Ring The Alarm For Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto

E ASenior Analyst IMarch 11, 2009

I really like Edinson Volquez.

I think he's a great pitcher and he's got one of the brightest futures ahead, possibly even more so than teammate Johnny Cueto.

Now, let's get started.

Volquez came up with the Texas Rangers, touted as a great prospect, but struggled mightily in the majors.

Volquez compiled a 3-11 record through short stints with Texas in 2005, 2006, and 2007. His ERA through those three years was sitting at 8.67.

Following the 2007 season, Volquez was traded to Cincinnati.

The trade couldn't have benefited either side any more than it did.

Apparently, Volquez never flourished in Texas, because they were strict and wouldn't let him pitch loose. Volquez was swapped for re-up-and-coming outfielder Josh Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds.

The rest is truly history.

Hamilton had one of the greatest comebacks in all of sports, leading the league in RBI for most of the season and setting a new single round home run record for the Home Run Derby, where there were many balls that he nearly hit clear out of Yankee Stadium.

Volquez, on the other hand, did what only pitchers few and far between could do: pitch great in the Great American Ballpark.

If I am not mistaken, the GAB is the smallest park in the league, and it is murder for pitchers. Volquez was Cincinnati's lone All-Star, posting Cy Young Award-contending numbers for the season.

At the end of the year, Volquez' numbers sat at: 17-6, 3.21 ERA, 206 K, 93 BB and only 14 HR allowed.

Looks pretty good for a pitcher who’s only in his first full season, right?

Unfortunately, this is not so in the case of Edinson Volquez.

Despite throwing a mid-90's MPH fastball, despite throwing a change-up about 20 MPH slower, despite working hard to improve his game, Volquez is in trouble.

His manager is Dusty Baker.

The same Dusty Baker, who overworked and in turn ruined the careers of former Cubs wonder boys Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, before their arms were sucked dry of every last bit of metaphoric electricity, Wood was considered one of the best starters in the game and it certainly seemed like Prior was on his way to that superlative, as well.

Johnny Cueto has one year of major league experience under his belt, 2008.

He was a highly touted prospect for the Reds until his promotion to the majors to start the season and features a great fastball, a lethal slider, and a deadly change-up.

He has great command over all three and shows a great ability to work hitters. For a rookie on a team who struggled to win 70 games, Cueto posted great numbers, going 9-14, with a 4.81 ERA and 158 strikeouts, in 174 innings.

To me, I couldn't see any more of a parallel between Prior-Wood and Volquez-Cueto.

Prior and Wood were two of the best pitchers in the game. Volquez and Cueto are on their way to that status. Both were or are managed by Dusty Baker. Things don't look good for Volquez and Cueto.

Volquez was stretched over 110 pitches in four of his five starts last September, meaningless games for the Reds, who won 74 games in 2008.

In the one start where Baker didn't push Volquez to 110 pitches, he threw 98 pitches, tossing seven and one third innings in a 17-6 rout of the Houston Astros.

In the start before that, Baker strained Volquez to 111 pitches through seven innings in a 16-6 blowout loss to Saint Louis.

Baker put similar strain on Kerry Wood, who started in 1998. His arm broke down by 2004.

After a monster 2003 season when Prior was pushed to 211 innings pitched in his second season in the league, Prior was never the same again.

Volquez is definitely a similar comparable pitcher to Kerry Wood. The latter became a legitimate ace pitcher before Baker killed his arm.

The former looks to be on his way, led by skipper Dusty Baker and the Reds.

Could Edinson Volquez be the next Kerry Wood?


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