HEN I'M KING of the World . . .
The number of pitchers on major league disabled lists will run once a week next to the pitching stats . . . This just in: As of yesterday there are 102 pitchers on MLB disabled lists. That's an average of 3.4 pitchers per ballclub. An e-mailer explained to me that's not an excessive total. OK . . . I guess we don't have to lower the pitch counts after all.
Speaking of wretched excess, University of Texas coach Augie Garrido committed the mother of all pitch-count violations Saturday during the longest game in NCAA history, a 3-2 Longhorns regional victory over Boston College in 25 innings. The game took so long - 7 hours - they should have broken for supper. With the score tied 2-2 and one out in the seventh, Garrido replaced starter Chance Ruffin with closer Austin Wood. The All-America proceeded to hold BC hitless for 11 2/3 innings, which is Harvey Haddix stuff. Wood worked 13 innings, allowed two hits and struck out 14. His pitch count? One hundred and sixty-nine. That's right, 169. So, yeah, I'm in favor of hanging Tony La Russa, the father of pitch counts, and Augie Garrido, arm abuser, side-by-side by their clicker thumbs . . .
Pat Gillick remained a scout at heart even toward the end of his Hall of Fame career as a general manager. So it was no surprise that Pat jumped on a plane in 2007 to scout top prospect Julian Sampson, a 6-5 high-school righthander from Sammamish, Wash. The kid had committed to the University of Washington, but the Phillies learned he might be signable for the right money. Gillick gave thumbs up after watching the kid pitch and the Phillies drafted him on the 12th round. Mike Arbuckle signed Sampson for a $390,000 bonus after a summer of tough negotiations. The good-soldier Phillies even defied MLB's slotting parameters, going about $250,000 over 12th-round money. Sampson landed in Lakewood last year, a level higher than most high-school draftees. On the surface, his 11-4 record suggested a Gillick coup. But the numbers were better fitted to 4-11. He allowed 152 hits in 135 IP, a poor ratio for a projected power pitcher at that level. His 4.33 ERA was pedestrian. Most telling - and alarming - was a low total of 69 strikeouts and way-too-high 52 walks.
But 11 victories punched his ticket to Clearwater, where the Russian winter has set in on Julian's performances in the Suncoast heat. After another brief and ineffective - 3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER - outing for the Threshers Sunday night, Sampson is 1-5 with a 7.79 ERA. In 32 1/3 IP, the kid has just 16 Ks against 47 hits and 11 walks. Those are sore-arm or not-enough-stuff numbers. Hopefully, Gillick flew out to scout the kid on a Frequent Flyer freebie.
When I'm King of the World . . .
The Sixers' new "Princeton Offense" will have a Bill Bradley-level shooter to flash behind a screen and drill a trey . . . Butch van Breda Kolff built his fluent motion offense around the future U.S. senator and presidential candidate with guidance from assistant and successor Pete Carril. Now, Eddie Jordan, aka "The Next Victim," will replace the Sixers' helter-skelter pell-mell offense with an actual halfcourt scheme featuring backdoor layups and open jump shots. All you need to make that college-rooted scheme work in the NBA is players who can function in a structured offense, buy into it and execute it. There's the rub. Jordan said his new team has "two superstars" to bedrock a young roster. I'm looking hard, Eddie. Maybe he meant Elton Brand, who hasn't been one for some time but who should be a perfect fit for the high-post passing, screening and shooting duties integral to the Carril offense. I hate to say it, but Butch and Pete devised the offense as a way to outfinesse the much more talented teams Princeton would meet outside the Ivy League. The Sixers apparently fall into that same Little Engine That Could category. One assumes Jordan also meant Andre Iguodala, an NBA version of a four-tool baseball player. In Iggy's case, the tool he lacks is the kind of outside shot so vital to any motion offense. What's the point of running all that sophisticated stuff when the result is a launched bowling ball? . . .
South Jersey is a hotbed of high-school baseball, but with those rain-ravaged schedules, first-round picks in the June draft are rare as rainbow-striped tomatoes. Millville High School centerfielder Mike Trout is projected to go next week around 20-25 in the first round of a draft extremely light on outfielders. Scouts compare Trout, a high-revving, righthanded hitter with projectable wood-bat power, to a faster Aaron Rowand. Gloucester Catholic slugger Billy Rowell was the No. 9 pick overall by the Orioles in the 2006 draft but the 6-5 third baseman has scuffled on offense. The organization has switched the lefthanded hitter from third to rightfield. The good news: At age 20, Rowell is one of the youngest players in the High A Carolina League. His Frederick Keys batting coach is Richie Hebner, fired here as Larry Bowa's hitting coach . . . Signing free agent Raul Ibanez cost the Phillies their first-round and sandwich pick. So, Chuck LaMar and his staff won't pick until late in the second round. The last time the Phils' first pick was that low, they took college third baseman Mike Costanzo. Fortunately, Gillick was able to pass the strikeout-prone slugger back to Astros GM Ed Wade in a package for Brad Lidge led by Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary. That deal wasn't Manhattan Island for 24 strands of beads, but it was close. *
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