Rich Harden of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during an MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Early this morning, Peter Gammons reported via Twitter that Rich Harden was taking the 2012 season off to attempt a comeback in 2013. Harden underwent surgery last week to repair a torn shoulder capsule that he has pitched with for years. That's not a minor injury, and surgery is no guarantee of a return -- ask Mark Prior about shoulder capsules some time -- but given the way Harden has bounced back-and-forth from the active roster to the disabled list over the years, it was time to give the procedure a shot.
This also sheds light on just what it was the Red Sox were scared off by, when the almost-but-not-quite trade for Harden fell apart on the eve of last year's July 31 trade deadline. Knowing Harden is injury-prone is one thing -- the Red Sox did trade for Erik Bedard hours later, after all -- but knowing he is injury-prone because he has a torn shoulder capsule is something else entirely.
The risk of Harden not being around to finish out the season was high, and Boston was desperate for starting pitching help, but not that desperate. Considering Harden gave up 1.9 homers per nine innings and posted a 5.57 ERA over his final 10 starts of 2011 -- this despite pitching in one of the pitcher-friendliest stadiums in the game -- being healthy enough to stay off of the DL wasn't exactly a winning situation either.
While the Red Sox never seemed to be in on Harden -- likely due to those medical records they saw last July -- they absolutely will not be getting him now, and neither will anyone else. Harden has always had loads of talent, so here's hoping that this surgery is what he needed to get his career back on track.
Former Red Sox right-hander Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd admitted that he used to have a bit of a thing for cocaine back in the 80s. According to Boyd, two-thirds of the time he took the mound, he did so while on coke.
"Some of the best games I've ever, ever pitched in the major leagues I stayed up all night; I'd say two-thirds of them," said Boyd, who spent eight of his 10 major league seasons with the Red Sox. "If I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played. I feel like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons, but I wasn't doing anything that hundreds of ball players weren't doing at the time; because that's how I learned it."
Boyd finished his 10-year career with a 102 ERA+, his very best seasons coming in 1985, 1986, and in 1990 with Montreal. He lost the one World Series game he pitched in 1986, (following a solid ALCS against the Angels) going seven innings while allowing six earned runs to the Mets. It's hard to say how his career would have gone without cocaine, but Boyd feels he cut his own playing time short with all of the long nights.
Keith Law released his farm rankings yesterday, placing the Red Sox 18 of 30, and today unveiled his top 100 prospects. You'll have to read the ESPN Insider article on your own, but know that just two of the top 100 are Red Sox prospects. Maybe not the two you would expect either, as it's just Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart who make it in.
Snippets from Bogaert's and Swihart's profiles:
Bogaerts held his own due to excellent bat speed and enough pitch recognition to keep himself afloat... Bogaerts is the Red Sox's best chance right now to produce an All-Star.
Swihart is raw on both sides of the ball... Given time and regular reps behind the plate, he could be similar to Matt Wieters, a switch-hitting catcher (perhaps with less power) who can add value through catching and throwing.
You already know his thoughts on the system as a whole, including who he likes to breakout and give Boston an even better farm, but as of now, potential impact guys just aren't there in his mind.
Speaking of farm systems, the Orioles won't be able to go to South Korea to improve their own anymore. Thanks to the signing of a 17-year-old pitcher, their scouts are now banned from attending games in the country:
The Korea Baseball Association (KBA) announced Thursday it has informed the MLB commissioner's office and the Orioles of its decision, saying scouts from all major league teams in the future signing Korean student athletes not in the final years of their schools will be banned from KBA-sanctioned games. That will include all national high school and university tournaments, often frequented by major league scouts.
The Orioles were finally ahead of the curve on something, but that something turned out to be getting yourself kicked out of a country. This is a team that can't woo free agents and needs all the help from scouting, drafting, and international signings that it can get, and now it has to cross one country's talented youngsters off of the list.