Sunday, August 31, 2008

Big Z's BiZarre Injuries; A Note On Lincecum's Mechanics; D-Backs Acquire Eckstein

  • Carlos Zambrano scratched from his start:
The Cubs scratched Carlos Zambrano from his scheduled start against the Phillies today
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because he has a tired arm----ESPN Story. This is understandable at this time of year and with the Cubs playoff position secure, it makes sense to sit Zambrano and make sure he's healthy for the playoffs. That being said, Zambrano has had a series of bizarre incidents on the mound in recent years; in fact, some of his injuries have been borderline absurd. This is the guy whose arm was tired from clicking the computer mouse and sending too many emails (believe it or not); who got so excited during one start that he started hyperventilating and had to be removed (sounds more like a panic attack if you ask me); lost a tooth, spat it out and kept on pitching (Zambrano blames too much sugary gum); and now has a tired arm. It's a bit odd, but it's better than having the same type of symptoms as Josh Beckett and John Maine have had that have forced both onto the disabled list and put their seasons in question.
Zambrano's a quirky guy; with quirky habits and a quirky mound demeanor, so it's to be expected that he'd have a series of quirky things happen to him to keep him on the sidelines once in awhile, but a tired arm happens to pitchers as they hit the home stretch and it generally dissipates as the cooler weather comes along and the adrenaline of the end of the season and the playoffs comes into view. In other words, the Cubs are right to take a conservative tact with their ace and it's probably not anything to be overly concerned about.
  • A note on Tim Lincecum's mechanics and those looking to copy them:
My blog gets a lot of google hits from people looking to learn about Tim Lincecum's unique
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mechanics and workout regimens and I speak from experience when I say to those looking to copy Lincecum that they should take great caution in trying to use the internet to find ways to replicate what it is Lincecum does.
Throwing a lights out fastball is something that pitchers are born with and no amount of callasthenics, stretching and copying of the routines of a successful pitcher is going to change that. Even with that reality, there are ways for pitchers to improve their velocity and results within reason. Without the help of a coach or a detailed plan to do what it is Lincecum does, I would hesitate to try and copy it. A pitcher like Lincecum----5'9" (maybe?), 160 lbs (maybe?) and with a 98 mph fastball----has more to do with his physical gifts than to do with what his father taught him; the jury is still out on whether he 's going to be able to handle the longterm workload of being a starting pitcher in the major leagues; only time will tell whether the innovations his father came up with to teach Tim to pitch will bear out.
The odds are that Lincecum would probably throw as hard as he does no matter who taught him and what mechanics he used; the wear and tear and whether or not he stays healthy will be the indicators of the usefulness of his specially designed program and mechanics. The only thing I can recommend for those that are looking for help with their
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mechanics is a book that helped me a great deal and that book was Nolan Ryan's Pitcher's Bible.
After years of trying to find a guide that was easy to follow and actually made sense (and worked), I stumbled onto Ryan's book probably three or four years too late for it to make a great deal of difference for me, but if there are those that are still within the age range to have a chance of proper mechanics helping their career, I suggest they consider this book. It has clear and easy to understand language of pitching mechanics with checkpoints to make sure you're doing things correctly; suggestions for mental preparation and exercises (weight training, stretching and stamina related) for both starters and relievers. The terminology is the key and it was clear enough to jackhammer it's way through the rock hard melon sitting atop my shoulders that I occasionally refer to as my head, so instead of concentrating on the flavor of the moment in Tim Lincecum, I strongly suggest those that are seeking help try Nolan Ryan's book because it helped me and Ryan had a very long, very durable career that wasn't pockmarked by injuries that are occurring today; some of that may have been due to the improved technology to detect problems, but part of it was because Ryan must've been doing something right.
  • Astros 3-Cardinals 0:
Everyone (myself included) ridiculed the Houston Astros and their owner Drayton McLane when his team acquired veteran pitching help at the trading deadline instead of clearing out
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some of their own veteran players for the future, but since the trades acquiring journeymen Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, the Astros have played well enough for it to be within the realm of reason that they should be included (at least as a mentionable) for a playoff spot. They're 9 1/2 games out of the Wild Card lead and they're going to cool off, but from where they were on July 31st to now, it's hard to argue with McLane's argument not to give up. Wolf hasn't been particularly good, but he's been serviceable and Hawkins has been excellent. It could be luck or it could be just belief in his team, but whatever it is it's been just as effective as the formulas and pontificating that others do in making recommendations as to what certain teams should and shouldn't do.
  • Diamondbacks acquire David Eckstein from the Blue Jays:
The Diamondbacks are going for it all right now as evidenced by the trades they've made
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during the season, the latest being for former post-season hero David Eckstein from the Blue Jays. I would presume that Eckstein is going to play second base for the Diamondbacks and he'll provide grit, hustle, post-season hardware and another guy to get on base in front of the Diamondbacks bashers. On the surface it's a good deal, but none of the other deals they've made, most met with widespread approval, have served to snap the team out of their slumber, so who knows if this one will do the trick anymore than the others? It's a good move anyway; Eckstein's a guy you like to have on your team because he does the little things to win games.

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