Josh Edgin’s Elbow and MLB’s Ignorance

Josh-edgin-8-24-2014

After a less-than-stellar performance over the weekend, and admitting to “elbow discomfort,” Mets lefty Josh Edgin underwent an MRI on Tuesday. According to various public reports, the “results” of the MRI is that Edgin has a “stretched” and “loose” elbow ligament. Prior to the MRI, there was plenty of conjecture from the Mets dugout.

It’s deja vu all over again with Edgin, who had a similar drop in velocity (though no reports of elbow discomfort) around around this time last year. Ironically, last March we discussed and illustrated Edgin’s mechanical problem that caused the drop in velocity — and suggested that an injury would be forthcoming, without the flaw being fixed — right here at MetsToday.

As far as I could tell, the flaw was never fixed — below are photos taken at various points during the 2014 season that illustrate his arm still being behind (among other issues). Oh, and as it turned out, Edgin had “elbow inflammation” in July 2014. An MRI taken soon after revealed bone spurs and tendinitis, and a platelet-rich-plasma injection reportedly offered no benefit. Edgin took about two weeks off and returned to action September 9, making 6 more appearances before the end of the year to help the Mets tie the Braves for second place.

josh-edgin-7-2014

josh-edgin-8-14-2014

Josh-edgin-8-24-2014

josh-edgin-9-15-2014

The previous are random still shots taken from 2014, between June and August. With the front foot about to hit the ground in the top two photos, it’s clear the arm is very, very, very, far behind. In the next two, it’s clear that the hand is nowhere near the optimum “high cock” position (sophomores, stop snickering — it’s an actual scientific term for the overhead throwing motion). The hand and ball need to be up, with the arm creating more of an “L” position, when the front foot hits the ground. The photos above clearly show that Edgin’s left hand is not there, and where it is, is so far behind that it is dangerous and likely damaging.

Interestingly, that’s not the only dangerous flaw in Edgin’s mechanics. There is another issue that we’ve seen before from Mets pitchers in the past (Johan Santana) and Mets pitchers of the present (Bartolo Colon) — the hand too close to the ear at “high cock” position.

josh-edgin-8-19-2014

This position is not quite as drastic as Santana’s or Colon’s, but it’s still not great, and it puts strain on both the shoulder and the elbow.

Here is an example of Colon, whose mechanics suggest he’s always a whisker away from a major shoulder and/or elbow injury:

Mets

But let’s not get off-topic. We’re discussing Edgin.

The arm being behind is not the only issue. There is also the problem of his right leg landing too “closed” — in other words, his front foot is pointing toward first base instead of toward home plate. This results in a few problems. First, it prevents the hips from completely “opening” and providing power from the legs. Second, it puts significant strain on the front knee. Third, it causes the arm to go “across the body,” which puts a strain on the shoulder. For another example of an inefficient and dangerous landing foot position, see Jon Niese — he had a shoulder problem that we discussed here on MetsToday right around this time last year.

But again, the focus is on Edgin. Check it out:

MLB: New York Mets at Oakland Athletics

Oh, and yet another flaw — something called “leading with the elbow,” which is a strain on the, um, elbow:

josh-edgin-leading-elbow

And one more thing about his front leg: because it’s turned in and a little too far ahead — i.e., over-striding — his body is pulling backward instead of driving forward at acceleration, which robs him of velocity and, again, puts undue strain on the arm.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a hobbyist applying extremely shallow, surface knowledge of kinesiology mildly enhanced by consult with a scientist. The Mets, as a Major League franchise and with plenty of assets to put toward such things, should know much more than I. They should have scientists on their payroll to analyze things like this full-time, right? Maybe not, based on what’s been stated publicly.

Interestingly, there was a story in the Daily News last week that mentioned Edgin working on his mechanics after being sent down last spring:

After being cut, he said it gave him a chance to work on mechanical issues — he was rushing his delivery — and his mental approach.

“Rushing his delivery” … hmmmmm … no, not really sure what that means, nor how we went about fixing it. All I know for sure is that his arm was still way behind after the returned to the big leagues.

Did the Mets identify any of the flaws in Edgin’s motion and correct them, so that his elbow issue wouldn’t flare up again? Apparently not.

