Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 26, 2006
BASEBALL: Going Down, Down, Down, Down Part I
Baseball is an unforgiving game: the flip side of a crop of young players on the rise is that somebody has to be on the way down. And it's not always just old guys. Let's take a look at players who are young or still establishing themselves whose stock has tumbled dramatically in 2006 and/or 2005, starting with the AL East:
Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small: Two more guys who people like me never thought much of, but a lot of folks expected that their remarkable stretch runs in 2005 would translate into full-season rotation gigs as reliable starters. Didn't happen. Chacon's 6.67 ERA and Small's 8.46 prove that midnight came once again for Cinderella.
Coco Crisp: Like Carlos Beltran in 2005, Crisp's off year may just be a combination of nagging injuries and high expectations; his future isn't as grim as others on this list. But bigger things than .266 with 4 HR were expected from Crisp coming to Fenway at age 26 after two years of steady progress.
Jason Frasor: A 3.25 ERA, down almost a run from his rookie year, and good peripheral numbers marked Frasor in 2005 as a quality steup man for BJ Ryan. His K rate is still good, but a 5.18 ERA and a rise in BB and HR rates has moved Frasor down the depth chart. He's not a bad bet to rebound, though.
Russ Adams: A regular SS at 24 last year, Adams didn't embarrass himself with the bat, and could have expected plenty of time to establish himself. Instead, John Gibbons' shuffling of the lineup - and its success with other hitters - has limited Adams to 199 at bats as he has hit just .226/.337/.280 on a team that's batting .294/.488/.361.
Jason Phillips: Phillips cooled drastically after a hot start as the Dodgers' #1 catcher in 2005, and ended up in the minors this year, only resurfacing this week with the Jays. Now battling to re-establish himself as a backup catcher.
David Newhan: .311/.453/.361 in 373 at bats marked Newhan as a possible late-bloomer rookie in 2004 (he was 30), but Newhan batted .202 last year and broke his leg in April, an injury he hasn't returned from.
John Parrish: Promising young pitcher who has missed most of 2005 and all of 2006 with arm surgery.
Sean Burroughs: Having at last worn out his welcome in San Diego, Burroughs at least brought a career .340 OBP in more than 1500 plate appearances to Tampa, and he's just 25. Instead, he lost his job in spring training and has batted .190 in just 21 at bats. A return to a regular job seems unlikely.
Seth McClung: Granted, McClung's never been any good, but he throws hard and struck out 92 batters in 109.1 IP in 2005; from that you can make something. Except that this year, even the whiffs have deserted him: 38 (to 47 walks) in 80.2 IP on his way to a 6.81 ERA.
Edwin Jackson: Once a hot Dodger pitching prospect and still just 22, Jackson has struggled at all levels for the third year in a row, with a 7.17 ERA in a brief major league trial. Think "Ed Yarnall."