PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Relief pitcher Pedro Feliciano #25 of the New York Mets throws a pitch during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 25 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The Mets won 5-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Just in case you haven't been following this story, last winter the Yankees signed free-agent reliever Pedro Feliciano, who led the National League in pitching appearances in each of the last three seasons. Feliciano came up lame in spring training, and is currently on the Disabled List. Then things got interesting (via Ben Shpigel):
Pedro Feliciano, the most used pitcher in baseball over the last three seasons, politely disagreed with the assertion of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman that the Mets "abused" him, but he could not hold back his irritation about the rebuttal from his former pitching coach, Dan Warthen.
After learning that Warthen responded by saying, "They didn’t know that when they signed him?," Feliciano said he was stung by Warthen’s acknowledgment that his heavy use — 266 appearances since 2008 — was a reason the Mets chose not to re-sign him...
After hearing of Cashman’s comments, Warthen told reporters Saturday in Miami Gardens, Fla., that Feliciano was never abused and that he regularly volunteered to pitch, never wanting a day off. Feliciano did not dispute that, although he said he was confused why, as a left-handed specialist, he was often left in to face right-handed hitters.
"I think at some points, they just leave me there with no reason," Feliciano said. "But I want to pitch. I want to be in there."
I don't know, seems like a fair amount of miscommunication here.
When I read Warthen's question, it seems to me he's just saying that if the Yankees -- and Brian Cashman, specifically -- really believed Feliciano had been abused, why did they commit $8 million to him? It's not like the statistics were unavailable. I actually had the same reaction to Cashman's complaint ... What, you didn't know he'd led the National League in appearances three straight years?
As for why Feliciano was left in the game to face right-handed hitters ... Well, gosh. Maybe because the manager didn't want to burn a right-handed reliever in that slot? As it was, Feliciano totaled only 175 innings in his 266 games over the last three seasons. There are specialists and there are specialists, and you can't have too many guys in your bullpen who get used for just one or two outs in every outing.
Look, it's possible that Feliciano was worked too hard. He discounts that notion, saying that he hurt himself while working out in early March ... but couldn't being worked too hard one year leave a pitcher more vulnerable to an injury the next early March? Seems to me that it could.
And 266 games over three seasons is a lot, especially when we consider how many times Feliciano might have been asked to warm up without being asked to enter the game shortly afterward. In fact, I suspect that Feliciano might well have been worked hard enough that he was somewhat more susceptible to a future injury, whether this spring or this summer.
But what should anyone have done differently? Presumably, Feliciano wanted to pitch and he earned roughly $5.5 million over the last three seasons for doing exactly that. Presumably, Feliciano's managers were doing their best to win games, and believed that pitching Feliciano in 266 games would help them do exactly that. Presumably, Brian Cashman knew that Feliciano had worked in a lot of games, and took a calculated gamble.
He just lost that one.