Mets manager Terry Collins had this to say:

“That would be a concern that [Edgin’s] velocity is not there yet,” Collins said. “So that is something we certainly have to work on arm-toss wise, arm-speed wise because that sets the tone for everything.”

I don’t know what that means. I bet Collins doesn’t know what he means. How does one work on velocity “arm-toss wise, arm-speed wise”? And how do those two “wise” factors set the tone for “everything”?

If I had to guess, I’d guess Collins means that Edgin’s throwing arm had to “speed up.” Yes, it probably did, but it’s not something that happens independently from the rest of the body. One doesn’t usually work on making the arm move faster, one works on getting whole-body timing correct.

But Dan Warthen‘s comments are even more confounding. First, from ESPN:

However, pitching coach Dan Warthen on Tuesday told ESPNNewYork.com that last year’s issue is different from the current one. A year ago, “we felt like he was out of shape,” Warthen said.

And from the Daily News:
“It seems more like dead arm,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said. “It’s in his elbow and his biceps. He’s had it before, and it’s something we think he has to get treatment and work through. But we’ll make sure.”

There’s something that I must make clear: I’m not blaming Warthen nor Collins for their ignorance. Neither has a degree in physiology, biomechanics, nor kinesiology. Neither of them should be expected to know or understand body movement. Further, the Mets aren’t the only MLB team lacking in this knowledge. My point is not to call out the Mets specifically, but rather, to call out MLB in general for completely and consistently missing or ignoring fairly simple warning signs of pitching injuries due to unnecessary ignorance. The knowledge is available, the scientists exist — so why aren’t MLB teams hiring them to help? Why do we keep hearing nonsensical theories from laypeople (i.e., former MLB pitchers/MLB pitching coaches) about innings limits, pitch counts, youths pitching too often and not playing other sports in the winter, yadda yadda yadda? The inability to properly analyze pitching mechanics and identify mechanical flaws is a remarkably detrimental factor toward the rash of pitching injuries (though not the only factor). What’s keeping MLB from tapping the resources that can help? Considering MLB’s 11-billion-dollar revenues, it’s not a matter of money.

Pose your theories in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 March 13, 2015 at 9:56 am
    ……….the first (known, anyway) Met MRI of 2015 will lead to a probably TJ Surgery for Mr. Edgin.

    Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of these “studly” pitchers, who are all just waiting to head to the doctor themselves.

    And you wonder why all of those “TAKE THE DAMN THING!” t-shirts were collected back from the guys in camp? Stay tuned for more fun with the Mutts; same Mutt time, same Mutt channel.

    • Walnutz15 March 16, 2015 at 10:28 am
      ………….maybe they’ll be able to go 2-for-1, by penciling Wheeler in the same day as Edgin.

      Later, Zack. Torn UCL, and probable TJ Surgery himself.

      LGM, baby.

      • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm
        Maybe they should wait a month so they can add Syndergaard and do a 3-for-1.
        • Walnutz15 March 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm
          Sorry, Joe – I don’t know this Syndergaard guy. Don’t you mean “Thor”?

          *cringes at thought of grown men using this monniker in conversation*

  2. Murder Slim March 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm
    Your last paragraph sums up everything, Joe. In an organisation investing $100m in 25 players, they can’t stump up $100K for this sort of thing? You take out insurance on a contract, but don’t take out this form of medical insurance on your players? It’s a joke. Even playing only semi-professional sport here, we had a physio who monitored our bowling action with video. It DID work and the minor adjustments did not affect our performance negatively.
    • Joe Janish March 13, 2015 at 5:02 pm
      I think part of the problem is that when MLB teams do spend money on “science,” it’s not necessarily the “right” science. Too much investment in quantitative science such as biomechanics analysis and nothing at all on qualitative analysis by a kinesiologist. Numbers and angles aren’t helpful — pitchers need proper eyes on them to make on-the-fly adjustments.
      • DanB March 13, 2015 at 7:29 pm
        I think the problem might not be the teams don’t want to spend $100,000 but that they don’t want to spend another $100,000 after already spending money on biometrics and pitching coaches and trainers and doctors, etc… They might be wondering when will it end because the pitchers are still getting hurt. I am not saying I agree, just that I understand their thinking.
        • Joe Janish March 13, 2015 at 11:07 pm
          But they’re OK with the injuries never ending?

