Fade +HGH = Mysterious Career Unfade.
Okay, boo me off stage. Go ahead.
Dr. D is here to tell you that "Munenori's Espresso Stand" is a galactic-class Blog Title, much less handle for a commenter. For this article, MES Network got 35 recs (wrecks?) when he claimed that "Felix is Ours And You Don't Want Him." Terrific job by Muni (or, more feasibly, his agent's ghostwriter). Dr. D processes the article for you:
1 Felix Hernandez' performance got consistently worse as the 2015 season went on
2 Could be that it was the early ankle injury, but Muni is skeptical
3 Felix claimed mechanical fixes. This claim was dubious. Here is the great Jeff Sullivan, in late August, underlining the Dubious-ness of this FKey7 claim by Felix
4 MES Network frets about a lurking mushroom cloud here, with Felix' arm exploding in a cloud of pink mist
5 MES pegs his future value at 3 WAR per season, give or take (only here do Dr. D's hackles begin to bristle)
6 2,000 IP is a lot. We should be thankful if that's the career he's had (but the M's contract obligations will be crushing)
7 Alas, no trade will be possible. Too bad so sad bye-bye
DR's DIAGNOSIS - BAD
Let us lay out a few eternal principles here, and offer (merely) Dr. D's feel for this situation. For what it's worth.
1 Early this year, Bill James was asked "Whassup with Justin Verlander?" Bill's reply, "remember he took over the #1 slot not from Clayton Kershaw, but from Roy Halladay. He was a great pitcher for a long time, as pitchers go." Obviously, you don't want to rule out the idea that Felix is going to swallow a bubble, urp, and go belly-up in the fishbowl.
2 There really isn't a 2 here. Not from section 341.
DR's DIAGNOSIS - GOOD
1 Felix' historical comps are men like Roger Clemens, Tom Seaver, Curt Schilling, and Old Hoss Radbourn for all we know. These guys did not have "2,000 IP Expiration 4/16 Dates" on the soles of their feet.
1a Dr. D very well remembers the funeral for Roger Clemens as he "faded" in Boston. Just before he went to Toronto and ripped off 15 Cy Youngs. I'm tellin' ya. EVERYBODY in baseball, other than James, believed that Roger Clemens was toast.
Review the b-ref.com lines for Clemens, Seaver, Schilling, etc. Pitchers are up and down, my friend. You will find 104 ERA's littering the baseball cards for ALL of these pitchers. So Felix just scored 6 straight seasons with 6 WAR, but in 2015 he put up a single 3 WAR line. From the 30,000-foot view, it's like when they used to write the 2004 Ichiro off for batting .243 in April.
2 Felix' velocity is not down. At all. Four years ago, it was 92 MPH average. Last year, it was 92 MPH average.
3 The problem is very simple. Felix' hair-fine command was off. That's all.
So what was the result? Did he go 11-14, 4.46 like Roger Clemens did at age 30? No: he had one season as merely an Opening Day Starter, with an 8.5 strikeout rate, 2.6 walks, and 1.0 homers. Same as Cole Hamels last year.
3a. Possible that his command is fading as the fibers in his elbow deteriorate. But since the velocity is not off -- that is the #1 marker for the pro's -- it's unlikely.
4. Felix is a top pitcher under many different reincarnations. Curve ball pitcher, Changeup pitcher, slopballer, whatever he wants to do. His floor, assuming he's on the mound at all, is rather higher than Brandon McCarthy's. If Felix had to go through a career transition, he'd still be an Opening Day starter. I doubt he will.
Honestly, kids, you're talking about six consecutive Cy Young seasons and then the first time he's merely excellent, we're all scared spitless. Let's keep in mind what pitchers are. Well, let's keep in mind what pitchers are if they are not Randy Johnson.
Says here that Felix gets six months to rest, he gets back into the groove with that wonderful motion, there's almost zero to worry about. (With pitchers, there's never Zero to worry about.)
But! Whether that gut feeling is accurate or not ... If Felix were to hit the free agent market right now? True, he wouldn't be quite as sizzling hot as he'd have been after the "sexy" 2014. But it says at SSI that a free agent Felix would (1) get his arm imaged and then (2) score 7 x $25M, with ease.
Did You Know dept: Felix is #101 all time with 49.8 WAR. His next 1/10 of 1 WAR will push him past Roy Oswalt and into the top 100 (easily Hall of Fame territory). At #98 and #97 lurk two former Mariners, Jamie Moyer and Mark Langston. So get set for those TV graphics next April. And grok the fact that Felix Hernandez qualified for the Hall of Fame in his twenties.
True, every pitcher is a health risk. ... and if you asked me about Iwakuma's arm blowing out, that's another subject. But Clemens-21st here, I honestly ain't sweating it. He looks fine to me. If the M's did not have Felix Hernandez, and he came onto the market, the M's would be one of twelve teams bidding this winter. And we'd just have to hope it wasn't Boras with the auction gavel.