Bricks from the Warehouse

February 18
Delusions About Erickson's Future

One of the goals of The Oriole Warehouse is to provide critical analysis of the so-called reporting pushed by the local sports media in Baltimore. A recent article caused us to begin wondering which drugs were being used, and by whom, at the Baltimore Sun, and at Camden Yards. In discussing the commencement of Scott Erickson's rehabilitation from the Tommy John surgery he just underwent at the end of last season, the Sun printed the following quote which caught our eye. This is from Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko, in Friday's Sun:

Though not expected to be a significant part of
the upcoming season, Erickson factors heavily in the Orioles'
anticipated ascendance in 2002.

We're not sure which delusion is worse. It raises two questions: who's doing this "anticipating," and who's factoring Erickson in "heavily"? Let's look at those in two separate parts:

(1) The Orioles' anticipated ascendance in 2002

Their lineup in 2002 will, as best as we can tell at this time, include Belle (DH), Segui (1B), Fordyce (C), Anderson (RF), and Bordick (SS), as all these guys are veterans signed through that season (some are signed for longer than that). It could likely also include Hairston (2B), Richard (LF), Mora (CF), and Coffie (3B). That's essentially the same as this year's lineup. If this year's lineup is completely inadequate -- and it is -- how is it suddenly going to get better?

Since they were unwilling to pay Mike Mussina this year, it seems difficult to imagine that they're going to shell out for some expensive free agent 3B or CF, though Coffie is completely inadequate and Mora is only a stopgap solution. And look at the ages in 2002:

   Fordyce:  32
   Segui:    35
   Hairston: 26
   Bordick:  36
   Coffie:   25
   Richard:  28
   Mora:     30
   Anderson: 38
   Belle:    35

Does that look like a contender, or just an even more aging version of this year's team, with a journeymen minor leaguer thrown in? No, we don't really expect Coffie to play; these are the Orioles, so they're more likely to throw a few bucks -- okay, a lot of bucks -- at Ken Caminiti or Joe Randa or Wade Boggs or something. But that's not going to make a difference. Except in the payroll, of course.

(2) Factoring Erickson in heavily

In 2002, Scott Erickson will be coming off a year and a half of inactivity. He'll be coming off Tommy John surgery. He'll be 34. A thirty-four year old pitcher coming off major surgery who hasn't thrown in a professional game since July 2000 -- it will be an eighteen month layoff, at that point. And not only do they hope to see a contribution from him, but they are counting on him? Heavily? Sure, there are plenty of success stories -- like Tommy John himself. There are also players like Jose Rijo, who had multiple surgeries and never came back at all. The success stories tend to be the younger players.

Of course, there's a secondary point: if Erickson "comes back," how good could he possibly be? He wasn't that good a pitcher _before_ he got hurt. He was a mediocre performer whose main value came from his durability, his ability to give the team lots of innings. Even if he can still pitch, is he going to give them 220 innings ever again?

And with all these questions, what kind of morons would say that Erickson "factors heavily" into their plans in 2002?

© 2001 The Orioles Warehouse
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Last Updated: February 18, 2001