          The money that teams spend on biomechanics analysis is miniscule compared to the money they give to pitchers. Homer Bailey, for example, received a $100M contract despite a history of arm problems. Team after team after team has thrown millions after pitchers with chronic arm injuries, such as Chris Young, Rich Harden, Josh Johnson, Mark Prior, and the list goes on. To me, there’s nothing that makes sense about this, and I have a hard time describing it as “thinking” — it’s quite the opposite.

          MLB is filled with rockheads who think they know more than anyone else. That, and mainly that, is the reason we see the injuries continue to pile up.

          Does it make sense that MLB coaches and pitchers universally ignore the rest and recovery recommendations issued by ASMI and posted on MLB-sponsored “Pitch Smart” website? Simply following those guidelines would probably cut pitching injuries in half (and that’s being conservative), and costs absolutely nothing.

        • Jon C March 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm
          I don’t think its a question of money, I think they are truly unaware of the benefits

          Eventually science will win out, its just a matter of when. There will be that “forward thinking” team, and if they are successful then everyone will follow along.

        • Dan B March 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm
          My real point is Jeff Wilpon can not be counted on to listen to surgeons, trainers, physical therapists, and pitching coaches and then develop a sound approach to the problem.
  3. argonbunnies March 13, 2015 at 11:11 pm
    MLB teams talk to James Andrews and Glenn Fleisig all the time, two guys who do have the background and experience to know better. David Altchek, the Mets team doctor, also ought to know better. So what’s going on? Are these experts simply being ignored when they tell teams how to keep pitchers healthy, or are they not telling teams in the first place, so they can get rich by performing surgery after surgery?

    My guess is somewhere in between. I imagine these doctors speak within the limits of their own personal experience, and pretend that such experience is the only thing baseball needs to hear. So they talk about rehab protocols and recovery times because that’s in their personal wheelhouses and they can maintain their positions of expertise, but they don’t talk about monitoring motions and correcting them, hands-on, because, y’know, that’d be something that OTHER people would do.

    I guess that’s not very charitable of me, but it’s 100% consistent with 90% of my experience with doctors. At least I’m splitting the difference and saying they aren’t deliberately, directly, just in it for the surgery money…

    • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 12:12 pm
      Andrews talks a LOT about things he’s not qualified to talk about. But he’s a doctor so it seems like he’s qualified, right? Like the nonsense about kids needing to play other sports — absolutely ridiculous, and he’s not the person to be talking about that. He’s a surgeon, not a researcher. And he knows very little about biomechanics and kinesiology.

      If pitchers didn’t need TJ surgery, Andrews would need to find a new specialty. So as you suggest, does he REALLY want to see UCL tears disappear? Hmm …

      You’re right, though — monitoring and correcting motions IS something that other people do. And it isn’t a surgeon, or a team doctor. And it isn’t a pitching coach — unless that pitching coach is sent to medical school and then grad school to earn degrees in body movement.

      The one thing that continues to astound me, though, is the archaic and dangerous practice of doing a bullpen within 48 hours after a starter throwing 75+ pitches. Why? If they’d let these guys rest for the four full days they need, they’d probably cut injuries in half.

      • argonbunnies March 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm
        Well, many surgeons have expertise beyond just how to perform surgery. Andrews has been recording biomechanical data for long enough that it’s hard for me to believe he’s COMPLETELY ignorant of what it means. I mean, why did he start doing that in the first place? Was he just trying to look “cutting edge” for MLB, in much the same way that stats-ignorant Mariners GM Jack Z pretended to be stats-savvy for his interview?

        As for the bullpen session, I believe it’s inherited from the tradition that says, “The more pitchers pitch, the better their command and control.” Sort of a “staying in the groove” logic. I believe Leo Mazzone had his 1990s Braves throw TWICE between starts, and some folks correlated this with Maddux and Glavine’s precision. Further back, I know Tom Seaver spoke of the benefits of throwing the day after starts, to break up the lactic acid in his arm muscles among other things. What I don’t know is how HARD these guys were throwing — is the max-effort bullpen session new, or has it been going on forever?

        • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm
          I’m not suggesting that Andrews is completely ignorant. I’m saying he’s talking out of turn. He knows more than a layperson, for sure, but he’s far from having the knowledge to be an expert on the subject of injuries and their prevention. Surgeons specialize in surgery — that’s what they studied, and, hopefully, continue to study, and it’s what they do every day. Kinesiologists and biomechanists specialize in body movement — that’s what they research, study, and do every day. Injuries occur mostly due to inefficient body movements. So shouldn’t those be the people called on for expert advice?

          Throwing twice between starts? MLB starters throw on day 2 after a start, day 3, and day 4. That’s three times. But it’s not the quantity, it’s the timing. Throwing within 48 hours after 75+ pitches is inhibiting the healing process. That’s not guesswork, that’s not theory, that’s how we know the body works based on years and years of research that we didn’t know in Tom Seaver’s time. We know now. So what’s the hold up in changing the routine? What they do today ain’t working, that’s crystal-clear. But instead of MLB looking at what they’re doing, they’re passing the blame on youth leagues — which doesn’t make sense when we have MLBers having SECOND TJ surgeries. You can’t blame throwing curveballs at age 10 or playing baseball year-round as a 16-year-old when Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy go in for second TJs.

          “Max effort” is a difficult thing to describe and use as a definition, because it means different things to different people. If a pitcher who normally throws 92-93 in a game is throwing, say 82-83 in a bullpen session, then he’s slowing down and changing his mechanics. How is that useful when he speeds things up in the game? Many pitchers describe “max effort” as feeling their arm doing more work than usual — which usually means that their arm is working too hard because its out of sync with the body and the timing is off.

  4. DanS March 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm
    Joe: Wheeler tendinitis…reason for concern?
    • argonbunnies March 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm
      The Mets have missed their chance to sell high on Zach.

      No way he’s headlining a package for Goldschmidt, Betts, Bogaerts, or other top talents now. “Pitching with elbow pain all year” is enough to scare anyone off.

      *sigh*

  5. Jon C March 14, 2015 at 2:55 pm
    thanks for the detailed analysis with pictures and all Joe! Can’t wait to impress my family with the word high cock tonight at dinner.

    I read this article the other day, was curious what your thoughts were on it:

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/tommy-john-epidemic-elbow-surgery-glenn-fleisig-yu-darvish/

    Since you refer at the end of your article to non-sensical theories from lay people, I thought it was interesting that they interviewed Dr. Fleisig who argonbunnies mentioned above.

    They oh so briefly mention improper mechanics as leading to stress, but then seem to talk about it more in the sense of “after” the surgery, not that it caused the problem in the first place. The blame mostly seems to be placed on overuse.

    • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 12:03 pm
      Jon, thanks very much for the link. Dr. Fleisig is a quantitative scientist, so he’s focused on numbers, angles, and statistical research. That info is helpful, but only half the story. The other half is QUALITATIVE analysis — that is, using the eyes and applying adjustments. That’s why he only briefly mentions mechanics, because he’s only qualified to talk about the angles and arcs and position points that are laid out on a piece of paper. Also, much of the data that he studies is flawed (in my opinion), because it takes into account pitchers with all kinds of different mechanics. A pitcher with a flaw / mechanical inefficiency is going to tear something much more quickly than a pitcher with clean, efficient mechanics. There also isn’t much controlled data in terms of what pitchers do when they’re not on a mound (i.e., long toss, weighted balls, and other nonsense that does more harm than good).

      Also, it is interesting that Fleisig has become more vocal about year-round youth baseball after Dr. Andrews made the same statements, and both doctors seem to be more directly connected with MLB than previously. Andrews, by the way, has NO qualification whatsoever to speak about youth baseball being a culprit — he’s a surgeon, not a research scientist. Also interesting: both Andrews and Fleisig have more to lose if pitching injuries are reduced — they both make their money based on injuries. What would Andrews do if there were no Tommy John surgeries? What would Fleisig do if MLB teams and parents weren’t paying for biomechanical analysis from his 3P Sports company? The analysis is only helpful if there’s someone to apply the corrections. It’s like a car dealer doing a 50-point inspection, telling you everything wrong with the car, but then giving you a sheet with instructions on how to fix it yourself. Good luck!

