Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Truth Comes Out

The Nats placed John Patterson on the DL today for the bicep soreness that knocked him out of the game on Saturday. Even better, after giving him an MRI, they found that he was retaining fluid and has nerve problems in his elbow. I'm a bit confused by the headline on though, which claims that the injury is in his left elbow. I'll go on the assumption that our good friends at are wrong, especially because the rest of the article refers to his throwing elbow. Although, perhaps, Patterson might be better of learning to throw with his left anyway.

I must say that I'm particularly impressed by the Press Release at, which calls his injury "right elbow biceps soreness," a wholly new condition that seems the result of a drunken bout of Mad Libs, rather than an actual health professional's diagnosis. Certainly there's a comma or three missing there. I think I'm going to miss work tomorrow with top head neck soreness. Or maybe middle stomach bowel irratibility?

The injury is really no surprise to anyone who's watched his starts. He's been trying to fight his way through the bicep strain all year, and it showed in the way he was pitching.
I've had my hunch all along that he was trying to work through something based on the ineptness of his pitches. As I've said a bazillion times, the velocity loss didn't scare me, but the loss of stuff on his breaking pitches did. It wasn't until a start or two ago that he finally was able to snap off that monster curve which led his success in '05 more than even his mid-90s fastball did. And strangely, in Saturday's start, he seemed to rear back and throw sliders -- perhaps the most difficult pitch to throw with a barking elbow -- more than he had all season. Maybe this was his way of giving it one go? He's known all along that he was hurting, so why not let loose and see if the elbow holds up? Well, it didn't. And he's found himself back where he's been so many times before, the DL.

I'm a huge fan of John Patterson, and have been a pretty strong advocate for him, thinking that he really is an ace -- just one who can't stay healthy. I fell in love with his curves (hey, now!) in '05, and I know that's in there; it's just that his body won't let him do it.

At the same time, he's a maddeningly frustrating performer to watch, because he doesn't have the mentality of an ace. Nobody would ever call him a bulldog, which is why the attempts to dub him "Big Nasty" have been so laughable. He needs everything perfectly in synch, and needs to feel right to throw effectively. He seems particularly poor at shutting out outside distractions, and working through when he's not 100%, which is what many pitchers need to do.

Now that's not to say that he needs to go out there and reel off sliders when his elbow is swelling to the size of a grapefruit -- it's the other things that he's needed to push through -- a litany of which, the Post detailed today: dehydration, sharp needles, etc. It's this tendency, which I've mocked, in part, in the last post.

I'm not going to mock him for the elbow and arm problems. He's clearly suffering there, and his attempts to pitch through it are worth the applause, even if it did appear he was holding back a bit. But given his long arm history and the years he's already missed because of his Tommy John surgery, he's going to be a bit skittish.

I really hope the problem is just some swelling, though the specter of nerve problems is not a good sign:

Patterson underwent an MRI on Sunday morning. The doctors found no structural damage, but they did find fluid in the elbow and located some nerve problems. Patterson could be out for a month or more.

"There are some spots where you see the inflammation," Patterson said. "You can see where I had the [elbow surgery]. There is some inflammation there, so I'm starting to feel [some soreness] there again. As far as what's causing it, we don't have an answer to that yet."

The Nationals need a healthy John Patterson. But I'm not sure they're ever going to get one.

The lesson they're learning this year is one that it's taken the Cubs years to learn. When you've got an injury-prone ace, you can't count on them as a central part of your team; that's just a formula for disappointment. But if you build your team with the assumption that you're going to get little from them, when they're finally healthy, they'll find ways to contribute and be a plus.

We're probably at that point with Patterson. Hill's and perhaps Bergmann's emergence is just hammering it home a little more.

  • The other part of that article notes that Nook Logan and Cristian Guzman have been activated off the DL. One takes Patterson's spot; the other takes Mike Restovich's, who was outrighted to the minor leagues. (Outrighting places a player on waivers, where any team can claim him and give him an active-roster job, and removes him from the 40-man roster.)

    Given how terrible the offense has been, it's hard to see how adding Nook Logan and Cristian Guzman is going to help. But Lord knows, it really can't be worse.

    I'm really going to be interested to see how Acta handles centerfield, especially with Langerhans on the roster now.

    With Guzman coming back at short, Felipe Lopez moves back to second, which is a good thing for the team. Lopez seems to have lost a step or two at short, and the number of grounders that rolled through the left side was reaching an alarming rate, and the ones he did get to had a seemingly one in four chance of being tossed to the club seats.

    Maybe, just maybe, it's possible that the increase of defense at short will offset the downgrade in offense. After the hot start, Ron Belliard wasn't setting the world on fire.

  • Manny Acta played Kory Casto at first today, because Dmitri Young is having feet problems. I like it. I don't think Casto can hit to save his life, but dammit, he's going to bring more to the team than Young will -- even considering the mediocre prospect that we'd get, assuming any team wanted an overweight DH who isn't really hitting all that well.

    Casto, at least has a bit of a glove. And although I don't think he's going to hit, they might as well give him some on-the-job training. Lord knows we ain't winning a thing this year anyway.

    And besides, we're on the verge of not just being a terrible baseball team with a terrible record, we've got a pretty good chance to have a historically bad offense.

  • Yes, I wrote too much.


    • In re: Patty-cakes' arm troubles: XM fills the idle time on its baseball game channels with an endless loop from one of the shows airing on XM175. The other day they aired an interview with former pitcher Mike Morris(I think?) who has proclaimed himself a Human kinetics guru.

      Morris stated that 3 things would help a pitcher avoid injury, but the one that got the most air time had to do with pronating the thumb, rather than supinating it. (Unless I got that backwards.) The net effect is that the bones in the elbow don't bang together towards the end of the throwing motion.

      The second point was slowing the arm down gently after the pitch, rather than having it forced to a stop by binding on the shoulder joint. It was much more elaborate than I can detail here, but he sounded like he was on to something. Of course I don't know what snake oil he's selling either.

      He made the bold claim that pitchers could pitch well past Julio Franco's age without any soreness (let alone injury) if they would simply adopt his 3 simple steps to pitching mechanics.


      assuming any team wanted an overweight DH who isn't really hitting all that well.

      Darryl Ward resembles that remark, especially after today's game.

      By Blogger Bote Man, at 5/07/2007 12:18 AM  

    • When will it be time to do a Wood-Prior and just stop talking about Patterson?

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/07/2007 8:18 AM  

    • That's probably Mike Marshall. That's Doctor Mike Marshall to you -- he pitched 100+ innings in relief, and was an every day reliever in the '70s.

      His theories are controversial, and there are plenty of people who disagree with what he says. Of course, there are also plenty of people who disagree with how important on-base percentage is, too! ;)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/07/2007 8:29 AM  

    • Mike Marshall who studied biomechanics and kinesolgy, got a PhD and used his knowledge to create a pitching motion for himself to pitch in a ton of games and win a Cy Young after his elbow started to hurt. So here you have a guy who has knowledge applied successfully to himself in performance and he is of course shunned by the Einsteins who run baseball.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/07/2007 8:55 AM  

    • Do yesterday's moves mean that Josh Wilson remains on the 25 man roster? How can that be? I know this is a very minor consideration for the only team in MLB still with single digit wins. But it makes you wonder if this bunch knows what it is doing.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/07/2007 9:01 AM  

    • If Patterson hadn't gone on the DL, they would've cut him today.

      With Simontacchi coming off the DL tomorrow, I suspect tonight's his last game.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/07/2007 9:03 AM  

    • at the very least, when johnson gets back, young can be a daryle ward type backup with pop in the bat and ability to play (sorta) 1B.

      if logan and guzzie jump over the extremely low bar set for them, at least our bench will be much stronger with belliard and dmitri getting the PH ABs that have been completely wasted on jiminez, wilson, casto and restovich.

      now we just have to deal with casto's completely wasted ABs as a starter. i'm sorry, what exactly did snelling do (or not do) again that led to casto's callup (i know it's a moot point now but i still haven't figured this out).

      By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 5/07/2007 10:58 AM  

    • Dmitri Young can't be Daryle Ward because Young can't hit. He's been slumping terribly, and is well below average at that position.

      I still don't quite see the logic in how giving 4 ABs to an inferior hitter is good for the team because we'll have a better hitter for 1 AB.

      Context matters, of course, but instead of being down by 1 when we send up a PHer, we could be down by 3 thanks to the crappy offense from starters! ;)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/07/2007 11:01 AM  

    • Actually, it's wasn't just "feet problems" that sidelined Dmitri Young, but "low ankle arch soreness."

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/07/2007 12:57 PM  

    • That's comedy gold! ;)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/07/2007 12:59 PM  

    • chris re: "I still don't quite see the logic in how giving 4 ABs to an inferior hitter is good for the team because we'll have a better hitter for 1 AB."

      that's definitely not what i was suggesting. i was just saying that, when johnson comes back, at least young might have some usefulness as a PH (as might belliard when guzzie returns).

      and, while neither of them remind me much of all stars, don't make me bring up the BA/OBP compiled by our PHs, messrs. fick, restovich, casto, jimenez, wilson, flores and snelling.

      i'd still like somebody to explain to me why we insist on putting casto in any lineup the way he is(n't) hitting.

      By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 5/07/2007 2:28 PM  

    • On Casto:

      Because he's better than that.

      Because he's young and has a bit of a 'future'.

      And because there's nobody else worth giving the ABs to.

      They made a choice of him over Snelling. I think it's a wrong choice, but since they made it, giving Casto as much PT as possible is the right decision.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/07/2007 2:30 PM  

    • chris - i definitely agree with point 3. not sure about point 1, you're not becoming an optimist on us, are you?!

      my main beef with casto's PT was why we thought this particular 25 yr old, who apparently has so little upside he never made it above AA despite toiling in MLB's most talent-free minor league organization, was getting all of these chances while snelling, also 25, seemed to have more offensive potential, not to mention a ton more experience above AA, and a track record of hitting those few times he wasn't injured.

      but we traded snelling for a 27 year old (which probably still counts as a "prospect" on our bad news nats) OF who has a career BA below the weight of at least two of our IF starters. in fairness, however, our entire team BA is below the weight of those two guys!

      By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 5/07/2007 2:40 PM  

    • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/22/2009 10:33 PM  

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