01/07/2005: Over at The Birdwatch....
Regular contributor Iron Throne posts an excellent part one of a two (or more?) part series: Rick Ankiel: Anatomy of a Collapse
Assuming that Tony LaRussa resists the urge to make Ankiel a left handed specialist right out of the box, Rick would take over the departed Dan Harenís spot in long relief and spot starter. Getting his first shot to join the team out of spring training following ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery and a year lost to persistent elbow tendonitis, the Cardinals have relatively little invested in or expected of Ankiel for the upcoming season. What can we predict for his performance this season? After his nationally televised and thoroughly ridiculed meltdown in game one of the 2000 divisional series against Greg Maddux and the Braves (followed by two more disastrous outings in that post season), he only had three starts in the majors before last September. We can, of course, simply throw up our hands and say we donít have enough information to make a prediction (and as an empirical scientist, thatís what my fingers are itching to do), but saying ďI donít knowĒ with absolute certainty is surprisingly unsatisfying. Instead of treating him as a well publicized head case, it may be more accurate to simply look at him as if 2005 was his rookie season. While his failure on such a large scale and in front of a national audience is unprecedented in the long history of baseball, scores of pitchers have rough stretches and turned it around. Dismissing his entire future potential simply on a handful of games is foolish.Included in the post is a recap (based on a review of a videotape of the game) of the infamous Game One of the 2000 NL Divisional Series, in which Ankiel melted down and then succumbed to Steve Blass disease in rapid order.
The Cardinals have a lot invested in Ankiel, and he has figured heavily in a lot of speculation this Hot Stove League season. If you have any interest in Cardinals baseball, go check out Iron Throne's post, and keep an eye out for part two.
Len on 01.07.05 @ 06:35 AM CST