  6. DaveSchneck March 15, 2015 at 9:08 am
    Unfortunately for Josh and the Mets, this situation will not have a happy ending. All of Alderson’s rambling explanations about the LH bullpen market really don’t mean a thing, the bottom line is that it is a glaring weakness right now on a marginally competitive team that is acting like a contender. Memo to Sandy – you may actually need to do something about this.
  7. Jon C March 16, 2015 at 10:28 am
    down goes Wheeler

    some quotes from before he was diagnosed, makes you wonder if he was told by coaches/management not to change anything, or if it was his choice not to:

    “It’s just a little sore. I’m just going day to day,” Wheeler said. “It’s something that I’ve had before and have had to deal with. It maybe sort of picked up last year, but I’ve had it my whole career. I’ve just been able to deal with it and stuff. Like I said, I’m just going day to day with it.”

    Asked if he ever worries the elbow issue could become something more severe, Wheeler said:

    “For sure. I mean, you always have that in the back of your head. But you try not to change anything you’re doing — arm angle, mechanics, all that kind of stuff. You just do what you’ve been doing and trust it.”

    • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm
      Those Wheeler quotes are scary and dumb. And the reason why there are so many UCL tears these days. Pitchers ignore red flags and they keep doing the thing that is causing the pain.
  8. Steven March 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm
    Joe. I think you definitely saw the Wheeler thing coming when he first joined the Mets. As I recall there was speculation at the time that the Giants were trying to change his mechanics because they recognized the injury risk but that was affecting his performance. I believe the Mets let him return to his old habits. The thing is you have reported that fixing the Pitchers mechanics will not change their performance, but has that ever happened ? Has a top performing pitcher ever changes his mechanics early in his career to prolong it ? There is a reason why RA Dickey was the guy that took on the knuckleball, and not a Mike Pelfrey. I think given the economics, the Pitchers may be resisting changing what has not yet resulted in injury since they have a limited window to make the big bucks and the teams are unwilling to delay their major league pre-arb years, or are afraid that the mechanical change wont work. Also, the fact that under the current seniority based pay scale, TJ surgery usually results in a raise the following year and brings you closer to free agency, and is something with a very high success rate.

    Plus, even when the mechanics are fine, there seem to be a rash of injuries; as I recall people always thought Harvey had a pretty safe motion. Any thoughts ?

    • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm
      Steven, first off, go back to the MetsToday home page and you will see the MANY times I had concerns about Zack Wheeler’s mechanics and health (the post was just published).

      Second, “changing mechanics” rarely requires a complete overhaul. Most of the corrections would never be noticeable to the average person without the assistance of high-speed film.

      Third, “mechanics are fine” — according to whom? Certainly not TV analysts, MLB coaches, or other MLB pitchers. As far as I know there is not one coach nor player in MLB with an advanced degree in body movement. Even when the Giants were trying to change Wheeler’s mechanics, they were on the right track, but likely had no idea what they were doing. THAT’S what’s preventing the mechanical changes — no one who is in the position to change them (the pitching coaches) is qualified to do so.

      That’s not a knock on the pitching coaches. It’s a knock on MLB for not realizing that they need different personnel with different credentials to handle pitching mechanics. They simply assume that former MLB pitchers can look at video and know what they’re talking about. It’s like asking a NASCAR driver to watch videos of races and then be expected to fix an engine.

      And yes, Harvey’s motion “looked good” to plenty of “experts” (i.e., other former pitchers and media people who were told so by former pitchers / scouts / etc.). But Harvey did have a correctable flaw that led to his injury. And in fact, he may still have it, so the ticking time bomb may have been reset.

      Beyond the mechanics, though, is that MLB completely ignores rest and recovery guidelines. That is completely inexcusable and has absolutely no rational reasoning to support it.

      If you ever have to take a long drive by yourself, consider listening to the podcast I do with Angel Borrelli. We cover this topic and your questions regularly.

      • LongTimeFan1 March 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm
        What’s scary is you, Joe, posting misinformation and selective cherry-picking about Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Glen Fleisig. Your research on them is severely deficient. And your faulty conclusions, put the bulleseye on you as self-promoting. Drop the ego.

        Overhead throwing is inherently unnatural, so too the variety and types of pitches thrown with torque generated. Pitchers are going to get hurt, even those with the best of mechanics.

        Insofar as making biomechanical changes, I don’t buy your contention that there’s raging incompetence from the MLB pitching coaches who help identify and implement them. MLB closely works with outside experts, I know Dan Warthen does.

