Posts Tagged ‘Mark Prior’

Mark Prior Wants To Be The Next Ben Sheets?

January 30, 2010

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.

Prior is on the comeback trail yet again

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.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Advertisements

Austin Kearns Signs Minor League Deal With The Indians

January 5, 2010

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Not that ever Austin Kearns was ever really mighty, but he was once one of the top prospects in the game. Now, 10 years later, he is barely hanging on.

Today, Kearns signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians.

I have to admit, I was a big Kearns fan back in the day. I really was on the Kearns’ bandwagon in the early 2000’s.

Kearns never materialized in Cincinnati

I, along with the Cincinnati Reds organization, thought Kearns and Adam Dunn would be the cornerstones of great Reds’ teams for years to come.

Kearns was drafted with the seventh pick in the 1998 draft and made his debut in 2002. Kearns came out firing that season and it looked like all the hype surrounding Kearns was real.

Kearns hit .315/.407.500 with 13 home runs in 107 games and finished *third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately, that was the last productive season for Kearns in a Reds’ uniform.

Injuries limited Kearns’ playing time and even when he was in the lineup, he failed to give the Reds anything like he did in 2002. The Reds dream outfield of Kearns, Dunn, and Ken Griffey Jr. never materialized.

In 2006, Kearns was sent to the Washington Nationals along with Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner for Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris, and Daryl Thompson. Just after fours years after looking like a star, Kearns was no longer wanted in Cincinnati.

In his first full year in Washington in 2007, Kearns played in 161 games and hit .266 with 16 home runs and a .765 OPS. It appeared all Kearns needed was a change of scenery.

However, Kearns went back into the same injury habit in 2008 and 2009 that ruined his career in Cincinnati. Kearns in those two years played a total of 166 games and hit a stellar .209.

The Nationals even started Kearns at the beginning of the 2009 season in order to build up his trade value. That strategy didn’t work as Kearns hit just .230 in April and May.

Now at the age of 29, Kearns is nothing more than a fringe major league player hoping to get one more shot at the big leagues.

Kearns is yet another example of how top prospects are never a sure thing in baseball.

*2002 NL ROY – I took a look at the voting break down for this award and I couldn’t believe that none of the players who received votes that year had a lasting impact in the major leagues.

Jason Jennings, Kaz Ishii, Brad Wilkerson, Mark Prior, Josh Fogg, Damian Moss, Ryan Jensen, etc…all received votes and none of which accomplished much in the majors.

As a matter of fact, out of the 11 players who received votes, only Kearns, Fogg, and Jennings were on major league rosters in 2009. 2009 was only seven years after fact. Very surprising.

Prior had a superb 2003, but injuries ended his career before it even began. 2002 was just more proof that being considered for the ROY is not a spring-board into a successful career.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg