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Daily Box Score 6/23: Blame the WBC, Curveballs and Dan Haren's Run Differential

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Today, we revisit the case of the accursed SI coverboy: Jeff Francouer.  You see, it all started when Rany Jazayerli squinted as best he could, thought he espied a Jermaine Dye comp, and proposed a trade to Kansas City.  Fellow Royals fan Joe Posnanski then wondered if the laughing gas hadn't been left on for too long at Rany's office ("How bad is an OPS+ of 69?"). But now J.C. Bradbury at Sabernomics has revisited the matter, prompted by a Mark Bradley suggestion.  Bradbury proceeds to bash the hopes of teenage girls:

The problem was that the Braves front office allowed itself to think that his 2005 was exactly what Francoeur was. He was already the star they imagined when he was the Good Face prospect at Parkview: "The Natural." Baseball professionals shouldn’t allow this to happen. Teenage girls in pink #7 jerseys, yes; but not a GM and his assistants—nor veteran sports columnists.

I wonder who would do the weeding in front of home plate with Francoeur gone.

Don Fehr, head of the MLBPA player's union, has announced the timing is right for him to step down.  A dogged champion of player's rights, it's almost impossible to avoid the thought that the timing is more suspect than it is right. But ESPN's Howard Bryant argues that even management will miss Fehr's intelligence:

But if Don Fehr is on your side, you are tremendously better off for it. He does his job, which is to protect the interests of his players; and he has done it exceedingly well at a time of great assault against American unionism in general.

There is something to be marveled at in the most successful union in American labor history.

They say that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  For the Red Sox, having a broken hammer is making everything look like a culprit.  From Bleacher Report comes an attempt to blame (what else?) the World Baseball Classic for the struggles of Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The two time WBC MVP, the author expounds in epistolary form, "is an employee of the Boston Red Sox."  In the end, "Dice-K put it all on the line for the WBC, and he and the Boston Red Sox got burned."  The author digs a quote from Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell: "I think it's clear, now that there have been two of these tournaments, that the season performances of the pitchers who participate in that tournament take a step backward."  None of this, of course, changes the fact that Dice-K's underlying peripherals remain relatively good.

Attempting to explain young pitchers' injuries, many trainers have pointed their finger at that great scourge of American culture: the curveball.  The pronation required in the forearm, the argument goes, may lead to early damage to ligaments in the arm.  But a recent paper, written by five fellows at the American Sports Medicine Institute, suggests it is the fastball that puts the most strain on a pitcher's arm.  Using pitchers with an average age of 12.5, the researchers conclude:

The curveball may not be more potentially harmful than the fastball for youth pitchers. This finding is consistent with recent epidemiologic research indicating that amount of pitching is a stronger risk factor than type of pitches thrown.

So the answer is pitch counts?  Why didn't you say so!?

With only nine more days of balloting (until the Final Vote) for the All-Star game, managers are jockeying to make sure their players make the team.  Diamonbacks manager (and, apparently, baseball traditionalists' newly christened whipping boy) A.J. Hinch suggested at least three Dbacks deserve a lineup slot: Justin Upton, Danny Haren and Mark Reynolds.  An article at MLB Notebook attempts to take Hinch to task for his statement, saying,

Then we have Dan Haren. He has the lowest ERA in the NL at 2.23. He's fourth in strikeouts with 96. He's given up only 18 walks and 25 runs. His record is 6-4. He's been a hard luck loser again this season. In his four losses and four no-decisions, the Diamondbacks have scored only 26 runs. Haren's given up 25. That's not a very good run differential. 

Sorta sounds like it's not his fault.

Finally, via wezen-ball, a look at which pitchers have taken the most no-hitters into at least the 7th inning.  You probably could have guessed that Nolan Ryan topped the list, but would you believe he did it 31 times including those he took all the way?  Randy Johnson (13) and Sandy Koufax (10) round out the top three.  Most surprising on the list is Tim Wakefield, tied with six.