        This is not a black and white issue and never will be. Clinical trials are not possible. It is unrealistic to make wholesale mechanical changes to drafted and major league players who got to the level of success they’ve had through their current mechanics. Wholesale mechanical changes may extend careers but also ruin them tampering with what got these players to the level of achievement they have.

        I believe it should ultimately should be the players’ decision to make any over-arching changes. It’s their bodies, their careers. Every pitcher understands there’s risk associated with being one. Every team knows there’s injury risk to all players.

        Where I agree with you is in common sense adjustments where needed to improve results, reduce injury-risk where prudent. I do not believe in broadly tampering with something that’s going well as matter of policy. I believe all minor league pitchers should receive biomechanical analysis after signing. Those results then should be discussed with the pitchers and their team. Let the players decide whether they want to make any radical changes to their shoulder and elbow mechanics. But let the staff work with them to make more subtle and minor adjustments, be it for shoulder, elbow, leg plant, timing, etc.

        The key work should be at the youth level so that good mechanics are established from the get-go. The problem, however, is in the implementation, too many young people lack access to expert instruction.

        As for you, I would suggest you consider your own motivations as know-it-all berating the experts and painting a misleading picture, including a ridiculous conclusion about their professional motivations which you say in so many words, borders on misconduct.

        Dr. Fleisig, has a Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering, and is an adjunct professor.

        Dr. James Andrews, M.D., also has two Doctorates in Science, is a scientific and clinical researcher, is world renown, not just surgeon.

        His Bio –

        http://www.andrewsortho.com/staff/bio.php?doc_id=58013
        PH.D’s in science one from Troy University, the other from

        Rather than running your mouth, ask one or both for an interview and make them available on your website, should they give you their time. You can be an advocate for change without tooting your own horn and berating others.

        • Joe Janish March 16, 2015 at 10:03 pm
          Self-promoting and tooting my own horn? What do I have to gain by doing so, pray tell? Do you pay to visit my site? Am I selling anything here? Quite the contrary — this site is a loss to me financially. I have a fine, wonderful full-time job that I want to continue to do for the rest of my life. I’m sick and tired of MLB’s dinosaur stance on injuries and their acceptance of pitching injuries as an inevitable result when it doesn’t have to be.

          Who said anything about “wholesale mechanical changes”???? Point directly to where I ever said that pitchers needed to make “wholesale mechanical changes.” I’ve stated — over and over and over and over again — that most if not all corrections to mechanics are minor, easy, and barely noticeable.

          What’s the point of biomechanical analysis on minor league pitchers? Have you ever seen one of those reports? If you have then you wouldn’t be advocating their use — they’re impossible to read and understand without someone qualified to explain it. And more impossible to implement the necessary corrections without, again, someone qualified who can both interpret the report and make the changes.

          And while I 100% agree with your suggestion that proper mechanics should be taught at the youth level, can you please also let us know WHO should teach those mechanics? Certainly not former MLB pitchers. Certainly not surgeons.

          As for me “running my mouth” and asking people for interviews, have you ever listened to the podcast I do with Angel Borrelli — who, by the way, studied under Dr. Glenn Fleisig? If you haven’t maybe consider it, you just might learn something.

          I have no motivation to “toot my own horn.” I’m very comfortable where I am in my life and have zero inclination to do anything other than what I’m doing presently for a living. As a former player and coach who did not have the benefit of modern science, research, and technology, I want kids and young men to learn what’s best and not hurt themselves — that’s it.

          So what’s your issue? Why are you so protective of Andrews, Fleisig, and MLB? What are these people doing for you?

          It’s ironic that you call me out for “tooting my own horn,” when I have ZERO to gain by helping spread knowledge, while the two doctors you mention (and who toot their horns on a regular basis) make a living based on pitchers injuring themselves. Oh, and thanks for the Andrews link — I had no idea he had time for yacht racing, in between doing all these surgeries, running ASMI, researching, and conducting interviews with the media.

        • argonbunnies March 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm
          I would love to hear Fleisig or Andrews interviewed by someone who’s digging into practical implementation from outside the MLB status quo. I don’t know if you have the ability to set that up, Joe, but if so, that’d be awesome!

