by day and hyperbaric chamber in a vault by night. But let Andrew Cashner hunt. It’s what he does.
I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com