“Greatness is hard to define and even harder to attain”
– Ray Flowers
Remember back on draft day 2009 when you started to get that itch to pull the trigger on your first pitcher? You probably waited a few rounds and ended up taking someone like Dan Haren or Josh Beckett as your “ace” and then waited a while to select your second option. You probably then decided to grab a youngster with some upside, maybe a Yovani Gallardo or Josh Johnson type, and then you were left trying to decide who to grab for your third rotation spot. Did you do the safe thing and take a Matt Garza or Matt Cain, or did you go for broke and select a guy like the young lefty from Tampa that was going to be the next big thing? If you drafted that young man your 2009 season has likely been one of disappointment,
David Price dominated in a brief look in 2008 posting a 1.93 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 14 innings with the Rays before allowing just a single run while striking out eight batters in 5.2 post-season innings on his way to a victory and a save. But the dude is just 24 years old, and as often happens on the road to greatness, reality set in.
First off, Price wasn’t even on the roster when the season started as the Rays sent him down to the minors to hone his pitches. Price posted a 3.93 ERA and a 9.17 K/9 mark at Triple-A in eight starts, but he was also plagued by walks – a 4.72 BB/9 mark clearly being a sign that he still needed to work on his craft.
So what happened when he was called up to the bigs? Predictably he struggled. Price failed to record six innings in any of his first four starts and in six of his first eight trips to the hill. He also struggled mightily with his control walking at least five batters in five of his first eight games. All told, over his first 12 outings, Price posted a 4-4 record while his ratios were far from impressive: 5.10 ERA, 1.63 WHIP and a 5.25 BB/9 mark. Things have gotten better, though that is certainly a relative term, over his last eight outings: 4-3, 4.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a 2.62 K/BB mark in 49.2 innings.
The main difference, as it almost always is with hurlers, is his growing ability to locate his pitches in the strike zone. If you throw strikes, success usually follows. Maybe Price can teach that to another young hurler who was drafted early this season yet has failed to even remotely approach the heights that were predicted of him. Who is that hurler? Joba Chamberlain of course. So next time you consider taking that up and coming young hurler in the early rounds of your draft remember that sometimes slow and steady wins the race and guys like Javier Vazquez and Ted Lilly might just be better bets on draft day.
A QUOTE FOR THE AGES
Kyle Elfrink, my co-host on The Fantasy Buffet which can be heard each day at Fanball.com from 8-9 AM PST, found this quote while doing some research a while back, and I thought it would be great to share it with another audience here.
This Day in Baseball – September 7, 1961 – In the midst of his historic run at Babe Ruth’s single-season home run mark, the Yankees’ Roger Maris lays down a bunt in a 7-3 win over Washington. After the game, reporters ask Maris why he bunted. He replied, “Trying to win the game, you stupid ****sucker. Why do you think?” Is this the best quote in the history of baseball?
Possibly the best baseball quote of all-time.
By Ray Flowers