Given the money being paid to some truly mediocre pitchers over the next few years, we can't go too nuclear on the four years and $57 million left on Danks's deal. In Danks, the White Sox also have a 27-year-old lefty starter who averaged about four Wins Above Replacement per season from 2008 through 2011. On the other hand, Danks got hammered for a 5.70 ERA over nine starts last season, didn't throw a single pitch in a major league game after May, and had shoulder surgery in August. The White Sox are saying he'll be ready for Opening Day, but we've heard plenty of similar promises for pitchers coming off shoulder surgeries in the past, many of them later broken.
This seems like a pretty loony argument to me, for a few reasons.
1. Keri is basing his argument on extremely low sample sizes. Danks isn't a guy with a laundry list of injuries; he had ONE shoulder injury, which caused him both to not "throw a single pitch...after May" AND to have "shoulder surgery in August." Keri misleads his readers by suggesting that those are two different criteria.
2. The other "proof" is a 5.70 ERA over nine starts. I know KenWo was ready to throw Danks to the wolves at some point during those nine starts, but to suggest that he's a broken pitcher when he had a crappy bunch of starts right before a major injury is disingenuous.
3. Even if we assume that #1 and #2 are somehow rock-solid statistical indicators of future troubles (and, to his credit, Keri's suggests that he might be "overrating the recency effect here"), we are all well aware of Herm and his magical abilities. I'm shocked that Keri was either ignorant of or indifferent towards the Herm Effect. Wouldn't a White Sox pitcher, especially one in whom they have invested significantly, be more likely than nearly anybody else to be able to recover fully from a major injury? (Obviously, every injury is different, but if we don't have any reason to doubt Danks' recovery timetable, why should he?)
This is not to suggest that I am 100% confident in a full recovery from Danks and a return to 2008-11 form. And I know that generally speaking, these subjective lists are written in order to be dissected and argued over. However, this really seems like unusually shoddy work from Keri, whose work I typically enjoy. Am I missing something, or is this just a classic case of the MSM misconstruing a situation and trying to come up with a nice round number for a list?
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