Two reports on the pitching staff over the last couple days of note, one merely because he is a pitcher from the past of note, and one because he figured to play a part in next year's pitching staff.
The Rays on Monday announced that Doug Waechter had a torn right labrum, effectively meaning that it will be a long offseason recovery that will stretch into next season and possibly finish him for 2007 as well. The estimated recovery time is eight to ten months.
"I didn't complain about it because it's normal for a pitcher to go through dead arm," Waechter said. "I just thought I was going through an extended period of it. I didn't really say anything, and then in instructional league, after some rest, I didn't really have any pain. I just knew something was wrong.
"I don't like making excuses for anything. I figured either I wasn't working hard enough or I didn't throw enough, all these kinds of things. So I'd go out and try to do everything I could, then I'd go out and my shoulder still felt bad -- just no life in it. I couldn't figure it out."
Well, this could help explain his awful performance, both in Durham and St. Pete, but a torn labrum, the same thing that Casey Fossum had, doesn't exactly sing great proclamations of likely recovery. And that is on top of the already shaky ground on which he was standing before the demotion. The feel-good story of the St. Pete-native is well-known, and many people are rooting for him to succeed.
However Waechter still has shown nothing out of a brief spell at the end of the 2003 season that has shown he can hold down a spot on a major league roster. He has shown consistently low strikeout rates, consistently high walk rates, consistently poor home run rates, and posted ERAs of 6.01 and 5.62 over the 2004-05 seasons. In effect, he has been Ryan Rupe.
It came to a head last year, when he was demoted to Durham after going 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA over 10 starts, and got even worse there, when he posted an 8.32 ERA over 79 innings of work, and while he can be given a pass, at least partially, on that stretch of time, he had mechanics issues and struggled well before that.
I like Doug, I want him to succeed, and I still think he has a possible role in a major league bullpen should he get his issues sorted out, but with the labrum issue now added on, it is looking less and less likely that the Northeast High grad will have a future of any kind in Tropicana Field.
On a better note, the Rays on Wednesday re-signed one of the key starters from their second half part of the season, as the team agreed to terms with Jae Seo on a one year, $1.2 million contract, which also includes the opportunity to earn incentives. Seo goes into 2007 a near-lock to be at the back end of the rotation at the very least, and has proved to be a decent replacement for the player which he was traded for, Mark Hendrickson. He was packaged along with Dioner Navarro in that late-June deal that sent Toby Hall and Lurch packing to LA.
Seo had a decent run with the Devil Rays towards the end of the season, running out of steam at the end, particularly in one disastrous end of the year start at home against New York, but for an awful second half squad, was pretty good on the whole. Despite winning only one game in the second half, he posted a 5.00 ERA and was a key member of an inconsistent rotation, especially when Scott Kazmir was done for the year. His traditionally shaky peripheral stats were evident, as he had a low strikeout rate, as compared with a fairly high walk rate, gave up a lot of runs, a lot of hits, and had a .328 opponents' BABIP, yet was able to get through outings consistently, and should be a decent back of the rotation cog for slightly over a million dollars.
The remaining arbitration-eligible players include Travis Harper, Seth McClung, Josh Paul, Ty Wigginton and Tyler Walker. The team must either sign them, offer them arbitration if they fail to do that first, or decline to offer them arbitration.
---On an unrelated note, congratulations to Brian Meadows and his wife Jenny on their baby boy, born October 5th.