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September 20, 2002

The Daily Prospectus

Wait For It

by Gary Huckabay

I tend to get disappointed in people. My faith in humanity as a whole has been waning for a very long time. So when I hear about an incident such as the one that occurred yesterday, I tend to sort of mournfully shrug my shoulders, write the incident off as yet another example of the pointless, mindless, aimless, counterproductive nature of people. There's simply no excuse for these sorts of activities, and those that perpetrate these acts deserve to be dealt with in the harshest possible terms.

Baseball as a whole grossly underestimates the kind of serious threat that unhinged nutbags like this represent. Something needs to be done to prevent this sort of horrible incident from happening in the future. It isn't possible to stop any and all potential acts of the truly determined and unbalanced. The occasional deranged crank is always going to be able to slip through any mechanism or process designed to keep them out. Still, all possible and feasible efforts should be made to ensure the safety of the innocent and unsuspecting.

I speak, of course, of the extension of Jeff Torborg's managerial contract.

So where does the blame lie? I place most of it squarely at the feet of Jeffrey Loria and Larry Beinfest. Ultimately, they are responsible for the operations and decisions of the franchise, and they had the power to prevent this kind of disaster from happening.

Considering the state of the Marlin clubhouse, and the relationship the Marlins have developed with their potential fan base, it's self-evident that the Marlins need to do something to develop some good faith. Derrek Lee has publicly aired his anger and frustration at being "lied to" by the Marlin front office. Marlin fans would sooner endure the comedy duo of Tom Green and Tariq Aziz than actually attend a game. (Have you seen how hard the Producer/Director of Marlin broadcasts is working to avoid showing empty seats during TV broadcasts? Them camera angles is plenty tight.)

The one thing, organizationally, that the Marlins have been great at is developing arms. They've drafted and developed a ton of guys with mindblowing stuff. Next year, Torborg is once again going to be handed the reins of Josh Beckett, whose career might have already received a stay of execution thanks to his blisters, and A.J Burnett, who already came up with a "bone bruise" this season.

Burnett's made 27 starts this season. In those starts, Burnett's thrown:

100+ pitches: 20 times
110+ pitches: 17 times
120+ pitches: 10 times
130+ pitches:  1 time

That's too much abuse.

The pitch counts and usage are worrisome, but what's more worrisome for the Marlins is what Burnett's usage patterns are indicative of. Torborg has not demonstrated an adequate understanding of what's important for the franchise. If you've got a bunch of young pitchers with stuff that makes Jamie Moyer and Tom Glavine sob with envy, you need to figure out how to turn their talent into on-field success. That doesn't mean sending Beckett, Burnett, or the like back out for the 8th after they've thrown 112 pitches. Of course those guys are going to want to go back out there. The manager needs to manage their workload over the course of a season. He needs to lead, and part of that is harnessing the natural competitive drive of his players to maximize their effectiveness over the long haul.

There were considerably better options for the Marlins out there in terms of a manager for next season and beyond.

As for the other scary incident last night...

Here's hoping that one of those moronic-waste-of-skin-white-trash-refugees-from-COPS actually has some assets that can end up in the hands of the Gamboa family. Glad that Tom seems to be OK, but even without any serious physical damage, that can mess a guy up. Here's hoping that Tom Gamboa's fine, and that we don't see another incident like that. I'm not overly prone to violent or reactionary behavior, but I could have lived with having those two f%^&ing craven cretins dragged back into the Kansas City clubhouse for a blanket party, then unceremoniously tossed in a dumpster.

On that cheery note, have a good weekend.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

Related Content:  Pitchers,  Overuse

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