Blog Entry

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

Posted on: February 12, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2011 2:31 pm

HarangUp until May 25, 2008, Aaron Harang was one of the better pitchers in the league.

As the workhorse ace of the Reds, Harang had been acquired in 2003 and served as a beacon of hope as the Reds attempted to climb the ladder of respectability. Through Harang's May 22 start in 2008 against the Padres, his career numbers showed 1,068 innings over 170 starts with a 4.10 ERA. This includes his early time with Oakland. But for the three seasons preceding 2008, Harang had a 3.77 ERA in 101 starts with 677 2/3 innings, giving him a reputation as a strong innings-eater. 

But right after turning 30 in 2008, Harang appeared in an extra-innings game on May 25, pitching innings 13-16 against the Padres. This came three days after his most recent start and he would be asked to start again four days later. In the start prior to the relief appearance, Harang had pitched 5 1/3 innings, coughing up five runs in what was one of his worst starts of the season. However, he only saw his ERA increase to 3.50 off the 103-pitch outing.

He didn't give up any runs in the relief outing over 63 pitches and was brilliant, striking out nine in the process, but coughed up six runs in four innings against the Pirates in his next start, tossing 73 pitches. That's 239 pitches over an eight-day span, by the way.

It would only get worse from there. In the 18 starts Harang made after the relief outing, his ERA was a sky-high 5.88 and he was never the same, spending a month on the disabled list for a forearm strain. He made just 26 starts in 2009 and 20 in 2010, combining for a 4.66 ERA over these 46 starts with 274 innings pitched. To compare, Harang made 35 starts in 2006, pitching 234 1/3 innings. That's a difference of 11 starts and just 39 2/3 innings. 

And now, Harang finally admits that relief outing is what derailed his career. Now a Padre, Harang is attempting to recapture the magic of days old, but Dusty Baker's bizarre pitching decisions may have claimed another victim.

"What it did," Harang said of the relief appearance to the San Diego Union-Tribune, "is fatigue me beyond the point of recovery. I started to change my arm angle to compensate for the fatigue and that’s when my forearm started to bother me.

"I feel like I’ve never been able to get back to the consistent, repetitive mechanics that I had," he continued. "The last couple of years have been, 'Try this, try that. Move your arm angle out a little.' I’ve had a couple of my old coaches call me, asking, 'What are you doing? You had so much success before doing the same thing. Now, all of a sudden, you’re turning your back on that?'

"I got away from my main thing, which is throwing my fastball and throwing everything off that. I got to thinking I’m going to trick people and it just didn’t work."

At just 32, Harang has time to turn it around. He's certainly picked a great park to do it in Petco, but unfortunately, Harang likely will never become the pitcher of old.

Meanwhile, Dusty Baker still has a job after wrecking yet another pitching career. Madness.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Tags: Aaron Harang

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2011 7:35 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

The origin of this story was the San Diego online Times Union, which generally did a couple of things.
1. It was about Harang and his attempt to rebuild his career in a new setting
2. Harang did NOT accuse Baker or even mention his name. He just said the event affected his career.

Evan just gobbled it up and added his own terse blathering about how it was unfortunate that Dusty had ruined another pitcher.

Harang NEVER accused Baker of that.

Evan, this isn't journalism. This is called promoting a lie and pretending it is a fact.

The worst part was, in criticizing Evan, was that making these accusations should include trying to contact Dusty Baker.

I spent 42 years in journalism and it was never this bad.

I never pitched high-school baseball though.

Since: Mar 12, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2011 6:53 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

Pitchers, generally, are very susceptible to injuries.  I'm a Jays fan.  In the last three years, McGowan, Litsch, Marcum, Cecil and Burnett all spent lengthy periods of time on the disabled list.  BJ Ryan blew out his arm, too.  Their patterns of game usage appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary.   I wouldn't blame the pitching coaches or manager for these injuries, unless there were some compelling and credible professional evidence to support this view.   As a fan, I was disappointed to see these guys get injured.  I think we do tend to get upset when players get hurt and our team suffers.

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2011 4:02 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

JohnU11, it's interesting to note that several of the names on your list have been managed by Terry Francona during this period. And don't forget John Smoltz. Penny and Smoltz flamed out in Boston, yet managed to revive their careers (however briefly) immediately after leaving Boston while pitching in SF and St Louis, home to probably the most respected pitching coaches in MLB. Yet you can bank on never hearing a peep of criticism from this blogger concerning the Red Sox or Francona's handling of pitchers (and rightly so).

I recall last summer when Strasburg's season was over due to injury there were accusations that Jim Riggleman, the Nationals manager, was to blame, since Riggleman was also the man who wrecked Kerry Wood's career (or words to that effect). Jim Riggleman, Dusty Baker; it makes me think Lou Piniella retired from the Cubs when he did so as to not be blamed, too, for wrecking Kerry Wood's career. I suppose after 50 years of blaming a Greek tavern owner's goat for a team's failings blaming the manager for every thing that goes wrong seems like the height of reason. And I can vouch as a Giants fan that this rep for wrecking pitchers didn't originate during Baker's 10 year stint in SF.

