Proponents saying throwing at long distances builds pitchers' arm strength and increases velocity.
Major League Baseball is more or less a standardized industry. Everything a player does can be quantified in some manner. Since the dawning of the information age, teams have trended toward statistical analysis as it gives more definite, calculated answers rather than general feelings that can often lead to overvaluing a player. Unfortunately, that precision hasn’t translated to on-field performance, as gut instincts still rule when it comes to pitcher conditioning. For pitchers, those gut instincts have led to an epidemic of pitching-related injuries. According to statistics compiled and confirmed by Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll, Major League Baseball has spent more than $500 million in salary on injured pitchers the last two seasons. It is apparent that the majority of teams are just following the herd rather than researching methods to keep pitchers healthy. The result of this lack of exploration has led to the epidemic that Carroll describes.
Allan Jaeger, of Jaeger Sports, believes he has the program that can save pitchers from injury while increasing their velocity. Jaeger’s program is rooted in a traditional baseball exercise, long tossing. Since the early days of baseball, players have been long tossing. Most performed long tossing because they believed it strengthened their arm. Jaeger agrees. "If muscles are inactive for a long enough period of time, or aren't used close to their desired capacities, the life is taken out of them. When muscles are given proper blood flow, oxygen, and range of motion, they are free to work at their optimum capacity. A good long-toss program is the key to giving life to a pitcher’s arm."
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Will's got his eye on all sorts of things, but it's Chris Carpenter who's front and center. With a Kevin Goldstein cameo on Brad Lincoln's injury.
John Manuel is the co-editor-in-chief of Baseball America and has been covering the college beat for over a decade. I had the privilege to work with John, and nobody knows the college game like he does. I spoke to him today about Brad Lincoln and pitching usage, as John recently published an article on the state of pitching development programs, available here to subscribers of Baseball America.
As more players hire their own medical help, conficts arise between the player's staff and the team's own physicians.
Most of the raised eyebrows have to do with "personal trainers"--Bob Anejo and Greg Anderson come to mind--who need to be differentiated from athletic trainers. Unlicensed and of varying philosophies, these men often have dubious credentials and programs. Certainly, there are some programs, such as Mark Verstegen's Athletes Performance that are clearly scientific and well-considered, but even these have their detractors given their poster boy, Nomar Garciaparra, has been injury prone. Mike Berardino points the finger at one of these as part of the problem for Juan Pierre. There were hints that Scott Boras was going to set up his own facility last season. The trend will continue as the super-agencies become teams unto themselves, both positively and negatively.
Rick Peterson: The goal is for every pitcher to master the delivery. We have a comprehensive program based on drills and throwing programs to teach that. The core of efficient delivery theory comes from the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) lab of Dr. James Andrews. Last year, we had Tim Hudson and Barry Zito down to work with Dr. Andrews.
Rick Peterson has melded biomechanical research, psychological principles and Eastern philosophy during his five-year tenure as pitching coach of the Oakland A's. Under his guidance the A's have developed All-Star pitchers Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, acquired and polished hidden gems like Chad Bradford and implemented a minor league regimen that's yielded several promising pitching prospects. He recently chatted with BP about organizational communication, the virtue of empty-headedness on the mound, and the all-mighty data.