WBC: To Be or Not To Be?
- Updated: March 5, 2009
That is the question! I can understand the financial benefit of MLB’s marketing the WBC to the overseas market. From a marketing standpoint, it’s a brilliant move (especially in Asia), but domestically it has major issues to contend with. Position players aren’t, in my opinion, affected much by the extra work because they’d be playing anyway and a few extra innings shouldn’t hurt them. But pitchers are only throwing a few innings (1-3) at this point in the spring and usually aren’t throwing at 100% force either, nor are they throwing their whole compliment of pitches yet. Here in lies my concern for the health of key MLB pitchers and how the WBC can affect a teams chances for a playoff run.
For example, in the tough AL East, the Red Sox have allowed starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and lefty reliever Javy Lopez to participate while CC Sabathia of the Yankees is not participating, but reliever Damaso Marte is. Then in the NL East you have Javier Vazquez of the Braves, J.J. Putz and K-Rod of the Mets in the classic. This has got to make Mets fans go ballistic seeing how bad their back end of the bullpen has been the last 2 years. The there’s the AL Central that has Armando Galarraga of the Tigers in the classic (and after such a nice breakout season, too). In the NL Central we will see Edinson Volquez of the Reds (which may not affect the division race, but it’s a shame to see a second year arm strained because of the WBC), Roy Oswalt of the Astros who has health issues last year, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs. Cub fans must feel like that goat they all love to have must love the WBC. The AL West will see Scot Shields of the Angels, Felix Hernandez of the Mariners and Brad Ziegler of the A’s. Then in the NL West we have Jake Peavy of the Padres who also had some concerning health woes in 2008 and new closer of the Dodgers in Jonathan Broxton.
Free agent pitcher and former Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez will be using the WBC as a way to land a job with a team as he is still unsigned! For him, this makes perfect sense as long as he doesn’t push it too much. He just needs to show that he can still be an effective pitcher.
On second thought, catchers tend to wear out in the second half of a regular season if they aren’t given sufficient rest. Especially older catchers like Varitek, Molina, Posada, Pudge, etc. Catching in the WBC might be putting unnecessary strain on a catcher also, but this could be alleviated by extra time off during the season (more than the traditional once every 5 starts).
As far as pitchers are concerned, for those playing in the WBC (especially starters), don’t expect them to pitch without extra rest in 2009 or else they are bound to see their efficiency decrease more than normal in the second half of the year.
But it’s too late now, Japan already beat China 4-0 in game 1 (of pool A) of the WBC.
What do you all think about the affect the WBC will/can have on both pitchers and catchers? Do you think that the remaining position players are immune to this wear and tear or just less susceptible to it?