Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 2, 2006
BASEBALL: Brien Taylor in 2006

The NY Daily News has a poignant look at ex-Yankee phenom Brien Taylor, then and now. A couple of notes:

*Taylor's record $1.55 million bonus was the work of his agent, Scott Boras; Taylor was, if I recall correctly, the player who put Boras on the map. Odd that the article - which has to work around the fact that Taylor doesn't want to talk to reporters - didn't interview Boras. The famous Boras honesty is on display here, after Taylor shreds his shoulder:

Boras tells reporters the injury is a bruise, no big deal. Famed surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe examines Taylor, who has in fact suffered a torn capsule and torn labrum. Taylor has surgery the following week. "Just tell everyone I'll be fine," Taylor told a reporter from his hospital bed.

Jobe later calls it one of the worst injuries he has ever seen.

*At least Taylor got something out of the money; he built his parents a nice house, and still lives in it with them. He also still drives the Mustang he bought, although it is presumably no longer a stylish car 15 years later.

*Taylor is one in a long line of Yankee starting pitching prospects - a number of them quite hyped - the past two decades or so who didn't pan out or enjoyed only fleeting big league success (Taylor, Sam Militello, Joe Cowley, Dave Eiland, Domingo Jean), were converted to relievers (Mariano Rivera, Dave Righetti, Ramiro Mendoza, Bob Wickman), didn't blossom until they left town, if at all (Al Leiter, Doug Drabek, Jose Rijo, Jim Deshaies, Brad Halsey, Ted Lilly) or only became mediocrities (Scott Kamieniecki, Sterling Hitchcock). Not that Yankee fans have anything to complain about with Rivera or much with Righetti, either, but not as starters. Since 1976, other than Ron Guidry, there's just one unqualified subsequent success story: Andy Pettitte. Besides Pettitte and Guidry, over those 30 seasons, the Yankees have had a home-grown starter+ win 10 games just 8 times (9 once Wang makes it this year), and only Righetti (twice) did it more than once, the others being Dennis Rasmussen, Cowley, Kamieniecki, Hitchcock, Wickman and Mendoza.

+ - I'm counting as home-grown young pitchers who came to the Yanks as prospects, like Cowley and Rasmussen, but not foreign veterans like El Duque and Irabu.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:04 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Taylor, is, at least, a test case for why what Boras does is valuable. That house is something concrete that Taylor has to show for abilities that are otherwise gone with the wind. I read the story, and Taylor seems like he's adjusted okay to his very uneven luck - I think the writer projected a lot of New York attitude into how horrible it is to have to work as a bricklayer.

It is interesting to think of what the Yankees could have been in the mid-nineties if Taylor had emerged as a Gooden-like phenom, though.

Posted by: Jerry at July 2, 2006 8:07 PM

At least Righetti actually had success as a starter, and the decision to move him to the bullpen can fairly be questioned. If the sabermetrics world had more influence back then, they might've advised against panicking upon the loss of Goose.

Posted by: Dr. Manhattan at July 2, 2006 11:26 PM

I lived in NYC in 1991 when the Yankees were going through the process of signing Taylor. The year before Todd Van Poppel had been signed, by the A's I believe, to a big signing bonus and pretty hefty contract. Boras used that contract and subtly slid the race card in on how the Taylor family was not going to stand for chump change when a precedent had recently been set for a prodigee pitcher. The back pages of the papers were literally filled with Yaylor updates for weeks until the Yankees ponied up and signed him. While he obviously never even got to the majors it is not as if Van Poppel lived up to his original contract either.

Posted by: jim at July 3, 2006 2:59 PM

I think it was Yahoo that ran a very similar story a couple of weeks ago. It that story is was Taylor's Mom who claimed to has not settled for less than Van Poppel received. Her story was that without her, Taylor would have signed for in the $300K range. She also claimed that she was the originator of the race claims that hounded the yankees.

Posted by: maddirishman at July 3, 2006 6:29 PM

I often use the example of Brien Taylor when dealing with young patients with this type of problem. In fact, I kept a copy of an article on him from about 10 years ago to show doubters.

You may throw 90+ and your dad thinks you're on the fast track, but if you dislocate your throwing shoulder playing football or wrestling (or getting in a fight), surgery might not even be enough to bring it back for you. A throwing shoulder is a delicate thing.

Posted by: Giacomo at July 4, 2006 11:34 AM

This kid was an idiot. He could have had whatever he wanted and he threw it away. Bad judgment has destroyed a thousand careers.

Posted by: STeve at July 5, 2006 12:30 PM

It seems odd to describe someone like Doug Drabek or Jose Rijo as someone who "didn't blossom until he left town," when they were traded as rookies. That's a little different than, say, Al Leiter, who hung around for a long time with two organizations before he found success.

Posted by: David Nieporent at July 16, 2006 7:29 PM

It has been six years later that Brien has retire and people are still going on about how he messed up his life. Have it ever accure that maybe those were gods plan for Brien. We all make mistake in our life and this was his one and no one can change what happen that day. He doesn't need a reminder of that day because he lives with that everyday.Brien has moved on with his life by taking care of his children, so I feel like some of these people should move on with there life. We are not prefect so don't act as if you are. In my eyes he will always be a legend.

Posted by: shonda at October 13, 2006 9:15 PM
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