Funny thing happened today while I was watching batting practice. The guys were hitting on field 5, where if a righty pulls the ball it may go over the fence toward the parking lot. There's always a few standing out there trying to get a ball. So Butera pulls one over and some little old guy takes off after it and loses his footing and does a couple of rolls. Tony O laughed, as did Jeff Smith standing next to him and a couple others. Tony's saying "did you see that old guy?" and just getting a kick out of it. So Tony turns around and walks over and asks if anyone has a pen. I give him my pen and he signs a ball, has Jeff sign it, and a few others along with Butera. Then he gives it to a groundskeeper to take to the guy in the striped shirt out there. He runs the cart down there and gives the guy the ball, and the guy waves and is tickled, you could see.
Tony brings the pen back and we all get a chuckle out of it. Wouldn't you know, not long later another liner is pulled over the fence, right at the guy. One hop shot, that he missed and it hits him in the shin. Ouch, that had to hurt. He hustles after that ball and gets it too. Pretty soon he comes up behind the backstop where I'm at and shows the balls to some gal standing by me. One's got a half dozen signatures, and the other's sporting blood. LOL. He sits in the bleachers, front row and Tony asks him if he needs any water and holds up his water bottle. It all was kinda fun!
I hate to say it, but I think of Blackburn as being 'rotation filler' as well. What has he really done to prove otherwise? I was initially encouraged by his early development, but that enthusiasm abated almost at the very moment they 'locked him up' with a nonsense deal. From then on he has done nothing besides grow a beard and give five or six innings of so-so stuff. Up until last season, he'd pitched for contending teams with records well above .500 and he wasn't even a .500 pitcher. His career ERA is 4.50. He is now 30 years old. I don't think you can get much more pedestrian than Nick Blackburn.
.......... If I'm Gardy???I'm calling out Blackburn this year. I'd tell him to shave the dumb beard, sit up straight, look me in the eyes, ect..... and generally have coaches monitor him constantly.
I believe something happened with Blackburn. He got the contract, his wife had a kid.......did he lose the will to compete? Did he get 'comfortable'?? On appearance that is not an unworthy speculation. We see the evidence over time. Trends occur, etc. I think it's smart to ask: Does Nick Blackburn fit here in 2014? He's got an 8 million dollar option then. I wonder if any of these things are even given a moment's thought.
In my opinion, Gardy should be asked about Blackburn plenty this ST. Afterall, Gardy did say Blackburn "...is one of my guys" I guess that might explain Gardy's approach with him.
At one time or another EVERYONE becomes 'rotation filler'. The difference between Blackie and some others on our staff is that he hasn't progressed past that. I'm just looking at his career numbers. He's never had a year where he excelled past average. At least Liriano, Pavano and Baker (to some extent can say that). Blackie has never won more than 11 games. We gotta acknowledge that difference, right?
Blackburn has pretty much been the same pitcher his whole career. There really hasn't been much development at all to speak of. He's a guy who's going to sport a record right around .500 and have an ERA somewhere between 4 and 5. Blackburn has never done anything better than that.
At least Liriano, Pavano and Baker have proven that they can perform better than that. They don't always do it but they can. Blackburn can't say the same. Hence, the rotation filler moniker.
In 2008 Blackburn pitched 193 innings with an ERA of 4.05. In 2009 he pitched 205 innings with an ERA of 4.03. In 2010 and 2011 he had injury issues.
It may be delusional to hope he can stay healthy or get adequate defense, and I am not predicting either. But if those conditions are met I do not think it unreasonable to think he could shave at least a mere 0.04 off his best ERA.
Doyle off to a rough start. Lead off double followed by a walk.
And another double.
He might not make it out of the first inning.