March 10, 2008

Over The Hill

Coming into this spring, I thought the Nats had cornered the market on mysterious, non-specific forearm injuries to pitchers. Then SF Giants lefty Noah Lowry goes and gets himself exertional compartment syndrome, possibly a first for a pitcher. Now that this condition has been identified, I fully expect John Patterson to come down with it by Tuesday next. Turns out the same injury derailed the promising painful-to-watch career of one-time 49ers QB Tim Rattay. Must be some forearm-tightener in that Bay Area water. But I digress. The point is, I'm done with Shawn Hill.

As far as I can tell, Shawn has everthing you need to be a first-rate major league pitcher except the ability to pitch for an extended period of time. Let me be clear. I'm not ragging on Shawn Hill. I don't think he's dogging it, or faking, or exaggerating his pain. I've just reached the point where I believe the guy will never pitch 100 big league innings in a season, much less 200. Through no fault of his own, his arm simply won't let him do that.

Shawn's like the female supporting character in every 80s teen movie ever made. You know she'd be a stone fox if she wasn't saddled with the giant plastic-framed glasses and the inexplicable semi-perm. The one who always shows up to the prom at the end of the movie looking like sex-on-wheels. That's Shawn with his sinker. It's a beautiful pitch wrapped in a lousy package.

Except here's where the analogy goes haywire. Because even after you take Shawn to the salon and get him all prettied up, teach him to do his stretching exercises, open up that forearm and rearrange the spaghetti, it looks like you're still stuck with a dominant pitch and a subpar pitcher. Again, I'm not saying that any of this is Shawn's fault exactly, that's just the way it is.

One way or another, Shawn Hill's going to be making a few hundred grand this season. Maybe he can use that time to show someone else how to throw his sinking fastball.

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