Friday, February 27, 2009

Eaton Off the Phils

The long nightmare that was the Adam Eaton contract is finally over, and Americans can begin rebuilding their trust and confidence in an economic system that would see fit to pay Adam Eaton $24 million over three seasons despite not having an above average ERA+ since his rookie year in 2000, and less than a year removed from surgery on his pitching hand that left him even less effective than before. The Phillies are releasing the righty with another year on his deal, and eating the remaining $8 million in salary due to him.

In two seasons with the Phillies, Eaton had a 6.10 ERA in 268.3 innings. Perhaps this is to be expected, given how poorly Eaton has thrown the ball, but every single rate stat he has has gone in the wrong direction since the aforementioned surgery. His K/9 is way down and his walks are way up. He gave up 30 home runs in his first year alone (in 161.7 innings), and 15 last year before the Phillies pulled the plug. In the minors, Eaton didn't exactly find himself, posting a 7.07 ERA in 33.3 innings across three levels (including 8 HR in 26.7 innings at AA).

It's clear, at this point, that Eaton has lost his way and, like famous flameouts Rick Ankiel and Steve Blass before him, a combination of injuries and psychological blocks are keeping Eaton from finding the path again. His previous injury, a ruptured tendon, shouldn't have had a significant impact on his velocity, though it seems to have affected his ability to throw his curveball, and perhaps affects the way he grips his pitches. It's sad to watch; even though Eaton was vastly overpaid to begin with, it's no fun watching a player struggle so hard against the game and himself. And The Common Man hopes someone can help Eaton fix whatever is wrong. This looks like a job for Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan if ever there was one, and the Cardinals are free to pick up Eaton for the league minimum to give it a shot. It's worth to risk, The Common Man thinks, to see if some time learning the forkball or a cutter can help Eaton recover some of his lost promise, or if he's simply physically incapable of throwing like he did from 2000 to 2005.

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