Evan, since I know you are still reading this, there's nothing wrong with being wrong sometimes, but when you persist and dig in your heels in a misguided notion that you are saving face, rather than admit an error due to bias or prejudice then you are merely being close-minded. I've used this 'the evidence is out there, I'm not going to find it for you' response myself when I was wrong and didn't care to admit it. Lastly, I don't know about anyone else, but I am still curious to see the source for your comment to the effect that the majority of baseball experts agree with your assessment of Baker as a wrecker of pitchers. If you could even cite one name, such as an expert on par with Dave Righetti, that would be great. Otherwise, with all due respect, the only madness here is that an esteemed journalistic institution such as CBS has seen fit to employ a hack blogger such as yourself.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2011 3:17 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

Evan delivers some "Googled" opinions  on a topic, then decides he is too busy to continue the debate with people who want to dispute him.

Ah ... Evan, why do you offer a comments box if you want to spew out "evidentiary" opinions and not expect somebody to disagree?
We disagree on this because you are WRONG. Baker's handling of pitchers is consistent with almost every manager in baseball, current and past.

You can "Google" that if you want.

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:11 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career


... um ... Evan, care to ask what these men all have in common?

a. yes, all pitchers
b. none of them play for Dusty Baker

There's a list of about 75 pitchers who were on the DL for extended time in the past 3 years, NONE of whom pitched for Baker. Care to explain how that works? Should we blame Tony LaRussa, or does Jaime Garcia's TJ surgery fall under that "let's blame Baker" because it's how our "non-photographic" memory works.

Being a pointless blogger cheapens journalism, Evan. Try to work inside the parameters of the debate. If you blame one issue on one person, don't conveniently ignore it when your version of the truth is compromised.

That's how Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the teabaggers work.

Jose Arredondo
... let's see ...
who else?

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:01 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

AMEN, commiepuddin!

Harang was probably lucky up to that point and the real pitcher emerged later.

Dusty can't be blamed for this but the blogger is still buying the Baker-Wood-Prior lie that the Chicago media props up every time they see their own team grasping its throat.

For years, teams used their aces on the Sunday before the All Star game and none of them ever complained. They just wanted an inning or two ahead of 3 days off, or more sometimes.

This is a lie looking for another sucker to believe it.



Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2011 11:52 am

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

Using a five man rotation on a stretch where there aren't days off, guys regularly go 110 pitches in back to back starts.  That's 220 pitches in 6 days.  This guy was a proven innings eater as the article says, so is asking 239 pitches in 7 days really that much different?  To the point of "Dusty ruined another career?"  The numbers aren't so absurd to say he ruined it.  I'm not saying this run didn't have this impact, I'm just saying this is hardly egregious. If he was gassed, instead of just taking the ball, why didn't he say, "can't go today, Coach."

Since: Feb 13, 2011
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:03 am

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

At the end of the day, the question you have to ask isi "what should Dusty have done differently?"

24 of the 25 players on the active roster were used in the game.  By the time Harang was called into duty, 21 players had been used in the game, including Bronson Arroyo, the winning pitcher from the previous night's game.  Harang, in fact, replaced Arroyo in the batting order.

Should Dusty have left Arroyo in to pitch?  Of course not.

When he lifted Cordero in the 11th for a pinch hitter (Janish), it was with runners on the corners and no outs.  The kid came through with an two-run single to give the Reds the lead (which was summarily blown by Josh Fogg in the bottom half).

So maybe Harang should heap some of that blame on the bullpen guys in front of him who didn't get the job done.

"Dusty ruins pitchers" is conventional wisdom the same way a lot of things are:  A lie gets told enough times that people are convinced it's truth.

Since: Apr 27, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2011 10:31 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

     I should have been clearer in my explaination. Harang could have been skipped for his next start. Baker IS a players manager and if Harang was truely fatigued then he could have come foward and said so. I truely respect Harang as a person and a player but to bring this up 2 years later is useless. What's the point? 
   "Meanwhile, Dusty Baker still has a job after wrecking yet another pitching career. Madness"  Harang is still making millions. He wasn't going to win a Cy Young, even if this situation hadn't happened.  So I wouldn't say his career is "wrecked".  I find that comment to be quite careless. But that is your opinoin and everybody is entitled to one. 

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2011 9:08 pm

Harang admits relief appearance derailed career

Evan, how about doing a similar story on Josh Beckett and how Terry Francona has wrecked his career? Also wrecked Dice K's career and is in the process of wrecking the careers of John Lackey and Jon Lester. There is as much evidence of Francona being the bane of starting pitchers as there is with regard to Baker. I know because I've been looking for it using Google, as you suggested.

Again, I am not asking for footnotes for your opinon, just a shred of evidence. At best it seems you've confused correlation with causation, not at all an uncommon error, but your continual refusal to provide any evidence and to dismiss the request as a waste of time just conveys you have made up your mind and there's no point looking for any evidence that might counter what you already believe. What Baker did to you or your loved ones to earn such enmity I have no idea, but I hope you are at least consistent in your bias and therefore slam Francona for the same failing. Francona seems to have a problem keeping a healthy everyday lineup, too; what's up with that?

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