          Perhaps more realistically, I would love to hear an interview with Kris Medlen. As someone who alternated tearing his UCL with employing a qualitative scientist, I’d love to hear about the factors influencing his choices in when to start and stop using Dr. Borelli’s services.

  9. LongTimeFan1 March 17, 2015 at 8:44 am
    That’s a defensive response, Joe.

    I believe you toot your own horn and in my opinion, you need a reality check when you denigrate two of the foremost experts in the field claiming they don’t know much about core components of their expertise.

    And since you asked, I have no personal or professional ties with Andrews, Flesig and MLB.

    What I am is a passionate and knowledgeable baseball fan with a science background closing in on half a century’s worth of MLB games viewed.

    I also have an allegiance to accuracy. Your depiction of Andrews and Flesig contains distortions and misrepresentations. Seems to me passion for your beliefs has gotten in the way of depicting your opponents fairly – i.e, good sportsmanship.

    • argonbunnies March 17, 2015 at 2:19 pm
      Well, none of us know Andrews or Fleisig personally, and none of us can read their minds, but we DO know that their partnership with MLB isn’t working.

      To say that it IS working is to simply lower the bar until it’s already met, in my opinion. That’s at LEAST as much bias as Joe claiming that other methods would work better.

    • argonbunnies March 21, 2015 at 9:53 pm
      Looks like Fleisig is more in agreement with you than you thought, Joe: http://espn.go.com/blog/spring-training/post/_/id/3016/tigers-justin-verlander-is-anti-coddling

      So perhaps I guessed wrong, and the issue is more that MLB, despite consulting with Fleisig too many times to count, isn’t actually following his advice. Some key quotes:

      But that’s not all organizations can’t afford to do, said Fleisig, the research director at Dr. James Andrews’ American Sports Medicine Institute. What they really can’t afford to do is to continue doing things the way they used to, before the science of biomechanics came along to show them there’s a better way . . .

      “I agree that if a pitcher has poor mechanics and he pitches a lot, he’s going to have a higher chance of breaking down than a guy with good mechanics,” Fleisig said. “But I don’t agree that if that’s the case, you should just let him pitch and let’s see what happens.

      “With biomechanics, we can now identify who has poor mechanics, and there are a lot of progressive organizations that are now modifying kids’ mechanics in the minor leagues after they’re drafted and as they develop.”

      What those organizations are doing is attempting to fix those poor mechanics before they lead to more serious issues.

      ———————

      “A lot of progressive organizations” is very different than “everyone”, and “attempting” is very different than “doing what it takes to succeed”.

      I think we can safely conclude that the Mets either aren’t trying at all (seems illogical, but all their public quotes support it) or simply aren’t trying in ways that are effective (a bit easier to understand, but I’ve seen no such evidence).

      • Joe Janish March 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm
        It’s about time! I know he’s in agreement with me (or rather, the other way around, because I’m not the one with the qualifications and background) — but up until this ESPN article he hasn’t been completely open about his opinions publicly.

        Dr. Fleisig really frustrated me with his quotes that parroted Dr. Andrews, because I felt that was Dr. Fleisig’s opportunity to start changing the thought process toward a better direction. But looking back, I get it — Dr. Andrews is his colleague, and, technically, the overlord of ASMI, and so it’s Dr. Fleisig’s duty to repeat the message of Dr. Andrews, for consistency.

        This is HUGE. Hopefully, it will be the start of things turning around.

        One key thing, though. While Dr. Fleisig is right in that the biomechanical analysis information is available, the problem is that the people trying to interpret it and apply corrections are probably not qualified to do so. From what I’ve heard from MLB insiders, the biomechanical analyses are done, but then the pitching coaches are tasked with doing something about them. What pitching coach has an advanced degree in biomechanics and kinesiology?

        As I’ve stated several times before on this blog, there’s a distinct difference between quaNtitative scientists and quaLitative scientists. Dr. Fleisig is quantitative — he researches and understands the degrees, the numbers, the angles, the stuff that has hard, precise measurements that can be expressed on paper. Angel Borrelli is in the qualitative camp — the hands-on, visual, more artistic side of science. You need BOTH kinds of science to keep pitchers’ mechanics efficient and pitchers’ arms healthy. Instead, most teams have neither science, and only a handful are using half of the science.