I was reading ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark’s Rumblings & Grumblings post this morning and I came across a quote that I thought was pretty interesting. Agent John Boggs had this to say about one of his clients:
“Mark has been through so many timelines, at this point I’m almost allergic to the word,” Boggs said. “But he’s out there. He’s getting himself ready. And when he’s ready, I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about him. Then we’ll invite teams to come watch him throw. And hopefully, he’ll be the next Ben Sheets.”
The Mark, Boggs is referring to is former Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Mark Prior. While I appreciate Boggs’ enthusiasm for his client comparing Prior’s situation to Sheets’, I am going to have to tell Boggs to pump the breaks a little bit.
The only thing Sheets and Prior have in common is that they have been two injury prone pitchers throughout their careers. However, their situations are completely different.
The biggest and main difference between Sheets and Prior is that Sheets has actually taken the mound recently. Like in the last three years.
Sheets was pitching at an All-Star caliber level as late as September of 2008. Prior hasn’t taken the mound in a major league game since August of 2006.
Their situations are night and day.
As we all know, Prior burst on to the baseball scene going 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA for the Chicago Cubs in 2003. Since then, he has been an injury filled mess.
He has had an achilles tendon injury, a compression fracture in his pitching elbow, a strained oblique, shoulder tendonitis, and of course, two shoulder surgeries since 2003. That is a lot for any pitcher to handle.
If you would have told me Prior would only have 18 wins since the 2003, I would have said you were nuts. I would have said you were nuts too if back in 1987 you told me that Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry or Don Mattingly would never even sniff the Hall of Fame.
But this is baseball and one injury can ruin a player’s career.
Many have pointed to Prior’s poor mechanics, which have led to all his injury problems. While that may be the case, there have been pitchers with worse mechanics like Kevin Appier, who managed to pitch for 16 years in the major leagues.
Sometimes bad luck factors into a pitcher’s career just as much as mechanics.
Remarkably, Prior is not even 30-years-old yet. He will turn 30 in September of next year. Due to his relatively young age, I would imagine if Prior did hold a try out, there would be a fair share of teams that would come out to watch him pitch.
But unlike Sheets, Prior won’t get $10 million from a team, nor will he even get a major league contract.
Thus making their situations very, very different.
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