ESPN is a circus full of clowns.
The other day on First Take, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith were ripping into former Oriole Jake Arrieta by essentially accusing him of taking Performance Enhancing Drugs, although they did say that “Now we’re not accusing him”…but they went on for about five minutes essentially accusing him.
Smith got the party started by being angered that Arrieta would laugh at the accusations: “First of all, I don’t find accusations of PED use funny at all. I don’t think it’s something that he should say he finds funny, but that doesn’t mean he’s guilty,” Smith said. Well, if he is, in fact, innocent, why can’t he laugh at the accusations?
Smith then went on to pretend he knew what the heck he was talking about regarding Arrieta, making comments such as, “In 2012 if I remember correctly he got demoted to AAA by the Orioles.”
The 75 innings he pitched in 2013 (75 1/3 to be precise) are only the innings he logged in the Majors between the Orioles and Cubs when he was traded along with Pedro Strop to the Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger (I still get nightmares about that trade). So while he did pitch 75 1/3 innings in the Majors that year, he also pitched another 79 1/3 innings in AAA between Norfolk and Iowa. Those 23 2/3 innings Stephen A. was talking about were the innings he pitched for the Orioles. He immediately started to pitch well in Chicago. The remainder of 2013 Arrieta went 4-2 in 9 starts with an ERA of 3.66.
Skip Bayless chimed in and stated that “…especially when somebody comes out of nowhere, and Jake Arrieta came out of nowhere.”
So, he might not have been the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, but he was drafted in the fifth round of that 2007 draft and did earn a sizeable signing bonus which Skip does go on to mention. He fails to mention however that Baseball Prospectus ranked Arrieta the 52nd best prospect in baseball before the 2009 season, so it wasn’t like he was a complete scrub.
Anyway, the problem with Arrieta, which has been pretty well documented, was how the O’s tried to fit him into a mold of a pitcher. Baltimore’s pitching coach at the time, Rick Adair, didn’t like how Arrieta threw across his body and tried getting him to change his mechanics and also didn’t let him throw his cut fastball, something he has used with great success since being traded to Chicago. In Adair’s defense, he was doing that because Arrieta had a mass removed from his elbow and needed to be careful with that.
Moving along, the ever so eloquent Stephen A. Smith then had this one last comment when he said, “…when you’re throwing balls in excess of 90 MPH on a consistent basis and we never see arm fatigue, that is a red flag.” Really?
I will agree with part of Smith’s argument. PED’s such as steroids give you obvious strength, but their main benefit is recovery time. Recovery time and confidence. Arrieta has always been a confident player, and looking at his pitch velocity numbers, courtesy of Fangraphs.com, it would agree that his velocity has always been there. If you look at his sinker velocity in 2012, his minimum velocity was 90.1 MPH while his max was 96.3 MPH. In 2014, his cutter had a minimum velocity of 91.7 MPS while his max was 95 MPH. This year, both his fastball and sinker are not dipping below 90 MPH.
While I honestly don’t think Arrieta is taking any PED’s I can see why people might question it. Seeing a pitcher this dominant is a rarity, but then again, if you are in the business over at ESPN, you should maybe do some homework where you would find out that the numbers you are spewing really don’t back your case. Since you also have no idea about baseball, maybe just stop talking? Please?
By Andy Mindzak