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Doubts About Jake Peavy

The recent discussions about Jake Peavy have gotten me a-thinkin; and a-worryin. I thought it would be best to get these worries and doubts down in print so people can tell me if I'm bonkers or if my concerns are valid. Here goes:

(1) The Padres willingness to trade Peavy. Maybe it seems like more of an over-eagerness to trade him. Yes, he is their best trading chip and they are hoping to cash him out for several building blocks, but isn't Peavy himself the perfect building block for a young team? He will only be 28 in June of next year and is signed for five more years. Moving Peavy is a sign by the Padres to their fans that their "rebuilding" will take more than a few years. Otherwise, why trade away someone you're touting as an ace starter? So perhaps there's another reason...

(2) Questionable mechanics = future injury. Peavy spent some time on the disabled list this year with a strained elbow, and that elbow will be the topic of much conversation in the next few weeks. Some think that Peavy's arm action will eventually lead to injury (hat tip: VictorW):

Jake Peavy's arm action is borderline to bad, as the clip below demonstrates.

The problem is that Jake Peavy has a significant Inverted V in his arm action. This hurts his timing and is one cause of his elbow problems. It will also set him up for Rotator Cuff and Labrum problems in a few years.

Video_pitching_jakepeavy_cf_001_medium

First, notice Jake Peavy's somewhat unusual arm action. Notice how, after he breaks his hands, Jake Peavy leads with his Pitching Arm Side (PAS) elbow and ends up with his PAS elbow quite high. This affects his timing and makes it harder for him to get his PAS forearm up into the proper position at the moment his shoulders start to rotate.

Second, notice how Jake Peavy, rather than finishing with his glove at his Glove Side (GS) pec, flies open with his glove and finishes with his glove out to the side and away from his body. The problem with flying open with the glove is that it will tend to slow down the rotation of the shoulders and can make a pitcher less efficient.

Whether that's nonsense or the gospel I'm sure there are many scouts out there who feel the same way, but there are also just as many who feel differently. I guess if a team were afraid a player might get injured in the future they would never make a trade, and we know the Braves have never been scared of that. But in this situation when the cost is so high...

(3) The cost and the return. We all know that any top player will cost a lot in terms of talent in return. The cost here reportedly begins with the Braves top pitching prospect Tommy Hanson, and from San Diego's perspective it should. If they are giving up their best pitcher, why shouldn't they receive our best pitching prospect in return. Any Braves fan who thinks that Tommy Hanson is not the centerpiece of this trade is fooling themselves.

So the base of this deal is Peavy for Hanson, but the Padres want another one or two young players to build around; enter Yunel Escobar and/or Kelly Johnson. Is it the intention of the Braves to completely replace their (better than average) middle infield to solve their starting pitching woes? It sounds like we would be replacing one problem for another.

Yes, the rumor out there is that if a team wants Jake Peavy then they'll have to take Khalil Greene, his contract, and his Francoeurian mediocrity as well. But Greene doesn't solve our problems at the plate, if anything, he makes them worse and less competative...

(4) What will make the Braves competative. The real delusion here is that we are once again succumbing to the win-now-build-later philosophy. For whatever reason(s) the mix of players we've had the last few years hasn't worked. But do we keep plodding foward adding one or two pieces at a time or are we a team at a stage where we need to add multiple pieces and add from within?

The youth movement of this team begins again this year with Tommy Hanson and Jordan Schafer. After them the prospective waves of talent should come with regularity. I'm not diluted into thinking we should keep every prosepct, quite oppositely I think many of these guys on the farm are in the perfect position to be used as trade bait, but not Schafer and Hanson. Tommy has given every indication over the past two years that he is on a road to the show, and not just as an average player, but as a star. He's different from many of the pitchers who have come up through our system the last few years (James, Davies, Reyes, Morton, Parr). Hanson has that bulldog mentality of an ace and the stuff to go with it.

(5) Jake Peavy is an ace pitcher. He is the 2007 Cy Young award winner, but that was the only year in which he's ever recieved any votes for Cy Young. There was some talk about the discrepency between his home/road ERA splits last year -- he had a 1.74 ERA at home and a 4.28 ERA on the road. While that jumps out as something of a red flag, in previous years his home/road splits have been much closer, with only 2006 and 2008 showing noticable seperation. Homeruns allowed on the road and at home, while showing that he gave up three times as many on the road in 2008, have also been farily close in previous years.

When looking at his starts on the road in 2008, there were several that were not good where he gave up four runs and did not go deep into the game, but even with those rough starts, 70 percent of his starts were still quality starts -- that's about even with Tim Hudson last year, and he was considered an ace. My doubts about Peavy really being an ace starter seem to be unfounded, esepcially since his home/away splits seem to be more statistical noise than an actual Achilles heel.

So, that's a lot of debating back and forth and a fair measure of self-doubt. Interestingly, Jake Peavy started the same about of games (27) that Tim Hudson started in 2004, the year we acquired him. There were concerns then about Hudson's health as he had spent a month on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, but it wasn't an arm injury like Peavy's.

As much as I've talked myself into hating this trade in this piece, I'm sure I could talk myself into liking it some other day. I suppose we have to see the grand scheme of Frank Wren at the end of the off-season to really know if this potential move is just the centerpiece in a number of different moves, but I still don't like it.

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