The Padres announced earlier tonight that pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza will undergo Tommy John surgery. Espinoza was acquired last summer from the Boston Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz. He made seven starts down the stretch at Fort Wayne last season, but hasn’t pitched at all this year, held back for precautionary reasons. Espinoza will have the surgery next week in Dallas, Texas.
Here are some thoughts on the matter.
1. Get well, Anderson Espinoza
We often think about how an injury like this affects the Padres. That’s only natural, of course, but it’s important to think about Espinoza here. The Padres will be fine. On the other hand, Espinoza’s a 19-year-old who hasn’t pitched a minor-league game in 11 months, and who now has to deal with a significant surgery and a long, grueling recovery, one that certainly doesn’t guarantee a return to previous form.
Espinoza signed for $1.8 million back in 2014, so he’s doing okay. Once you factor in buscones, taxes, and living on a paltry minor-league salary for a few years, though, he hasn’t really earned the big bucks yet. He still has a bright future, we hope, but it’s hard not to feel for someone who’s right arm, gifted as it is, has failed him. The most important thing here is that Anderson Espinoza gets healthy for Anderson Espinoza. If that happens, the Padres will be beneficiaries, and so will we.
Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:
- Bud Black was fired this week, replaced by Pat Murphy on an interim basis, as A.J. Preller continues to overhaul the organization he rebuilt over the winter with the promise of a brighter future that has yet to materialize. Among those with thoughts on Black’s firing are Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs), Wonko and jbox (Gaslamp Ball), Dustin (Padres Public), Jon Heyman (CBS), and Tim Brown (Yahoo!). And Dennis Lin tells us a little about Murphy, who had been the manager at Triple-A El Paso.
- Gwynn Jr. reflective on anniversary of father’s death (Padres.com) – Overshadowed by the current regime’s ongoing drama was the anniversary of Tony Gwynn’s death. Barry Bloom checked in with son Anthony: “For me, living in San Diego, there are constant reminders of him. I don’t know if I’ve had a full chance to grieve, but I’ve had time. It gets easier every day. But you’re still going to go through your first year with him gone. The anniversary of him passing, birthdays will always be popping up.”
- Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox (SABR) – Here’s another book I haven’t read that sounds fascinating: “We now have access to crucial information that changes what we thought we knew about ‘baseball’s darkest hour’ — including rare film footage from that fateful fall classic, legal documents from the criminal and civil court proceedings, and accurate salary information for major-league players and teams.” This one is edited by former North County Times staffer and all-around good guy Jacob Pomrenke. The e-book is free to SABR members. Shifting to the other side of the Windy City, Mark Kram wrote in 1977 about why Hack Wilson isn’t in the Hall of Fame. [h/t Jay Jaffe for Kram on Wilson]
- For a Catcher Who Had a Pitcher’s Surgery, Recovery From a Different Angle (New York Times) – Baltimore’s Matt Wieters shares his theory on the current Tommy John epidemic: “Pitchers are now throwing with 100 percent effort almost every pitch they throw out there. I think back in the day, one, they didn’t have all the M.R.I.s and things to find it, but also those guys would save their 100 percent effort for when they needed it.” Speaking of catchers, former Padres backstop John Baker (FOX Sports) pens a pensive piece on “playing the right way.” [h/t VocalMinoritySD for the Baker bit]
- The Physics of Calling Pitches from Your Sofa (Hardball Times) – David Kagan discusses the difficulty of judging balls and strikes on television thanks to the various camera angles employed in different ballparks, aka parallax error. From the comments, this collection of center-field camera angle screen shots is also worth reviewing.
The only things certain in life are death, taxes, and Tommy John surgery. If you’re a pitcher, anyway.
Last Friday night, the San Diego Padres had an offensive explosion against Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, shelling him for six runs and six hits (including two Jedd Gyorko home runs) over five-plus innings of work. That’s as many runs as Fernandez had given up over his previous four starts, and it raised his ERA from a microscopic 1.74 to a slightly-less-microscopic 2.44.
Fernandez, arguably the league’s best pitcher, was rocked by the league’s worst offensive club (to date) in an extreme pitcher’s park. Improbable, sure, but you could chalk it up to the oddities of the game; on a given night, anything can happen, and a great pitcher succumbing to a lackluster offense isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
Exercise Josh Johnson‘s 2015 option? Exercise it now when there’s news that he’s on his way to see Dr. James Andrews, likely putting an end to his 2014 season?
Before you dismiss this suggestion as the ravings of a lunatic (and it is lunacy for no other reason than options don’t get picked up until the season ends and performance thresholds are met or missed), resist for but a moment. It was just the other night that I jokingly offered the following:
This was a joke without a punchline. Here’s the punchline . . .
There it is! A Caddy Shack reference! Yes! No? Sorry.
I was not serious in any way. Instead, I chose to use twitter for its intended purpose: To be a facetious jerkface.
But I’ve been thinking about this and if you’ll indulge me I would like to make a case for keeping Josh Johnson around in 2015.
Reports surfaced yesterday that the Padres Josh Johnson, signed as a free agent over the winter, would be seeking a second opinion from Dr James Andrews on his injured forearm.
Then again, perhaps it was his elbow that he was getting checked. He had already had ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery on it once before, in 2007, and Dr Andrews cleaned it up in October of last year.
So which is it?
Last January Baseball Prospectus rated Rymer Liriano as the number 2 prospect in the Padres system behind Austin Hedges. He was described as a player with all 5 tools and the potential to become a first division player.
Shortly after the BP ranking, Liriano tore his elbow while throwing, had Tommy John surgery, and consequently missed the 2013 season. It was a disappointing piece of news for fans who follow the farm system closely and even more so for fans who may have witnessed Rymer Liriano play in Peoria, Fort Wayne, Lake Elsinore, or San Antonio. Rymer Liriano is physical and the young Dominican stands out to even the most casual observer.
Today while listening to Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes speak with Darren Smith on the Mighty 1090 the conversation bounced from a weird type of ball game played by front office personnel, then to Chase Headley‘s calf, before finally settling in to my main concern this spring – Max Fried‘s tender forearm.
Darren asked Byrnes about his initial reaction to news from the trainers that something was up with Fried’s forearm/elbow and the GM said this:
“Yeah, I mean it’s been a lot the last few years and you kinda just keep waiting for the worm to turn and obviously, ya know, we’ve changed a few things with how we train and how we treat but . . .”
Wait, wait, wait. That’s gold right there.
Man, this one hurts.
Earlier this evening, Padres beat writer Corey Brock tweeted that Cory Luebke would undergo his second Tommy John surgery, ending his 2014 season.
Ugh. What a gut-punch to a team that had such a productive (on-field) off-season. And poor Cory Luebke. As Mel from The Sac Bunt tweeted , I don’t know who or what to be mad at. There’s nothing you can blame for this, other than bad luck.